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Part Ii

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1947

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Enactments Repealed As From Appointed Day"

This Amendment is rendered necessary as a result of the change of the 1939 standard.

(b) of subsection (1) of Section one of that Act;
Provided that Section two of the said Act shall not apply to the compulsory acquisition of land under this subsection."

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in the choice of the land which the Minister of Transport can acquire under these powers, he has secured that the fullest consultation with his Department shall be made in every case.

As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, this is done by administration, and, as I have said before. it works in 999 cases out of 1,000.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Eighth Schedule—(Enactments Repealed)

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

New Schedule—(Modifications Of Part Ii Of Town And Country Planning Act, 1944)

Elimination of overlap between owner-occupied supplement and increase of converted value payment.

1.— (1) Where an interest in land the value of which falls to be ascertained in accordance with the provisions of Part II of the Act of 1944 for the purposes of the compensation payable on a compulsory acquisition thereof is an interest in a hereditament or part of a hereditament which has sustained war damage, then if—

  • (a) by virtue of Section fourteen of the War Damage Act, 1943, or of any direction given by the Treasury under Section twenty of that Act, a value payment falls to be made in respect of the damage so far as not made good before the date of the acquisition; and
  • (b) the amount of that payment falls to be increased by virtue of the War Damage (Increase of Value Payments) Order, 1947. or any subsequent Order made by the Treasury under Section eleven of the said Act; and
  • (c) the person entitled to the compensation payable in respect of the compulsory acquisition of the interest in question is also entitled by virtue of Section fifty-eight of the Act of 1944 either as originally enacted or as amended by the Acquisition of Land (Increase of Supplement) Order, 1946, or any subsequent Order made by the Treasury under Section sixty of that Act, to receive a supplement to that compensation, the amount of the compensation payable in respect of the compulsory acquisition shall be reduced in the manner provided by this paragraph by such sum as may be appripriate, not exceeding the amount by which the value payment is increased as aforesaid, or the amount of the supplement payable as aforesaid, whichever is the less.
  • (2) Any reduction required by virtue of this paragraph to be made in the compensation payable in respect of the compulsory acquisition of an interest in land shall be effected as follows: that is to say, the War Damage Commission shall pay to the Minister or authority by whom that interest is compulsorily acquired a sum equal to the amount of the reduction, together with interest thereon at the rate of two and a half per cent. per annum from the date of the acquisition, and shall deduct that amount (including interest thereon as aforesaid) from the amount of any value payment or share of the value payment (including interest on any such payment or share) payable by the Commission under the War Damage Act, 1943, to the person from whom that interest is acquired

    (3) Any sum payable by the War Damage Commission to a Minister or authority by virtue of the provisions of this paragraph in respect of the compulsory acquisition of any interest in land shall be paid at the time when the value payment or share of a value payment payable to the owner of that interest under the War Damage Act, 1943, is discharged.

    (4) Any question arising under this paragraph as to what reduction is appropriate in the compensation payable in respect of the compulsory acquisition of an interest in land shall, in default of agreement, be referred to and determined by the War Damage Commission, whose decision shall be final; and paragraph 6 of the First Schedule to the War Damage Act, 1943 (which enables the Commission to regulate the procedure for the determination of questions subject to determination by them under that Act) shall have effect as if any question falling to be determined by the Commission under this paragraph were a question subject to determination by them under that Act.

    (5) Where an interest in land which has been acquired by agreement before the commence ment of this Act by a person authorised by virtue of any enactment to acquire it compulsorily is an interest in a hereditament or part of a hereditament which has sustained war damage then if—

  • (a) the conditions specified in sub-para graphs (1) (a) and (1) (b) of this paragraph are satisfied in relation thereto; and
  • (b) the person to whom the purchase price is payable in respect of the acquisition of the interest in question would, if the interest had been acquired compulsorily, have been entitled to any such supplement as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) (c) of this paragraph;
  • the amount of the purchase price payable in respect of the acquisition shall be reduced by such sum as may be appropriate, not exceeding the amount by which the value payment is increased as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (I) (b) of this paragraph, or the amount of the supplement which would have been payable as aforesaid, whichever is the less; and sub paragraphs (2), (3) and (4) of this paragraph shall apply in relation to the reduction required by virtue of this sub-paragraph to be made in the purchase price as if for any reference in those sub-paragraphs to the compulsory acquisition of an interest in land or to the amount of the compensation payable in respect of that acquisition there were substituted respectively a reference to the acquisition of an interest in land by agreement arid to the purchase price payable in respect of that acquisition.

    (6) The reference in sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph to the date of acquisition of an interest in land shall be construed in accordance with the provisions of Subsection (3) of Section fourteen of the War Damage Act, 1943.

    Extension of owner-occupier supplement to certain agricultural land.

    2. In subsection (2) of section fifty-seven of the Act of 1944, and paragraph 4 of the Seventh Schedule to that Act, references to agricultural holdings and to holdings as defined for the purposes of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1923, shall be construed as including references to any land which, if it were held by a tenant, would be a holding as so defined.

    Assessment of compensation by reference to after-damage value

    3.—(1) Where under section sixty-one of the Act of 1944, the value of any land in a hereditament which has sustained war damage is for the purpose of a compulsory acquisition required to be ascertained, in accordance with the provisions of the Eighth Schedule to that Act, by reference to the certified after-damage value of the hereditament, then if—

  • (a) the hereditament consists of premises in respect of which a justices' licence within the meaning of the Licensing (Consolidation) Act, /91o, was in force or in suspense at the time when the war damage occurred; and
  • (b) between that time and the time when the notice to treat was served there had been any change in the circumstances of the licence, whether by extinction, removal or suspension by virtue of section ten of the Finance Act, 1942, or section twelve of the Finance Act, 1946.
  • sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph (1) of the said Eighth Schedule shall have effect as if the change constituted a material difference in the state of the premises and the change shall be taken into account under the said subparagraph in determining the value of the premises under the War Damage Act, 1943, by reference to the state of the premises at the time when the notice to treat is served

    (2) Neither the right to land tax in respect of any land nor the right to a redemption annuity under the Tithe Act, [936, in respect of any land shall be taken into account as interests in land under paragraph z of the Eighth Schedule to the Act of 1944, but such adjustments of the certified after-damage value of the hereditament shall be made for the purposes of that Schedule as are necessary to produce for those purposes the result which would have been produced there for if liability to land tax or to any such annuity had been included among the burdens referred to in paragraph (1) (c) of the Second Schedule to the War Damage Act, 1943.—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    I gave an explanation of the greater part of this Schedule yesterday in answer to an Amendment which was moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison), who moved an Amendment for the purpose of getting an explanation. As is stated in the marginal note, the purpose of the Schedule is to eliminate overlap between the owner-occupier supplement of 60 per cent. and the increase of converted value payment. Without this provision, it would be possible for an owner whose land is being acquired to get the 60 per cent. twice over. I am sure that not even hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would wish that to happen. The first six paragraphs of the Schedule are devoted to that. The remainder of the Schedule is a re-arrangement of Clauses 38 and 39 of the Bill, which, as will be remembered, have been deleted as a result of a previous Amendment. It was thought more appropriate to put those Clauses in this new Schedule.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Schedule read Second time, and added to the Bill.

    5.10 p.m.

    Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on recommittal) considered.

    New Clause—(Validity And Date Of Operation Of Development Plans)

    (1) Immediately after a development plan has been approved or made or amended by the Minister under this Part of this Act, the local planning authority shall publish in such manner as may be prescribed by regulations under this Act a notice stating that the plan has been approved, made, or amended, as the case may be, and naming a place where a copy of the plan or of the plan, as amended, may be seen at all reasonable hours, and shall serve a like notice on any person by whom an objection or representation was duly made to the proposed plan or amendment, and who has sent to the authority a request in writing to serve him with the notice required by this subsection, specifying an address for service, and on such other persons if any, as may be required by general or special directions given by Minister

    (2) If any person aggrieved by the plan or by the amendment, as the case may be, desires to question the validity thereof or of any provision contained therein on the ground that it is not within the powers of this Act. or on the ground that any requirement of this Act or any regulation made thereunder has not been complied with in relation to the approval or making of the plan, or as the case may he, in relation to the making of the amendment. he may, within six weeks from the date on which the notice required by the last foregoing subsection is first published, make an application to the High Court. and on any such application the Court—

  • (a) may by interim order suspend the operation of the plan or amendment, as the case may be, or of any provision contained therein either generally or in so far as it affects any property of the applicant, until the final determination of the proceedings: and
  • (b) if satisfied that the plan or amendment, or any provision contained therein, is not within the powers of this Act, or that the interests of the applicant have been substantially prejudiced by a failure to comply with any such requirement as aforesaid, may quash the plan or amendment or any provision contained therein either generally or in so far as it affects any property of the applicant.
  • (3) Subject to the provisions of the last foregoing subsection, a development plan or an amendment of a development plan shall not, either before or after it has been approved or made, be questioned in any legal proceedings whatsoever, and shall become operative on the date on which the notice required by this Section is first published.

    (4) Except by leave of the Court of Appeal, no appeal shall lie to the House of Lords from a decision of the Court of Appeal under this Section.—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    The purpose of this Clause is to limit the vulnerability of development plans to challenge in the courts, and it does so in two ways. First, it limits the grounds upon which a plan or a modification of a plan may be challenged, and, second, it lays down that the only grounds on which it can be challenged are that the plan is ultra vires, or that the requirements of the Statute or the regulations made under Clause 9 have not been complied with. It also limits to six weeks the period within which the challenge in the courts may be made. This Clause is in common form. Similar provisions have been applied to almost every modern Act in respect of compulsory purchase orders, the latest of them being Section 16 of the New Towns Act. Without some such provision as this, development plans would still be challengeable in the courts within a period of six months, which would have the effect of holding up redevelopment very seriously.

    I do not propose to object to the Second Reading of this Clause; it is, as the Minister says, in common form, and has appeared in other Statutes, its first appearance being I think in Section 16 of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1944.

    There were similar provisions in the other one, but without prejudice to the Amendments which I hope to move to extend its scope, my hon. Friends on this side agree to its Second Reading.

    Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 13, after "be," to insert:

    "or by an order of the Minister or of the Central Land Board under this Act."
    All the Amendments in my name to the new Clause can be taken together, because apart from the first, they are purely consequential. As the Minister has said, it has been common form to include in Acts concerning the compulsory acquisition of land provisions of the character we have just read a Second time, and the reason for that is that unless some limitation is placed upon the query in the courts on points of law, it is possible, or might theoretically be possible, for years after the transactions have been completed and all sorts of persons have changed their positions in life in accordance with what has been done—as they believe, legally—to have the matter reopened by a litigious person, and all those rights placed in jeopardy. When we were dealing with this Bill in Committee we put down an Amendment, framed in terms almost identical to those of this new Clause, which applied the same provisions to acts not only of a local planning authority in its development plans, but acts and orders of the Minister and of the Board, to try and make sure that they should have the right to be protected against undue litigious interference, while at the same time the subject should have reasonable access to the courts in case either the Minister or the Central Land Board acted ultra vires to the Bill.

    5.15 p.m.

    I think it would be very difficult for the Minister to act ultra vires on this Bill, because the vires are so extremely wide that it would take seven-league boots to step outside the limits the Minister has set for himself, but he or his successor might make even such a stride, and in that case the subject should have the right to challenge his orders in the courts. The case is even stronger with regard to the Central Land Board, because it is a body which is not yet in being, it has not learnt the limits of its statutory authority by actual experience, and it is possible that when it gets into its stride its enthusiasm over-zeal or ignorance of its legal powers may bring it into conflict with the law of the land as expressed in this Bill and in other Acts of Parliament. In such a case the proposition is that the subject should have the same limited, but effective, right of appeal to the courts against the orders of the Minister or the Board for being ultra vires on the Bill, as is given by the Clause we have just read a Second time with respect to development plans and orders. The only ground on which that appeal could be made is that the Minister or the Board is going outside what this House has authorised them to do, and I think the House should make it possible for the subject to invoke the law of the land should that happen.

    I have no violent objection to this Amendment, but I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman himself has really considered its implications. This Amendment does not confer upon the subject the right of access to the courts, he already has that; if the Minister or the Central Land Board does anything which is ultra vires—difficult as that may be, as the right hon. Gentleman explained—the subject has already the right to go to the courts. But instead of having that right which he can exercise within six months, this Amendment would limit him to six weeks. Also, instead of the wider grounds upon which he might go to the courts, he would be limited. Therefore, in so far as it would make the administration of the Bill easier, less uncertain and less vulnerable—and vulnerable for a shorter period—I would have no objection to the Amendment. My only objection is to its language. I am not quite certain as to what are the orders of the Minister, because a great many orders of the Minister are already covered by the terms of the New Clause, and I am not sure what other orders the Central Land Board might make. There is an element of uncertainty about the language of the Amendment, but I am quite prepared to accept its principle if the right hon. Gentleman really presses me, and to give an undertaking that something of this sort will be included at a later stage.

    With the leave of the House, may I say that I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said? Perhaps I may also be permitted to remark that the chief purpose for which this Amendment was set down was to ensure that, in our hurried scamper through this Bill owing to the operation of the Guillotine, there were not concealed in its interstices some provisions which did debar the subject from getting his right of access to the courts. The Amendment which we put down for the Committee stage we were not able to consider, so the matter was not ventilated until the present stage of the Bill. In view of the assurance that the matter is already covered, and because I have no desire to prolong the proceedings, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    "That the Clause be added to the Bill"

    The hon. Member cannot speak upon the Amendment now.

    I am speaking now on the Clause, and I want to draw the attention of the Minister to a particular matter. The new Clause proposes to give an opportunity for recourse to the High Court, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there is a possibility of the High Court being used in order to hold up all sorts of plans. It would be very undesirable that people who feel aggrieved at a plan, or an amendment to a plan, put forward by the planning authority, should be able to go to the High Court and delay the proceeding. I ask the Minister to keep that point in mind and not to make any concession which will put outside this House the decision as to the fate of an Order. It is this House which should decide whether the Minister's Order is to be carried out.

    I prefer the new Clause in its original form, but not for the reason given by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). I am glad that the Minister has resisted the suggestion to alter it.

    We have heard the representative of the Communist Party urge the Minister to limit the already very small right of the citizen to go to the High Court. That shows the extreme power which the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has over the Front Bench opposite. It is extremely difficult to be certain that we are not limiting the rights of the subject. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) is a fairly astute reader of the Bill, but I must confess, especially after the speech made by the Minister, that I am not sure whether we may not be further limiting the power of the subject to appeal against oppressive Orders which may be made, for example, under this Bill. I do not know whether the Clause can be amended, but I do not welcome it. We should do all we can to make it easier for the subject to appeal against arbitrary decisions of the Executive.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Land Subject To Claims For Betterment Under Other Acts)

    Where, on the carrying out of any development after the appointed day, any payment falls to he made to a local authority by virtue of the provisions of any Act in force at the passing of this Act, in respect of any works carried out (whether before or after the passing of this Act) by that authority, then—

  • (a) if the amount of any such payment is required to be calculated by reference to any increase in the value of the land in respect of which the payment is made, the amount of that increase shall be calculated as if Part VI of this Act had not been enacted;
  • (b) whether or not the amount of any such payment falls to be calculated as aforesaid, the payment, or the liability therefor, shall be taken into account in determining under the said Part VI whether any and if so what development charge is to be paid in respect of that development.—[Mr. Silkin.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    The object of the Clause is to preserve the power of the authority to obtain betterment accruing to the landowners as the result of the operations of local authorities. Certain local Acts enable sewerage boards, for example, to collect increases in value due to the provision of a sewer. Secondly, the object is to save owners of property from having to pay two development charges. They have to pay betterment to the original local authority and that will be taken into account in assessing the development charge.

    We welcome the new Clause, which takes care of the position of certain local authorities working under the Public Health Act, 1936, or under local Acts, because they would otherwise have been in a difficulty in regard to betterment. I had tabled a new Clause designed to have the same effect, but the point I had in mind is covered by the Clause proposed by the Minister. I have, therefore, the advan- tage of his superior efficiency in drafting. On behalf of one or two authorities who are affected by local Acts, I desire to express gratification that the Clause is being incorporated in the Bill.

    Question put, and agreed to.

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

    New Clause—(Saving For Postmaster-General)

    (1) Subject to the provisions of this Section, and to the provisions of Subsection (4) of Section twenty-three of the Act of 1944 as applied by this Act, nothing in this Act or in any order or regulations, made thereunder shall affect any powers or duties of the Postmaster-General under the provisions of the Telegraph Acts, 1863 to 1943, or apply to any telegraphic lines placed or maintained by virtue of any of those provisions.

    (2) Where in pursuance of an order made by the Minister of Transport under Section forty-six of this Act any highway is stopped up or diverted and, immediately before the date on which the order became operative, there was under, in, upon, over, along or across the highway any telegraphic line belonging to or used by the Postmaster-General, the Postmaster-General shall have the same powers in respect of that line as if the order had not become operative:

    Provided that if any person entitled to land over which the highway subsisted requires that the telegraphic line should be altered, paragraphs (i) to (8) of Section seven of the Telegraph Act, 1878, shall apply to the alteration and accordingly shall have effect, subject to any necessary modifications, as if references therein to undertakers included references to the person so requiring the line to be altered.

    (3) Where any order made under the said Section forty-six provides for the improvement of any highway, not being a trunk road, and, immediately before the date on which the order became operative, there was under, in, upon, over, along or across the highway any telegraphic line belonging to or used by the Postmaster-General, then if the local highway authority require that that line should be altered, paragraphs (i) to (8) of the said Section seven shall apply to the alteration and accordingly shall have effect, subject to any necessary modifications, as if references therein to undertakers included references to the local highway authority.

    (4) In this Section the expressions "alter" and "telegraphic line" have the same meanings as in the Telegraph Act, 1878.—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    The object of the Clause is to exempt the Postmaster-General from the provisions of the Bill in the exercise of his powers in regard to telegraphs, and to give him certain safeguards under Clause 46.

    I cannot express any great indignation, from my experience of the office of Postmaster-General, at the object of the Minister's proposals. I am only surprised that the Clause makes such a tardy appearance. Postmasters-General have always been regarded as having dominion over roads and under the roads. We hope that the present Minister will be able to use the Clause to improve the telegraph and telephone service, and if he has time after that, the postal service as well.

    Question put, and agreed to.

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

    New Clause—(Report By Central Land Board On Development Values)

    (1) As soon as may be after the development values of interests in all or substantially all land, in respect of- which claims have been made under Part V of this Act, have been determined by the Central Land Board in accordance with the provisions of the said Part, the Central Land Board shall cause to be made out a statement showing:

  • (a) the aggregate amount of the development values so determined;
  • (b) the amount by which in their opinion the said aggregate amount would be diminished if the determination had been made on a single claim but otherwise in accordance with the provisions of Part V of this Act, together with the reasons for their opinion.
  • (2) The statement made under the last foregoing Subsection shall be transmitted to the Minister, who shall forthwith lay copies thereof before both Houses of Parliament if Parliament be then sitting, or if not, within one month after the then next sitting of Parliament. —[ Mr. W. S. Morrison.]

    Brought up, and read the First Time.

    5.30 p.m.

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

    The purpose of this new Clause is to place upon the Central Land Board a certain duty, which the Bill does not impose, to make out a statement showing the aggregate amount of development values and the amount by which, in their opinion, that aggregate amount would be diminished if the determination had been made on a single claim but otherwise in accordance with the provisions of Part V of the Bill, together with their reasons. I think I can show the main purpose of this proposed new Clause very briefly. It has to do with the provision in the Bill of £300 million as a global sum in settlement of depreciated development values. The reason why the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have adopted the global sum method of settling this form of compensation arises from the problem of floating values which is discussed at considerable length in the Uthwatt Committee's report.

    I need not worry the House with an elaborate disquisition on the subject of floating values, but the trouble briefly is this. It was stated in the Report of the Uthwatt Committee that while development value is a part of the total value of all land in the neighbourhood of cities, it is nevertheless very difficult to assess its true value. The Committee state that if the portion of the value due to its development right for every separate parcel be taken and the total of these parcels added together this will in fact give a total for development value which is in excess of the value that will be realised by actual development. The reason for that is that every owner of land in the vicinity of a built up area says that his land has a chance of being developed, and until the land is actually developed it is impossible to deny that this chance of development does exist in every parcel of land that is contiguous to a built-up area. But by valuing everybody's chances, say the Uthwatt Committee, one arrives at a total which is greater than the value that would be realised in fact by the actual development which settles on particular plots of land. This amount of excess value which is due to the addition of a number of chances, not all of which can be successful, is what is called the element of floating value.

    This controversy about floating value is in itself a very academic one. That there is such a thing there is, perhaps, little doubt, but as to its extent I have always had the greatest misgiving about some of the confident predictions that are uttered on the subject. In the process of valuation of a plot of land no valuer would claim—and no arbitrator would assess—any development value approaching to a certainty that the land will ultimately be developed. He would discount the added value of development by what was considered to be an appropriate factor having regard to the chances involved. I myself believe that the statement in the Uthwatt Report that the total values would amount to three times the actual value of development is somewhat exaggerated and only compatible with a statement that the surveying and valuing profession do not know how adequately to discount the chances of development in the area. In their approach to this matter the Government have adopted the global sum, and the Minister has from time to time given us the reasons which prompted him to assess the value of this figure as £300 million. That has been criticised by hon. Members on both sides of the House—some saying that it was too high, and some that it was too low. What we seek by this new Clause is to charge the Central Land Board with the duty of finding out the truth. It is quite easy for hon. Members on both sides, in accordance with their own views, to give confident predictions as to the truth of what I find a very baffling and complicated question, but we do suggest that if the process which we ask for in this Clause were added to the duties of the Central Land Board we should, after the lapse of some time, be in possession of a mass of information about the real incidence and value of development which nobody in this country possesses at present.

    We are therefore moving that the Central Land Board—which will receive all the claims for compensation out of the global sum—should tell the House and the Minister what the total of this sum is, so that we have a factor for coming to a just conclusion on this matter which we have not had before. The Central Land Board will be the first body of its kind to be in a position to collect this information and make the assessment. I think it highly important that we who are trying to solve these difficult problems in this House with the aid of what are, at best, intelligent guesses, should take advantage of the institution of this new body, charged with the duties of the Bill, to make it amass for us or our successors information which we ask it to produce. Then the Central Land Board, having received all these claims for development values, can make a decision and an estimation that no one else can make as to what is the actual float involved in this matter. Then we shall no longer have these guesses, either upwards or downwards.

    I will give the House one instance of the widely varying estimates of skilled people on this subject. There is a passage about it in the Barlow Committee's Report which reads to the effect—I speak from memory—that the chief valuer to the Board of Inland Revenue gave evidence and put it as an intelligent guess, and no more, that the total development value in undeveloped land was between £300 million and £400 million. That is the opinion, for what it is worth, expressed in 1937 by a man who had probably a wider conspectus of development valuation than has any of us here. How different that is from the valuation of the right hon. Gentleman. He takes the lower of the two figures, £300 million, and includes in it not only development values in undeveloped land but redeveloped value in developed land, which must be an enormously large sum, much greater, I should have guessed, than the development value in undeveloped land.

    I was about to add that, as my hon. Friend has just pointed out, in this great mass of £300 million the Minister has also added, under the terms of the Bill, the compensation for mineral values. In addition to that, we are now dealing with this year of Grace, 1947, whereas the chief valuer's guess was made in 1937, and it is common knowledge that the value of money has changed very greatly since then. If one takes all these factors into account—the chief valuer's guess in 1937 for a very much smaller area of development values than is included in the right lion. Gentleman's guess, and the lower guess of the right hon. Gentleman to cover a very much wider area—we can see how large are the discrepancies which honest men can make in trying to solve, by guesswork, this great problem. If this Clause were adopted, we should set out to solve this matter, not by guesswork, but by ascertainment of truth. It may be that hon. Members opposite are quite right in thinking that £300 million is much too great a sum, or that we are right, but I, personally, would abide by the result of whatever the eventual examination indicated.

    It is very difficult to express in legal language what is really comprehended by the term "floating value." We are not wedded to the words in this Clause, and if the right hon. Gentleman, with his skilled draftsman, can suggest a better method to achieve the object, I shall be perfectly happy to fall in with his wishes. What we are asking is that during the performance of their duties, the Central Land Board shall tell us the aggregate amount of the development values so determined, and then, with their experience, tell us what is the difference in the total amount, if the determination had been made on a single claim, and the real development values involved. An impartial body of this character, which has access to more information than any body of persons has had before, would be able to make a contribution which would help us to determine this very baffling and complicated question.

    The Treasury have to prepare a scheme for the apportionment of the £300 million between England and Wales, on the one hand, and Scotland, on the other. Not until they have done that, do they proceed to their further task of apportioning the sum in respect of the English and Welsh claimants. They may not do this until they are, in the words introduced by the Minister in Committee, sufficiently informed about the extent of the claims. What we want to secure. is that the data upon which this determination has been made, shall be made public, and we propose, therefore, that the development values should be submitted, and adjusted with the district valuers, as they presumably must be before they can be agreed as approximately correct; that the adjusted claim should then be aggregated and the Board should then deduct an element, if there is such an element, in respect of floating values. It might be said here that there ought not to be any element of floating values after these claims had been discussed and agreed with the district valuer because the valuer should be able to write off the element of floating value in respect of every valuation made. In other words, the two parties, sitting opposite each other and adjusting these things, ought to arrive at a true value, or at least something like it. We want to be quite safe, and so we suggest inserting this Clause as an additional safeguard. If it is found at the end of the day that there is still an element in the aggregate figure which represents floating values, that can be deducted.

    After all these processes have been gone through, the Board submit their figures to the Minister, who has to make them available to both Houses of Parliament. I want the Minister to notice that this Clause is specifically designed to eliminate floating values. It is not our desire that there should be an element of floating value in any claims paid to anyone who is being deprived of development values. That is not part of our case. We must not overlook the fact that all the evidence goes to show that the total sum with which we are dealing, this £300 million, is fantastically inadequate.

    5.45 P.m.

    All informed opinion is agreed upon what I say. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) has recounted some of the difficulties which he found when he was in the Minister's place, and he has told us of some of the considerations which then entered into assessments of this kind. He has told us of the intelligent guess which was made, in 1937, by the chief valuer of the Inland Revenue Department as to development values on land outside urban areas. He reminded the House that we are dealing not only with this but with mineral rights, and here I would point out that I am informed that mineral values in this country alone are worth £100 million. I cannot say whether this estimate is right or not, but it is put forward by people who know about these things, and that being the case, the figure of £300 million does not seem to be an over-estimate, to put it no higher than that. In these circumstances, there is bound to be a great feeling in the country about the determinations under Part V of the Bill. For that reason, the Minister would be well advised to make everything as clear and above board as possible, which is the purpose of this Clause.

    When I heard the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) say that £300 million was fantastically inadequate, I felt tempted to protest. I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) talking about honest valuation, and it seemed to me that he made a very peculiar remark, on which I congratulate him, when he said "I believe myself, etc." If he wants an honest valuation, he would have to go into the whole question of how these people came to own the land. The hon. Member for West Aberdeen says that the mineral rights are estimated at £100 million. Who is going to claim the right to these minerals? Is anybody going to say, "Because we putt these minerals under our land we have the right to be paid?" It is fantastic for anybody to suggest that the people should pay for those minerals. Instead, let us make an investigation as to how the land-owners got their land—

    Even if the Clause is passed it will not allow for that investigation.

    An ex-Secretary of State for Scotland wrote a book to prove that a!1 the land of Scotland was stolen—

    I mentioned it only by way of illustration. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has just reminded me that when we were at a Socialist Sunday school we were always taught that the robber bands had seized our land. It is now being suggested that £300 million is inadequate to provide proper compensation. I say that that sum is far too much, that the people of this country have the right to protest about this system—

    Does the hon. Gentleman realise that without the disclosure of these figures, he cannot be sure that Scotland will get her fair share? Does he not want to stand up for Scotland?

    If I had my way no landowners in Scotland would get a penny; they have had far too much already.

    The hon. Member will not get his way and be permitted to continue this argument. He must keep to the Clause.

    I hope the Minister will not be affected by the appeals which have been made to him from the benches opposite. I hope he will not consider the Clause, and that he will not encourage those who are demanding an increase over and above the £300 million. If there is any way of scaling the sum down he should seek that way, but he should not consider any method of increasing it. The more we discuss this Bill, and other Bills involving compensation, the clearer it is, that in these matters we have to deal with a gathering of highwaymen, and not a gathering of representatives of the people of this country.

    I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) and his hon. Friends on the skill with which, under the guise of a perfectly innocent-looking new Clause, they have been able to initiate a discussion on the merits, or otherwise, of the figure of £300 million, which, I thought, had been settled by the House on the Second Reading, and by the Money Resolution. I take it that the main object of the right hon. Gentleman is not to get more information, or one more opinion, but really to try to get a bigger sum than £300 million. Otherwise, such opinion as he would get from the Central Land Board would be of only academic interest. I am sure Members opposite are not concerned merely with the academic opinion of a body which is not yet in existence.

    I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his very interesting discussion of the adequacy, or otherwise, of the £300 million. As I have said before, some people think it too much, some think it too little. Probably it is about right. At any rate, the House has decided that it is right, and this Clause could not have the effect of increasing it. Is this new Clause of any value, even from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view? Will it get information, or an opinion, from the Central Land Board? The right hon. Gentleman is asking for the aggregate amount of the development values. That is merely a matter of arithmetic. He is also asking for the amount by which, in the opinion of the Central Land Board, the aggregate amount would be diminished if the determination had been made on a single claim. What will he get if the determination is made on a single claim? He will not get a figure which is the true development value, even if the opinion of the Central Land Board were a valuable opinion. Merely by valuing all the land, as if it were made on a single claim, will not get him the true development value.

    To get the true development value you have to ascertain, or forecast, how much development will take place over, say, the next 30 years. When you know that, you can assess the true development value, but you will not know that until the 30 years have expired. That is the difficulty in which everyone who has attempted to ascertain the amount of the float has found himself. All you can do is to make an intelligent guess. A number of intelligent guesses have been made. I have made one myself, and it is as good as the right hon. Gentleman's or that of the chief valuation officer, or anybody else. The right hon. Gentleman is seeking, in this Clause, to get one more intelligent guess to add to the intelligent guesses which already exist. At best, the Central Land Board will be able to give him only an intelligent guess. But, apart from that, is not the Clause itself somewhat contradictory? How do you value the land on the basis of a single claim, but otherwise in accordance with the provisions of the Bill? The whole basis of valuation is the existence of a willing buyer and a willing seller. Without them you cannot carry out valuation at all. If all land is owned by one person, if the valuation is made on the basis of a single claim, you have eliminated the one element which is essential in making a valuation at all. You have no willing buyers; you have no willing sellers; you simply have a monopoly selling to another monopoly. It will not carry the right lion. Gentleman one inch further along the road he is seeking to travel.

    I imagine that the main purpose of putting down this Clause has been to get the sort of discussion which has taken place. I cannot think that the right hon. Gentleman seriously believes that the Government will agree to put forward, as an official document, an intelligent guess by the Central Land Board on this basis. It would have no value, and nobody knows that better than the right hon. Gentleman himself. Although I am willing that they should inform the House and the public, through the Minister, as soon as possible, of the aggregate amount of the development values determined which, as I say, is merely a matter of arithmetic, I do not think that any purpose would be served by getting them to express an opinion.

    6.0 p.m.

    I think the Minister has dismissed too lightly the claims advanced by my right hon. Friend and by the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) in support of this new Clause. I am not concerned to argue, any more than the Minister is, whether £300 million is the correct global sum or not. As he properly says, we are strictly stopped by the decision of the House from arguing that particular proposition; but, even so, I think that the Minister would be prepared to agree that there is this estimate, and there is likely to remain a large degree of doubt in the minds of people as to whether it is the right sum or not. I hope that I shall carry him with me one stage further. I hope he will agree that any reasonable steps that can be taken to diminish that doubt, and to establish the justice of the course that has been taken, are valid and, if practicable, should be put into effect.

    The Minister asked the House to reject this new Clause on the ground that it will not add anything other than another intelligent opinion. So far, we have had two major opinions on this point. The first was the opinion given by the Barlow Committee, which was a very large sum for undeveloped land only, and the second was the opinion formed—we still do not know how—by the right hon. Gentleman and the present Government that the global sum should total £300 million. This Clause proposes that there should be made available something rather more than an opinion—a public and reasoned estimate of the float value. That is what we are asking for. It may be that it cannot be precise, but it does not follow from that, that it would serve no useful purpose. I think that if the machinery of this new Clause is put into effect, we shall have a far more accurate estimate than we are likely to get by the assessment of the Minister arrived at by no one knows what political-economic considerations. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman asks, "What will you do?" I take it that the point he has in mind is that, whatever the answer, we cannot affect without fresh legislation the total sum of £300 million. That of course is true; but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree with me, that even though that is so, it is right that the basis of assessment should be before the public. It has been rightly said that—as a lawyer I am sure that he will bear the words in mind—it is no less important that justice should be done than that justice should be seen to be done.

    Suppose it were established that justice had not been done, and that £300 million of public money had been paid for nothing. Since, in any case, we cannot get it back, what possible public service would that be?

    The hon. Gentleman has put one side of the case. Since he has chosen to introduce this question of whether £300 million is too much or too little, I must take the other and, in my view, much more likely alternative that a public and reasoned estimate would show that £300 million is too low. If that is so—

    The hon. Gentleman cannot discuss that on the new Clause. That has been discussed and settled on the Second Reading.

    With great respect, I am not. I thought that I made it clear that I am not discussing the adequacy of the £300 million as a global figure. I began by saying that before the helpful intervention of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman). What I was doing and I submit that I am entitled to do this—is to deal with the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, who put the point: What effect would it have if as a result of these calculations being made public, the sum of £300 million was shown to be too high? I am taking the alternative point: What will happen if it is shown that the figure of £300 million is too little?

    I may have been in error in allowing the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne to introduce the point. I certainly cannot allow discussions on it.

    I did not introduce any such point. The point I introduced was this: I asked, in an interjection to the hon. Member, what would be the point of having such an investigation, and what would he do, with the result of it, when everyone knows that it cannot affect the decision which the House has already taken that £300 million should be the figure?

    Let us leave this controversial topic on this note, that, whatever the answer may be, it is of course true, as the hon. Member knows, that Parliament does not bind its successors, and that there can be some practical action taken if the sum is found to be too low. The practical action which would ensue is, however, only part of the justification for incorporating this new Clause in the Bill. Even if no practical action could result from it, I would still submit that it was right to have this public and reasoned estimate for the guidance of the public, in order that they should see whether this matter had been approached correctly, and whether justice had been done. The right hon. Gentleman said, with his characteristic felicity of phrase, that he was "sitting pretty" and that his estimate must be right because some people said that it was too high and others that it was too low. That, surely, is very rough justice.

    What this new Clause is designed to do -is to bring a more precise estimate to bear, and to show to the public how that estimate has been arrived at. In my submission, even if no action were possible on this, it would nevertheless be right to incorporate this new Clause into the Bill in order to provide the machinery for a more precise estimate than has been possible in these sketchy opinions, which is all that we have so far been given by the right hon. Gentleman as the basis of the estimate of the sum at which he has arrived.

    I would like to give the House reasons why there should not be this public and reasoned estimate for which the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) has pleaded. The show was given away very effectively by the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) who, as will be within the recollection of the House, did in fact say parenthically, but none the less truly, that the value of money in 1931 was very much greater than the value of money in 1947. That being so, I submit that 1947 is not the time to incorporate a Clause of this sort in a Bill of this kind. After all, a public and reasoned estimate would be arrived at by very hard and practical people, not by any means starry-eyed ideologists but people in the habit of assessing these things in the light of experience, and their experience would be based on the prices in the market in this year of grace, 1947. I submit that a public and reasoned estimate, when prices are high and the value of money is correspondingly low, would be a distorted estimate. As the hon. Member for Hertford admits by implication, in the light of the interjection of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) that estimate when we had it could have no effect, and could be of no use to anyone. But it would be on record and would disturb the public and would no doubt be used by the party opposite to prejudice this Measure when it is enacted. I think that my right hon. Friend was right in resisting this new Clause, and I hope that it will not be carried.

    There is another argument which one can adduce for the publication of these figures. The £300 million with which we are dealing is taxpayers' money. Is there any reason then why these figures should not be disclosed so that the House and the taxpayers may know the position? There is another reason. There are certain priority claims which the right hon. Gentleman has admitted are to be fixed later. If there is to be general satisfaction with regard to the expenditure of this money, it is reasonable to suggest that the figures for which we have asked should show the public that justice has been done with regard to this matter. The real facts of the case are that the right hon. Gentleman dare not disclose these figures because they would show that the figure of £300 million is inadequate.

    If there was no other good reason for this Clause we can find one in the reason put forward by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. N. Smith). He said that an inquiry of this sort might lead to the public being upset and that it would be against the interests of the Government. Surely if an inquiry is going to disturb the public it is obvious that the inquiry concerns something which ought to have been known a long time ago. To burke an inquiry, as the Minister seems to be doing, because it might do damage to the Government is not an argument. I want an inquiry, because I realise what the object of the inquiry would be—to convey useful information to the public generally.

    We do not know what proportion of this money is to go to Scotland and Wales and what proportion will come to England. As far as I am concerned, I have no doubt that Wales and Scotland will combine to rob the poor Englishman. I do not know if we are going to get enough for England. I am not sure if the people of the West Country—the people of Torquay—are going to get enough. Until we see what the figures are and how they are going to work out, I cannot be sure what the Government intend to do, and what amount of the money is going to certain parts of the country and what amount to other parts. That is why I am in agreement with the principle of an inquiry. Naturally, the Government do not want an inquiry; naturally they are trying to burke if because if it were held it would show how awkward and unfair the position is. On the Second Reading, when I was arguing about this matter, I referred to it from another point of view. I put forward that point of view again. After three years, it would be perfectly possible to have an inquiry—even under this Government—from which perhaps we should get some information. I am not saying it is probable but it is possible that even this incompetent Government might get people who would find out something after two or three years. How are we to know whether the sum is not too large? As a representative of the taxpayers I should like to know.

    The hon. Gentleman talks about being a representative of the taxpayers. While it is true that this is taxpayers' money it is also true that is it taxpayers' land that was stolen from them, and there should be no money paid for it at all.

    6.15 p.m.

    I will not follow the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman as I might be tempted to do, but I will say quite frankly that I feel more justified than ever in asking for this inquiry because I am looking alter the interests of the taxpayers, which is why I came here and why I am sent here. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is always a kind friend of mine in helping me in what I find are complicated efforts to make a speech.

    On the Second Reading of the Bill I asked for a closer estimate not based on Government cases or on suggestions from the front Opposition bench, but on actual facts as to what floating or other values might be. There will be considerable information on this point in Government offices, and there will be even more information during the next two or three years. That information is bound to be acquired during the ordinary conduct of Government business. During that period a considerable number of valuations for Death Duty purposes take place. I stress that point, because it is one which has caused much thought to many of us. I hope that this new Clause will be pressed to a Division because I am sure, judging by the way the Minister refused to accept it, the Government do not want a concise value. I am sure they are trying to avoid having a concise value. They have done it at every stage to which I have been privileged to listen, although I have not been privileged to listen all through. I particularly want to emphasise the words in the last Section of this Clause, where it is laid down that a report should be laid before the House of Commons. I want the House to know what is going on.

    I desire at all times to have reports laid before the House of Commons giving information to the House and to the public, but I do not understand the desire to have the information of a body, however distinguished or competent it may be, placed on the Table of the House. It does not seem to carry us any further and the principle is bad. It gives no information that will have an effect and will really be of little difference and will possibly be irrelevant. No one can question the information being given to the Central Land Board. What this new Clause asks for I cannot support nor to a certain extent do I understand.

    I only wish to answer two points which were made from the other side, one by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. N. Smith) and the other by the Minister. I cannot think that, whatever may be a good answer to this Clause, that given by the hon. Member can be right. He fears that on account of Government inflation proceeding at an enormous pace the value of money will soon be very different. He may be right, but it does not provide a reason why we should not be informed of the facts. The other matter I wish to raise was one sentence of the extraordinary speech of the Minister. He said there were some who thought that this valuation was much too low and others who thought it much too high. He said he thought therefore that he was right and was sitting pretty. So as not to get out of Order, I will point out this: that those who think that the sum is too large do so on the ground so admirably put by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who thinks it should be nothing. Those who think there should be confiscation believe that the sum is too high. Those who do not believe in confiscation think, and have given reasons for thinking, that the valuation is too low. The Minister finds satisfaction in the fact that the people who believe in confiscation believe he has made one error and those who do not believe in it that he has made the opposite error, and he therefore concludes that he must be right. Such an argument is illogical and unworthy even of the present Government.

    I was very interested in the line taken by the hon. and learned Member for Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) because he of all people on the other side of the House, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison), has argued this subject for a long time. He does not usually simplify a case, but just now he has been simplifying it beyond all recognition. It is perfectly true that there are two extremes. We have that of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), which has the sympathy of a great many other people on this side of the House. Land is a very peculiar and special commodity that ought never to have passed to private ownership. It ought never to have been exploited by private ownership and, in taking it back by any means whatever, the Government are at least moving in the right direction.

    Then there is the other side, the question of valuation. I think that broadly it will be agreed by all who have studied the problem that if one were to take all the value that is being taken into the hands of the people, that would represent a sum considerably in excess of £300 million. I do not think there are many people who would argue that £300 million would cover, on a valuation basis, the development values that have been taken away by this Bill. I do not think the Government have argued from the very beginning that we are attempting to make an actuarial calculation and to say to the people whose development value is being taken away that here is strict and legal justice. On the contrary, we have denied, and denied in specific terms, that there is any right in common law and any right in morality to compensation as such at all.

    Therefore, the £300 million is, as the Minister himself said in his great opening speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, an ex gratia payment on a very large scale. On that basis hon. Members on this side of the House are prepared to vote for the granting of £300 million. In doing that, we think we are being extremely generous to all the interests concerned. If the Central Land Board does its work efficiently and humanely, we shall be concerned to see that in real cases of hardship the compensation is ample, but in cases where quite obviously compensation would be merely to add riches to overwhelming riches, that compensation can he forfeited.

    In the case of a collier who has put his life's savings into a house and who has retired, does the hon. Gentleman suggest that that man has no right to compensation if his house is taken away?

    I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman really understood the Bill a little better than he has now shown. The collier's cottage has nothing whatever to do with development values. If we are getting down to the case of the poor widow and the poor collier, I trust my right hon. Friend and any hon. Member on this side of the House to give them a fairer deal than hon. Gentlemen opposite.

    The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister) has covered a wide field in the course of his arguments. I am rather nervous about following him because, as far as I can see, if I do, I shall be going even further out of Order. He has made it clear that he and certain of his colleagues are really in favour of the principle of confiscation without doing anything by way of compensation though he gives an ex gratia payment on the vague ground of what he calls hardship. He is not in a position to answer the pertinent inquiry put by my hon. Friend the Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) in regard to the position he would adopt in the case of the small landowner who is deprived of his development rights. I do not intend to follow him on that point. I propose to come back to the new Clause.

    The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that I am in favour of confiscation. I am not in favour of it nor is the party of which I am a Member. The Uthwatt Report, which recommended the course which my right hon. Friend has taken, was not in favour of it.

    If I followed on this course of argument, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am sure that you would stop me in a very short time. I would like to summarise the matter by saying that the hon. Member's words as he said them will be recorded in HANSARD, and that if he looks at them again he will see that the proper inference is that he was in favour of confiscation.

    I return to the discussion of this new Clause. I am astonished at the defence put up by the right hon. Gentleman in seeking to resist our proposal. He drew a distinction between what he called his "intelligent guess" and what he said would be the academic opinion of the Central Land Board. What is the position? We have his intelligent guess that 300 million is the right sum. In passing, I remind him that in the course of one of our discussions he reserved power to make an alteration to that sum in the case of the value of minerals being in excess of the amount he allowed in computing that £300 million. We are asking that that intelligent guess, if it be intelligent, should be contrasted with the actual ascertainment of facts, and that as soon as maybe after the development values of interests in respect of which claims have been made have been determined, the aggregate amount of the development values so determined shall be communicated to the public. Then we shall know to what extent the right hon. Gentleman's guess is intelligent or unintelligent, accurate or inaccurate. If it be the case that £300 million is an excessive sum, that would appear on the return being made. I should think that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) would have been only too glad to have the facts made public to show that he is right in saying that £300 million is too much.

    I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman has made a slip. Is he seriously suggesting that when we know the aggregate amount of the development values we shall know whether or not the £300 million is right?

    I wish to say that I have sufficient facts in my possession, and I am prepared to show them to the hon. and learned Member, to satisfy him that £300 million is robbery of the people.

    I hope that the hon. Member for West Fife will be able to convince the people of Scotland of the soundness of his views, though I think it will be a very prolonged task. I come back to the point mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Surely when we have the aggregate of the claims as determined by the Central Land Board we will be in a far better position to judge of the correctness or otherwise of the right hon. Gentleman's guess. If we do not have these figures, the right hon. Gentleman can go on saying that it was a very intelligent guess, without any possibility of being challenged. We are entitled to know at some time the total amount of these claims. I am dealing with the first part of the Clause. Indeed, I thought from one part of what he said that he was willing to give us that information.

    Division No. 204.]


    [6.31 p.m.

    Aitken, Hon. MaxChallen, C.Eccles, D. M.
    Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh)Channon, H.Eden, Rt. Hon. A
    Amory, D. HeathcoteClarke, Col. R. S.Fernyhough, E.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. RClifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.
    Astor, Hon. M.Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M
    Barlow, Sir J.Cooper-Key, E. M.Gage, C.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. HCrookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F C.Ganimans, L. D.
    Beechman, N. A.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EGrimston, R. V.
    Bennett, Sir P.Crowder, Capt. John EHannon, Sir P. (Moseley)
    Bower, N.Davidson, ViscountessHarvey, Air-Comdre, A. V.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Digby, S. W.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C
    Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Dodds-Parker, A. DHinchingbrooke, Viscount
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P WHudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)
    Bullock, Capt. M.Drayson, G. B.Jarvis, Sir J.
    Carson, EDugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Jeffreys, General Sir G

    6.30 p.m.

    in that case, I will pursue the right hon. Gentleman a little further and ask that it should be broken up so that we can see to what extent the aggregate amount of the claims relate to claims in respect of minerals. We should have that information given to us in view of statements that he has made on earlier occasions. With regard to the second part of the Clause, the Minister tried to avoid acceding to it by making particular reference to determination on a single claim. I agree that those words may have difficulties about them, but surely the Central Land Board, who will be concerned with assessing the development values, will have to go into this matter in very great detail and will be in a position to exercise judgment in determining that factor rather than making the guess which the Minister admits he is making, apparently not based on any mathematical calculations or any process of reasoning. If it is on any process of reasoning, it has not yet been disclosed to us.

    He made one other very surprising statement. He said that no development value could be determined until the development had taken place. I thought that was one of the tasks that the Central Land Board had to do, because they have to levy the development charge before the development itself takes place. I am really surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should say that he is not prepared to accept this Clause so that the public shall know how the matter is progressing, and unless he can go further to meet us, I am afraid that we shall have no alternative but to divide against it.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes, mg; Noes, 281.

    Jennings, R.Neven-Spence, Sir BStanley, Rt Hon. O
    Keeling, E. HNicholson, G.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
    Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W HNoble, Comdr. A. H. PStrauss, H G (English Universities)
    Lambert, Hon. G.Nutting, AnthonyStuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
    Law, Rt. Hon. R. KO'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir HStudholme, H. G.
    Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A HOrr-Ewing, I. LTaylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
    Linstead, H. N.Peake, Rt. Hon. OThorneycroft G E. P (Monmouth)
    Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Peto, Brig. C. H. MThornton-Kemsley, C N
    Low, Brig. A. R W.Pickthorn, K.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A F
    Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.Vane, W. M. F.
    Mackeson, Brig. H. RPoole, O. B- S. (Oswestry)Walker-Smith, D
    McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Price-White, Lt.-Col. DWard, Hon. G. R
    MacLeod, J.Raikes, H. V.Wheatley, Colonel M. J
    Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Rayner, Brig. R.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Maitland, Comdr. J WReid, Rt. Hon. J S. C. (Hillhead)Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Manningham-Buller, R. ERoberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Marlowe, A. A. HRobertson, Sir D. (Streatham)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Marsden, Capt. A.Ropner, Col. LYork, C.
    Marshall, D (Bodmin)Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
    Medlicott, F.Sanderson, Sir F.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Mellor, Sir J.Savory, Prof. D. LMr. Drewe and
    Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Scott, Lord WCommander Agnew
    Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S. (C'nc'ster)Spearman, A. C M


    Adams, Richard (Bantam)Dames, PHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
    Adams, W T. (Hammersmith. South)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Hynd, H. (Hackney C.)
    Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Irving, W. J
    Allen, Scholefield Crewe)Davies, Edward (Burslem)Janner, B
    Allighan, GarryDavies, Ernest (Enfield)Jay, D. P. T
    Alpass, J. H.Davies, Harold (Leek)Jeger, G. (Winchester)
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Jeger, Dr. S W (St. Pancras, S.E.)
    Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)John, W.
    Attewell, H. C.Deer, G.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
    Austin, H. LewisDelargy, H JJones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
    Awbery, S. SDiamond, JJones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
    Ayles, W. H.Dodds, N. N.Keenan, W
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BDriberg, T E. NKenyon, C.
    Bacon, Miss ADumpleton, C. WKey, C. W.
    Balfour, A.Durbin, E. F. M.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E
    Barstow, P GEde, Rt. Hon. J. CKinley, J
    Barton, CEdelman, M.Kirby, B. V
    Batt, J. REdwards, A (Middlesbrough, E.)Kirkwood, D
    Bechervaise, A EEdwards, N. (Caerphilly)Lang, G
    Benson, G.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Lavers, S
    Bing, G. H CEvans, E. (Lowestoft)Leslie, J. R
    Binns, JEvans, John (Ogmore)Lever, N. H.
    Blenkinsop, AEvans, S N (Wednesbury)Levy, B. W
    Blyton, W. RFairhurst, F.Lewis, A W. J (Upton)
    Boardman, HFarthing, W. JLewis, T. (Southampton)
    Bottomley, A G.Field, Capt W JLipson, D. L.
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. WFoot, M. MLipton, Lt.-Col. M
    Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Forman, J CLogan, D. G
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Foster, W. (Wigan)Lyne, A. W.
    Brook, D. (Halifax)Freeman, Peter (Newport)McAdam, W
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Gallacher, W.McAllister, C.
    Brown, George (Belper)Ganley, Mrs. C SMcEntee, V. La T
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Gibbins, JMcKay, J. (Wallsend)
    Bruce, Major D W TGilzean, AMackay, R. W. G (Hull. N W)
    Buchanan, G.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)McKinley, A S.
    Burden, T. WGoodrich, H. E.Maclean, N. (Govan
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Gordon-Walker, P. CMcLeavy. F
    Byers, FrankGreenwood, Rt. Hon. A (Wakefield)Macpherson, T. (Romford)
    Callaghan, JamesGreenwood, A W J (Heywood)Mainwaring, W H
    Carmichael, JamesGrenfell, D. RMallalieu, J P W
    Castle, Mrs. B AGrey, C FMann, Mrs. J
    Chamberlain, R AGrierson EManning, C (Camberwell, N.)
    Champion, A JGriffiths, D. (Rather Valley)Manning, Mrs. L (Epping)
    Chater, D.Griffiths, RI. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Marshall, F (Brightside)
    Chetwynd, G. R.Griffiths, W D (Moss Side)Martin, J H.
    Clitherow, Dr. RGruffydd, Prof. W. JMedland, H M
    Cobb, F. A.Guest, Dr. L. HaderMellish, R. J
    Cocks, F. SHale, LeslieMesser, F
    Coldrick, WHall, W. G.Middleton, Mrs.
    Collindridge, F.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RMitchison, G R
    Collins, V. JHardy, E. A.Monslow, W.
    Colman, Miss G. MHastings, Dr. SomervilleMontague, F
    Cook, T. F.Herbison, Miss MMoody, A S
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. GHobson, C. R.Morley, R
    Corvedale, ViscountHolman, PMorris, Lt.-Col H (Sheffeld, C)
    Cove, W. G.Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
    Crawley, A.Hoy, J.Morrison, Rt Hon H (L'wish'm, E.)
    Grossman, R H GHubbard, TMort, D L
    Daggat, G.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Moyle, A

    Nally, W.Scott-Elliot, WTolley, L.
    Naylor, T. E.Shackleton, E. A. ATomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
    Neal, H. (Claycross)Sharp, GranvilleTurner-Samuels, M.
    Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Vernon, Maj. W. F
    Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)Viant, S. P
    Noel-Baker, Cap,. F. E. (Brentford)Shurmer, P.Wadsworth, G.
    Noel-Buxton, LadySilkin, Rt. Hon. L.Walkden, E.
    Oldfield, W. H.Silverman, J. (Erdington)Walker, G. H.
    Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Pargiter, G. A.Simmons, C. J.Warbey, W. N.
    Parkin, B. T.Skeffington, A. M.Watson, W. M.
    Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Paton, J. (Norwich)Skinnard, F. W.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
    Pearson, A.Smith, C, (Colchester)West, D G.
    Pearson, A.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Popplewell, E.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S)While, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Porter, E. (Warrington)Snow, Capt. J. W.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
    Porter, G. (Leeds)Sorensen, R. W.Wigg, Col. G. E
    Price, M. PhilipsSoskice, Maj. Sir FWilkes, L.
    Proctor, W. T.Stamford, W.Wilkins, W. A.
    Pryde, D. J.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Pursey, Cmdr. H.Stross, Dr. BWilliams, D. J. (Neath)
    Ranger, J.Stubbs, A. E.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Rankin, J.Summerskill, Dr. EdithWilliams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
    Rees-Williams, D. RSwingler, S.Williamson, T
    Reeves, J.Sylvester, G. O.Wise, Major F. J
    Reid, T. (Swindon)Symonds, A. L.Woods, G S
    Rhodes, H.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)Wyatt, W.
    Ridealgh, Mrs. MTaylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Yates, V. F.
    Roberts, A.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
    Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Zilliacus, K.
    Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Thomson, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
    Rogers, G. H. R.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Thurtle, ErnestMr. Joseph Henderson and
    Scollan, T.Tiffany, SMr Hannan.

    New Clause—(Provisions As To Building Land)

    Where any person engaged in the business of developing land shows to the satisfaction of the Minister that during the period of five years ending on the thirty-first day of March nineteen hundred and thirty-nine he was 90 engaged, and that on the seventh day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-seven he had an interest in land (not being land to which Section seventy-four of this Act applies) sufficient to enable him to carry out development of the kind carried out by him in the said period, the Minister may direct that no payment shall be made to that person under Part V of this Act in respect of an extent of such land not exceeding the extent of the land on which he has carried out development during the said period, and may direct that no development charge under Part VI of this Act shall be payable in respect of development of that kind carried out on any land in respect of which no payment under the said Part V has been made as aforesaid.— [ Mr. Walker-Smith.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    This proposed new Clause has a somewhat complicated history; but the Minister will acknowledge its respectable origins since it is partly, though not wholly, derived from the Minister's own suggestion made upstairs in the Standing Committee. This Clause is not designed to deal with what is known as dead ripe land. Dead ripe land is legislated for in Clause 74, which exempts dead ripe land from development charge and consequently denies it a claim to compensation. We take the view that the definition of dead ripe land contained in Clause 74 is too narrow. I am glad to see that the Minister has on the Order Paper an Amendment designed to widen Subsection (1, b) of Clause 74. I went into this point in some detail in the Standing Committee and I refer to it here because, though it is not precisely the subject matter of this new Clause, I greatly fear that owing to the time-table to which the House has been subjected, we shall not be able to discuss Clause 74 on the Report stage. That would appear to be almsot inevitable from the short time given for the discussion of this Bill.

    6.45 p.m.

    This new Clause does not deal with the same type of land as Clause 74, which deals with dead ripe land. This Clause deals with what the Minister has christened "near ripe land." This is a new and rather reprehensible addition to a vocabulary of jargon on the subject which has already grown to a considerable extent. May I say in parenthesis that I think it a pity that this subject of town and country planning should have lent itself to this peculiar excrescence of a technical vocabulary or jargon all its own. We have terms like "overspill" and "floating value" about which we have been talking this afternoon and which are the sort of liquid metaphors associated with it. We also have the fruity metaphors of "near ripe land" and "dead ripe land." It is a serious point that the use of all this jargon has a rather deterrent effect on the non-specialist in these matters, and makes him feel that the subject of town and country planning is a closed book except for the select few who understand this peculiar jargon.

    The Clause I am moving has an importance extending far beyond merely those who choose to specialise in these matters and those who choose to employ this somewhat degraded jargon which I am sure my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) would join me in deploring. May I say, therefore, that dead ripe land is understood to be land ready in all respects for immediate development. My right hon. and learned Friend defined it in the Committee upstairs as land on which the floating value defined by the Uthwatt Report has already settled: but that is, if I may say so, an interpretation of a jargon word by introducing another jargon word to define it.

    Near ripe land, which is the name that the Minister gave to the category of land we are providing for in this Clause, is really a reserve of land bought by builders and estate developers for the purpose of development but not so far developed, nor yet immediately capable of development, because of the peculiar circumstances of the time; that is to say, because of the unfavourable circumstances of the war, and of the present housing policy which is restrictive of private enterprise development. The land then that we seek to deal with in this Clause is that strategic reserve of land held at present by builders and estate developers which they are unable to deploy for reasons not within their own control, and this strategic reserve of land has a very big importance in the future of house building in this country. That is why I made the point earlier on that this Clause, and the principle embodied in it, has an importance far beyond the mere specialised importance of town and country planning law. In the Standing Committee the Minister agreed that we must decide the important question as to how this particular category of land is to be treated.

    What this Clause proposes is that builders should get what I would call a five-year ration of this near ripe land free from development charge and, of course, consequently denied the benefit of claim to compensation for loss of development value out of the £300 million global sum. The five-year ration of building land thus given under the terms of this Clause would then fall to be dealt with in precisely the same way as the dead ripe land already legislated for under Clause 74 of the Bill. That is to say, it will be exempt from the whole machinery of development charge, and of compensation. It will be free from the one, and will not attract the other. Under the proposed Clause, three conditions must be satisfied before the builders can get the advantage of this five-year ration of land in the way I have described. In the first place, they must show to the satisfaction of the Minister that they were bona fide builders or estate developers in the five-year period preceding the war or, to be more precise, in the period March, 1934, to March, 1939. That is the first condition they must satisfy.

    The second condition that they must satisfy is that they must be in possession of sufficient land in January, 1947, to enable them to carry out development of the kind specified. The third condition they must satisfy is that the amount of land to be exempted from development charge under the provisions of this Clause must not exceed the land actually developed by the builder or estate developer in the five-year period, March, 1934, to March, 1939. That is the proposal as put forward in this Clause wan the object of giving builders a five-year ration of building land free from development charge.

    It is enabling them, in other words, to develop that land. Develop, again, is a jargon word which has arisen. In this context it really means to enable them to build houses and other useful buildings upon that land without the payment of development charge. The reason why they have not been able to build on that land before, as quite specifically admitted by the Minister in Committee upstairs, is due to the difficult circumstances of the time, over which they had no control. The reason why we want to enable them to build, is that the buildings they would put up would be of value to the community not only in regard to the house building programme, but in regard to the requirements of planning itself. Some of these reserves of land may possibly contain the beginnings of partly developed estates. It is extremely bad planning to have isolated houses or buildings on what should be a finished building estate.

    I pointed out in the beginning of my speech that the remedy which I am proposing to assist builders in this position had its origin partly in the remedy proposed by the Minister to meet the same problem, the existence of which he has freely acknowledged. But the remedy in this Clause differs in one fundamental respect from the remedy proposed by the Minister for dealing with the problem of near ripe land. The Minister's remedy, as indicated to the Standing Committee, is to give to builders in respect of near ripe land a preferential claim for compensation from the £300 million global sum. In the Minister's suggestion that preferential claim on the amounts drawn from the compensation fund, will of course serve as a set-off against the development charges which they must pay. In our view that remedy is a bad remedy, for one simple and sufficient reason. The concession the Minister proposes to give, in respect of this land, is a preferential claim on the compensation fund. If he gives to certain parties or persons preferential claims on the compensation fund, the inevitable consequence is that he diminishes the claims of other and deserving parties in respect of their compensation to be paid out of the same £300 million.

    In other words, what the Minister is proposing to do in respect of this land is to give to those builders a larger slice of a cake of fixed size, with the inevitable corollary that the size of the cake remaining for distribution is diminished to that extent. That is a remedy we feel it necessary to repudiate. We do not seek concessions along the lines of preferential claims upon the £300 million, but rather along the lines of taking this particular category of land out of the whole combined machinery of the levy of development charge, and the right to compensation. I must also repudiate the suggestion made by the Minister in Standing Committee that the right way to deal with this question would be by regulation. I do not think so. I think the principle as embodied in this Clause is quite clear and simple enough to take its place in the statute. Any principle which can be incorporated in the body of a statute, should be so incorporated, and not left to the machinery of regulations.

    The proposed Clause has the virtues of clarity and simplicity. The only defect I see in it—and I commend it to the Minister for his consideration—is that we have not made proper provision for the case of the builder who had not started operations until after the beginning of the five-year period in 1934. But, if the Minister adopts the principle, it will be quite easy for him to insert the necessary words in another place in order to cover the case of the new builder. This Clause is designed to stimulate building, and especially to stimulate house building. It is, therefore, a very practical suggestion. We on this side of the House believe that ultimately it will be necessary for the Minister of Health, in support of his housing programme, to say to these private enterprise builders;
    "Come over into Macedonia and help us."
    The right hon. Gentleman upstairs in Committee very nearly took that view. I think he was only restrained at the last moment by a sudden recollection of the doctrine of Cabinet responsibility, from giving to the sentiments to which giving I have just referred. This Clause would help the cause of house building in this country and, therefore, I think it has a good claim on the goodwill of the House.

    7.0 p.m.

    I beg to second the Motion.

    In Committee, the Minister gave some assurance about this. If I may read his words, he said;
    "I recognise that this Clause may need some widening … I think that the case one wants to meet is that of the person who bought land before the war with the bona-fide intention of developing it as part of his business, but was prevented from doing so by the war, and has since been prevented from doing so by a combination of reasons which are well known to Members of this Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D. 26th Marco, 1947; c. 804.]
    He then went on to read his statement about near ripe land, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) has reminded the House, was almost identical. with one exception, with the new Clause. We therefore anticipated that he would come to the House on Report stage with Amendments which would incorporate in the Bill the statement which he made in Committee. It is only because he has not done so that we have put down this new Clause. Many of us think that it does not go far enough. I would like to see it go a good deal further, because we are not here really dealing with the problem of dead ripe land, which I would like to see dealt with. But in so far as this new Clause is an attempt to incorporate the intention of the Minister, as clearly expressed in the Committee stage, I am sure that it ought to commend itself to all sides of the House. We are not legislating for detail. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford reminded the House of one point of detail, that of the builder who started operations recently, and who would not qualify for the five-year ration. Those matters could be dealt with by regulations. It is the principle which we want to see incorporated in the place where it should be incorporated, namely, in the Bill.

    This new Clause has been moved on the basis that it is reasonably identical with the offer I made on the Committee stage. This Clause goes very much further than the proposal that I made.

    I had hoped that I had made it clear that though, in origin, it owed something to the Minister's suggestion upstairs, it had what I described as one very important fundamental difference. I then explained that the difference arises from the relationship of this Clause to the whole question of compensation and 'development charge. I did not suggest that it was identical. Of course, it is not.

    Then we have cleared that misconception out of the way, because the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) rather made the point that I might accept this Clause because it was similar to the offer which I made in Committee. One point on which I should like to agree with the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) is that we shall not reach Clause 74, on the assumption that we proceed in the leisurely way in which we have dealt with the last two or three Clauses.

    I am not able to accept this new Clause. I thought I had gone as far as it was reasonable to go in dealing with the type of land which I described as near ripe land, a term which the hon. Gentleman does not like. I hope he will find a better one for it, if not during the Report stage of this Bill. After all, Clause 74, as it will be amended, does bring in all the land which ought to be exempted from the operations of compensation and development charge. I should remind the House of what the conditions are. They are easily satisfied. There has to be a building contract in existence on the appointed day, made at any time within 10 years previous to 7th January, 1947, or a by-law submission, or, if my Amendment is accepted, a building application. Those are conditions which are easily satisfied. If the owner of land has a bona fide intention of developing his land, and a possibility of developing it—both are needed to make land dead ripe—at any time within to years, he will have complied with one or other of those requirements.

    We are here dealing with an owner of land who has not satisfied any of these requirements, but who may be in possession of land which he had some intention, at some time, of developing. Why did he not develop? I admit there may be causes, such as that he could not develop because of the difficulties arising out of the war, but there was a great deal of land in the possession of developers at the outbreak of war, and before that, which they did not develop for quite different reasons. They did not develop because the demand was slowing down, because there was the competition of other sites, and possibly for a variety of other reasons. Many developers bought land with the deliberate intention of holding that land for some years, knowing quite well that they were not proposing to develop for a long time to come, knowing that the land was not ripe for development, possibly waiting for services to be provided at the expense of the community, possibly waiting for new means of transport, for a new station. Land which was not ripe for development was bought for a great variety of reasons.

    The effect of the proposed new Clause would be to make all types of land of that kind available for the treatment which is provided in Clause 74, so long as the owner had carried on business as a builder for five years. I thought that the proposal I made as regards near ripe land was generally acceptable to the Committee. If the hon. Member repudiates that offer, and he speaks with authority on behalf of those who would have benefited by the offer, I am quite willing to accept his repudiation.

    I think the Minister is involving himself in a misunderstanding on two points, the first being in regard to the acceptance of the proposal which he made to the Standing Committee. He came there, without notice, and read a long and detailed statement, and said most expressly that if we on our side wished to reserve judgment, he would fully appreciate our position. Secondly, he was kind enough to say that I spoke with authority. When I say that we repudiate this particular method of going about the matter, I am speaking of my hon. Friends in this House. What would be the views of those who were designed to benefit by it, he would be able to find out from them. I am only speaking for those in this House, who will not benefit, but who are interested from the point of view of the community.

    I put that question advisedly. The hon. Member asked me whether I had had consultations on this matter. I told him that I had, and that the people I had consulted expressed themselves as being satisfied with the proposals. Knowing the hon. Gentleman's associations I wondered whether he was speaking with authority in repudiating these proposals.

    I gathered not. I think they go as far as is reasonable. They take care of the bona fide owner of land who carries on business as a builder, and who bought land in anticipation of being able to develop at some time, but who realised, in the years immediately before the war, that he was not going to develop at that time, and that it would be some years before he would develop; in other words, that his land was not dead ripe. I felt there was some difficulty in saying land was dead ripe and so became liable for the benefits provided in Clause 75, or was not dead ripe, and got nothing at all. There may be a stage when land is nearly dead ripe. I have tried to indicate what I had in mind in classifying such land as available for the benefits I set out before the Committee. I hope the House will recognise that this is reasonable treatment for people who were in possession of such land at the outbreak of war, and that they ought not to receive the same treatment as if that land were actually ripe for development.

    The only other point is whether this should have been put in the Bill or left to be done by regulations. I felt it was better, on the whole, to do it by regulations. If the House will look at the proposals that I actually made, hon. Members will see that they do mean some flexibility. I ought to leave some elbow room for modifications in the light of experience of how the thing works. To have put the thing into the Bill would have involved rigidity, not to be altered without another Act of Parliament. But if hon. Gentlemen, after consideration, would really prefer to have the proposal that I made in Committee in the Bill, then, as it is not a thing on which I feel at all strongly, I should be quite prepared to put it in; but they, and those who would benefit by it, must take the consequences. I think it would be wiser to have the thing in regulations.

    Would not the way to do it in the Bill be to follow the precedent which is set in so many other Clauses, and say the regulation may prescribe so and so? That would allow the right hon. Gentleman the flexibility, I think, all of us want.

    That is a point which merits consideration, and if hon. Members opposite are prepared to withdraw the Amendment, subject to my undertaking to do something of that sort, I shall be willing to do it.

    The right hon. Gentleman explained his new proposals in Committee on Clause 75, as it then was; and I think that fact is significant, because at that time, of course, we had already disposed of the Clauses dealing with compensation payable out of the £300 million fund. We disposed of that aspect of the matter, but we came on to the particular scheme which he indicated to the Committee. I imagine that his reason for deferring that statement was that, in fact, it was only at that stage that the scheme had taken proper form in his mind. In the course of his remarks in the Committee the right hon. Gentleman said:

    "If the payment he"—
    that is, the builder—
    "receives is less than the charge he has to pay, then an additional item is being added to his costs, over and above the price he paid for the land in the first place—a price that may. perhaps, have included the full development value."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 26th March, 1947; c. 806.]
    It is perfectly plain from those words that the right hon. Gentleman contemplates that there will be a good deal of land, at any rate, which is fully ripe, in every ordinary use of that term, that is to say, which has been paid for at its full development value, which is to be brought within the £300 million fund, and not excluded under Section 74 of the Bill. It is in respect of that land that I, for my own part, take exception to the Minister's scheme, and desire to see it amended in the sense proposed in this new Clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith).

    7.15 p.m.

    It may be that the particular wording of this Clause is not altogether appropriate to cover what we have in mind. That may easily be so with an Opposition new Clause. But the principle which I wish to see established is the principle that where land on the appointed day is fully ripe there should be no call on the £300 million fund in order to make good the amount of the development charge which will be raised upon it. I think that is the shortest way to put it. It is certainly a principle on which I shall be prepared to go into the Lobby, in the event of this new Clause being taken to a Division.

    The right hon. Gentleman presumably found his particular plan a novel idea when he propounded it in the Committee upstairs, but I would remind him that, during the Debate on Second Reading of the Bill, he defended the sum of £300 million, not only as adequate, but as being not more than adequate: He was attacked both from above and below, and he had to contend with his own followers on the other side of the House, and argue that under the distribution of the £300 million fund those who were to receive compensation were not getting too much. I venture to say that, at that time, he must, presumably, have had some sort of an idea in his mind as to how that fund was to be distributed, and that that idea did not include any notion of giving the lion's share to one particular section of the community. So that his new plan, by which he must inevitably take a large amount out of that global sum, must result in taking something from those who are already, in accordance with his own arguments, merely getting a barely adequate amount. In other words, his argument on Second Reading and his argument in Committee upstairs clearly mean he contemplates doing a grave injustice to those who are not going to take the direct benefit of his scheme.

    There is another aspect of this matter which should be brought out at this stage. If a builder's land is to receive—or some of it—full compensation—and by that I mean, the full amount of any development value which he is called upon to pay—it will be a matter of indifference to that builder whether he claims in respect of that land against the £300 million fund whether he claims outside that fund; in other words, be exempt from development value under Clause 74 of the Bill. In one case, he will get no compensation and pay no charge; in the other case, no will pay a charge but he will receive precisely an equal amount of compensation: it will not make any difference to him under which heading he falls.

    It is true, of course, that in the case of some builders holding a large amount of land, perhaps an excessive amount of land, they will have residual interest which they cannot bring within the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. But I have been at some pains in the matter to ascertain what the position is, and I gather that, in the case of a very high proportion, virtually the whole of their land would be included in the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. Quite rightly, of course. I do not blame them, and, indeed, I wish to see them treated in precisely the way m which the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to treat them, but it is altogether unfair that they should get fair treatment at the expense of the rest of the community. When they are going to be faced with this alternative, the tendency, on the whole, will be for them to take the easier course, and so, in the ordinary way, to make a claim by virtue of being builders instead of covering the whole of their land. They will not go through the difficulties and complications of claiming to be exempt from the whole scheme under Clause 74. If that is not universally so. I am sure there will be quite a large number of such cases.

    We are providing that owners of land which should have been exempt altogether, and correctly, under Clause 74 of the Bill, will tend not to be brought in under that Clause, but to seek the equivalent of exemption in the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, and, in so doing, will be benefiting at the expense of less fortunate persons. They will be claiming a position which will be more favourable as against all others who are not able to bring their land under this scheme. I think that will lead to bad administration, and I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman will make such a scheme at all. He has said that he is willing to put the scheme within the Bill, instead of leaving it to regulations. If he does so, there will be an opportunity on the Floor of the House of discussing whatever is proposed. I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion, although it would certainly not satisfy me that the scheme is a good one, but I am glad to hear that it will, at some time, come before this House.

    Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I want him to be quite fair. I said that, if hon. Gentlemen pressed me to put it into the Bill, I would be willing to consider it.

    I take it that the suggestion is that it would be introduced in another place, and would come to us after some discussion. Owing to the difficulties which we have to meet through the curtailment of the discussion, there have been enormous difficulties, and here is a typical example. If we had had an opportunity of discussing it properly in Committee upstairs, we should have been able to go into it fully and adequately, but, as it is, we must take what we can get, and I hope that, if the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept the Amendment, he will bring before us what he is proposing so that we can give him our views on that matter.

    The right hon. Gentleman will remember the circumstances in which this proposal of his was discussed on the Committee stage. It was after he had been pressed with regard to the claims of builders owning land required to be purchased for development purposes, and after he had been impressed by the force of the arguments put forward in their favour. When he had announced his proposals at the next sitting, after giving them careful consideration, we expressed the view that, while they were satisfactory in some degree, we did not welcome the suggestion that there should be a priority charge on the £300 million fund. As said then, and as is the case now, when the right hon. Gentleman recognises this category of near-ripe land, that is, land which is so ripe it ought to be taken out of the operation of the development charge, his argument really is that the individual owning this land should not have to pay anything out of his pocket for development. If that be the gist of his argument, why is it necessary to deplete the £300 million fund notionally by making false entries? The only effect of operating it that way is to diminish the fund for those claiming benefit on account of hardship.

    The hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) put, I thought, an extremely cogent argument as to the relationship between Clauses 74 and 75, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to think again on that point. There is not much difference between his scheme as outlined in Committee and this new Clause now under discussion. The material difference is whether this land is treated as dead ripe land—as being so ripe that it ought not to be put on a development charge—or whether for purposes of book entries and reducing the amount available in cases of hardship and compensation for minerals, we should include it as a charge upon that development fund. I should like the Minister to say that he will look at it again. We have not had much discussion of this matter, for the simple reason that it was announced one morning and we gave our first thoughts about it. This new Clause has enabled us to have some discussion on the question now.

    In regard to the second point, whether the scheme should be put into the Bill or dealt with by regulations, I do not think that it falls upon us to express any view upon that, except to say that, where possible, we prefer to have schemes of this character put into a Bill when the Bill first comes before the House for Second Reading. We could then have opportunities for discussing and considering it, and tabling Amendments where need be. If one is asked whether we should prefer to have this scheme now put into the Bill in another place, with, it may be, limited opportunities for consideration in this House, or whether it would be preferable to have it put into regulations, I do not think that is a question on which I am called upon to express an opinion, particularly as one is ignorant of the details of the scheme which is in the Minister's mind. As the right hon. Gentleman really recognises this near-ripe land, which should not be burdened with a development charge, in the sense in which the person owning the land has to pay out of his own pocket, I suggest that he should go a stage further and free the £300 million fund from an obligation to meet such claims when that process merely amounts to a cross-entry in a ledger for compensation received.

    Division No. 205.]


    [7.30 p.m.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Peto, Brig. C. H. M
    Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W (Armagh)Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Pickthorn, K.
    Amory, D. HeathcoteHarvey, Air-Comdre, A. V.Ponsonby, Col. C. E
    Astor, Hon. M.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CPrescott, Stanley
    Baldwin, A. E.Hollis, M. C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
    Barlow, Sir J.Howard, Hon. A.Raikes, H. V.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow. C.)Ramsay, Maj. S.
    Beechman, N. A.Jarvis, Sir J.Rayner, Brig. R.
    Bennett, Sir P.Jeffreys, General Sir GReed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
    Bower, N.Jennings, R.Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Keeling, E. H.Sanderson, Sir F.
    Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Lambert, Hon. G.Savory, Prof. D. L.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P G. T.Langford-Holt, J.Scott, Lord W.
    Bullock, Capt. M.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Spearman, A. C. M.
    Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
    Challen, C.Linstead, H. N.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
    Cooper-Key, E. M.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Teeling, William
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EMacpherson, N. (Dumfries)Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F
    Cuthbert, W. N.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Walker-Smith, D.
    Davidson, ViscountessManningham-Buller, R. EWheatley, Colonel M. J.
    Digby, S. W.Marlowe, A. A. H.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.Marsden, Capt. A.Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. WMarshall, D. (Bodmin)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Drayson, G B.Mellor, Sir J.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Drewe, C.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
    Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalterMorrison, Rt. Hon. W S. (C'nc'ster)York, C.
    Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Neven-Spence, Sir B.
    Gage, C.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Gammans, L. DNutting, AnthonyMajor Conant and
    Gridley, Sir A.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.Mr. Studholme.
    Grimston, R VOrr-Ewing, I. L.

    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Ayres, W. H.Benson, G.
    Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BBevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Bacon, Miss A.Bing, G. H C
    Alpass, J. H.Balfour, A.Binns, J.
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Barstow, P. GBlenkinsop, A
    Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Barton, C.Blyton, W. R.
    Attewell, H. C.Battley, J. R.Boardman, H
    Austin, H. LewisBechervaise, A. EBottomley, A G.

    I would urge upon the Minister to reconsider the difficulty concerning this near-ripe land. The difficulties under Clause 74, in spite of what the Minister claimed for it, are very sweeping. I suggest that the Minister should accept a Clause which lays down a simple method of dealing with the matter satisfactorily, namely, a five year period when the land can be used for purposes of building without paying this development charge and without any compensation system at all, there being no floating value to speak of, which is the justification for the right hon. Gentleman's complicated system of compensation. I do press upon the Minister that he should realise the importance of this new Clause.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes. 97; Noes, 296.

    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Parkin, B. T.
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
    Bramall, E. A.Hardy, E. APaton, J. (Norwich)
    Brook, D (Halifax)Hastings, Dr. SomervillePearson, A.
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Herbison, Miss M.Pearl, Capt. T. F.
    Brown, George (Belper)Hewitson, Captain M.Popplewell, E.
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Hobson, C. R.Porter, E. (Warrington)
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. THolman, P.Porter, G. (Leeds)
    Buchanan, G.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Price, M. Philips
    Burden, T. WHoy, J.Pritt, D. N.
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Hubbard, T.Proctor, W. T
    Byers, FrankHudson, J. H, (Ealing, W.)Pryde, D. J.
    Callaghan, JamesHughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Pursey, Cmdr. H.
    Carmichael, JamesHynd, H. (Hackney. C.)Ranger, J.
    Castle, Mrs. B. A.Irving, W. J.Rankin, J.
    Chamberlain, R. A.Janner, B.Rees-Williams, D. R
    Champion, A. JJay, D. P. T.Reeves, J.
    Chaser, D.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Chetwynd, G. R.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Rhodes, H.
    Clitherow, Dr. R.John, W.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
    Cobb, F. A.Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)Robens, A.
    Cocks, F. SJones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Coldrick, W.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Colman, Miss G. MJones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
    Comyns, Dr. L.Keenan, W.Rogers, G. H. R.
    Cook, T. F.Kenyon, C.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Corvedale, ViscountKey, C. W.Scollan, T.
    Cove, W. G.King, E. M.Scott-Elliot, W.
    Crossman, R. H. S.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EShackleton, E. A. A.
    Daggar, G.Kinley, J.Sharp, Granville
    Daines, P.Kirby, B. V.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
    Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Kirkwood, DShawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
    Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Lang, G.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)Lavers, S.Shurmer, P.
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. JSilkin, Rt. Hon. L.
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Lee, F. (Hulme)Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
    Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Leslie, J. R.Simmons, C. J.
    Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Lever, N. H.Skeffington, A. M.
    Deer, G.Levy, B. W.Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
    Delargy, H. JLewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Skinnard, F. W.
    Diamond, J.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Dobbie, WLipton, Lt.-Col. M.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Dodds, N. N.Logan, D. G.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Driberg, T. E. N.Lyne, A. W.Snow, Capt. J. W.
    Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)McAdam, W.Solley, L. J
    Dumpleton, C. W.McAllister, G.Sorensen, R. W.
    Durbin, E. F. M.McEntee, V. La T.Soskice, Maj. Sir F
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.McGhee, H G.Stamford, W.
    Edelman, M.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)Strachey, J.
    Edwards, John (Blackburn)McKinley, A S.Stross, Dr. B.
    Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)McLeavy, F.Stubbs, A. E.
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Summerskill, Dr. Edith
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Macpherson, T. (Rumford)Swingler, S.
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Mainwaring, W. H.Symonds, A L.
    Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Ewart, R.Mann, Mrs. J.Taylor, R.J. (Morpeth)
    Fairhurst, F.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Farthing, W. J.Manning, Mrs. L, (Epping)Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
    Field, Capt. W. J.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Medland, H. M.Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
    Foot, M. M.Mellish, R. J.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Forman, J. C.Middleton, Mrs. LThurtle, Ernest
    Foster, W. (Wigan)Mitchison, G. RTiffany, S.
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Monslow, W.Titterington, M. F.
    Freeman, Peter (Newport)Montague, F.Tolley, L.
    Gallacher, W.Moody, A. S.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
    Ganley, Mrs. C. S.Morley, R.Turner-Samuels, M.
    Gibbins, JMorris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Ungoed-Thomas, L.
    Gilzean, A.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Vernon, Maj. W. F
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (L'wish'm, E.)Viant, S. P.
    Gooch, E. G.Mort, D. L.Wadsworth, G.
    Goodrich, H. E.Moyle, A.Walkden, E.
    Gordon-Walker, P. C.Nally, W.Walker, G. H.
    Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Naylor, T. E.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Neal, H, (Claycross)Watson, W. M.
    Grenfell, D. R.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Grey, C. FNoel-Baker, Cap.. F. E (Brentford)Weitzman, D.
    Grierson E.Noel-Buxton, LadyWells, P. L. (Faversham)
    Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)O'Brien, T.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon, J. (Llanelly)Oldfield, W. H.West, D. G.
    Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Oliver, G. H.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.Paling, Rt. Hon, Wilfred (Wentworth)White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Guest, Dr. L. HadenPaling, Will T. (Dewsbury)White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Hale, LesliePargiter, G. A.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Hall, W. G.Wigg, Col. G. E.

    Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Wilkes, L.Wise, Major F. J.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
    Wilkins, W. A.Woodburn, AZilliacus, K.
    Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)Woods, G. S
    Williams, D. J. (Neath)Wyatt, W.


    Williams, J L, (Kelvingrove)Yates, V. FMr. Joseph Henderson and

    Clause 2—(The Central Land Board)

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 33, at the end, to insert:

    "(6) The Board shall, as soon as possible after the end of each financial year of the Board, make to the Ministers a report on the exercise and performance by them of their functions under this Act during that year; and the Ministers shall lay a copy of every such report before each House of Parliament.
    This and the next two Amendments are submitted in compliance with an undertaking which I gave in the Standing Committee to insert these words. They are self-explanatory, and I shall not detain the House by offering any further explanation.

    I would like to say that we on this side of the House are obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his consideration.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 3—(General Provisions As To Functions Of Central Land Board)

    Amendment made: In page 2, line 38, at end, insert "of a general character."— [ Mr. Silkin.]

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 39, at the end, to insert:

    "(2) The report made for any year under Subsection (6) of the last foregoing Section shall set out any direction given by the Minister to the Board during that year unless the Minister has notified to the Board his opinion that it is against the national interest so to do."
    This Amendment also gives effect to the undertaking which I gave that the Board's annual report should set out the directions given by the Minister.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 4, at the end, to add:

    "and shall include a statement of the total amount by which sums paid or secured by way of development charges under Part VI of this Act are less than the amounts to be assessed under Subsection (2) of Section sixty-three of this Act in relation to those operations or uses in respect of the carrying out or institution of which the said charges were paid or secured."
    I suggest that this is one of the most important Amendments which we shall discuss on the Report stage of this Bill. Unfortunately, the most important matters with which this Bill deals are couched in highly technical and alarming language, and, although, in fact, they deal with matters which ultimately affect the individual citizen very closely, he is, nevertheless, at the moment entirely unaware of how the Bill will apply to him in due course. During the Committee stage upstairs there was considerable argument as to whether a development charge was really a tax or a commercial price which the Central Land Board would be charging for the development value which they had to sell. In order that I should deal properly with this Amendment, I think it is necessary that I should appear to go rather wide in explaining the purposes for which we have put this Amendment on the Order Paper. Under the Bill as it is drafted, and as it has been, and will be, amended, if all the Government Amendments are agreed to, the development charge may still be either a tax or a commercial price. The Bill leaves that question open. It is a question which ultimately will have to be settled for the regulations which are to be made under the Bill, and the policy of the Central Land Board in carrying out those regulations.

    7·45 P.m.

    But a most important question of policy, in fact, turns upon the issue as to whether this charge is to be a tax or a price. Upon that issue turns the question of how the development charge is to be assessed, and also the question of whether or not there is to be, for the developer against whom the charge is levied, some right of appeal against what he may regard as an unfair decision of the Central Land Board. The Opposition were gently taken to task by "The Times" in a leading article the other day for arguing upstairs in Committee that this charge was a tax. I think it is right and proper that I should attempt' to correct that impression. Speaking for myself—and I think, perhaps, I argued it a little more strongly than did other hon. Members in the Committee upstairs—my intention was twofold. In the first place, I desired to point out that whatever might be the intention of the Government, this charge would inevitably come to be regarded as a tax on development, quite apart from the intentions of those who are creating such a charge under the Bill. In the second place, I desired to ascertain the Government's intentions in this respect. We ascertained them quite clearly, and the Minister said that he was in favour of a development charge being in the nature of a commercial price. He wanted the charge to be upon the commercial price basis. I think he will agree with that.

    I see the right hon. Gentleman is indicating his assent. I, too, am in favour of that view, and so I believe is "The Times" newspaper. There is, therefore, complete agreement between all those who commented on this matter that it is desirable that a development charge should be made on the basis of the value of what is being sold, and not on the basis of trying to recover from the citizen something for the swelling of the national revenue. On that footing, we have tabled certain Amendments to Clause 63 to which this Amendment refers. I must refer briefly to those Amendments in order to explain the purpose of the Amendment which I am moving. There is an Amendment to page 68, line 2, to insert:

    "(4) In determining whether any and if so what development charge is to be paid under this Part of this Act in respect of any operations or any use of land, the Board shall—
  • (a) consider any statement submitted by the person applying for the determination of the development charge setting out particulars of, and any facts calculations and contentions in regard to, his application;
  • (b) assess the amount by which the value of the land with the benefit of planning permission for those operations or that use exceeds the value which it would have without the benefit of such permission; and such assessment shall be notified to the person applying for the determination; and
  • (c) have regard in making their determination to the amount assessed under the last foregoing paragraph, and to the principles prescribed by the Treasury in regulations made under the last foregoing Subsection; and the Board shall furnish to the person applying for the determination a statement setting out particulars of the calculations and contentions of the Board in relation thereto:
  • Provided that any person aggrieved by such assessment or determination may appeal to the tribunal constituted under the War Damage (Valuation Appeals) Act, 1945, and the provisions of that Act and of any rules made thereunder shall apply to appeals under this Section."
    So far as it is relevant for the present purpose, the Amendment seeks to do two things. It seeks, in the first place, to require the Central Land Board to assess development charges on a commercial basis. I am putting the matter shortly. It is not quite so simple as that, but that is the purpose for which we put down the Amendment. The Central Land Board are to take a commercial basis upon which to fix their charge in the first place; and, subject to that, they are to be allowed to depart from that basis only in accordance with definite and published principles to be laid down by regulation. In other words, if a developer comes to the Board and asks to have a development charge fixed, he will know how that charge is to be fixed; the Board will be selling an article, the value of which can be determined by appropriate means, and then they can only charge a different amount from the value determined in accordance with definite published rules. I believe that is, broadly speaking, the intention of the Minister. From what he has said in the course of the Committee proceedings, I think that is the sort of plan he has in mind regarding the fixing of these charges.

    Put in another way, there are really three choices open to us on how to arrive at development charges. First, the full commercial value can be charged; in other words, the Board would simply sell what they have to sell at the highest price they could get. Secondly, they could make a charge on some arbitrary assessment; in other words, they could levy a tax. Thirdly, they could charge the commercial value less some amount which would be arrived at in accordance with rules; in other words, they would charge a commercial value less an element which would be a subsidy. It does not matter how the ultimate amount is varied from the true commercial value, if there is a variation the concern which gets the benefit of that variation will be having a subsidy paid to it. As the Bill is drafted, the subsidy element in the development charge may be entirely concealed. The Board are simply authorised to levy development charges, and there is nothing to say how those charges are to be arrived at, and nothing to compel the Board to give any sort of particulars, either to the individual charged or to the public, as to what they are doing in this respect.

    The purpose of the Amendment is to require the total amount of subsidy given away in this fashion each year to be disclosed to the public. The Amendment provides that the Board shall say what is the difference between the amount which they, in fact, get in in development charges, and the total amount which they could have got in on a purely commercial basis. As always occurs we have had some difficulty in framing an Amendment in reasonably simple terms to give effect to our precise intention. There is a peculiar difficulty in this case because, of course, we have no idea at all what sort of scheme the Government have in their minds for giving precise directions as to how the subsidy element in the development charges is to be arrived at. The Amendment only requires the Board to give grand totals; in other words, a simple figure would, in fact, comply with our Amendment. However, I think we should have something considerably wider than that. Presumably, when, in due course, the regulation for leaving a development charge comes to be made, we shall find that it provides for specially favourable treatment for certain classes of undertakings' activities and certain individuals.

    For instance, we should probably find that new industries acquiring land in the development areas are only to pay, say, 50 per cent. of the rate which they would have to pay if they were elsewhere; or it might be a fixed sum, by which the charge in that type of case would differ from the amount of charge they would have to pay if they were setting up in, say, Middlesex or elsewhere Again, it may be that the Government would use this scheme in order to favour certain industries. I do not want to cite examples, but clearly there are certain industries which, at any given moment, are generally regarded as necessary and desirable in the public interest. It may he the Government would make a Regulation favouring those industries in acquiring the land which they would require for their purpose. Again, it may be that certain other activities— for instance, housing, the building of schools, and so on—would receive more favourable treatment than other activities generally.

    I am not putting forward these examples as my idea of what is desirable. On the contrary, my own view in this matter is that this subsidy element is generally undesirable as a whole. I think the great and lasting malice of this Bill is, that it will enable the Government of the day to sub-sidise industries in accordance with what the Government think right instead of allowing the natural development of industries. Further, I think it is entirely wrong that by means of a planning Bill, and through the Minister of Town and Country Planning, there should be a power which will enable the Government to pay very large subsidies to industries which have nothing whatever to do with town and country planning. My purpose is to point out to the House how it seems to me this scheme must ultimately work. I think it is necessary to speculate to this extent, and I hope the Minister will give some indication of what is in his mind It is essential, if we are to understand the wider implications of this matter, that he should do so.

    Having said that, assuming that the Government have something of this sort in mind, we must then ask them to provide the machinery by which the method under which this policy is being carried out will be fairly and adequately disclosed to the House of Commons and to the country. In other words, I do not think a mere sum total of the amount being lost to the Revenue by way of subsidy under the development charge provisions of this Bill would he enough There should be more than that. The Board should be bound to report on how far they have subsidised, either sets of industries or particular industries and particular activities. If we are to allow a considerable drain from the national resources through this particular channel, then we must know how that money is being applied, and, in addition, the method by which it should be applied, which will be contained in the regulation. I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to indicate that what I have suggested in moving the Amendment is in the Government's mind. If so, I think he should agree that it is necessary that this should be expressly provided for in the Bill.

    8.0 p.m.

    I am sure the House is very much obliged for the very clear way in which the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) has stated a very difficult and technical problem. I assure him that I found no difficulty in following the points he made. What he is asking would be of very great difficulty administratively. I know that he says one figure would be sufficient to comply with the Amendment, but, of course, no one knows better than does the hon. Member that the Board would have to work out a very large number of figures in order to get the one figure which would go into the report, and it would mean a very heavy burden. I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member has moved the Amendment on the assumption that the figures which will be necessary in order to arrive at that total—that is, the second figure—will be readily available, and that in each case the Board will make a calculation as to what is the actual amount they could accept and then make a deduction fro n that as to what they will, in fact, be prepared to accept; but they are not called upon to do that, and in the vast majority of cases they will not, in fact, make these calculations. What Clause 63 (2) requires them to do is to make a judgment as to what the permission to develop or the permission for the change of usage is worth, and in assessing that they will carry out all valuations which are usual and proper in such cases, but they will not necessarily make the calculations which the hon. Gentleman contemplates they will make in every case, and unless they made those calculations, the task that would be put upon them would be almost impossible to comply with.

    I would not, however, entirely reject this Amendment, as I propose to ask the House to do, merely on the grounds of its administrative difficulty. If a thing is difficult, it is done; if it is impossible, then we must consider it. I do not base my case merely on the difficulty, great as it is, but the House ought to be satisfied that if the administrative difficulties are really great, there is some benefit to be gained in attempting to surmount those difficulties. The hon. Gentleman has explained to the House what is the benefit which he thinks will flow in making the calculation contemplated in the Amendment. He thinks that by that means it would be possible to establish what is the concealed subsidy which the State is providing for industry. I respectfully suggest that it would disclose nothing of the kind. The hon. Gentleman said, in the earlier part of his remarks, that he and I were in agreement in saying that the Board would be actuated by commercial principles. I say tempered by the public interest. By commercial principles I imagine he contemplates that it would get the best price possible, and if the best price possible is obtained, there is no subsidy.

    The hon. Gentleman possibly has in mind cases where the Central Land Board will deliberately accept a lower development charge than it might otherwise do for some public purpose, such as the attraction of industry to a Development Area; but even if that were so—and I will deal with that in a moment—how would it be possible to distinguish, having got the total, between such cases—which I agree would be in the nature of a subsidy —and other cases where the Board did its best and got the best possible price, but where owing to lack of demand, lack of labour and other circumstances it was not able to get the figure which it thought it should do? If the Board made the sort of calculation which the hon. Gentleman has in mind and arrived at the figure, I submit that that figure would be wholly misleading and would give the impression that the subsidy which was being granted was, in fact, very much greater than it really would be. There are all sorts of considerations that might make it necessary or desirable that the Central Land Board should accept a lower development charge than it might have had in mind.

    Even from a commercial point of view it is not always good business to accept the highest offer. Suppose the Central Land Board had a number of offers in respect of development value in a particular area; suppose the best offer was from a concern which the Board did not regard as being altogether reliable—and the best offer might well come from such a concern—suppose a really reliable firm, or a firm which the Board wanted to attract to the area because it might have the effect of attracting other industries, possibly dependent upon it, made a lower offer, and the Board, as a wise and prudent body, accepted the lower offer— according to the hon. Gentleman's calculations that would be regarded as a subsidy. But it would be nothing of the kind. It would not be subsidising a concern whose lower offer the Board had accepted. It would be a simple act of prudence.

    I was for many years a member of the London County Council and Chairman of its Housing Committee, and, as such, I was concerned with the letting of sites for industry on a number of housing estates. The London County Council is a public spirited body, but it is also, I hope, an efficient body, and in the management of its housing estates it is out to get the best possible terms for the people of London. We had to consider, in letting sites, whether a particular firm would employ a particular type of labour for whom there was a lack of employment in the area, and we considered that not necessarily from the point of view of a local authority but as prudent landowners, as prudent estate developers, and we might very well have accepted a lower offer on that score merely to provide the right kind of employment in the area. I deny entirely the suggestion that that would have been regarded as a subsidy. I do not want to elaborate this, I think I have made my point clear. Even if the right hon. Gentleman got his figures, even if it were practicable and would not involve serious administrative difficulties, the result he would get from those figures would be entirely misleading and would not give him any idea as to the amount of sub-sidy, if any, being given to industry.

    Finally, the right hon. Gentleman said that he would be interested to know our policy on the administration of the development charge, and I said in the course of my remarks that it would be the business of the Central Land Board to get the best possible development charge subject to carrying out the requirements of Clause 63 of the Bill and having regard to the general public interest. Even there, I submit that when they are having regard to the general public interest they are taking a long view, and are acting as prudent and good estate managers. I believe that the most successful private estate managers are those who really do take a long and public-spirited view; it is my own experience, and I am sure it must be the experience of a large number of hon. Members in this House who are acquainted with the subject, that they are the people who do best. In this particular case, taking a long and public spirited view really pays. I hope and believe that the Central Land Board will act in that spirit. It is the intention in the Bill that at a very early stage the Central Land Board should be given directions, and that regulations should be made. These will be placed before the House, which will be informed not only of the regulations but of the spirit in which the Central Land Board will be required to act, and I believe it will be found to give general satisfaction. I have not the same objections in individual, limited and proper cases to a subsidy, but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that if a subsidy is given it should be given on wide grounds of public interest having regard to the good principles of estate management rather than merely as a contribution—

    I am not clear whether it will be left to the Board to decide whether or not to ask a lower price than could be obtained, or whether the right hon. Gentleman contemplates giving directions to the Board which, under the Amendment he has just moved, would have to be published. Does he contemplate that directions would be given requiring the Board to give preferential treatment in certain classes of case?

    Mr. Silkin The point I was trying to make was that though in form, and technically, the Central Land Board might be giving a subsidy, from the point of view of good estate management I would suggest that it may be good business in the long run to accept a lower development charge in order to attract the right kind of concern. In answer to the specific point, I would not contemplate directing the Central Land Board to accept a particular firm. That, of course, must be a matter for the Board, but I do contemplate, possibly, saying to the Central Land Board that such and such an area badly needs redevelopment, and will they please encourage development in that area. For those reasons, I hope I have satisfied the hon. Gentleman that I have taken his Amendment quite seriously. I hope I have also satisfied him that he would not be justified in pressing it any further.

    8.15 p.m.

    I rather regret that the counter-attractions of nourishment have given such a small audience to a most interesting discussion, originated by my hon. Friend in a speech of wonderful clarity for the complications of the subject, and to the considered reply which the Minister has given. We are met with a very difficult and crucial aspect of this complicated 11, arising in its broadest form in this way. All quarters of the House would, I think, agree that the Board which has to levy these charges should have power and discretion to vary them according to circumstances, and once you start varying the charges for development you do influence the destination of different pieces of land and you do by that means affect the policy of the whole community. What my hon. Friend was seeking to emphasise, in principle, was that any policy-making body or policy-influencing body of a public character ought to disclose the extent to which it is acting in various directions, because it is of the essence of Parliamentary government that what public boards are doing should he done in the light, so that we may say what we think about their policy and express ourselves favourably or critically about it. It is clear that if these transactions take place in a hugger-mugger sort of way the Board conceivably might be influenced by motives of policy with which we should disagree.

    All we want to elicit, in principle, is what line of policy the Board is following in using this power to vary the development charge. I think the Minister's reply showed that with the principle he was in some sympathy, and I think it is a true argument to say that there might be causes of the variation of the development charges which had really nothing to do with policy matters but which were more concerned with estate management. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, who has gone a good way to meet us in the matter of the reports we have asked for from the Board, to see whether at a later stage he cannot meet us on the principle desired by this Amendment. I am perfectly sure that he would find the Board strengthened in its operations if it had behind it that public confidence which can only be ensured by proper disclosure of what it is doing. If, at the present moment, we do not press this to a Division, I would ask him to bear in mind that we on this side of the House are anxious about the point, and that we want to make sure that what is done to influence industrial and social policy through this immense power of varying charges for the development of land is done in the open.

    With the leave of the House, I will say that I am quite prepared to look again at the information which the Central Land Board is required to publish, and the form of its report. I, like the right hon. Gentleman. am most anxious that the activities of the Central Land Board shall receive the widest publicity. If it would meet the right hon. Gentleman's point I would look at it again and see whether, either by making the words more general or by adding something, we can add to the information which they will he required to submit in their annual reports. While for the reasons which I have given I do not think this would be either practicable or valuable. I will see what can be done.

    In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.

    Further Amendments made: In page 2 line 39, at the end, insert:
    "(2) The report made for any year under Subsection (6) of the last foregoing Section shall set out any direction given by the Minister to the Board during that year unless the Minister has notified to the Board his opinion that it is against the national interest so to do."
    In line 42, at the end, insert:
    "(3) Regulations made for the purposes of the last foregoing Section shall provide for requiring members of the Board who are interested in any land the subject of a claim or application made to the Board under this Act to disclose to the Board the nature of their interest, and may for that purpose apply any of the provisions of Section one hundred and forty-nine of the Companies Act, 1929. subject to such modifications as may be prescribed by the regulations."—[Mr. Silkin.]

    CLAUSE 4.—( Local planning authorities.)

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, to leave out "two," and to insert "one."

    The purpose of the Amendment is to facilitate the setting up of a joint board. As the Clause now stands, this can be done for areas of any two or more councils or parts of two or more councils. The Amendment enables the setting up of separate planning authorities for parts of the area of one council only. The Amendment is applicable only to a few counties in the country. It applies to counties such as the one in which my constituency is situated, Middlesex, and to counties like Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Its purpose is merely to empower. It does not require the right hon. Gentleman to do anything, but gives him power in appropriate cases to constitute as a planning authority parts of the county of say, Middlesex, taking three, four or more county districts, all situated in Middlesex. He is precluded by the Clause from making them into separate planning authorities.

    I do not press the right hon. Gentleman to indicate exactly what lines of demarcation he has in mind, but I do not want him to rule out the possibility of subdividing these great counties into smaller planning districts. Obviously, a county such as Rutland should, for planning purposes, be included with one of its neighbours.

    On the other hand, I gather that the intention of the right hon. Gentleman is that a county council area shall be a planning area, taking the average county throughout England. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman is taking such an area because it is an optimum area, the best sort of area he can find. If it were better to have larger areas there would be no great difficulty about throwing counties together, as it were in blobs of two or three at a time. Middlesex cannot possibly be the optimum area. It has millions of inhabitants. At the present time the total number is something of the order of 4· million, enormously greater than any other county. I suggest that it would be better to obtain the power to subdivide those large counties, if, when the right hon. Gentleman comes to work out his ultimate scale, he finds it desirable to do so. I can say that for planning purposes, Middlesex, like Gaul, has been divided into three parts. Those three parts have been among the most progressive planning authorities in the country. They have worked exceedingly well. It would be a pity at this stage to interfere with them. I do not press the right hon. Gentleman to commit himself on the question. I do ask him that he will not reject this proposal altogether but will at any rate retain power to keep the joint planning committees or the areas corresponding with those committees, as planning areas in Middlesex and similar counties.

    I have been in close touch with a joint planning committee in the extreme West of Cornwall, in a national park area. St. Ives and Penzance have joined together and have been working out the planning of that particularly beautiful locality. It is felt very strongly that they should be allowed to continue their work. Indeed, it would be very difficult for the county authorities to deal with all the applications which come before them over that very large county or Duchy of Cornwall. There is a great deal of feeling that since a great deal of work has already been carried on, the body which has worked so successfully should not now be done away with. I hope that the Minister will give favourable consideration to the proposal.

    8.30 p.m.

    I imagine that this Amendment is by way of a last fling, because efforts have been made throughout the passage of the Bill to retain the status quo. I think that the House as a whole appreciate the very good work done by a number of joint planning committees and I gladly pay tribute to the one in Cornwall to which reference has been made. While excellent work has been done, nevertheless I think that it is in the interests of planning, that the preparation of plans should be carried out by larger and self-contained administrative areas. The scheme of the Bill provides that the county councils and the county boroughs should be the new planning authorities. To accept the Amendment would frustrate the main purpose of the Bill. The hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) is right in saying that the county has been chosen partly because it is a larger area though not too large, and also because it is a self-contained responsible administrative area. I have much more confidence in the County of Middlesex than the hon. Gentleman himself.

    I prove it by adhering to the provisions of the Bill. I want to make Middlesex a planning authority. I am convinced that they will carry out the task with efficiency and distinction. The hon. Gentleman wants to divide Middlesex into three. In the case of Cornwall, I do not think that the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Beechman) need fear that the work of the joint planning committee will be wasted. If they have made surveys and planned a part of Cornwall, those will be taken into account by the county council in the preparation of a plan for the county of Cornwall as a whole. I submit to the House that it is of the greatest importance that counties like Middlesex, Cornwall and others should be planned as a whole rather than planned in bits, however well the joint planning committees have functioned in the past.

    I am prepared to agree that the three joint planning committees in Middlesex have done an exceedingly good job of work, but we do not want to find that we have three plans which somehow must be co-ordinated, one into the other. A joint planning committee has not necessarily taken account of what is going on outside its area. In many cases it would have been difficult for it to do so, and it strikes at the root of the whole new conception of planning, which is to prepare the major plan and to break it down, if necessary, rather than to start from the bottom and work up. In an Amendment on the Order Paper which I hope that the House will accept, it is proposed to empower the county councils to set up sub-committees. In pursuance of the Amendment on the Paper, those subcommittees, while they have to contain a majority of elected members, need not contain a majority of members of the county council.

    It will be quite open to, say, the Cornwall County Council to appoint a number of sub-committees of their planning committee, of which one may very well comprise the area of the existing joint planning committee, and to put on that sub-committee members of the county council and of some of the district councils. That sub-committee will be in a position to study the plan for the county and to make representations to the county and generally to provide necessary and useful information to the county council for the making of the plan. I think that is the best way of carrying out the duties the Bill entrusts to the county council.

    This point was discussed a great deal on Second Reading and in Committee and I would only add that I do not think that the language of the Amendment would really carry out the purpose the hon. Gentleman has in mind. I do not know what leaving out "two" and inserting "one" will give him, but it will not give him what he wants, judging by what he says.

    Far from it being, as the Minister said, the last fling of most hon. Members, it is the first fling of the great majority of this House. Therefore, when those of us who represent non-county boroughs and district planning authorities come to a point of the Bill like this, we rather naturally feel somewhat dismayed when the Government take it that the whole principle has already been put on one side and finished with. I certainly do not take that view.

    As to the point the Minister made when he said he believed in larger and self-contained units, I want to draw the attention of the House and of the Minister to my own particular constituency because it fulfils exactly the definition the Minister has given. It is self-contained and it is a large unit. As the Parliamentary Secretary may be aware, the Harrogate and District Joint Planning Authority is part of the West Riding, but it is almost totally different from the greater part of the West Riding. First of all, it is entirely agricultural and residential, whereas the major part of the remaining areas of the West Riding is industrial. Consequently there is always a battle between the two interests in the county council, and as the urban and industrial areas carry all the voting strength, not unnaturally the urban and industrial interests always win. The agricultural and residential areas outside the industrial ring are consequently always made to follow the dictates of the other parts. Hon. Members in all parts of the House will realise that that is an unfortunate state of affairs. The Harrogate and District Joint Planning Authority—

    The hon. Gentleman cannot go into details such as that. The point of this discussion is a quite simple one. I hope the hon. Gentleman will confine himself to it.

    I will not question your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] What is the matter? I daresay you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, will call me to Order if it is necessary. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has called you to Order."] I do not question your Ruling, Sir, but I would like to point out that I understood the scope of the Amendment to be that, if the Amendment were carried, the regional planning authorities as at present constituted would be given very nearly as much scope as at the present time. In any case I will leave that point because, obviously, you have ruled it out of Order, but may I take up again the question of a self-contained unit which was one of the arguments which the Minister used? I think I am entitled, subject to your Ruling, Sir, to press that argument to its logical conclusion. My conclusion to that argument is that if the Minister is prepared to admit that the unit should be self-contained, then there are, in the words of the Clause "parts of those areas" which are at the present time regional planning authorities, and which are self-contained and should, therefore, be continued. The Minister made a point about consultation, saying that the authorities in the wide areas would be consulted adequately.

    I want to put to the House a parallel case to prove that that will not be so. I would take as my comparison the administration of education which, under the Education Act, 1944, was placed, against the wishes of a large number of hon. Members, in the hands of the county councils instead of in the hands of the smaller units of local government. We pointed out at the time that the result of this inevitably would be that the county councils would exercise dictatorial powers, and would override the suggestions and the wishes of the smaller local authorities. To prove my case, I need only cite the West Riding County Council v. the Harrogate Corporation, where the local education executive of that area had certain alternative proposals put before it—

    The hon. Gentleman is certainly going far beyond the terms of the Amendment. I cannot allow him to continue on those lines. He must confine himself to the simple question of the Amendment. It is true that other hon. Members have transgressed a little, but the hon. Gentleman is certainly going far too much into detail and on to matters which do not in any way relate to this Amendment.

    I was merely illustrating one point by what I thought—I must be wrong —was a reasonable example of how, by retaining the words in the Clause without amendment, the wishes of the local people in the local authorities below that of county councils would be entirely swept aside. I was illustrating my point by what had happened under the Education Act, and I had hoped you would allow me to finish that illustration.

    The hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to mention the matter in passing, but he is not entitled to carry it through into all these multifarious details, which is what he appeared to be doing.

    I am sorry, Sir, but I thought that I could not illustrate the point at all unless I did go into details. However, as you rule me out of Order, I must not pursue the subject any further. I would say, however, that the fact that we have been given no chance—at any rate the great majority of us in the House —of discussing this vital point whether the unit of administration for planning should be large or small, should be the county boroughs or the non-county boroughs or the present planning authority, has, caused a great deal of unnecessary perturbation in the hearts and minds of many people. I believe that this Government are doing a great disservice. They are hurrying on with the destruction of local government as quickly as they possibly can, and this Bill is another example of that bad work.

    8.45 P.m.

    I wish to have it put on record that the fact that we are discussing this Amendment makes nonsense of the claim of the Opposition that sufficient time has not been allowed for discussion of the Bill. If hon. Members will make long speeches—

    The question of time has nothing to do with the Amend- ment, which relates to whether the planning authority should consist of one or two counties.

    If it is a question of whether they are in favour of one against two, they cannot complain if more important Amendments have their heads cut off by the Guillotine.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 15, at the end, to insert:

    "Provided also that unless all the councils concerned have consented to the making of the Order the Order shall be of no effect unless approved by resolution of the Commons House of Parliament."
    This Amendment stands on the Paper in the names of two West Country Members, the hon. Member for Sutton (Mrs. Middleton) and the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland), who are not present. I have studied it with very great care. The proviso says
    "that the Minister shall not make such an order except after holding a local inquiry,"
    unless the parties agree. This Amendment meets with our approval to a certain extent, although it goes much further than I should have gone, in laying it down that this Government are not to be trusted. The hon. Members who were to have moved and seconded this Amendment are not here, but I move it, because there cannot be too much publicity in matters of this kind, and local authorities should have every chance of bringing such matters before Parliament. I regret that the hon. Members who were to have moved and seconded the Amendment are unable to do so, and I entirely dissociate myself from the wholehearted distrust of the Government envisaged in the Amendment, although I think that 'all Governments should have Clauses of this type in a Bill of this kind, to ensure that the House of Commons has some say in these matters.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    During the progress of the Bill in Standing Committee very vigorous and eloquent pleas were made by both the hon. Member for Sutton (Mrs. Middleton) and the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) that this matter should be dealt with after consultation with the local authorities, and that the Orders should be placed before the House of Commons. During the time this Bill has been undergoing prolonged examination in Standing Committee, constant appeals have been made to the Minister to give the House of Commons an opportunity for a final examination of certain aspects of the Bill, which will only commend itself to the country if it has Parliamentary sanction. In this case I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), but I very much regret the absence of the two hon. Members for Plymouth, who were most eloquent advocates of this proposal in Standing Committee upstairs. It is a great pity that they are not here to support the Amendment to which they committed themselves so completely in Standing Committee.

    This Amendment embodies a far-reaching principle, affecting the whole structure of the Bill. It provides that the councils concerned have to consent to the making of an Order, that consultations shall take place, and that finally the Order shall be of no effect unless it is placed before the House of Commons for final determination. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning is in his place. I am sure he was impressed by the case made out in Standing Committee by the two hon. Members for Plymouth. It would be a great pity if, in their absence, the Minister of Town and Country Planning or the Attorney-General were to turn down this Amendment which follows up the touching and eloquent plea they made in Committee. What a scandal it would be for the Plymouth people whose representatives made such a plea in Standing Committee, if, when the proposal came to the House of Commons it was received by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, that distinguished personality of His Majesty's Administration—

    I have been trying to ascertain the relationship between what the hon. Gentleman is saying and what the Amendment proposes.

    I was seconding the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay. The text of the Amendment says:

    "unless all the councils concerned have consented to the making of the Order the Order shall be of no effect unless approved by resolution of the Commons House of Parliament."
    I am trying to get the Government Front Bench to treat that proposal with respect and to embody it in this Bill. What is the use of the two hon. Members representing Plymouth coming up from that city and pleading for the inclusion, of a provision of this sort, if it is turned down. I am astonished at the treatment that has been accorded to it by the two hon. Members.

    There is little need for me to add anything to what the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) has said, but as the next door neighbour to the constituency represented by the hon. Lady the Member for Sutton (Mrs. Middleton) and the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) I warmly support this Amendment in their absence.

    At the very outset I must express the gratification which all of us on this side of the House feel at the support given by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) and the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) to my hon. Friends the Member for Sutton (Mrs. Middleton) and the Member for Drake (Mr. Medland). I hope that this will not be the only occasion on which the two hon. Members will support hon. Members on this side of the House. I am glad to see the move to the Left, indicated by the publication of recent report, taken so much to heart by the two hon. Members. No doubt, before long, we shall find them and welcome them on this the proper side of the House. In spite of the support which the two hon. Members have given to this Amendment, and in spite of the very careful consideration we have given to the proposal since it was first raised in the Committee upstairs, we are, I a m sorry to say, unable to accept it.

    That is what I propose now to indicate to the House, if the hon. and learned Gentleman has no objection to my doing so. The object of having the power to establish the joint boards is to ensure that the development plans under the Bill, which have to be submitted to the Minister for approval, are prepared over, and in respect of, suitable planning units, suitable areas of territory for planning purposes, having regard to all relevant circumstances, some of which may be local, and others of a national kind. A decision to establish a joint board in place of single planning authorities is really part of the machinery by which the Minister carries out the statutory functions imposed on him by the Act which constituted the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, namely, the duty of securing consistency and continuity in the framing and execution of a national policy with respect to the use and development of land. It would be an impossible brake upon the Minister's administrative functions under that Act if machinery matters of this sort were to be subject to constant Parliamentary Debate, weighted, perhaps —as our Debates occasionally are weighted—by political considerations, rather than by administrative reasons and administrative considerations, arrived at in the light of adequate technical advice as to the most appropriate areas for planning purposes.

    Hon. Gentlemen opposite will realise that the Clause already contains the not unimportant safeguard that before the boards are established the Minister is informed of all points of view in regard to the matter by the holding of a public inquiry. One might add, that the Minister has already indicated that he contemplates establishing a number of these joint planning authorities; and, for that reason alone, a provision making a decision to establish a joint board in each case subject to Prayer procedure in this House is impracticable. It would impose a heavy burden on Parliamentary time. To have, possibly, scores of Orders of this sort waiting until the opportunity could be found to debate them in the House would slow up public business. It would slow up public business in the House itself, and in the Department which was dealing with these matters and seeking to bring these bodies together in the operation of the clear development of their plans; and it would slow up work at the local authority level. The Minister is, of course, and will remain fully responsible to the House for any decision he takes, and any action he takes, in regard to the establishment of a joint board. Opportunities can always be found of challenging his decisions in these matters in particular cases, if it is thought desirable to do so. But my right hon. Friend is unable to accept the view that each case ought to be subject to Prayer procedure.

    In Standing Committee, the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) made a passionate plea, and said he had the full influence and support of the Plymouth city council behind him. He dealt entirely with the administrative point of view.

    9.0 p.m.

    I feel that the House will have heard with disappointment the comments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, and I am sure that the two hon. and absent Members for the Sutton and Drake Divisions of Plymouth, had they been here, would have shared that disappointment at this death knell to the hopes which they must have held of a more favourable outcome of the Amendment, which they placed on the Order Paper, but did not see fit to move in this House. What particularly disappointed me in the answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was his placid assumption that the Minister would be handicapped in the exercise of his duties by any machinery of Parliamentary review. Surely, that is an unduly bureaucratic view to take of the Minister. It would be more in accordance with our constitutional traditions to assume that Parliamentary scrutiny of these matters would assist the Minister in coming to the right decision, because, if that is not so, it is difficult to understand what function the right hon. and learned Gentleman would leave to Parliament to do. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nothing."] My hon. Friend says "Nothing," and no doubt that is a correct assumption. [Interruption.] We are now reinforced by the appearance of the two absentees. I am glad to think that they were only absentees without leave and did not fall into the military definition of being deserters, as we on this side of the House had begun to suspect.

    The second, and equally threadbare argument put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was that there was no need for this Parliamentary scrutiny because of the provision for a local inquiry. I think that that, perhaps, came very ill from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I should have thought that he, of all Ministers, would have been a little careful about advancing the existence of provision for local inquiry as a reason for not having Parliamentary scrutiny, because we know the considered view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman of the efficacy and validity and purpose of a local inquiry. He made that clear in the Stevenage case, not in this House, but in the courts, as being an opportunity for blowing off steam—

    Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to take the opportunity, which I have taken on previous occasions, of correcting that statement? I enumerated a number of purposes which I thought were important purposes, which these local inquiries served, and one of them was that they enabled objectors to let off steam in public. The learned judge, in giving judgment—and I commented on this matter in the Court of Appeal—said that I had said that that was the only purpose of an inquiry. I said no such thing, and it is a little unfortunate that so much publicity was given to that remark.

    We are getting very far away from the Amendment, which has nothing to do with local inquiries.

    It is true that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in his intervention, trespassed a little beyond the bounds of Order, but it is not right to say—

    That is no reason why the hon. Member should go further along that path.

    I have no desire to follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman in this or any other of his trespasses, but I must point out that the proviso already in the Bill, at line 13, provides for the holding of a local inquiry. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) would add to that the necessity of a Parliamentary Resolution. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that it is not necessary to have a Resolution in the House because a local inquiry is already provided for in the Bill. That being so, I conceive it to be almost impossible to argue the merits of this Amendment one way or the other without referring to the machinery for a local inquiry. All I wanted to say was that the provision for a local inquiry is not of itself enough, not only because of the view that the right hon. and learned Gentleman expressed in the courts, but also because no action necessarily follows from a local inquiry except that it is given consideration by the Minister; in other words, the executive decision after a local inquiry still remains with the Minister, and what the hon. Member for the Drake Division, who is a democrat, wants is that that decision shall rest with Parliament. That is what he wants, and that I consider to be the better constitutional approach.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman deprecated the introduction of Prayer procedure on this matter. With great respect, I think he is mistaken. The Resolution here suggested is an affirmative Resolution and not a negative Resolution subject to annulment by Prayer of the House, that is to say, the House will have to pass an affirmative Resolution before these Orders can be made. I think it is right that where there is disagreement between two local authorities which cannot be resolved—which is the case envisaged in the Amendment—it is right that Parliament should be the arbiter, because disagreement between two elected bodies is a matter of high importance, and disagreement between two democratically elected bodies is not a matter for arbitrary decision by the Minister, but is a matter for reference to the higher democratic body, which is Parliament. That being so, all the arguments advanced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General against this proposition fall to the ground, and I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment which was moved by my hon. Friend on behalf of hon. Members opposite.

    Adversity makes strange bedfellows, and I find myself in somewhat embarrassing circumstances tonight. I would, however, like to express my thanks to those hon. Members who, while I was out getting something to eat, moved and supported this Amendment on my behalf. I do not think any hon. Member can charge me with having neglected this Debate, for I have spent many hours here during the discussion on various Clauses. The Amendment on the Order Paper in my name is one that I attempted to move in Standing Committee, and it asks that after there has been a public inquiry and the Minister has decided that he will make a county council, a county borough council and another county council into a joint planning board, he must first have the assent of the House.

    Two of the bodies which I have enumerated, the county council and the county borough council, are probably the most responsible forms of local government in our local government set-up, and certainly they carry the greatest powers of any local government bodies. Where there is disagreement, the Bill provides that the Minister shall hold a local inquiry. If a county council do not want to join with a county borough council, the Minister holds a public inquiry; the county council state their objections and their requirements; they put their views before the public inquiry; the inspector, who is an official of the Minister, makes his report to the Minister; what is in the report they do not know, and then the Minister makes a decision. In other words, he has taken from them their rights in town planning, and he has done so administratively. I am advised that there is not even power to pray against an Order which he might make. This is an administrative action, and is a power which I do not think should rest with the Minister in such circumstances. We may not always have the same Minister of Town and Country Planning. For that reason I have put down this Amendment to ensure that the powers of a county council or a county borough council with respect to its planning authority shall not be taken away at the instigation of any Minister of the Crown without the approval of this House.

    I think this is something more than administrative action. Where by Act of Parliament we give powers to county councils and county borough councils, we ought not at the same moment to give the same powers to a Minister to take away those powers from them and put them into a joint planning authority. Such a matter ought to be decided in this House, and it is upon those grounds that I move this Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] At any rate, I support this Amendment, as I am too late to move it. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear."] The Tories will not always cheer me. There will be many occasions when they will want to do something else. Even Ministers, and good Town and Country Planning Ministers, sometimes make mistakes. It is because I think the Minister has made a mistake in this case, and because I am quite sure the local authorities are behind me in this matter that I support this Amendment.

    We have had the unusual experienceof hearing two hon. Members moving the same Amendment, and of the two I think the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) was perhaps not so loud but at any rate more persuasive. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, whose answer to the Amendment I regret the hon. Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Mr. Medland) did not hear, stated that the fact that we on this side supported this most reasonable Amendment was a sign that we were moving to the Left. I am sure the hon. Member for the Drake Division would agree that it really is a sign that the Government have not adopted the right attitude to a reasonable proposal. I do not wish to repeat the cogent arguments which have been put forward, except to say that it is clear that without any consent of the councils concerned, at the whim of the Minister, Lancashire can be made to work with Yorkshire, and Plymouth city with Devon county. What are the remedies if they protest, and the Minister makes a wrong marriage between local authorities? There is no possibility of divorce under this Bill, so far as one can see. All we are told is that there can be a local inquiry in advance.

    What does the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer? He says that if this Amendment is accepted it will delay the Business of this House. Is that an argument to which much attention should be paid, when the course proposed is one that is depriving responsible local authorities of an important part of their functions at the direction of the Minister? When county councils or city councils object to an amalgamation proposed by the Minister, is it not right that the matter should come before this House and be ventilated? The only answer to that is that it would take up time in this House. Of course, I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman, with his ideas, does not want proper debate on matters of this sort. He then said that if the Minister made a wrong amalgamation there were opportunities of challenge. He did not go on to define what those opportunities were. This Amendment does give an opportunity of challenge if a wrong decision is made. If there ought to be an opportunity for challenge, as I think there ought to be, then I hope hon. Members opposite, in addition to the hon. Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth and the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Mrs. Middleton) will join us in the Lobby to preserve some of the democratic rights which they were sent here to maintain.

    9.15 p.m.

    I feel sure I can say, on behalf of all the Liberals in the House, that if the hon. Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Mr. Medland) takes the Amendment on the Order Paper in his name, which was moved by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), to a Division, we shall support it. Nothing so fortifies liberty as the work of local authorities, and it will be a very sad day when we suffer local authorities to be prejudiced without hon. Members of this House having an opportunity to say something about it.

    I rise for a few moments in support of the Amendment, moved by my hon. Friend the. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), which is on the Order Paper in the name of, and was supported by, the hon. Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Mr. Medland). I am always glad to see hon. Members opposite, at any time, put down an Amendment such as this, which carries out such truly democratic principles. After all, when any Member of the Government on the Treasury Bench comes to this House and suggests that such an Amendment as this is not proper and would only delay the business of the House if it were accepted, it is only right and proper that such a statement should be refuted, because this Amendment definitely states that any decision the Minister may have to make will have to be passed by Resolution of this House. It is for that reason that I support this Amendment.

    I wish to ask the Attorney-·General one question on the subject of the Order being exposed to Parliamentary challenge. Clearly, it is only exposed to Parliamentary challenge after the event, and, presumably, could only be challenged either at Question time or on the Adjournment, in which case nothing effective could be done. In the event of it being evident that Parliamentary opinion was very strong against the Order, is it then competent for the Minister to revoke the Order? Unless it is competent for him to do so, obviously the Parliamentary challenge is completely worthless. Could I have an answer?

    Division No. 206.]


    [9.21 p.m.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir COrr-Ewing, I. L
    Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W (Armagh)Hollis, M. C.Peto, Brig. C. H. M
    Amory, D. HeathcoteHoward, Hon. A.Pickthorn, K.
    Baldwin, A. E.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)Ponsonby, Col. C. E
    Barlow, Sir J.Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.Prescott, Stanley
    Beamish, Maj. T. V HHutchison, Col. J R. (Glasgow C.)Prior-Palmer, Brig O
    Beechman, N. A.Jarvis, Sir J.Raikes, H. V.
    Bennett, Sir P.Jennings, R.Ramsay, Maj. S.
    Birch, NigelKeeling, E. H.Rayner, Brig. R.
    Bower, N.Lambert, Hon. G.Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. ALangford-Holt, J.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
    Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Renton. D
    Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WLinstead, H. N.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Lipson, D. L.Ropner, Col. L.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. TLloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Sanderson, Sir F.
    Bullock, Capt. MLow, Brig. A. R. W.Scott, Lord W.
    Byers, FrankLucas, Major Sir J.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
    Challen, C.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Channon, H.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Spearman, A. C. M.
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Strauss, H. C. (English Universities)
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Manningham-Buller, R. ETeeling, William
    Cooper-Key, E. M.Marlowe, A. A. H.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
    Corbett, Lieut.-Cot. U. (Ludlow)Marsden, Capt. A.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EMarshall, D. (Bodmin)Wadsworth, G.
    Cuthbert, W. N.Maude, J. C.Walker-Smith, D
    Digby, S. W.Medland, H. MWheatley, Colonel M. J.
    Dodds-Parker, A. DMellor, Sir J.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P WMiddleton, Mrs. L.Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Drayson, G. B.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Foot, M. M.Morrison, Maj. J G. (Salisbury)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (C'nc'ster)Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl
    Gage, C.Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C EYork, C.
    Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Neven-Spence, Sir B.
    Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.O'Neill. Rt. Hon. Sir HMr. Studholme and Mr. Drewe.


    Adams, Richard (Balham)Bard, JBraddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Balfour, A.Bramall, E. A.
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Barstow, P. GBrook, D. (Halifax)
    Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Barton, C.Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Battley, J. R.Brown, George (Belper)
    Alpass, J. H.Bechervaise, A. E.Buchanan, C.
    Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Benson, G.Burden, T. W
    Attewell, H. C.Binns, JBurke, W. A.
    Austin, H. LewisBlenkinsop, AButler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)
    Awbery, S. S.Blyton, W. R.Carmichael, James
    Ayles, W. H.Boardman. HCastle, Mrs. B. A.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BBottomley, A. G.Chamberlain, R. A
    Bacon, Miss ABowden, Flg.-Offr. H. WChampion, A. J

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman need not answer the question unless he so desires.

    On a point of Order. With great respect, it was evident that the learned Attorney-General was about to reply. That was the reason I resumed my seat. Then perhaps I had better resume my speech. I think this is a matter of some importance.

    I am quite prepared to deal with the point. In my view, the Minister can revoke.

    Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 278.

    Chater, D.Irving, W. J.Rankin, J.
    Chetwynd, G. R.Janner, B.Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Clitherow, Dr. R,Jay, D. P. T.Rhodes, H.
    Cobb, F. A.Jager, G. (Winchester)Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
    Cocks, F. S.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Robens, A.
    Coldrick, W.John, W.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Collindridge, F.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Rogers, G. H. R.
    Colman, Miss G. M.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Comyns, Dr. L.Keenan, W.Scollan, T.
    Cook, T. F.Kenyon, C.Scott-Elliot, W
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Key, C. W.Shackleton, E. A. A.
    Corlett, Dr. J.King, E. M.Sharp, Granville
    Corvedale, ViscountKinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EShawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
    Cove, W. G.Kinley, J.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
    Crawley, A.Kirby, B. V.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
    Crossman, R H. SLang, G.Shurmer, P.
    Daggar, G.Lavers, S.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
    Daines, P.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)Lee, F. (Hulme)Skeffington, A. M.
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Leslie, J. R.Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Levy, B. W.Skinnard, F. W.
    Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Lewis, T. (Southampton)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Deer, G.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Delargy, H. JLogan, D. G.Snow, Capt. J. W.
    Diamond, JLyne, A. W.Sorensen, R. W.
    Dobbie, W.McAdam, W.Sparks, J. A.
    Dodds, N. N.McEntee, V. La T.Stamford, W.
    Driberg, T. E. N.McGhee, H GSteele, T.
    Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Mack, J. D.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Dumpleton, C. W.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Strachey, J
    Durbin, E. F. M.Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Stross, Dr. B.
    Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)McKinlay, A S.Stubbs, A. E.
    Edwards, John (Blackburn)Maclean, N. (Govan)Swingler, S.
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)McLeavy, F.Sylvester, G. O.
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Symonds, A. L
    Evans, John (Ogmore)McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Macpherson, T. (Romford)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Ewart, R.Mallalieu, J. P. W.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Fairhurst, F.Mann, Mrs. J.Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
    Farthing, W. J.Manning, Mrs. L, (Epping)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Marshall, F. (Brightside)Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
    Forman, J. C.Martin, J. H.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Foster, W. (Wigan)Mellish, R. J.Thurtle, Ernest
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mitchison, G. RTiffany, S.
    Freeman, Peter (Newport)Monslow, W.Titterington, M. F.
    Gallacher, W.Moody, A. S.Tolley, L.
    Ganley, Mrs. C. S.Morley, R.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
    Gibbins, J.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Turner-Samuels, M.
    Gilzean, AMart, D. LViant, S. P.
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Moyle, A.Walkden, E.
    Gooch, E. G.Murray, J. D.Walker, G. H.
    Goodrich, H. E.Naylor, T. EWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Gordon-Walker, P CNeal, H. (Claycross)Warbey, W. N.
    Grenfell, D. R.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Watson, W. M.
    Grey, C. F.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Grierson E.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brantford)Weitzman, D.
    Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)West, D. G.
    Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Noel-Buxton, LadyWestwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Guest, Dr. L. HadenOldfield, W. HWhite, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Guy, W. H.Oliver, G. H.While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Hale, LesliePaget, R. T.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Hall, W. G.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Wigg, Col. G. E.
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Paling, Will T, (Dewsbury)Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
    Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Palmer, A. M. F.Wilkes, L.
    Hardy, E. A.Pargiter, G. A.Wilkins, W. A.
    Hastings, Dr. SomervilleParkin, B, T.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Henderson, Joseph (Ardwiak)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Williams, D. J. (Neagh)
    Herbison, Miss M.Paton, J. (Norwich)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Hewitson, Captain M.Pearson, A.Williams, Rt. Hon T (Don Valley)
    Hobson, C. R.Pearl, Capt. T. F.Wise, Major F. J
    Holman, P.Platts-Mills, J. F. FWoodburn, A.
    Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth)Porter, E. (Warrington)Woods, G. S.
    House, GPorter, G. (Leeds)Wyatt, W.
    Hoy, J.Price, M. PhilipsYates, V. F.
    Hubbard, T.Pritt, D. N.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Hudson, J. H, (Ealing, W.)Proctor, W. TZilliacus, K.
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pryde, D. J.
    Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Pursey, Cmdr. H.


    Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Ranger, J.Mr. Simmons and
    Mr. Popplewell.

    9.30 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 19, to leave out "Part II," and to insert "Parts II and III."

    This is purely a drafting Amendment. It is really proposed in anticipation of an Amendment put down to the First Schedule. That Amendment, which is on the Order Paper, will insert a new Part into the First Schedule in connection with planning committees. As there will then be three parts, this is a necessary preparatory Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 20, after the first "of," insert "planning committees and."—[ The Attorney-General.]

    Clause 5—(Surveys Of Planning Areas And Preparation Of Development Plans)

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 8, to leave out "commencement of this Act," and to insert "appointed day."

    This is a preparatory Amendment with a view to an Amendment which it is intended to move later to Clause 108. It is clear that to limit the local planning authority to the period of three years from the date of the commencement of the Act might be unduly restrictive. Under the scheme of the Bill the local planning authorities under existing Statutes, the 1932 and the 1944 Acts, will continue to carry on their functions until the appointed day. The result is that the planning staffs employed by those existing authorities will not be transferred to the new ones until the appointed day arrives. It follows that in the short period of a matter of a few months, which may elapse between the Royal Assent being given to this Bill and the appointed day, most of the planning authorities would hardly be able to make any useful progress. It is thought that the time ought to run against them as from the appointed day.

    As I see it, this Amendment has rather more serious consequences than the right hon. and learned Gentleman indicated. It follows from what has been said by the Minister of Town and Country Planning that the appointed day is to be early in 1948, and local authorities will have until 1951 to prepare their plans. From that point of view, it may be reasonable to give them more time, and I do not object to that, but the consequences appear to be serious under other provisions of this Bill. I would like to hear what the Minister has to say in regard to Clause 74, which deals with the question of ripe land. No land can come within that Clause unless it is land where planning permission is granted under the Bill. Can we possibly have planning permission granted when in fact there is no plan prepared by the county council? It would seem that all planning permission is likely to be postponed or, alternatively, that we may get planning permission given for things which do not conform to the plan which is ultimately made

    I would like to know what the effect of this Amendment will be upon the cases which would otherwise come earlier under Clause 74. A similar point arises in regard to Clause 57 (1), where the vesting of the right to compensation again relates to the appointed day. I am not quite sure whether that is affected by the Amendment, but I ask that we should be told to what extent this postpones the giving of planning permission, and how planning permission can be given in the intervening period. We ought to be told something about those two points before we part with the Amendment.

    There is no doubt that the need to obtain planning permission arises as from the appointed day, and arrangements are also made in the Bill for the interim period. That is to say there will be a need to get planning permission. Under Clause 10 that is continued during a period from the passing of the Bill to the appointed day, so that there will always be the obligation to get planning permission regardless of whether the plan has actually been prepared and approved or not. The county councils will be in much the same position as the interim development authorities are in today. Those authorities are constantly dealing with applications for development without having a plan before them. The county councils will, at least, be in the position that they are preparing one, and they will have the competent staff to advise them, whereas the existing position is that many interim development authorities are dealing with applications without having any plan at all.

    As regards Clause 74, I do not see how the question of the deferment of the three- year period affects the situation with regard to ripe land. If the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) will look at Clause 74, he will see that there are a number of possible conditions which have to be satisfied to make the land ripe land and none of those are in any way dependent upon the date When the plan of the local authority has been approved.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 11, to leave out "commencement of this Act," and to insert "appointed day."

    This is a drafting Amendment with a similar purpose to the Amendment to line 8.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 32, to leave out from the beginning, to "by," in line 34.

    I wonder if it would be for the convenience of the House if I might deal with this Amendment and also the following Amendments—in line 35, after "undertakers," insert "any land allocated by the plan."; in line 36, at end, insert:
    "(including any land which that Minister or authority or those undertakers are or could be authorised to acquire compulsorily under any enactment other than this Act).
    In line 37, to leave out from beginning, to end of line 5, page 5, and to insert:
    (c) designate as land subject to compulsory acquisition by the appropriate local authority—
  • (i) any land comprised in an area defined by the plan as an area of comprehensive development (including any land therein which is allocated by the plan for any such purpose as is mentioned in paragraph (b) of this Subsection), or any land contiguous or adjacent to any such area";
  • In page 5, line 9, at end, insert:
    "(3) For the purposes of this section a development plan may define as an area of comprehensive development any area which in the opinion of the local planning authority should be developed or re-developed as a whole, whether for the purpose of dealing satisfactorily with extensive war damage or conditions of bad layout or obsolete development, or for the purpose of providing for the relocation of population or industry or the replacement of open space in the course of the development or redevelopment of any other area, or for any other purpose specified in the plan; and land may be included in any area so defined, and designated as subject to compulsory purchase in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this Section, whether or not provision is made by the plan for the development or redevelopment of that particular land."
    Formidable as these Amendments may seem at first sight, on the Order Paper, they are intended to be little more than drafting Amendments which will put beyond all possibility of doubt, what we believe is, in truth, the existing law in regard to these matters. It has recently been the subject of litigation in the courts which has not yet reached its final conclusion although the position of the Minister has been vindicated in all respects, by two decisions of the Court of Appeal. As hon. Members know, this Clause deals with the power of designating certain areas as being, as a whole, subject to compulsory purchase. It follows the provisions of the 1944 Act, which contains powers to designate areas of war damage or of bad development—areas of blitz or blight, as they are called in the appropriate jargon —which it appeared to be desirable to redevelop as a whole. In the operation of the 1944 Act questions arose as to whether particular sites for the development of which there was no actual or immediate plan, could be included in the designated area. There was a good deal of legal argument about the matter which was finally solved, so far as the matter has gone at present, in favour of the Minister's contention. There was also the question of the extent to which fringe land—land on the periphery or on the boundary of the area—could be included in the area.

    It has always been considered by those who have hitherto had to deal with the administration of the 1944 Act that these were matters which came within the discretion of the Minister, but in order to put the matter beyond all possibility of doubt, in order to avoid any risk that in the future there may be litigation which will not only cause great expense to the persons who engage in it, but will involve considerable delay in bringing these schemes into operation, the present Amendments have been put down. Under them, the local planning authority will have a discretion to designate any land as a development area if they think that it ought to be developed as a whole for any of the purposes indicated in the Clause, notwithstanding that there may be land on the fringe—or, indeed. that there may be islands not on the fringe but in the centre of the area, which, in the interests of good planning and good estate management, it is desirable to acquire and deal with, together with the rest of the area as a whole, even though there may be no immediate plan to change the actual user of the sites It is in order to enable that to be done, and to put it beyond all possibility of doubt for the future that these powers dc reside in the local authority, with the approval of the Minister, that these Amendments are put down.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made:

    In page 4, line 35, after undertakers," insert:

    "any land allocated by the plan.

    In line 36, at the end, insert:

    "(including any land which that Minister or authority or those undertakers are or could be authorised to acquire compulsorily under any enactment other than this Act)."—[The Attorney-General.]

    9.45 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 37, to leave out from the beginning to the end of line 5, page 5, and to insert:

    "(c) designate as land subject to compulsory acquisition by the appropriate local authority—
    (i) any land comprised in an area defined by the plan as an area of comprehensive development (including any land therein which is allocated by the plan for any such purpose as is mentioned in paragraph (b) of this Subsection), or any land contiguous or adjacent to any such area."
    This is another of the group of Amendments to which I referred earlier.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 6, to leave out from "subsection," to the end of the line.

    The Amendment moved by the Attorney-General raises certain difficult and possibly controversial issues in regard to what he described as fringe land. We on this side of the House yield nothing to hon. Members opposite in our desire for a plan to proceed in a comprehensive and harmonious way, and we are desirous that every reasonable power should be given to enable that to be so. The danger I see in the Amendment, and in the Attorney-General's speech recommending it, is the danger which I think Parliament must always be very, alert to scrutinise and investigate, that in the interests of tidiness too wide powers will be given.

    Here we are dealing with the designation of land subject to compulsory purchase, and that is a thing of real moment to those in possession of the land. The question is how wide those powers of designation should be in plans for the comprehensive development of an area. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that it is desirable to include powers to take over those fringe areas, and to designate them as liable to compulsory acquisition. We say that is neither desirable nor necessary. If the area contiguous thereto is in fact, being developed as part of a comprehensive and harmonious planning scheme, it will surely be included in the area of development, and therefore be subject to designation under the terms of the Amendment, without the words which we propose to delete. If the words are left in, there is no limit at all to the acquisition of fringe land simply on the expectation that it may at some time be administratively convenient to have powers of designation for the compulsory purchase of that land. That seems to be giving too wide power, especially in view of the words contained in a later Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman is to move, in page 5, line 9, at the end to insert:
    "(3) For the purposes of this Section a development plan may define as an area of comprehensive development any area which in the opinion of the local planning authority should be developed or re-developed as a whole, whether for the purpose of dealing satisfactorily with extensive war damage or conditions of bad lay-out or obsolete development, or for the purpose of providing for the relocation of population or industry or the replacement of open space in the course of the development or re-development of any other area, or for any other purpose specified in the plan; and land may be included in any area so defined, and designated as subject to compulsory purchase in accordance with the provisions of Subsection (2) of this Section, whether or not provision is made by the plan for the development or re-development of that particular land."
    We think that the words:
    "or any land contiguous or adjacent to any such area"
    should be omitted from the proposed Amendment so as to fix a limit and deny the right to designate land merely because it is adjacent to an area.

    I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

    The final words of the proposed Amendment seem to be too wide. I think the effect of the words would be to extend the area without any limit at all, and without there being anything in the statute to say that the Minister has to regard the extension as reasonably necessary for the proper development of the area. I am the more doubtful about the necessity for the words, since the right hon. Gentleman has been successful in the Court of Appeal in what is generally known as the Plymouth Case. I could have understood the necessity for some amendment, had the decision of the Court of Appeal been different. I have been unable to study the decision in the Plymouth Case beyond what appeared in the newspapers. However, the facts will be very well known to the right hon. and learned Attorney-General and I should have thought that the effect of the Plymouth decision was to render these new words and certainly their extreme wideness quite unnecessary.

    While I can understand that the right hon. Gentleman wants it to be quite clear that certain subjects are to be for his determination and not for the determination of the courts, I do not think he wants to put on the Statute Book something which relieves him of all direction as to the matters to which he should direct his mind. I should have thought that, if the effect of the Plymouth appeal is what I suggest, he does not need these last words which we propose to delete, but, if he is of a different opinion and thinks he ought to have something of the kind, I suggest that he should consider some form of limitation to make it quite clear that the general matters to which he has to direct his mind in approving the area to be designated remain as before, and that he should not be given new powers of an unlimited extent.

    There is one further point I should like to put to the right hon. and learned Gentleman in support of the Amendment to the proposed Amendment in the hope that he will give further consideration to this matter. He might perhaps even withdraw the proposed Amendment and have something different inserted in another place, because the words are absolutely unlimited and far too wide. When one looks at the definition of the words "comprehensive development" one sees that the area of development might include an area, where no provision is made by the plan, for the development or redevelopment of that particular land. I should have thought that in that definition of comprehensive development there would have been no doubt that "fringe" land would be covered. These words, therefore, at the end of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment are entirely unnecessary and superfluous, and give the Minister a power which he does not want of making wide areas designated as subject to compulsory purchase, when, in fact, neither he nor the local authority wants to acquire it.

    We will certainly consider the point made by hon. Members opposite. Indeed I am inclined to think that the words in the existing state of the law are unnecessary both for the reasons stated by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and for the reason the Court of Appeal give in their decision.

    Surely the decision in the Court of Appeal in the Plymouth case was on the 1944 Act, and we are tonight dealing with the 1947 Measure. Surely the decision applied to the case of whole designation and the purchase order was under Sections 1 and 2 of the 1944 Act.

    That is a point, but there is also the point which I was about to mention that this decision of the Court of Appeal is under appeal to the House of Lords, and—although I do not anticipate it—it is possible that the House of Lords may take a different view. The intention of the Clause as at present framed is to be on the safe side, both in regard to the decision and in regard to any other possible litigation which may arise in the same way. If these words are unnecessary it may be said of them that they do no possible harm. They are intended merely to clarify what we believe, and what the Court of Appeal believes to be the existing state of the law.

    As the matter stands, it might be that the whole of the land on the boundary of the proposed area was all war damaged, or all obsolete, or all badly developed, as the case may be, and that in view of the topographical features of the neighbourhood—the roads, the levels, the railways, the rivers, and matters of that kind—it ought to be included in the area to he developed as a whole, as a matter of town planning, and as a matter of good estate management. One wants, in redeveloping an area of that kind, to get an area which is convenient for planning and for management purposes. If, for instance, enemy action has left the fringe undamaged, and it otherwise would clearly be an area appropriate to redevelopment as a whole, it ought to be possible to include it. There is also the point that land on the fringe of the redevelopment area, although its use may not be immediately changed, may derive considerable betterment from the development which takes place within the area. Conversely, it is possible, although much less likely, that it may suffer some worsening.

    It is thought, in these circumstances, that it ought to be possible for the local authority to recoup itself in regard to development, or, possibly, in appropriate cases, take over land which might otherwise suffer worsening if not included in the area as a whole. For these reasons we want these words to put the matter beyond the possibility of further time-wasting litigation. We will consider the point which has been raised. We will consider the matter again, but we shall have to consider it in the light of that paramount factor of avoiding the possibility that these matters may, in the future, be subject to litigation.

    I am not sure I follow one point, that is, in regard to the betterment that might otherwise accrue. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggesting that betterment might accrue without obligation to pay betterment charge under Part VI of the Bill? How would that come about?

    Clearly, owing to the great amenities of new development in the centre of the area, houses on the fringe of it may acquire a much higher value, although they remain exactly as they were before—not subject to any new user or any change in physical condition. It would be betterment resulting wholly and solely from the work done by the local authority and the community in the area as a whole.

    In view of the Amendment which has been moved, and of the speeches made in support of it, I ask the Minister to give further consideration to this matter. The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningharn- Buller) has said that the words of the proposed new paragraph (c) are too wide They cannot be. No words to acquire land can be too wide, until the people have got the lands which belong to them. I ask the Minister to see whether he could not find words which would be much wider. I ask him to consider, with his colleagues in the Government, the desirability of taking over the whole of the land and making a real plan.

    Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment," put, and agreed to.

    Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.

    10 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 7, to leave out from "authority," to "compulsory," and to insert, "ought to be subject to."

    This is a drafting Amendment concerning land likely to require compulsory acquisition, and we think it ought to be subject to compulsory acquisition

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 9, at the end, to insert:

    "(3) For the purposes of this Section a development plan may define as an area of comprehensive development any area which in the opinion of the local planning authority should be developed or re-developed as a whole. whether for the purpose of dealing satisfactorily with extensive war damage or conditions of bad lay-out or obsolete development, or for the purpose of providing for the relocation of population or industry or the replacement of open space in the course of the development or redevelopment of any other area, or for any other purpose specified in the plan; and land may be included in any area so defined, and designated as subject to compulsory purchase in accordance with the provisions of Subsection (2) of this Section, whether or not provision is made by the plan for the development or redevelopment of that particular land."
    This Amendment is linked up with the other Amendments which I ventured to deal with comprehensively. It defines what is meant by an area of comprehensive development, and indicates, for the purpose of this Clause, what plans may be made by the local authority in regard to it.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 9, at the end, to insert:

    "Provided that in the case of land which is designated as land subject to compulsory acquisition there shall be submitted to the Minister together with the development plan an estimate of the expenditure to be incurred in the acquisition thereof."
    This proviso was, in fact, tabled for discussion in Standing Committee, but it did not receive any discussion at that stage. Its purpose is, I think, clear from the wording of the Amendment. It is that, where land is designated as land subject to compulsory purchase, the Minister shall receive, not only the development plan, as he does at present under Clause 5, but, at the same time, an estimate of the cost to be incurred in the compulsory acquisition of the land so designated. I think that this is a proviso which will commend itself to the good sense and feelings of prudent economy on all sides of the House. There is already a limit in regard to the time in which designation can take place, but there is, of course, no corresponding stipulation as to the cost of the designation, and what we fear is that, if there is no such stipulation as to cost, as would be imported into the Bill by the insertion of this proviso, there will be a temptation, possibly, to designate land more widely than can economically and properly be acquired.

    This, of course, is a matter of considerable concern to the ratepayers of the local authorities intending to acquire land, but not only to them, because, if we turn to Clause 86 of the Bill, the House will see that there is provision for substantial Exchequer grants in the case of the compulsory acquisition of land. Clause 86 (5) provides for grants payable
    "in the case of land acquired for the redevelopment as a whole of areas of extensive war damage, or for the relocation of population"
    of no less than 90 per cent. and,
    "in the case of any other land, an amount equal to eighty per cent. of the said annual costs."
    The taxpayers of this country are, of course, vitally interested in the question of the compulsory acquisition of land, since they are sub-sidising it to a very heavy extent out of the national Revenue, or, in other words, the taxpayers' pockets. What we seek to do is not to prevent the proper designation of land which ought to be subject to compulsory acquisition, but simply to ensure that the factor of cost is one which is present in the mind of the Minister, and that, I think, is a proper requirement. The taxpayers must look to the Minister in this case as being the custodian of their interests in regard to the large subsidies in which they are involved in paying for the cost of the compulsory acquisition of land. If that estimate of the cost has to be before the Minister, there is an assurance that the aspect of cost will be in his mind, and, further, that the aspect of cost will he in the minds of the local authorities at the time of the intended designation. For those reasons, and in traditional conformity with prudent economy, I hope the Amendment will be accepted.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    It is essential, not only in the interests of the taxpayers, but also in the interests of the ratepayers, that the question of cost should be kept very much in the public eye. The Bill gives vast powers to local authorities to carry out redevelopment, and as far as the taxpayers are concerned, up to 90 per cent. will be given by way of grants in the initial years. That, however, is not a set figure. Later in the Bill we shall discuss in some detail what local authorities can expect in the way of grant. The point is that a large grant is likely to be paid by the Exchequer, and at the same time the local rates will have to bear the balance. It is a great tradition in local government that the citizens of the local authority are kept well informed as to what expenditure their county council, rural district council or other local authority are likely to undertake. I feel that it would be most wrong if at this juncture we were to depart from that principle, and, therefore, I hope the Minister will accept this most reasonable Amendment.

    Hon. Members will appreciate, no doubt, that under Clause 88, in connection with Exchequer grants, full information has to be given of estimated expenditure, and, therefore, the taxpayer is fully protected before any grant is made by the information in regard to finance, revenue and so on which the local authority is required to give under that Clause. Nevertheless, we have no great objection in principle to the proposal contained in the Amendment, and, in fact, it is the common practice in the case of blitzed or blighted areas to put forward a global estimated figure in respect of the area as a whole, and for that figure to be made public. It is not an exact estimate, of course, but it may afford some guide as to the probable burden on the rates of the proposals which the planning authority is making. In so far as the figure remains merely a global estimate relating to a large area, the practice is quite unobjectionable, and there is a great deal to be said in favour of it, but if by one method or another the figure can be related to particular holdings, a disclosure of an estimated value in advance might obviously have a somewhat prejudicial effect upon the subsequent negotiations for the purchase of a particular holding.

    As the Amendment is now drafted, it would apply not only to cases where some large area was being dealt with, where some area of blitz or blight was being designated, but also to cases where some small piece of land was being designated because, for instance, it was required by a local authority for the purpose of carrying out some function, or in order to ensure that it would be used for the purposes of the development plan In such cases one might well have to deal with single parcels of land, and in that case to disclose in advance what the estimated cost to the local authority was likely to be would obviously have a considerable bearing on the negotiations into which the local authority subsequently had to enter as to what, in fact, they would pay for the land. However, we will consider the matter in the light of the observations which have been made by hon. Members opposite, with a view to seeing whether it is practicable to include in the Bill some such provision as this to cover the large comprehensive areas. Meantime, the House may be satisfied with the assurance that this Amendment really does no more than give statutory and obligatory effect to what is the practice which is commonly observed.

    I would like to put to the right hon. and learned Gentleman one point in regard to Clause 88 which he has prayed in aid in this matter. The Amendment which I moved relates to an estimate of the costs incurred in compulsory acquisition. The wording in Clause 88, as he will appreciate, is not on all fours with that. It says:

    "that there shall have been submitted to the Minister such information as to the proposals of the local authority for the lay-out and redevelopment of the land as the Minister may require. …"
    It may be that the estimate of the cost incurred in compulsory acquisition would be contained in those words. I do not know. I would like the right hon. and learned Gentleman to address his mind to them, because he will appreciate that the wording is not the same in the two cases, and the point may be rather different.

    I agree that the wording and the obligation in Clause 88 are very much wider. Clause 88 provides, in this connection, two conditions to the making of grants in respect of the cost of these redevelopment areas. The local authority, first of all, has to submit to the Minister such information in regard to the proposals for redevelopment as he requires to enable him to compare the estimated cost of the scheme, which includes the acquisition of the land involved in it, with the financial return which may be expected from the scheme when the scheme has been carried out and completed. Secondly, the proposals have to be approved by the Minister, with the consent of the Treasury, as being financially reasonable, having regard to the circumstances of the land, the requirements of the proper layout and redevelopment, and so on. So that the first consideration to which the Minister and the Treasury must have regard is really the cost of acquisition, rebuilding, reconstruction and so on, and then they set against that the probable revenue when the reconstruction has taken place.

    I would like to put one question to the Attorney-General. He dealt with the question of the taxpayer on Clause 88. Referring to the question of the ratepayer, I would like to get the position clear, taking the particular case of Sheffield, for example. As we know, the local authorities will have to reorganise their finances considerably during the next few years, in view of the Electricity Bill, the Transport Bill and this Bill. It is necessary that the ratepayers as a whole should be able to take into account the whole question of expenditure. The learned Attorney-General used the words "large area" and "particular area." I am not very conversant with this Bill, but I would be obliged if he would give the assurance that when he is considering this Amendment the words which he will use will make it clear to an authority such as Sheffield, which embraces a fairly wide field, that the ratepayers of that authority will be able to see in the plan the amount of money which is likely to be expended. When the Attorney-General uses the words "large area" and "particular area" I am a little vague as to exactly what he means. When he thinks about this again, I hope he will bear in mind the fact that the ratepayers will want to look at the whole of one particular local area of that kind; they will not be able to take one particular area, then another particular area, and then a third particular area at different times; there will be an overall method of assessing this matter.

    10.15 p.m.

    I think the House as a whole will be reassured by the statement of the learned Attorney-General as to the current practice in these matters. Of course, he and other hon. Members will appreciate that the Amendment we are now considering links on to Clause 5, which deals with surveys of planning areas and preparation of development plans. In Clause 88, which has been prayed in aid in this connection, we have the whole financial picture presented to us. The purpose of this Amendment is to present to the minds of the local planning authority and the Minister at the stage when the development plan is being approved—that is to say, an anterior stage to that which is reached in Clause 88— the financial consequences of what is proposed in the way of compulsory acquisition. Unless that is done, I foresee a lot of disappointment, and possibly a feeling of frustration.

    I do not want to expand this Debate into one on our general economic situation. However, it is perfectly clear that in these days we have to cut our coat, to some degree, according to our cloth. That does not mean that we ought to abandon desirable projects; but the time factor, the time in which they can be realised, must be suited to the reasonable resources of the community concerned. For that reason, I hope further consideration will be given to this question. All we desire is a global figure. We desire nothing in the way of particulars which would disclose embarrassing facts about the values put by various parties, which might embarrass negotiations in the future. That is not our desire. All we desire is a general all-round global figure of the cost involved in the development plan at the development plan stage. I think, too, that the learned Attorney-General need not be afraid of the effect of disclosure. We are asking for this all-round figure to be given to the Minister, not that it should be published, and that the Minister should be told roughly what he is asked to approve on the financial as well as on the planning ground.

    It ought to be done. I am satisfied, and I think my hon. Friends are, with the assurance of the learned Attorney-General that it will continue to be done. It would be a tragedy it local authorities, regardless of cost, were to submit plans to the Minister, and then have them turned down at the Clause 88 stage; they would then feel a sense of frustration, and planning would be set back and not enhanced by it. If people have a clear view of what is proposed from the start, I am sure they would be reassured.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 16, to leave out from "aforesaid," to the end of line 23, and to insert:

    "if it appears to him that the acquisition is not likely to take place within ten years from the date on which the plan is approved."
    This Amendment is introduced in the interests of the owners of land in development areas. As the Bill stands, land may be designated if it appears to the Minister that it is likely to be developed within 15 years from the date on which the plan is approved. That is a fairly long period, and it was represented in Standing Committee that some hardship might arise if, for that period, owners were under the shadow of the possibility of compulsory acquisition. This Amendment cuts the period down to 10 years. In our view, that provides a reasonable period. As hon. Members know, the Bill provides for a five-yearly review. It is evident that that review ought to take place before the existing programme has been completed altogether. That means that one cannot conveniently have too short a period. One always wants to be able to see ahead and, as the development proceeds, to have a sufficient margin of further land available. Ten years seems to be the ideal period, not causing any undue hardship to the owners of the land concerned and, at the same time, providing a reasonable period for proper planning.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman has represented this as a concession in favour of the owners of the land affected, but in case his own supporters behind should revolt at such a monstrous suggestion, I hasten to make clear that the reality of this matter is rather different. The Bill originally proposed, as I recollect, 10 years, and in Committee upstairs we proposed that the 10 years should be reduced to five. However, it was in fact increased to 15, and now all that is happening by this Amendment is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is proposing to the House that we should correct a mistake of exaggeration performed in the Committee and return to the original 10 which was in the Bill. So it cannot be represented by the right hon. and learned Gentleman as a concession of very great moment. Such as it is, however, this death-bed repentance is quite grateful to us.

    I should like to ask the Minister what he means by this. I exercised all my persuasive powers upon him in Committee upstairs to demonstrate that the term of 15 years was quite reasonable where there is to be comprehensive planning over an area as a whole. We got five years taken out and 15 years put in. The Opposition oppose this like furies from the nether regions, and eventually the right hon. Gentleman decides to put in 15 years. Now, in the highness of his office and surrounded by his henchmen whom nobody can get at, he has been persuaded to go back again to 10 years. It seems to be a queer way of carrying on business, and particularly of encouraging one's own supporters. I said upstairs that it was not possible, within a period of five years, to plan as was required under this Clause of the Bill. No planning authority which has a wide area to plan as a result of enemy action can possibly plan it and say that within five years or 10 years it will carry out the work for which it has designated the land. Land may be designated in the centre of an area for a business or shopping centre, and it will take more than five years to get it put up.

    Also, in doing the planning and laying out the area as a whole, 'you are not only planning for business and shopping centres, but for civic and cultural centres too. With things as they are today it is perfectly ridiculous to expect that one can begin to erect either civic or cultural centres within the next ten years. There must be good planning where there is a wide devastated area, and where there are going to be shops, business centres, civic and cultural centres, banking centres and all the rest, you must indicate to the owners of property that you propose to carry out the plan in the course of 10, 15 or 20 years. That is not an unreasonable proposition to put up, and that is why 15 years was put in upstairs. I did not read the Clause to mean that the 15year provision had been taken out, but if the Attorney-General now states that it is to come out, then I say that a promise made to us upstairs has been broken, a promise made moreover to the Minister's own side and not to the other side.

    May I assure the Attorney-General that I have no intention of having anything whatever to do with leading a mutiny against the Government Front Bench?

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 23, at the end, to insert:

    "(b) the Minister shall not approve a development plan which designates any land as subject to compulsory acquisition for the purpose of securing the winning and working of any minerals comprised therein."
    The reason for the 'Amendment is that there already exists full statutory provision that where minerals are not being worked to the public advantage, the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act, can be invoked to ensure that the minerals are so worked. It would not be right to have two systems of compulsory working of minerals, particularly as the present Act dealing with the matter, has lasted a long time and has been working thoroughly smoothly and satisfactorily. It would be a mistake to have this Town and Country Planning Bill disturbed by the intrusion into it of compulsory powers of working minerals.

    The proper use of the mineral resources of the country is an essential element in any system of planning the use of land. No survey could possibly be complete until it indicated the mineral deposits in the area which was under survey. Any development plan in respect of such an area would not be complete unless it co-ordinated other developments within that area with the need for the working of minerals. If, as part of the process, certain land is reserved for mineral working, the whole plan might well be thrown out of gear. If the right to work and extract minerals could not be obtained, either the production of minerals would suffer, and result in detriment to the whole country, or other land might have to be found and the whole plan might require recasting. If the owner of land allotted by the plan is prepared to allow mineral working on reasonable terms, compulsory power to acquire his interest will not need to be exercised. If he will not, clearly compulsion is necessary. That principle has been ratified in previous Statutes. In our view it is essential that planning authorities should have power to deal with these matters in the preparation of their development plans.

    10.30 p.m.

    This Amendment affects a large part of the area of my constituency, as Oxford clay lies in the greater part of the sub-soil, and bricks are produced from this clay. Moreover, in other parts of my constituency there are potential gravel pits, and it is important to know to what extent the people who may be working that sub-soil will be consulted. I am thinking not of local authorities but of large concerns such as brickworks and the various sand and gravel companies. I have not been able to study this Bill in sufficient detail to ascertain the answer—if the answer is in the Bill— to the question of whether or not there will be facilities for discussion with people working these various pieces of land.

    There will be full opportunity for those who are interested in the working of minerals to make their representations at the designation stage, and there would be another opportunity if, at a later stage, the question of the compulsory acquisition of their interests arose.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 23, at the end, to insert:

    "(b) the Minister shall not approve a development plan which designates as subject to compulsory acquisition land for the development of which in accordance with the development plan permission under this Part of this Act has been granted and in respect of which he is satisfied that such development will be carried out within five years."
    It is clearly necessary that the development plan should indicate the areas to be developed. We proposed this Amendment in the Committee for the purpose of securing that there was some sort of limitation of time during which matters could be held in suspense. We say that if permission has been granted, and if the Minister is satisfied that the development will be carried out within five years, then that development so sanctioned and so promising in its speedy fulfilment, should not be interrupted by the designation of land for compulsory purchase. It is a simple proposition and one which, I think, will commend itself to the House. What we have always to watch in this Bill is its effect upon development, and we are anxious on this side of the House to secure that where planning permission has been granted, and where the Minister is satisfied development will be speedily carried out, the mere designation of land for compulsory purchase within the limits laid down in this Bill should not frustrate an intention which is in the public interest.

    —and although the Minister may have felt satisfied that development was going to be carried out in accordance with the plan, and within a period of five years, that might not occur, and then the opportunity for designation, at any rate for the moment, would have passed. Firms go bankrupt in the ordinary course of private enterprise, individuals die, managements change, and with changes in management, policies change. In the face of these contingencies it might be desirable to designate land as being subject to compulsory purchase, although it is possible that the desired development will take place under private hands. Designation will, at least, encourage that development being made within the ten years period even though it is not likely that powers of compulsory acquisition will be exercised. If, in fact, the owner does not carry out the plans, although perhaps he had them at the time the Minister had to consider the matter, then an attempt could be made to acquire the land compulsorily and carry out the development. If, on the other hand, the owner carries out the development as he said he was going to do, then if any attempt is made to acquire his interest, he can object that the compulsory acquisition is not necessary. That is his real and effective safeguard. If when the time comes for the exercise of the power of compulsory acquisition he can show that he has developed, or is in the course of developing, or that in the immediate future he is going to begin the development, he can satisfy the Minister that it is unnecessary, for he purpose of securing that development in accordance with the plan, that his particular land should be compulsorily acquired. If he does so satisfy the Minister, the Minister will not authorise this compulsory acquisition. There remains, of course, the possibility that where you are dealing with large areas as a whole it may be desirable, both as a matter of planning and of estate management, that the development should all be in the hands of a single undertaking. For those reasons,

    Division No. 207


    10.38 p.m.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CPeto, Brig. C. H. M
    Amory, D. HeathcoteHinchingbrooke, ViscountPickthorn, K.
    Baldwin, A. E.Hogg, Hon. Q.Ponsonby, Col. C. E
    Barlow, Sir J.Hollis, M. C.Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
    Beamish, Maj. T. V HHoward, Hon. A.Prescott, Stanley
    Beechman, N. A.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
    Bennett, Sir P.Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.Raikes, H. V.
    Birch, NigelHutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow. C.)Rayner, Brig. R
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. AJarvis, Sir J.Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
    Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Keeling, E. H.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
    Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WLambert, Hon. G.Renton, D.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. TLindsay, M. (Solihull)Roberts, Maj. P. G (Ecclesall)
    Challen, C.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Ropner, Col. L.
    Channon, H.Low, Brig. A. R. WSanderson, Sir F
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Lucas, Major Sir J.Scott, Lord W.
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLucas-Tooth, Sir HSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Spearman, A. C. M.
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Maclay, Hon. J. S.Studholme, H. G.
    Cuthbert, W. N.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
    Davidson, ViscountessMaitland, Comdr. J. W.Teeling, William
    Digby, S. W.Manningham-Buller, R. EThornton-Kemsley, C. N
    Dodds-Parker, A. DMarlowe, A. A. H.Vane, W. M. F.
    Drayson, G. BMarshall, D. (Bodmin)Walker-Smith, D
    Drewe, C.Maude, J. C.Wheatley, Colonel M. J
    Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Mellor, Sir J.Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Gage, CMorrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Gammons, L. D.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (C'nc'ster)York, C.
    Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E
    Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Neven-Spence, Sir B.


    Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Major Ramsay and
    Head, Brig. A. H,Nutting, AnthonyLieut. Colonel Thorp


    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Ayles, W. H.Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F J
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Bacon, Miss ABenson, G.
    Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Baird, J.Berry, H.
    Alpass, J. H.Balfour, A.Bing, G. H C
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Barstow, P. GBinns, J.
    Attewell, H. C.Barton, C.Blackburn, A. R
    Austin, H. LewisBattley, J. R.Blenkinsop, A
    Awbery, S. S.Bechervaise, A. EBlyton, W. R

    we find ourselves unable to accept the Amendment.

    I speak by leave of the House a second time. I am not impressed by the stress which the learned Attorney-General placed on the hazards of this life, because all these hazards affect the power of development, and the carrying out of the intention to develop. All development can be made by the powers, which the Minister in the next Amendment on the Paper is seeking to increase, whereby he can at any time designate land not previously designated. But I think there is a grave public disadvantage where a man is in a position to carry out development, and the Minister is satisfied therewith, and the time limit is a practical one. I think it would be a great mistake to allow this Clause to pass as it is and I am not convinced by the reply of the learned Attorney-General.

    Question put. "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 92; Noes, 248.

    Boardman, H.Hewitson, Captain M.Rankin, J.
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Hobson, C. R.Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Holman, P.Ridealgh, Mrs. M
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Robens, A.
    Brook, D. (Halifax)House, G.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Hoy, J.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Brown, T. J. (Ines)Hubbard, T.Rogers, C. H. R.
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Hudson, J. H, (Ealing, W.)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Buchanan, G.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Sargood, R.
    Burden, T. W.Irving, W. J.Scollan, T
    Burke, W. A.Janner, B.Scott-Elliot, W.
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Jeger, G. (Winchester)Shackleton, E. A. A
    Carmichael, JamesJeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Sharp, Granville
    Castle, Mrs. B. AJones, O, T. (Hartlepools)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
    Chamberlain, R. AJones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
    Champion, A. J.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Shurmer, P.
    Clitherow, Dr. R.Keenan, WSilkin, Rt. Hon. L.
    Cobb, F. A.Kenyon, C.Silverman, J. (Erdington)
    Cocks, F. S.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. ESilverman, S. S. (Nelson)
    Coldrick, W.Lang, G.Simmons, C. J.
    Collindridge, F.Lavers, S.Skinnard, F. W.
    Colman, Miss G. M.Lee, F. (Hulme)Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Comyns, Dr. L.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Cook, T. F.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Snow, Capt. J. W.
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Lindgren, G. S.Solley, L. J.
    Corbel, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Sorensen, R. W.
    Corlett, Dr. J.Logan, D. G.Soskice, Maj. Sir F
    Corvedale, ViscountLyne, A. W.Sparks, J. A.
    Cove, W. G.McAdam, W.Stamford, W.
    Crawley, A.McEntee, V. La T.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Daggar, G.Mack, J. D.Stress, Dr. B.
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)McKay, J. (Wallsend)Stubbs, A. E
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Swingler, S.
    Davies, Harold (Leek)McKinlay, A. S.Sylvester, G. O.
    Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Maclean, N. (Govan)Symonds, A L.
    Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)McLeavy, F.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Deer, G.Macpherson, T. (Romford)Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)
    Delargy, H. J.Mallalieu, J. P. W.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Diamond, J.Mann, Mrs. JThomas, Ivor (Keighley)
    Dobbie, W.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Driberg, T. E. N.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Medland, H. MThurtle, Ernest
    Dumpleton, C. W.Middleton, Mrs. LTiffany, S.
    Durbin, E. F. M.Mitchison, G. RTitterington, M. F
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Monslow, W.Tolley, L,
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Moody, A. SViant, S. P.
    Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Morley, R.Wadsworth, G
    Ewart, R.Morris, Lt.-Col. H (Sheffield, C.)Walkden, E.
    Fairhurst, F.Moyle, A.Walker, G. H.
    Farthing, W. J.Murray, J. DWarbey W N
    Field, Capt. W. J.Nally, W.Watson, W. M
    Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Neal, H. (Claycross)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Foot, M. M.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Weitzman, D
    Foster, W. (Wigan)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)West, D. G.
    Freeman, Peter (Newport)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Ganley, Mrs. C, S.O'Brien, T.While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Gibbins, J.Paget, R. T.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
    Gibson, C. WPaling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wigg, Col. G. E.
    Gilzean, A.Palmer, A. M. F.Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A B
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Pargiter, G. A.Wilkins, W. A
    Gooch, E. G.Parker, J.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Gordon-Walker, P. C.Parkin, B. T.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Grenfell, D. R.Paton, J. (Norwich)Williamson, T.
    Grierson, E.Pearson, A.Wise, Major F J
    Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Peart, Capt. T. F.Woodburn, A.
    Guy, W. H.Piratin, P.Woods. G S
    Hale, LesliePlatts-Mills, J. F. F.Wyatt, W.
    Hall, W. G.Porter, E. (Warrington)Yates, V. F.
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Porter, G. (Leeds)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Hardy, E. A.Price, M. PhilipsZilliacus, K.
    Hastings, Dr. SomervilleProctor, W. T.
    Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Pryde, D. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES
    Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Pursey, Cmdr. HMr. Hannan and Mr. Popplewell.
    Herbison, Miss M.Ranger, J.

    Clause 6—(Amendment Of Development Plans)

    10.45 P.m.

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 25, at the end, to insert:

    "and any such amendment may in particular provide for securing that any land previously designated by the plan as subject to compulsory acquisition shall cease to be so designated, or that any land not previously so designated shall be so designated."
    Clause 6 (3) provides for the submission of proposals to the Minister for alterations of the development plans, and the Amendment provides that when such submissions are made, the Minister shall have the power either to designate fresh land, or to cause land which is at present designated to cease to be designated. This matter has been discussed in Committee and I gave an undertaking that I would put down an Amendment of this kind.

    The first part of this Amendment is something to which we have no objection and according to my recollection of the proceedings in Committee fulfils an undertaking given by the Minister. With regard to the second part a point does arise and that is, that there is power to amend the area designated at any time and the extent of that power does mean that the advantages, if any, of designation are largely diminished. Although it may be of some value in some places to designate so that persons outside the area shall know that they are free from compulsory acquisition, or that the chances of compulsory acquisition are less in their case, this power of designating further land as subject to compulsory acquisition at any time, really destroys the value of designation. I ask the Minister to say—and I think it is a point of some substance—that for the purpose of getting some degree of finality in development plans, the area designated ought to be extended only when the plan is completely reviewed at the five-yearly period, and not at intermediate stages. If it is done at five-yearly periods people who are concerned or who are likely to be affected will be on the look-out and ready to make representations and I think it will result in better plans being made. If it is liable to be done at any moment, it may cause a great deal of uncertainty. Although we welcome the proviso that the area designated can be taken out at any time, I do not think the same applies to extension. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give further consideration to that point.

    As I understand it, this will further increase the expenditure of local authorities, which we were discussing on another Amendment some time back. Will the Minister, or the Attorney-General, say that where an expense of extra designation as suggested in this Amendment is put upon local authorities, it will be published and will be added to the global sum? We heard a lot from the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) about what he called over-all planning over 15 years. He said he did not like 10 years. I hope he will support my right hon. Friend, who said you cannot get a plan if the matter is liable to be changed about at any odd time. The hon. Member seemed to think there should be a length of time for planning. He should support my right hon. Friend, because, if you can add any particular land on to designated land, at any time, it does away with over-all planning. I hope, as I say, that the Minister will be able to give an assurance that any extra expenditure brought about by the Minister giving powers to designate will be included in the global sum.

    Will the Minister say what effect this Amendment would have on the market for land outside that which is designated in the first place? Surely he does not think this is going to be an advantage. If to powers remain in his hands, those whose business it is to advise on the purchase and sale of land, will have no idea of what kind of advice they can give to their clients. By the elimination of the words at the end of the Amendment the orderly development of land which is the object of this Bill will be much more effective.

    I think this is a case where the Minister, in securing very complete powers for himself, has inadvertently run the risk of defeating one of the main objects of his own Bill. The underlying idea by which he has justified his designation proposals is that he hopes thereby to give, not a complete, but some degree of certainty to owners of land who will be affected, and he wishes to secure that object. It clearly has certain advantages, but by putting in these last words he really is destroying all the certainty that the remaining provisions of this part of the Bill are designed to create. If at any moment land, though not hitherto designated, may be designated, I think he will greatly increase what I believe to be one of the main dangers of the Bill.

    One of the great advantages of the Bill is admittedly that it gives to local and public authorities immense powers for good planning and good development. The great risk of the Bill is that it discourages private owners from carrying out good development. One of the greatest dangers is that, without making certain that the powers which he has given will be used by local authorities, he may, by unduly increasing the risk of the private owner, completely discourage such private development as would, in fact, favour his plan. I quite understand that, when drafting a provision of this kind, the first instinct of the Minister and of the draftsman would be to give every sort of power and to include as a matter of caution these last words to which we are objecting. I believe that by so doing he has inadvertently produced a result, which I gather he does not want, which is very greatly to increase the risk in the minds of private owners and, thereby, to defeat the very object he had in mind in providing for designation.

    I can only speak again with the consent of the House. I think the House will agree that it is essential to have flexibility and elasticity in planning. We have suffered in the past from the fact that land has been static. Once a scheme has been made it has been exceedingly difficult to alter it. This Bill provides for periodic reviews The normal thing would be that there would be a review every five years. I gather that the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) does not object, on the occasion of these periodic reviews, to the possibility of land being designated afresh. His real objection is that there may be a proposal at any time for the qualification of a plan and, on those occasions, it would be possible to designate land. I agree that there is that possibility.

    Of course, one can have elasticity carried to an extreme which becomes the negation of planning. I can give the House every possible assurance that proposals for alterations or additions to a development plan will not be encouraged, that; in deed, they will be strongly discouraged in the intervening period, and that only in cases of extreme urgency will such an application be entertained. I can conceive of these cases of emergency. I would remind hon. Gentlemen that the structure of the Bill provides that, for planning purposes, a local authority can only acquire land which has been previously designated under Clause 36. Therefore, if it should turn out that a local planning authority urgently requires some land for its planning functions—land which it has overlooked or which was not designated and without which it would probably be frustrated in carrying out its plans—the only way in which it could acquire that land during the intervening period would be by submitting an alteration of addition to its plan and making a designation order.

    I feel that we have to provide for this rare case which, as I say, I hope will occur very seldom indeed. It will be strongly discouraged, but if it does occur it ought to be dealt with. Possibly serious consequences would occur if it was not dealt with. That is the reason for providing for the possibility of designating afresh in the intervening period. In regard to the financial point which was made, I would only say that the same considerations apply to an alteration or addition to a development plan as apply to the original development plan, and that the local authority will be required to submit its financial statement in respect of these alterations or additions as they will have done in respect of the original development plan.

    11.0 p.m.

    May I put one question to the right hon. Gentleman? In the urgent case which he is imagining in justification of the final words of his Amendment, does he say that there will be no powers of acquisition available to the local authority other than those contained in Clause 36?