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Clause 10—(Obligation To Obtain Permission For Development)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1947

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

Amendment made: In page 9, line 42, leave out "and," and insert "or."—[ Mr. Silkin.]

I beg to move, in page 10, line 4, at the end, to insert:

"(c) the carrying out by any local authority or statutory undertakers of any works for the purpose of inspecting, repairing or renewing any sewers, mains, pipes, cables or other apparatus, including the breaking open of any street or other land for that purpose."
This new paragraph (c) sets out the operations which will not rank as development.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, after "of," to insert "laying down."

There is an important omission from this Amendment. As the Minister has moved it, without the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling)—which I have just moved—it would exclude from the definition of "development," the maintenance or repair of any pipes or works on the roads by any local authority or statutory undertaker, but it would not exclude the laying down of pipes by such a local authority or statutory undertaker. This is an omission on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. When this matter was discussed in Standing Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham moved an Amendment of this nature, and on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman said that he was willing to accept the principle. The matter with which my hon. Friend was then concerned covered a statutory undertaker who not only wanted to inspect, repair or maintain pipes in a road, but wanted to lay them down. The right hon. Gentleman knows that there are cases where undertakers are under an obligation to lay down pipes. For instance, I understand that gas companies are under an obligation to lay down connecting pipes from the main to consumers' premises, and it would seem quite wrong, and would put them in an impossible position, if work of that kind was classed as a development for which permission had to be obtained. It would involve delays which would be very unfortunate for the community. The whole House knows the desirability of securing piped water supplies all over the countryside, and it would appear that if the proposed Amendment were accepted as it stands, any statutory undertaker who desires to put down a pipe will have to seek permission under Clause 10. It is because I think there is an omission that I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment to the Amendment.

Before the Amendment to the Amendment can be discussed, it must be seconded.

The omission of the words "laying down" was deliberate. The intention is that until the whole question of the breaking open of streets has been dealt with—and it is the intention of the Ministry of Transport to deal with it—there should be a measure of control. I do not think it will involve any hardship or difficulty. Complete freedom to go into any street and break it open to carry out works without any question at all ought not to be tolerated, or at any rate it ought to be dealt with comprehensively, and it is because there is an intention to deal with the breaking open of streets separately that those words were omitted.

The right hon. Gentleman says it is the intention of the Ministry of Transport to deal with this matter, but not, I take it, under this Bill. That raises a very awkward position, because here is an example of piecemeal legislation. Anyone who has travelled about the country must know that there is hopeless confusion between Government Departments in these matters. Here we are postponing this very important question to be dealt with on some other occasion. This way of approaching the position seems unsatisfactory. After what my hon. Friend has said in moving his Amendment to the proposed Amendment I should have thought that at some time during the passage of the Bill this point could be made clear so that the processes referred to will not be held up. If the Ministry of Transport say there is some difficulty about it, it is a pity the Minister of Transport is not here to give us information on the matter.

The effect of the deliberate omission to which the Minister referred will be a liability upon anyone laying cables and things of that sort to pay a development charge. If the Amendment to the Amendment were accepted, there would be no such liability. Is that not the position?

I cannot imagine the value of land being enhanced by breaking open a street.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment negatived.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.

5.15 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 10, line 15, at the end, to insert:

"The temporary use of land and the erection of moveable structures thereon by a person who is the proprietor of a travelling circus, roundabout, amusement fair, stall or store (not being a pedlar, hawker or costermonger) for the purpose of his business."
I move this Amendment on behalf of a large and important body of people, who are of great value to the community, and who are anxious about their position under the Bill. They are the showmen with temporary and movable structures which they take round and, from time to time, put on land where fairs have not previously been held. When they go to a regular ground they are already protected. Under the Bill they will have to obtain permission, and the owner of the land will be liable to pay development charges under Part V. That will mean that the owner will be unlikely to allow the use of his land. This is a serious matter for a very large number of these tradespeople. Under the law, showmen do not have to obtain permission from the local authority for a stay of less than 20 days, but it appears that under the Bill that principle will go. Although the planning authority will not take action under Clause 21 in respect of a period up to 21 days, the owner will still be liable for development charges, and will therefore be unwilling to allow the use of his land.

Without an Amendment of this nature showmen will be in a very serious position under the Bill. Many of them are subject to sudden changes of plan, by reason of bad weather, local epidemics, diseases, and things of that sort. I need not stress the great value of their work to the community. They give a great deal of innocent and necessary fun and recreation. Just now, when young men are returning from the Forces and entering the business, it is desirable that they should have as much encouragement and as little impediment as possible. I have the honour to be honorary chaplain to the Showmen's Guild, and I know that they do splendid work. I might be permitted to say that in some respects their business is not altogether divorced from that of this ancient Court of Parliament. Exhibitions of tightrope-walking and even of acrobatics are familiar in this business as in that. I hope that my Amendment will receive sympathy from the Minister.

I beg to second the Amendment.

I shall not use any additional argument. except to say that if the Minister can see his way to accept the Amendment, or can find some other way of covering the point therein suggested, it will be a great tribute to a group of people who have rendered signal service to the cause of town and country planning. I say that deliberately. The showmen's organisation and their newspaper "World's Fair" have time and again, in the past 50 years, fought the battle for the preservation of our commons and ancient rights of way. It would be a fully merited tribute to them if the Minister accepted the Amendment.

The mover and seconder of the Amendment have asked me to regard it with sympathy. I do regard it sympathetically, but they are asking too much. They are asking that there should be no control whatever over the temporary use of any land in the future, in respect of travelling circuses, roundabouts and so on. In spite of the great services to the cause of planning given in the past by the showmen, to accept the Amendment would not be rendering a service to future planning. The use of land for this purpose is a very definite use. I would be the last to say that it is unnecessarily, in all cases, an undesirable use, but even the honorary chaplain to the guild must admit that there might be cases of undesirable use of certain sites. The purpose of the Bill is to control such use. The Bill provides protection for sites which have been in use in the past. It will he possible to safeguard future sites by means of a development scheme. I believe that the organisations for which the hon. Members have spoken, will be satisfied with the assurance that those sites will be covered as far as possible by the development schemes—that is to say, development schemes made by local authorities and approved by the Minister to give exemption to the particular sites, in respect of which it will not be necessary for approval to be sought. As regards other sites it will be necessary. I should not be discharging my duty if I gave carte blanche to showmen to go anywhere they liked in the future, without any control whatever. I hope that my hon. Friends will be satisfied with this assurance.

I am not quite sure that the Minister made out his case. I do not think he was justified in saying that the Amendment asked for carte blanche. I do not think it does. It is obvious that such matters can be controlled, and ought to be controlled by regulations made for the purpose, just as markets can be controlled by by-laws and other regulations. I seriously question whether it is appropriate to control this use of sites by machinery under Part III. Those provisions are to control the development of land. That is their title and their purpose. I seriously question whether it is appropriate to describe the temporary use of land for an amusement park and for erecting roundabouts, for periods of less than 28 days, as a development of the land. It seems to me that it is rather going outside the ordinary use of language, and that whilst good administration would obviously demand that these matters should not be without regulation, it might equally demand that such administrative arrangements as were desirable, should be made under some other Section of some other Act. I cannot help feeling that there is substance in the complaint that this type of machinery is not appropriate to temporary erections for periods of for much less than 28 days. I feel that the right hon. Gentleman might reconsider his attitude towards this Amendment, which has not been put forward in unreasonable terms, and was not, I believe, replied to by him in any hostile spirit. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether other machinery might not be more appropriate.

I support this Amendment. I think that it is a human and natural Amendment and that these words ought to be inserted somewhere in this Bill. Both the mover and the seconder of the Amendment put forward their case, not from a high Ministerial point of view, but from the natural, human point of view which appeals to hon. Members such as myself. After all, these fairs have gone on in this country for a long time and are amusements which are looked forward to by children and a lot of innocent people. Nobody could possibly accuse either of the two Ministers concerned with this Bill of being entirely innocent, and they are not the kind of persons whom one would see at a fun fair. They certainly want something grimmer than that. The Minister intimated that, at some time in the future, this matter might possibly be dealt with, but anybody watching the right hon. Gentleman and listening to him would realise that there was a complete and utter lack of sympathy on his part with this kind of amusement. Although he did not say so, he obviously regards fun fairs as nasty, noisy, ugly and crude, and as things which are dotted about the country appearing here today and there tomorrow, and without any of that order and planning which so delight his heart. It is quite obvious that the idea of fun fairs was a thousand miles away from his pedantic heart. As hon. Members of all parties may be in favour of such an Amendment, why not take this matter to a Division, and thus show that, on this point, at any rate a very strong case has been made out? On the other hand, there is, I think, one slight defect in the Amendment. I am not sure whether the words "stall or store" are not rather too wide. Why should pedlars, hawkers or costermongers be ruled out? After all, those people perform a very useful service and, to my mind, the costermonger should certainly not have been excluded. I hope that we shall have a chance of dividing on this Amendment, and of showing that there is a great deal of humanity in this House.

I always thought from the appearance and manner of the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) that he had never known what it was to be young. I am certain that very few people will agree with him that the travelling fair is a general nuisance. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not say so."] In the days of my boyhood there was nothing so welcome as a travelling fair. I think right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench should try to remember their boyhood days, and should' give this Amendment sympathetic. consideration. I suggest, however, that travelling fairs should not and would not come under these development charges. I would like to see this Amendment inserted elsewhere in the Bill. Subsection (2) says:

"In this Act, except where the context otherwise requires, the expression 'development' means the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, Over or under land, and the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land."
The question of material change always comes into the matter, and I am certain that no one would suggest that a material change would be made in the land if a travelling fair or a roundabout or two were on it for a w eek at, say, Whitsun, and then went somewhere else. Nobody could suggest that that would be a material change, so far as the development of the land was concerned. In normal circumstances, these travelling fairs would not come under the terms of this Bill, but, as hon. Members know, when one gets official persons knocking around, one never knows what they are going to do. The trouble is that some of our Ministers, forgetful of their responsibilities, do not always choose Labour men and women as official persons. They sometimes choose from the ranks of the Tories, and when a hard-faced Tory becomes an official person, one never knows who will suffer in consequence. In order to avoid any suffering which might be caused by the wrong choice on the part of the Minister, it would be very good—

I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to proceed any further with that argument, which is not in Order.

I was going to say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the Minister would help himself and those who, as the mover of the Amendment said, have given good service to the community in times past, if he would accept this Amendment. It would not in any way alter the character of his Bill, or the development charges he is going to make.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment was satisfied with the answer he received from the Minister. It seemed to me that the Minister did not really deal with the main point put forward. The hon. Gentleman did not suggest—nor do I—that fun fairs and circuses should be allowed to set up all over the place. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) pointed out that under other Acts, in fact, they could be controlled. The hon. Gentleman said there seemed to be a danger that fairs and circuses would be prevented from going on to land which they did not normally occupy, if owing to floods or some other occurrences they had to make a change because owners of land, who would normally raise no objection to them, might now have some hesitation in allowing them for fear of attracting a development charge. That seemed to be the relevant point put forward by the hon. Gentleman, but it was not answered by the Minister. I hope that the Government are not going to be unsympathetic to this Amendment, and I sugest that, even if we have not enough bread, we should have sufficient circuses.

5.30 p.m.

I hesitate to intervene on a Bill which deals only with England and Wales as I am a Scottish Member, but as the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has made several speeches on the recommittal stage and on the Report stage, I feel that my intervention may not be unappreciated by my hon. Friends on this side. I should like to associate myself, for once in a while, with nearly every word the hon. Member for West Fife said, but I totally dissent from his interpretation of the speech of the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), because if the hon. Gentleman had listened to or been able to hear the speech—I do not say that offensively—he would have realised that the hon. Member for Torquay was not exhibiting himself to the House as a killjoy. Far from it. He was urging the Minister to soften his hard heart and to realise that by refusing to accept this Amendment he was merely carrying on the worst spirit of the Cromwellian period in this country. By refusing to accept this Amendment, he is refusing to grant travelling showmen or circus men and others the certainty of knowing where they stand under this great Town and Country Planning Bill, this Socialistic regimentation by His Majesty's present Ministers.

I sincerely hope that, on reflection, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that this Amendment is in his own best interests. He has been urged by two hon. Gentlemen sitting behind him to allow this to circus proprietors and travelling showmen—I do not use the phrase in any invidious sense—and he is refusing, by his obduracy, to give them the certainty of knowing where they stand. I agree with the hon. Member for Torquay that the Amendment is perhaps too widely phrased. It might be somewhat out of place to include pedlars, hawkers and costermongers, but it is desirable to include circus proprietors and travelling showmen, who provide a very great deal of innocent amusement for members of the public generally whether they belong to any political party or none. I very much hope that the Minister will reconsider his decision, and, if he does not, it will give me very great pleasure to go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment. I hope that the mover and seconder of the Amendment will act as Tellers. The only reason why I have risen is to safeguard the interests of Scottish people, for whom I hope similar provision will be made.

I support this Amendment. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will think again about it. He has had no support from his own side of the House, and, of course, no support from this side of the House. We have had the astounding position of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), no doubt largely because he did not hear, or if he heard, did not understand, the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), speaking in the same vein as the hon. Member for Torquay and agreeing with everything that the hon. Member for Torquay said. What does it mean if we do not have these words inserted? It means that when one of these fun fairs passes from one county to another, application will have to be made to the county council planning committee before it can use land which has not been used before, in the same way as I imagine anyone who wants to have a fete or horse show on land which has not previously been used for that purpose, will have to apply for permission.

Is this not going too far? Are not the present powers of control adequate? I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at the matter again. We do not find these fairs suddenly starting up in places where they are obnoxious to the people in the neighbourhood.

I do not know whether the National Eisteddfod of Wales could be correctly described as a "travelling circus" or whether it comes into this question, but it certainly moves from one part of the country into another in different years. I should like to be assured by the Minister that permission will not have to be sought in such cases.

There is a little misunderstanding about the effect of the Bill in this respect and a grave misunderstanding about the attitude of Members of the Government towards functions of this kind. For my own part I never miss an occasion of attending a fun fair and—

I am afraid I will not. We have had a little too much fun about this. I always look forward with, I confess, diminishing confidence to the occasion when I shall meet the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) in a "dodgem" car or see how he repeats, on the swings, his evolutions in the political roundabout. We are most anxious to do anything we can to promote the facilities available to the ordinary people of this country of having fun on suitable occasions. The hon. and learned Member for Daventry has misunderstood the effect of the Bill. There is nothing in this Bill which will prevent the travelling circus from going from county to county and town to town and returning to its old accustomed sites just as it has done year after year in the past. Under Clause 10 (5) (b) nothing will apply to the use of land which has been used for this kind of purpose—

I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to misinterpret me. I never suggested that that was prevented. I said that if they wanted to use a new site, they would have to get permission.

I had not appreciated what the hon. and learned Gentleman had stressed. If it is a question of going to a new site, I agree that, in some circumstances, if their user of the new site amounted to a development of that site, that is a question of fact which would have to be considered on the merits of each case, and they would have to obtain permission. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will appreciate that the new site might be next to a hospital, or in some other position where it was manifestly undesirable that a fair should be established. Hon Gentlemen opposite have not suggested any adequate existing means by which the use of land for this kind of purpose can be controlled. We think it right that while existing sites which in the past have been consecrated to this most important and desirable use, should continue to be used there should exist some power which can be exercised in the case of necessity, to control the development of new sites for this purpose.

May I have an answer to my question, because it is a matter of some consequence?

Before the Attorney-General replies, would he agree that this Amendment has nothing whatever to do with fun fairs which are a degenerate and bastard—

The hon. Gentleman is now making a second speech, which he is not entitled to do

If the people of Cornwall could have heard the speech of the Attorney-General, they would have been rather disturbed. Cornwall is full of joy and colour, but it has a serious purpose. Travelling circuses and fairs play a very prominent part in the life of various towns and villages in Cornwall on what are called feast days. I am rather disturbed to hear that if such a circus or fair is established on a new site it may be in trouble. The learned Attorney-General asked what was to be done if such a fair sought to establish itself next to a hospital but, under the existing law, that could be restrained as a nuisance and it would be quite impossible for a fair to be established on such a site. Therefore, on behalf of the children of Cornwall—and I hope I may be accounted one—who so enjoy these fairs and circuses, I rise to protest, and I hope that the matter will yet be reconsidered,

Division No. 210.]


[5.44 p.m

Agnew, Cmdr. P. GGranville, E. (Eye)Nutting, Anthony
Aitken, Hon. MaxGruffydd, Prof. W. JOrr-Ewing, I. L
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W (Armagh)Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Peake, Rt. Hon. O
Amory, D. HeathcoteHarvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Pickthorn, K.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. RHead, Brig. A. H.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Balfour, A.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CPoole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Barlow, Sir JHerbert, Sir A. P.Prior-Palmer, Brig O
Baxter, A. B.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountRaikes, H. V.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HHogg, Hon. QRayner, Brig. R.
Beechman, N. A.Hollis, M. C.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S C. (Hillhead)
Bennett, Sir PHolmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Renton, D.
Birch, NigelHoward, Hon, A.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Boothby, R.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Ropner, Col. L.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. GHulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.Sanderson, Sir F.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow. C.)Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Jarvis, Sir JSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G TJeffreys, General Sir G.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Butcher, H. WLambert, Hon. G.Smithers, Sir W
Byers, FrankLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HSpearman, A. C. M.
Carson, E.Linstead, H. N.Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Challen, CLipson, D. L.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Conant, Maj. R. J. ELow, Brig. A. R. W.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Lucas, Major Sir J.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. ELucas-Tooth, Sir H.Sutcliffe, H.
Crowder, Capt. John ELyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Cuthbert, W. N.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Davidson, ViscountessMackeson, Brig. H. R.Teeling, William
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Digby, S. W.MacLeod, J.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Drayson, G BMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F
Drewe, CMaitland, Comdr. J. W.Vane, W. M. F.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)Manningham-Buller, R. EWadsworth, G
Duthie, W. S.Marsden, Capt. A.Walker-Smith, D.
Eccles, D. M.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Ward, Hon. G. R
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalterMellor, Sir J.Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Erroll, F. J.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Morrison, Maj. J. C. (Salisbury)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morrison, Rt. Hon W. S. (Cirencester)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Gage, C.Mott-Radclyffe, Maj C EYork, C.
Gammans, L. D.Neven-Spence, Sir BTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Nicholson, G.Major Ramsey and
Glyn, Sir RNield, B. (Chester)Mr. Studholme.


Adams, Richard (Balham)Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Attewell, H. C.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Alpass, J. HAustin, H. Lewis
Allen, A. C (Bosworth)Anderson, A (Motherwell)Awbery, S. S

On behalf of the children of Devonshire I would like to say a word. In these grim and very grey days, these circuses and fairs are amongst the few things that cheer us up. I suggest that any new powers are utterly unnecessary. Next week in Dawlish, which is my home town, a fair is arriving. The owners applied to use the green on the sea front. The council discussed the application at last week's meeting; they decided that this fair might cut up the green too much, and that it should go to the playing fields a mile away. So the present powers are ample to deal with everything of that kind. This is just another bit of completely unnecessary legislation.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 129. Noes, 259.

Ayles, W. H.Herbison, Miss M.Pryde, D. J.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Hicks, G.Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Bacon, Miss A.Hobson, C. R.Ranger, J.
Barstow, P. G.Holman, P.Rees-Williams, D. R.
Barton, C.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Reeves, J.
Battley, J. R.House, G.Reid, T. (Swindon)
Bechervaise, A. EHoy, J.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Benson, G.Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Robens, A.
Beswick, F.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Royle, C.
Bing, G. H. C.Irving, W. J.Sargood, R.
Binns, J.Janner, B.Scollan, T.
Blenkinsop, A.Jay, D. P. T.Scott-Elliot, W.
Blyton, W. R.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Segal, Dr. S.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Shackleton, E. A. A
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)John, W.Sharp, Granville
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Jones, D, T. (Hartlepools)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Bramall, E. A.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Keenan, W.Shurmer, P.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Kenyon, C.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Buchanan, G.Kinley, J.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Burke, W. A.Kirby, B. V.Simmons, C. J.
Butler, H W. (Hackney, S.)Kirkwood, DSkeffington, A. M.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Lavers, S.Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
Chamberlain, R. A.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Smith, C. (Colchester)
Champion, A. J.Lee, F. (Hulme)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Chetwynd, G. R.Leslie, J. R.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Clitherow, Dr. R.Levy, B. W.Snow, Capt. J. W.
Collindridge, F.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Sorensen, R. W.
Colman, Miss G. M.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Soskice, Maj. Sir P
Comyns, Dr. L.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Sparks, J. A.
Cook, T. F.Logan, D. G.Stamford, W.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Lyne, A. W.Steele, T.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)McAdam, W.Stephen, C.
Corvedale, ViscountMcEntee, V. La T.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Crossman, R. H. S.McGhee, H. G.Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Daggar, G.Mack, J. D.Stubbs, A. E.
Daines, P.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)Swingler, S.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield)McKinlay, A. S.Symonds, A. L.
Davies, Harold (Leek)Maclean, N. (Govan)Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)McLeavy, F.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Macpherson, T. (Romford)Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Mainwaring, W. H.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Deer, G.Mallalieu, J. P. W.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Diamond, J.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Dobbie, W.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Dodds, N. N.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Thurtle, Ernest
Driberg, T. E. N.Medland, H. M.Tiffany, S.
Dumpleton, C. W.Mellish, R. JTitterington, M. F
Dye, S.Messer, F.Tolley, L.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Middleton, Mrs. L.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)Mikardo, IanVernon, Maj. W. F
Edwards, John (Blackburn)Mitchison, G R.Viant, S. P.
Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Monslow, W.Walkden, E.
Evans, John (Ogmore)Montague, F.Walker, G. H.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Moody, A. S.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Ewart, R.Morley, RWarbey, W. N.
Fairhurst, F.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (L'wish'm, E.)Watson, W. M
Fernyhough, E.Mort, D. LWebb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Moyle, A.Weitzman, D.
Forman, J. C.Murray, J. DWells, P L. (Faversham)
Foster, W. (Wigan)Nally, W.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Freeman, Peter (Newport)Naylor, T. E.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E..
Ganley, Mrs. C. S.Neal, H. (Claycross)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Gibson, C. W.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Wigg, Col. G. E.
Gilzean, A.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Wilkes, L.
Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Wilkins, W. A.
Gooch, E. G.Noel-Buxton, LadyWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
Goodrich, H. E.Oldfield, W. H.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Gordon-Walker, P. C.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Williamson, T.
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Palmer, A. M F.Wills, Mrs. E. A
Grey, C. F.Parker, J.Wise, Major F. J
Grierson, E.Parkin, B. T.Woodburn, A.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Paton, J. (Norwich)Woods, G. S
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Pearson, A.Wyatt, W.
Guy, W. H.Peart, Capt. T. F.Yates, V. F.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe)Piratin, P.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Hall, W. G.Popplewell, E.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Porter, E. (Warrington)TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Hardy, E. A.Porter, G. (Leeds)Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Harrison, J.Price, M. PhilipsMr. Hannan.
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleProctor, W. T.

I beg to move, in page 10, line 20, to leave out "a," and to insert "no."

With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like the next Amendment—in line 21, to leave out "and of each," and to insert "or of any"—to be considered with this Amendment. Clause 10 describes what is and what is not development and in Subsection (3) there is the curious phrase

"For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared"
that any man who converts one house into two or more separate dwellings is undertaking development. The phrase "for the avoidance of doubt" reminds me of Macaulay's phrase "every schoolboy knows." Of course every schoolboy did not know, and this phrase raises more doubts than it allays. One doubt is what really is the intention of the Government in regard to the levying of development charges. Do they intend to levy development charges upon buildings, or upon sites? Listening to the Second Reading speeches one heard hon. Member after hon. Member opposite rejoicing in the fact that values which had been created by the community were now to be taxed for the benefit of the community. The whole argument seemed based on the fact that development charges were to be levied on sites, yet, "for the avoidance of doubt," it is here stated that development charges are to be levied on buildings. I ask the Government to allay that doubt, and to make clear their intention in regard to the levying of development charges. Is it on sites, or also on buildings on those sites?

The second doubt which this raises in my mind is whether the Government are really in earnest about the housing of the people of this country. Here we have the clearly laid down intention of the Government that where a man performs the beneficial act of turning a house into two, three, or more, separate dwellings, he renders himself liable to all the rigmarole of applying to the Central Land Board to be told what the development charge is, and to waiting until the property has been inspected and the amount assessed, before he can get planning permission or licences. One can imagine the owner of a building which already houses two, three, or more, families, and which has not been modernised, looking at all the things which have to be done under the terms of this Bill, and saying in despair, "Dash it all, I would rather leave the property as it is. I am not going to all the trouble of finding out what the development charge is to be, and then converting the building." Every hon. Member must know from his daily correspondence, as well as from his own observation, that there are not sufficient houses provided for the people, and that people are living in single rooms, or sometimes in two rooms and sharing a kitchen or bathroom. It should be the intention of the Government that as quickly as possible plans should be made for the conversion of those buildings, and their modernisation, so that they can be made into decent separate dwellings.

The first thing the Clause will do, if carried into effect, will be to delay modernisation, and to hold up conversion of such buildings. Already people are living in these conditions; this does not mean that they will be prevented from living in them in the future. We want to see that these conditions shall be alleviated to the greatest possible extent as quickly as possible. Many of these houses were once very fine houses, but they are now outmoded. Often they have pleasing Georgian or Regency exteriors, which should be retained. It would be a great shame if many of them were swept away, or torn down and replaced by modern streamlined buildings quite out of keeping with the character of the neighbourhood. Can it be said that because a man is laying out money by turning the interiors of such buildings into decent modern separate dwellings, he is doing something which ought to incur penalties, and make him liable to pay development charge? It used to be considered a virtue to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. Here the Government are seeking to place a penalty upon a man who seeks to turn one dwelling into two or more. That may be good planning, but it is bad policy.

6.0 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

This Amendment, which was proposed in such forceful and felicitous terms by my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), relates to a Clause which proposes to do away with certain doubts. I feel that my hon. Friend rather flattered the Government when he asked them what the effect of this Clause was on the levying of development charges in respect of the process of conversion. It seems to me, from a study of the Clause, that the answer must be that with the Clause as at present drafted, a development charge must clearly be levied on those processes of conversion. Under Clause 10 of the Bill, which we are at present discussing, planning permission is required in respect of development to he carried out, and development includes
"the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land."
The process of conversion is, by this part of the Clause, defined as being "a material change" of use. That being so, it seems to me that, as the Clause stands, it must follow that the process of conversion is liable, under Clause 62, to the levy of a development charge.

I note that the right hon. Gentleman expresses agreement that that is, in fact, the position arising under this Clause as it stands. It is because that is the position, and because we think that is a wrong position, that we wish to have this Clause amended in the sense expressed in the words on the Order Paper. My hon. Friend rightly stressed the importance of this particular matter in relation to the great question of housing the people of this country. The business of town planning is not solely concerned with amenity; it is not solely concerned with trying to restrict bad or inaesthetic development. At least an equally important part of any right concept of town planning is an insistence on its positive aspect of promoting good development. If that is true in normal times, how much more is it true today, when we have this enormous shortage of housing accommodation, and when we can see, from the lamentable failure of the housing policy, and from the retreat of the Minister of Health even from the modest target for 1947, that we shall have a very small contribution towards the solution of this problem by way of erection of new houses.

Because that is so, it makes it doubly important that we should try to stimulate the provision of additional housing accommodation by getting appropriate conversion, and that we should not try to fetter and restrict it, as would be done by the Clause as it stands, which imposes an obligation of a development charge on people who try to expand housing accommodation by the processes of conversion. What is the argument against it? The right hon. Gentleman insisted, in Committee upstairs, that it was necessary that we should retain the obligation to get town planning permission for these processes of conversion. He put that forward primarily on aesthetic grounds. I said then, and I repeat, that no one attaches more importance than I do to these aesthetic questions. I wholly associate myself with what my hon. Friend has said. We naturally desire as much as anybody to retain, for example, the pleasing Georgian elevations to which he has referred. Many of these processes of conversion are, in fact, internal processes; the structural alterations are internal and the pleasing facades remain undestroyed and unimpaired. Those are the processes of conversion which we have in mind; to the outer view the appearance is the same, but inside, instead of housing one person uncomfortably, the houses are housing several people in a way which is reasonably appropriate to the social and economic realities of our day. That is the sort of conversion we have in mind.

Is it necessary to subject that sort of conversion to the necessity of obtaining town planning permission in order to prevent the possibilities of deterioration of amenity? It is not, because, of course, these internal processes of structural alteration are governed by the necessity of obtaining by-law permission. Town planning permission under this Bill will have to be sought from the more remote planning authority, that is to say, the county council, but by-law permission is the concern of the local authority, the borough council or the county district council. Therefore, it imposes a closer supervision upon these processes than anything that can be exercised by a town planning body. The case is clear that the processes of conversion are valuable as an addition to housing accommodation. It is also clear that they can be carried out, even if exempted from the necessity of obtaining permission, and therefore incurring a liability for development charge, without undue fear of deterioration of amenity or standard.

As my hon. Friend so persuasively pointed out, the alternatives, if we do not take this course, are two. One is that large houses will continue unconverted, housing one or two people, uncomfortably and unsuitably, in a way in which I am sure the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister) and the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), both from different points of view, would agree in condemning as undesirable. The second possibility is that these large houses will become the homes of a great many families without the necessary structural alterations being carried out. They will be large houses housing many families without the necessary alterations and amenities which are desirable. That is the quickest way in which the right hon. Gentleman can promote the growth of slums in this country. We do him the credit of believing that that is not his intention. Therefore, I most strongly urge that we should assist in the solution of the problem of housing the people of this country by trying to stimulate this process of house conversion, and that we do so by incorporating this Amendment in the Clause.

More and more am I amazed at the language which is used on the other side of the House, when hon. Members want to serve some particular purpose. I listened to the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) telling us that there are houses in this country in which one family lives uncomfortably because the houses are too big.

The hon. Member is making a very jejune point. Surely it is within his knowledge, and the knowledge of the House, that in bygone spacious days there were large houses which could only be lived in with certain social amenities and ancillaries, in particular a large domestic staff. Those conditions have passed away, and I do not regret it, but it makes any attempt to perpetuate them quite unsuitable.

I would advise the hon. Member, when he is talking to me, that if he is not prepared to use English he might try Scottish. I am not sure that I am sufficiently well acquainted with languages to get the full meaning of the word "jejune." Perhaps he will explain it to me later. In spite of what he says about the changed conditions of today, there are in this country many houses which I should like to see converted. I Think the Minister also would like to see them converted. The hon. Member for Hertford and his friends would not like to see them converted. The occupants of these houses may live uncomfortably, but they would live much more uncomfortably if the accommodation were taken away and given to other people.

I have in mind houses that have been vacated, not because they were too big for the occupants, but because the area in which the houses were built gradually began to be used by the local authorities for housing, and the proletariat began to encroach The owners of the houses wanted to get far far away from such associations, so the houses were vacated. Some of the houses which I have in mind which were formerly occupied by one family are now occupied by six families. There are a common kitchen, a common bathroom and lavatory accommodation on the ground floor and the same facilities upstairs. That does not alter the fact that there are six separate dwellings. Some hon. Members appear to think that if everyone has not got a bathroom, lavatory accommodation, and a kitchen of their own, they are not living in separate dwellings, but I assure them that they are separate dwellings. If hon. Members had lived as I have lived in a tenement, they would know that there may be three separate dwellings on each landing. We had no bathrooms at all in most of those houses. There was a common lavatory at. the stair head, but they were separate dwellings. In the same way in the converted houses which I have in mind there are six separate dwellings, three below and three above.

No one can say that no notice should be taken of that and that no development charge should be made. Naturally, this must be taken into account in connection with planning. The planning authority must take account of all the large houses that can be converted, and when they see that conversion is taking place, development charges should be made. Of course, the system must be controlled and regulated in a way which will avoid the horrible system existing in many parts of Glasgow, where there are places which are not separate dwellings. There are places where three families live together in one big room. They may hang a sheet across the room to get a measure of privacy. We must get rid of that sort of thing. Surely, we should ensure that these large houses are converted.

6.15 p.m.

The suggestion has been made that if there is a development charge, the person who owns the property will allow the house to stand empty. Anyone who can get hold of one of these large houses will be ready to convert it into a dwelling for two, three or more families. The mere fact that there is to be a development charge will not he any handicap. If I were interested in property—I am not— I could get hold of quite a number of houses which, at present, are only partially in use. I would do my best to get the tenants taken out and put into more comfortable conditions, and would make use of these houses for reconversion purposes. I would turn them into two, three or four separate dwellings and I would gladly face any development charge. It would make a very useful contribution to the development plans of local authorities, and it would also be a profitable business for the individual who had control of the property. I do not think that the Minister should give any consideration to the Amendment. He should keep the Clause as it stands.

I had a little difficulty in following the argument of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) but I concluded that, true to his Communist principles, he was advocating community kitchens and saying that every housewife required at least five other women to share her kitchen with her. If that was his argument, I am afraid I do not agree—

I did not argue for any such thing. Although there happens to be a common kitchen, there are six separate distinct and private dwellings in some of these houses.

Hon. Members on this side of the House believe that it is far better to have six separate kitchens, and that is why we put forward this Amendment. We believe, for reasons which have been made absolutely clear, that there will be a great deterrent to people who would wish to convert houses into flats. In a constituency such as mine, which is largely rural, there are in the countryside and in the larger towns a number of houses which are large by modern standards and which might well be converted into two or more flats. That work has been in progress, but unless this Amendment is carried, there is a grave danger that it will not continue. It is in the interests of the housing drive that more accommodation should be made available. We should also remember the amenity aspect of the matter. Many of these houses have considerable architectural merits, and it would be a misfortune if they were allowed to deteriorate and perhaps eventually fall down.

I think perhaps the Minister does not appreciate, in regard to the development charge, what a very indefinite position exists from the point of view of an owner who wishes to convert. He knows very little indeed, about the nature of the development charge, and he can do nothing but make the wildest guess at what it will be. In other words, he is entering into a complete gamble. In most cases, the conversion of a house into three or six flats, whatever it may be, is not likely to bring in much more rent. It is a pity that the Minister should go out of his way to discourage owners from doing this. I hope he will consider the Amendment most seriously.

The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment said that we were confronted here with a conflict between politics and policy. I think we are confronted with a conflict between one policy and another, both legitimate in their own way, but requiring to be balanced one against the other. The policy with which the Minister is very properly concerned is the policy, first, of preserving the amenities of our countryside and towns, and, secondly, of acquiring for the State the development benefit which comes from the aggregation of people together in a given area. These are the two main purposes in this Bill, and they are legitimate and worthy purposes. As against that, we have to consider the point which has been made here that there is an overriding, catastrophic and calamitous shortage of housing accommodation in Britain, and that anything we can do to stimulate a solution, even an unorthodox solution, of that problem, is something that we ought to do.

I had my daughter to lunch today, and I rejoice to say that, after two years of effort, with considerable priority—because she is a war widow with a child—she has, at last, achieved an ambition of several years' standing to have a home of her own. She is now accommodated in a Nissen hut, and there are 5.000 people on the list of the local authority in whose area she lives, who have not even got a Nissen hut. When housing conditions are in that catastrophic state, I argue that the very proper ambitions which the Minister has in this Bill may require to be qualified by reference to the practical urgencies of the situation. In the light of that, I invite the House to look at the effect of the Clause.

First of all, there is no doubt that the Clause implies that the owner who wants to convert a house into a series of smaller messuages—I think that is what they are called—has to get permission, not the ordinary approval under the by-laws of the local authority, but a special development permission. This country is rapidly becoming strangled by the necessity to get permission. We have not quite got to the stage when we require permission to sneeze, but we are not far off it, and the cumulative effect of all these permissions, in slowing down the mechanism of life in Britain and the rate of production is, in my view, incalculable, and we ought not to do anything to make any obligation to get an additional permission unless it is overridingly important that we should do so.

I submit that, in what the Minister is concerned about, that is, amenity exteriors, he can get all he wants under the present by-law permission from the local authority, and that he does not need this special development permission in order to secure the perfectly legitimate object, which is one of the legitimate objects with which he is concerned. With regard to the second object with which the Minister is concerned, there is no doubt that, under Clause 10, the change in the character of a building by converting it from one dwelling-place into a number, would attract to the owner the necessity of paying development rights. Here, again, we have to balance theoretical desirability with practical needs. In every other sphere of life, when we want to get extra effort, we offer an inducement for it. If we want overtime, we offer a higher rate of pay. If we want larger families, we offer higher rebates of Income Tax, with children's allowances. The one field in which we offer no induce- ment, but every deterrent and penalty, is in housing the people. The whole of our rating system in this country is a positive and active deterrent to the improvement of property. If a man has a house and wants to make an improvement to it, and he puts plans before the local authority, the first thing that happens is that the rates assessment is increased.

On a point of Order. Is the hon. Gentleman in Order on this Amendment in discussing the matters which he is now raising?

I was just about to rise to point out that the hon. Member is now very wide of the Amendment.

With very great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am entitled to argue, in my submission, that, if there are already too many deterrents to the improvement of property, we ought not to have another. That is all I am trying to do.

It is in Order for the hon. Gentleman to use that as an illustration, but not to develop it.

I do not propose to develop it. I know I am in Order in mentioning it, but not in developing it, and all I have done is to mention it. The fact is that our present rating system is already a big deterrent.

What the hon. Gentleman has said is perfectly right, up to a point. That point is that the Chair determines the line of demarcation.

Certainly, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and that is why we look to you for guidance in these matters. We ought not to add to existing deterrents, but, on the contrary, to give a positive inducement in order to transform large houses into smaller ones and make one contribution to the solution of the housing problem. The hon. Member who speaks for Moscow—

On a point of Order. Is it permissible for the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), in a cheap and "fun fair" sort of manner, to take the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), and would it not be desirable that he should get some crack of his own?

It is not for me to correct any inaccuracy of the hon. Member for Rugby, but I would point out that Moscow has no representative in this House.

That is one aspect of international politics and social philosophy which I will not pursue.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Rugby desires to continue his speech.

In Scotland. there are many cases where there are houses which have six separate dwelling places within them, but where the people share a common kitchen, common lavatories, and a common bathroom. It is within the recollection of this House that that is what the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) said, but, instead of deploring that situation, as I imagine a normal person would, instead of saying that it is intolerable that these families should share one kitchen or bathroom or lavatory, the hon. Member seems to regard that as the apex of social progress. That is the height of the hon. Member s ideal.

6.30 p.m.

Under this Clause, the use of such houses can be controlled and directed in such a way that that will not be possible.

I now gather that the hon. Member does not want it to happen, and if so, he is at one with me, and ought not to describe me as a mountebank. I submit that is not what we want in England or in Scotland. If we do not want it, instead of leaving large houses gradually to deteriorate into that situation—which will certainly happen unless the property owner has some incentive to get on with the job on his own account—instead of allowing those large houses to deteriorate into a series of tenements, we ought to do everything we can to facilitate their con-version into proper, separate, self-contained apartments for people to live in. That is why one element of policy has to balance against another. Granted that the Minister's objectives in the Bill are right, granted that we have to preserve the amenities of the town and countryside, granted that society is entitled to share in the development rights which it creates itself—granted all that—one has still to balance that situation against a housing situation in Britain which, in my view, constitutes the gravest single social problem that this country has to face. The Amendment is an attempt to provide some incentive in that direction, and I hope we shall get something more in response to it than a mere negative from the Minister.

I wish to reinforce some of the arguments that have been used and to add a plea about the rural side of the matter. It is very difficult to begin to visualise, as the Bill is at present, the sort of odds that might be weighted against converting larger houses in the country. I know of many cases where the owners are only too anxious to hand over their big houses and to live in very much smaller ones—in many cases they are already living in cottages—and to convert the larger houses into accommodation that could be used by those who are actively engaged on work on the land. That would be a very sensible arrangement. As the Bill is at present, however, what can an owner do? What does he know about his position? How does he know what he will be charged or surcharged, or what permissions he will have to get? It is asking a great deal to expect owners of such property, which could be made of very great use to the local community as a whole, to indulge in that sort of undertaking when they feel that they might be penalised for doing so.

There is another aspect of the matter. We have heard from my hon. Friends and from hon. Members opposite about the single houses. This matter goes a great deal further than that. In London and the great cities—in most of them, although not in all of them—there are long terraces of larger houses; there are whole streets, circuses, and squares of them. What the position. if this Amendment is not inserted in the Bill? Let hon. Members take the case of the two cities nearest to my constituency, Bath and Bristol, and imagine what could be done if owners were encouraged to do it instead of being debarred and discouraged from doing it. Let hon. Members imagine what could be done in converting those houses, which are rapidly becoming more and more unsuit- able for those who occupy them, under sound conditions and, obviously, always under the authority of the local authority as regard details. The local authority seems to have been forgotten by all those who oppose the Amendment. It would be of tremendous value to the community if those terraces could be retained, and it would be of value not only from the housing point of view, but because they would add to the aesthetic standard of any other buildings that would be erected in their immediate neighbourhood. In the older towns and cities, where intelligent local authorities have been guided by intelligent architects, the whole feeling of some of the better buildings in a town— it may be only a half dozen of them—has been carried through into the more modern structures of the town. If we deliberately discourage the conversion of those houses, we shall encourage their destruction, and we shall encourage the omission of all that is finest in our architectural history.

Is it not clear to the hon. Member that, if this Amendment were accepted, these houses which he wants to see retained as an attraction would be turned into rabbit warrens?

I am a Scotsman like the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), and I thought that, as I was talking in words of one syllable, he could not hold against me the objection that he held against my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith). I do not think there is anything in this Amendment that would cause these houses to be converted into rabbit warrens. It would do exactly the opposite. Under the Bill there is every encouragement, if there is a low fellow who wants to develop rabbit warrens, for these houses to be turned into rabbit warrens rather than for the owners to go through all the rigmarole, with the risk that is held against them, under the Bill. Those of us who support the Amendment are trying to eradicate that provision from the Bill in order that proper conversion shall be carried out in a proper way and people be decently housed.

I know some of the housing conditions in Glasgow which the hon. Member for Wes; Fife has in mind. Does he want to see those conditions perpetuated and encouraged? There are terraces in Glasgow now which might very easily become rabbit warrens, unless this Amendment is accepted. I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) that the deterrents against those who want to try to help the country and local communities in housing matters are very strong. Things are very difficult, partly because people do not know where they are, and partly because the present Government have removed from the statute book, certainly as regards local areas, the one Act which might have been of assistance. I ask the Minister to consider the Amendment seriously, because I am certain that, unless some Amendment of this sort is accepted, people will not act as quickly and as well as they might act in the interests of the people as a whole.

I want to put a rather different point to the Minister before he replies. Those hon. Members who have spoken hitherto have spoken in terms of the effect which this Amendment may have on the policy of converting houses, and I do not wish to controvert that in any way because I take a somewhat different line, but I am concerned about whether, if this Amendment or an equivalent Amendment is not inserted, the Mininster will not, in fact, confuse the purpose of the Bill and insert certain provisions in it which will prove in practice to be wholly unworkable. The first consideration which obviously applies to this Amendment is the general purpose of the Clause to which it refers. The purpose of the Clause is to define the meaning of the word "development" for the purpose of setting out the circumstances in which the development permission is required and the purposes for which it is desired to institute a development charge. The first part of the Clause contains a definition of development which seems to me to be eminently reasonable and satisfactory. It provides that development consists of a material change in the use to which the land or buildings are put. That seems to be thoroughly satisfactory and absolutely proper. It lays down what each one of us using common sense, would say development was.

In the Subsection which is under consideration and which it is proposed to amend, I submit that that eminently wise definition is receiving a gloss or interpretation which will lead to infinite confusion. I can well understand that there may be cases—we can all imagine them—in which the conversion of a dwelling house into one or more separate dwellings within it might constitute development within the general definition, and I am sure that if we studied the cases in detail there would not be a great deal of difference between the two sides of the House in concrete instances.

But I can equally imagine cases where the change from one dwelling house to one or more dwellings within it would not constitute development within the meaning of the general definition. propose to give one or two instances. Suppose I am right in thinking that there will be such cases. I am equally right, surely, in suggesting that it is totally inappropriate in such cases to impose either the necessity for a permission, or the institution of a development charge. If it so happens that there are cases in which the change of structure does not, in fact, constitute a material change in the use of the building or the land, it must be totally inappropriate to demand either an additional permission or a development charge. I only refer in passing, because it was so well stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith), to the argument which he put forward, namely, that, at any rate, in such cases the existing by-law permissions which are necessary in order to effect structural changes are amply adequate to safeguard the needs of the community.

This leads me to the second stage of the argument in which I hope to show the learned Attorney-General, who is not in agreement with the point which I have just made, that, in point of fact, he has not fully appreciated the meaning of this Subsection which it is proposed to amend. If he will look at paragraph (a) of Subsection (3), he will see that the criterion of what constitutes development that is not structural change; it is user. Let me pose this question to the learned Attorney-General which, I think, he will recognise as illustrating a reasonable difficulty I suppose that in his earlier days he, like me, practised in the county courts, and he must have been familiar with the constant difficulties which occur in the use of dwelling houses which are subject to the Rent Restriction Acts. One of the most frequent difficulties which occurs is when a tenant of a small artisan dwelling house sub- lets part of that house without any structural alteration whatever, to somebody who occupies two or three of the rooms and shares the kitchen and sanitary accommodation. That is one of the commonest practices in this country, and, although in many cases the lease demands that the landlord's permission should be obtained before such use is made, it is relatively rare for that formality to be observed, and if there is a permission it is an implied permission arising out of the acceptance of rent.

6.45 p.m.

What is the position under this Subsection? A tenant of a small dwelling house, of which there are hundreds of thousands in the Kingdom, may take in a lodger who rents as sub-tenant. There may be some argument as to whether he is a lodger or a sub-tenant. He, in fact, rents a room or two rooms for his exclusive use, together with the share of the sanitary accommodation and the kitchen. Under this Subsection, that will be the use of two separate dwellings in a building previously used as a dwelling house. I defy the right hon. and learned Gentleman to dispute that. That would be the use of a conversion of a single small artisan's dwelling house into two or more separate dwellings.

I entirely agree. That has been the law since the Conservatives so enacted in 1932. Since the Interim Development Order was passed, any such change in user would have required a development permission. We are not altering the law in that respect. We are adopting the law as passed by a Conservative Parliament.

I am delighted to find that the learned Attorney-General should think that a law passed by a Conservative Parliament is one which he would wish to perpetuate. I suggest for his consideration that although, admittedly, Conservative laws are all good, they are not all perfect. We are not discussing a Measure which will perpetuate a state of law which, I submit in all seriousness, is in practice unworkable and has not, in fact, worked. It is fantastic to suggest that when a tenant of a small dwelling house sublets one or more of the rooms in that house to a sub-tenant or lodger and thereby, as the Attorney-General agrees, converts it into two or more dwelling houses, the whole appara- tus of the Town and Country Planning Act should come into existence, as the learned Attorney-General agrees to be the case. A permission has to be sought from the town planning authority; a development charge will, I suppose, become applicable, and elaborate sums will have to be worked out because a single room in a working class dwelling house has been altered. I see the force of some part of what the Minister may have in mind. I concede at once that a change of structure might, within the meaning of the general definition, constitute a material change in the user of the land or building. But I submit that the kind of criterion that he here proposes, puts a gloss or interpretation on the general definition which is not satisfactory at all, and will only tend to lead the law into confusion and even contempt.

The House will probably agree that we have spent far too long on this and the previous Amendment in relation to the available time. We have spent nearly two hours on them, and if hereafter hon. Members find that a great part of the Bill has not been discussed they will have themselves to blame. In matters of this kind the whole House must co-operate.

Does the Minister suggest that two hours is too long a time for the discussion of a couple of points which affect literally thousands of cases?

Yes, I do. I say there has been a great deal of unnecessary repetition in the discussions on the last two Amendments. I do not say every speech was unnecessary. For instance, the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) was a perfectly proper intervention; but there has been a great deal of unnecessary repetition. Moreover, this Amendment was dealt with at considerable length in Committee. What is the case that has been put up? I understand the case of the hon. Member for Oxford. He adopted a very familiar device in Debate. He took the extreme case and proved that the extreme case, if pressed to its logical conclusion, may be rather hard or difficult, or even absurd, and then he attempted to establish that, therefore, the whole case that is put up is equally absurd. I agree with him, it is absurd. I say straight away, it would be absurd so to operate this provision as to require everybody who lets a couple of rooms in an ordinary small tenement to apply for planning consent.

The Bill has foreseen that by enabling the Minister to make development orders under which special classes of cases could be exempted from the provisions of the Bill. No doubt, any sensible Minister would consider which were trivial or unimportant cases which would inflict hardship, and which should be exempted from the operation of the requirement to get permission.

Equally, we recognise that there will be a large number of borderline or marginal cases where, perhaps, theoretically a development charge might be appropriate, but which no sensible person would bother to attempt to collect, possibly even because it would cost more to collect these small charges than would be got out of them. Then again, I have given an undertaking, which will be carried out, that the de minimis cases of development charges will be taken care of, so that there is no attempt to chase after these tiny development charges.

Before the Minister leaves the question of making regulations, would he say clearly whether a development charge is to be levied on the site alone, or whether it is the site plus the bricks and mortar?

If the hon. Member will allow me to make my own speech, I propose to deal with the points that have been raised. I say to the hon. Member for Oxford, that it is unfair to argue the merits of this Amendment on the basis of these marginal cases. They will be taken care of.

Let us discuss it on the basis of the normal case. Ought there or ought there not to be an application for consent in the case of a house becoming converted into a number of separate dwellings? The actual provision we are discussing says that it is
"For the avoidance of doubt …"
I think possibly that has been put in out of an abundance of caution, because in my view there really is not any doubt at all. Today, planning permission has to be obtained for the conversion of houses into separate tenements. I speak with some practical experience of this. I was chairman of a town planning committee for many years, and I personally had to deal with a great many applications of this kind. It was the normal thing for persons wishing to convert to apply for consent. I submit to the House that that was a very wholesome thing, because in that way one was able to secure that the conversion was carried out in the best possible manner, so as to provide the best possible kind of accommodation for the people who were to live in it.

I would remind hon. Members that local authorities are not always the bogeys they are made out to be in discussions in this House. They have a great deal of experience, and certainly the authority of which I was a member was able to give prospective converters of houses a good deal of valuable advice as to the best way to carry out the development, and developers were very grateful for it. Therefore, I say there is considerable advantage, both to the prospective developers and to the community, in applying for this consent, and in getting the benefit of the experience of the authority in ensuring that the best possible type of conversion is obtained.

There is another aspect to it. One can well conceive that if in certain areas which are possibly zoned for single family residences—and that is a zoning which the 1932 Act and subsequent town planning Measures have always recognised; it has always been recognised as quite a proper thing that certain parts of a town should be reserved for single family residences—it were open to owners of houses in such areas freely to convert these single family residences, without having to get consent, it might very well involve a serious change in the character of a neighbourhood. I am not arguing whether that change would be for the better or for the worse, but it would be a very serious change, which could be brought about without any control whatever. If town planning is to be a reality, changes of that kind ought not to be fortuitous; they ought not to be capable of being carried out at the whim of a particular owner. There ought to be some kind of control over changes in the character of a neighbourhood of that kind.

Surely, the Minister would agree that in the case which he has just cited the change would be covered by the general definition at the beginning of the Clause? For that purpose the Subsection we are now discussing would not be necessary.

I do not agree, because it might be that in each particular case of conversion we could put up the same sort of case as the hon. Member put up himself. It would be the cumulative effect on the neighbourhood with which I am concerned.

It might not be a material change. The kind of conversion which could be made in respect of each separate house might not necessarily be a material change. If these words were not here it would be possible to create a drastic change in the character of a neighbourhood which would not only be a change in itself, but would have considerable repercussions. For instance, it might create a demand for additional schools, and other public facilities of that sort. Surely, the local authority ought to have some voice and some control over the possibility of changes of that kind? At the Ministry we are constantly having representations made to us against the conversion of houses into flats because of the effect it would have on the character of the neighbourhood. I have no particular sympathy with that kind of representation. I recognise the need for additional dwellings, but I do say that an individual has a right to make representations of that kind, and to have them considered. It would be quite wrong if people could, quite freely and without getting any consent whatever, be able to change the character of a neighbourhood. That is what this Amendment is intended to do. We have seen what has happened in a great many parts of London and other large areas. Through this freedom to make changes in the character of houses we have seen the creation of slums from areas which, in the past, have been areas occupied by people of comfortable means; gradually the houses have deteriorated through being occupied by a number of families, without control.

7.0 p.m.

That is exactly what this Amendment seeks to perpetuate, and what hon. Members opposite are trying to do. It will have slums created. This is really an Amendment creating the possibility of making new slums. Hon. Members who have spoken in support of it have suggested that the paragraph to which they object in Clause 10 would have the effect of discouraging an owner from carrying out conversion. I really fail to understand that argument. All that an owner is asked to do is to apply for consent, in the same way as he is required to apply today. There is no deterrent—no new deterrent—imposed by this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Clause 62."] I am going to deal with that. As to the possibility that he may have to pay a development charge, as I understand some of the argument, it was not even the amount of the development charge that was the deterrent, but the possibility of having to pay an uncertain amount. It will be quite easy, at the time when the application for town planning consent is made, to ascertain what will be the amount of the development charge, if any. There is no additional trouble involved in ascertaining the amount of the development charge; and that, therefore, need not be a deterrent. I cannot understand the mentality of people—obviously, hon. Gentlemen opposite speak for them and do understand them—who would rather keep their places empty than ascertain what is the amount of a development charge.

That was exactly what was suggested by an hon. Member who spoke—that people would rather keep their places empty. [HON. MEMBERS "Who?"] It was the hon. Gentleman whose constituency I cannot remember offhand, who said people would rather keep their places empty than go to the trouble of finding out the amount of the development charge.

I think I am in the re collection of most hon. Members in the House at the time when I say that I never suggested they would rather keep their places empty. I did say, most certainly. that the uncertainty of the owner's position did deter him and would deter him unless the position was made clear. I certainly said that. Obviously he would not keep his place empty.

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but I presume that when he says "deter" he means he would not carry out the development he otherwise would do.

Surely, the alternative is this; Either he will take people into his house, living there in insanitary and bad conditions, without any conversion carried out; or he will carry out the conversion. If he does not carry out the conversion, because of the development charge, he will not keep the house empty. he will fill it in a way that creates slums That is the point.

I really cannot have my speech completely distorted. I used exactly those words—that unless he did convert, the place would be turned into a rabbit warren and a slum; and that unless this Amendment- is put in, that is exactly what will happen. I do not think the Minister should so completely distort the words I used.

That is the last thing I wish to do. I still fail to understand the meaning the hon. Gentleman put on "deter." However, I shall not press that point.

To summarise, I say that these provisions are necessary in order to prevent the creation of slums and to exercise better control over the development of a neighbourhood; I say further, that the marginal, the small, trivial case, that the hon. Member for Oxford referred to, can be dealt with under Clause II and that it would be the sensible thing to exempt cases of that kind. For what it is worth, I am prepared even to give an assurance that such classes of cases will be dealt with in a development order. In other cases, I submit to the House, it is important to keep this control. As regards the small development charge, on that again, I have given the assurance that it will not be levied. I submit, further, there need be no feeling whatever on the part of an owner that he is being deterred from carrying out this kind of conversion.

I really do not think it lies in the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman to complain that too much time has been taken over the discussion of this Amendment. I say that for two reasons. In the first place, the Amendment is an extremely important one There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who are affected by the terms of this Clause. In the second place, if the right hon. Gentleman seeks to divert the criticism which has been made from this side of the House by saying that in 90 per cent. of the cases the Clause will not be used, then I should have thought it was not beyond the wit of man to devise a suitable Amendment to his own Clause to make that clear on the face of the Bill, or, at least, to intimate to the House what the main lines of his exemptions are to be. We really cannot allow a Clause to go forward on the footing that the Minister will, in some way or another not clear to him, I think, and certainly not to us, exempt 90 per cent. of those whom it affects. That is the acme of bad legislation.

What is the gist of the case? I do not wish to repeat what has been so well argued, if I may say so, from the benches behind me. But the whole question is, that this Clause seeks to prevent the creation of separate dwellings within an existing large house. I very much doubt whether it does effectively cover the case where there are no separate dwellings in the structural sense created. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Attorney-General, who made an interjection which I did not quite follow a little time ago, will tell me if I am wrong about this. Are there not numerous cases where we have two families living within the same structure, but not living in separate dwellings within the meaning of the Rent Restriction Acts? I think he will agree that that is so. There has been a good deal of litigation on that. We often find that we have two or more families living in the same house, and the court says they are not living in separate dwellings because they are sharing a great deal of accommodation. That is the kind of thing that leads to the rabbit warren. I am afraid that the rabbit warren will escape control as the Clause stands, and I hope that the Minister will look at that again. I raised this question, with much more particularity than I can now, in Committee on the Scottish Town and Country Planning Bill, and could not get an adequate answer.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman seeking greater control, so as to cover those cases as well?

What I am saying is that I think this Clause has got it completely wrong. This Clause is controlling the desirable form of development, the splitting of a big house into several structurally complete flats. That is a desirable form of development which ought to be encouraged, but I gravely doubt whether this Clause will control people going into a big house in large numbers and sharing accommodation, because they will not then be in separate dwellings within the meaning of the law. My criticism is that it is preventing the creation of separate dwellings, which are desirable, and permitting the association of large numbers of people in one structure, without having separate dwellings, which is highly undesirable. I see no objection to control being taken to prevent people associating in one house where there are no separate dwellings, but the creation of separate dwellings ought to be exempt from control. I do not want to repeat the arguments put forward on that point, which are particularly well founded at this time when accommodation is so short.

Is this being introduced to scrape together development charges which will never be very much, but will nevertheless be hampering or is the basis of this something different? If it is fiscal, the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to give up any small gain he might derive so as to encourage good development. The right hon. Gentleman says that this sort of thing will not hamper conversion, but surely it is common knowledge that the balance between converting, on the one hand, and continuing to use a house for a single family, on the other, is often very small. Very often people convert partly because they see their way to make a small profit, or partly because they think it is in the public interest to make accommodation available for more families. In a case in balance like that, an owner is not going to the trouble, or chance the insecurity, involved in making this additional application for permits. The right hon. Gentleman spoke as if only one application were necessary but there are two: the person has first to go to the planning control for permission to make an alteration, and worse than that, he then has to go to the Central Land Board to assess the development charge. It may be all right to go to the planning control, although in many cases they may be some distance away, but to go to the Central Land Board and lay yourself open to pay a development charge which may be far more than it ought to be, is not what a great many people will do. I have no hesitation in saying that the effect will be to prevent a large number of desirable conversions. On the other hand, it will encourage a large number of undesirable conversions, because if property

Division No. 211.]


[7.15 p.m

Adams, Richard (Balham)Edwards, John (Blackburn)Levy, B. W.
Adams, W T. (Hammersmith, South)Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Lipson, D. L.
Alpass, J. H.Evans, John (Ogmore)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)Logan, D. G.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Ewart, R.Lyne, A. W.
Attewell, H. C.Fairhurst, F.McAdam, W.
Austin, H. LewisFernyhough, E.McAllister, G.
Awbery, S. S.Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)McEntee, V. La T.
Ayles, W. H.Forman, J. C.McGhee, H. G.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BFoster, W. (Wigan)Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
Bacon, Miss A.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)McKinlay, A. S.
Balfour, A.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Maclean, N. (Govan)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. JGallacher, W.McLeavy, F.
Barstow, P. G.Ganley, Mrs. C. S.Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Barton, C.Gibson, C. W.Mainwaring, W. H.
Battley, J. R.Gilzean, A.Mallalieu, J. P. W
Bechervaise, A. E.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Mann, Mrs. J.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. JGooch, E. G.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Benson, G.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Marquand, H. A.
Berry, H.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Beswick, F.Grenfell, D. R.Martin, J. H.
Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale)Grierson, E.Medland, H. M
Bing, G. H. C.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Mellish, R. J
Blyton, W. R.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Middleton, Mrs.
Bottomley, A. G.Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Mikardo, Ian
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Guy, W. H.Monslow, W.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Haire, John E (Wycombe)Montague, F.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Hale, LeslieMoody, A. S.
Brown, George (Belper)Hall, W. G.Morley, R.
Buchanan, G.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RMorrison, Rt. Hon H. (L'wish'm, E.)
Burke, W. A.Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Mort, D. L.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Hardman, D. RMoyle, A.
Byers, FrankHardy, E. A.Murray, J D.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Harrison, J.Naylor, T. E.
Chamberlain, R. AHastings, Dr. SomervilleNeal, H. (Claycross)
Champion, A. J.Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Chetwynd, G. RHenderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Clitherow, Dr. R.Herbison, Miss M.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Cobb, F. A.Hobson, C. RNoel-Buxton, Lady
Cocks, F. S.Holman, P.O'Brien, T.
Colman, Miss G. M.House, G.Oldfield, W. H
Comyns, Dr. L.Hoy, J.Oliver, G. H.
Cook, T. F.Hudson, J. H, (Ealing, W.)Paget, R. T.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Corvedale, ViscountHynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Crawley, A.Irving, W. J.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Daggar, G.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. APalmer, A. M. F.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Jay, D. P. T.Parker, J.
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Jeger, G. (Winchester)Paton, J. (Norwich)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Jeger, Dr. S W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Pearson, A.
Davies, Harold (Leek)John, W.Peart, Capt. T. F
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Piratin, P.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Popplewell, E.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Keenan, W.Porter, E. (Warrington)
Deer, G.Kendall, W. D.Porter, G. (Leeds)
Delargy, H. J.Kenyon, C.Price, M. Philips
Diamond, J.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EProctor, W. T.
Dobbie, W.Kinley, J.Pryde, D. J
Dodds, N. N.Kirby, B. V.Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Lavers, S.Ranger, J.
Dumpleton, C. W.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Rees-Williams, D. R
Durbin, E. F. M.Lee, F. (Hulme)Reeves, J.
Dye, S.Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Reid, T. (Swindon)
Ede, Rt. Hon J. C.Leslie, J. R.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.

is not converted, it will result in many places becoming rabbit warrens. I want want to see good conversions encouraged, and rabbit warrens prevented, and I believe that the exact opposite is now being done.

Question put, "That 'a' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes 269; Noes, 102.

Robens, A.Stubbs, A. E.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)Summerskill, Dr. EdithWestwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Swingler, S.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Royle, C.Symonds, A. L.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Sargood, R.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)Wigg, Col. G. E.
Scollan, T.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Scott-Elliot, W.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Wilkes, L.
Segal, Dr. S.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Wilkins, W. A.
Shackleton, E. A. AThomas, George (Cardiff)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Sharp, GranvilleThomson, Rt. Hn. G R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Shurmer, P.Thurtle, ErnestWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.Tiffany, S.Williams, Rt. Hon T (Don Valley)
Silverman, J. (Erdington)Titterington, M FWilliamson, T.
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Tolley, L.Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Simmons, C. J.Turner-Samuels, M.Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J
Skeffington, A. M.Ungoed-Thomas, L.Woodburn, A
Smith, C. (Colchester)Vernon, Maj. W. FWoods, G. S
Smith, Ellis (Stoke)Viant, S. P.Wyatt, W.
Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Wadsworth, GYates, V. F.
Sorensen, R. W.Walker, G. H.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Stamford, WWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Steele, T.Warbey W. NZilliacus, K
Stephen, C.Watson, W. M
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stokes, R. R.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)Mr. Collindridge and
Mr. Davies


Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Orr-Ewing, I. L
Amory, D. HeathcoteHarvey, Air-Comdre, A. V.Peake, Rt. Hon. O
Baldwin, A. E.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CPonsonby, Col. C. E.
Barlow, Sir J.Hogg, Hon. Q.Poole, O. B S. (Oswestry)
Beamish, Maj. T. V HHollis, M. C.Prescott, Stanley
Beechman, N. A.Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Prior-Palmer, Brig O.
Bennett, Sir P.Hope, Lord J.Rayner, Brig. R.
Birch, NigelHoward, Hon, A.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Bower, N.Hurd, A.Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Sanderson, Sir F.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Jarvis, Sir J.Shephard, S. (Newark)
Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Jeffreys, General Sir GShepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. TJennings, R.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Carson, E.Lambert, Hon. G.Spearman, A. C. M.
Challen, C.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HStoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clarke, Col, R. S.Linstead, H. N.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Studholme, H. G.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Cuthbert, W. N.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Davidson, ViscountessLyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Teeling, William
Digby, S. W.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Thorneycroft G. E. P (Monmouth)
Drayson, G B.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Drewe, C.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Thorp, Ly.-Col. R. A. F
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Manningham-Buller, R. EVane, W. M. F.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Marlowe, A. A. HWalker-Smith, D.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalterMarples, A. E.Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Erroll, F. J.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Medlicott, F.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Mellor, Sir J.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Gage, C.Morrison, Maj. J. C. (Salisbury)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Gammans, L. D.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)York, C.
Glyn, Sir R.Neven-Spence, Sir B.
Gridley, Sir A.Nield, B. (Chester)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Major Conant and
Major Ramsey.

I beg to move, in page 10, line 22, to leave out paragraph (b).

I think it may be convenient to the House, Sir, if I take, with this Amendment, the Amendment in line 25, as they run together. The House will see that paragraph (b) of Subsection (3) is quite as curious as the Subsection which has recently been the subject of such hot debate. For the avoidance of doubt we are told by Subsection (3, b) that
"the deposit of refuse or waste materials on land may involve a material change in the use thereof, notwithstanding that the land is comprised in a site already used for that purpose, if the superficial area of the deposit is thereby extended."
That means that if a man takes a cartload of ash, and tips it where ashes have been tipped for years, he will not have to apply for permission from the county council, provided that the ash falls where ashes have fallen before. But if, by any chance, some of the ash falls where ash has not fallen before, then, by this Sub- section, that may involve a material change in use. I understand that the Minister will suggest that it must involve a change in use, in view of an Amendment he has on the Order Paper. Is it not carrying control beyond all reasonable limits to say that the use of existing areas shall be subject to planning permission merely on account of extending an area, which is now used for tipping, by a matter of a yard, or a few yards?

I suggest that it is carrying legislation to farcical limits, and that it may have a serious effect on various industries. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, in my part of the world one of the problems. is iron ore extraction, and what happens afterwards. Part of that process involves depositing large quantities of waste on the land from which the iron ore has been extracted. The right hon. Gentleman has seen the great ridges which have been caused by that extraction, and he knows that we on this side of the House have been pressing for some time for action to be taken in that matter. We do not want to see that industry hampered, or extraction prevented in proper cases. But if we apply this Subsection to that industry, every new cut of iron ore will mean that waste which has to be tipped into a fresh part of the same area will involve obtaining planning permission. I agree that if iron ore extraction is taking place in one field planning permission is not needed for every bit of the superficial area covered by the waste, but that if an extension of extraction is required in another field planning permission has to be obtained. But this Subsection goes to farcical limits, and I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should put something more reasonable into the Bill. I hope he will give an assurance on this point, although assurances are not so satisfactory as words in an Act.

Apparently, a person can build up an ash-heap as high as it will go until it becomes a complete eyesore, without any control over it, provided he does not extend the superficial area by a foot. One of the best ways of using this waste is to fill up disused quarries, and places of that sort. That could be an extension of the superficial area without impinging on the skyline, or disfiguring the countryside. An extension of that sort would be subject to planning permission. This point was discussed in Standing Committee, and I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have put down an Amendment to limit the extensive operation of this Subsection.

7.30 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

I thought that, in spite of what my hon. and learned Friend has said, this Amendment was not discussed in Standing Committee upstairs, although some discussion arose on the Question that the Clause stand part. It may well be that we could have disposed of this matter satisfactorily up there, and then it would not have been necessary to take up the time of the House. This appears to be a small Amendment, but in fact it will affect a large number of people. There is a corner of my garden where the refuse and rubbish is dumped which comes out of my house. The dump when created was a small one, but day by day it encroaches upon the area of the land. In strict accordance with this Clause, it would be necessary for me to get development permission to continue to do this, and I might be subject to a development charge. That is the extent of the power which the Government are seeking to take.

I know that when the right hon. Gentleman comes to reply he will say that it is not his intention to use powers in that way, and that he is proposing to make exemptions by regulation. It is a curious way of avoiding doubt to say exactly the opposite of what one intends to do, and then to take away from oneself the powers by regulation. The fact remains that this Clause gives power to prevent me, and, indeed, a large number of people from dumping house refuse on wasteland in the garden. The right hon. Gentleman may say that he is not proposing to require development permission to be granted in the case of the creation of minor private dumps. It is true that the rubbish from my house only covers an inch or two more of ground in the course of each week, but all dumps grow in that way. Whether he can find words which are adequate to describe the nature of the rubbish dump which he intends to bring within the provision of this Clause is exceedingly doubtful. I think that he will have to take account of the dump which he seeks to avoid, and his regulation will still be extremely confusing if he seeks to define the kind of dumping arrangement which is to be exempt, while leaving some arrangements to be included within the provisions of this Clause. It seems, therefore, that the words in the Clause are not apt for the purpose which I think we all desire to see carried out. In other words, there should be some control of the creation of vast unsightly heaps of ash, rubbish and tin cans which have disfigured the countryside.

All that this paragraph does is to bring within the category of development an extension of the superficial area to be covered by the deposit of refuse. Many deposits of rubbish already cover a large superficial area, and, as I read this paragraph, it would be open to those who deposit refuse on such dumps to continue to do so, provided that instead of spreading it outwards, they spread it upwards. The Clause would enable a huge mountain of tin cans and ash to be reared up so as to dominate the countryside, without any fear of town planning control, whilst preventing what might be a useful expansion of the same heap over a low-lying piece of country, and enabling derelict marsh land to be built up and used for some proper purpose.

I do not believe that that is the right hon. Gentleman's intention, but the words which are used clearly exempt a growing mountain from the provisions of the Clause. If we avoid doubt by stating clearly that the deposit of refuse is a development if the superficial area of the deposit is extended the implication is that it is not a development if we do not extend the superficial area. So long as we merely make a mountain grow upwards, we can keep on dumping and be outside the purview of the Bill. For those reasons, I think that this paragraph is wholly objectionable.

I do not think that hon. Members have directed their minds to the merits of the particular paragraph which they want to delete. The mover of the Amendment did not say a word about being in favour or not of controlling land used for the deposit of refuse.

This is the second time in a short period in which the right hon. Gentleman has misquoted me. I said that the right thing was to give planning permission, if it meant permission for the opening up of a fresh area. If one went into another field to make a fresh deposit or one wanted to raise the height of it, my argument was that that should require permission.

The hon. and learned Gentleman did not say whether or not he was in favour of this particular method of controlling refuse deposit. All he did was to rather ridicule the idea by saying that an extension of an inch or so of the area of development would involve an application. Surely, the purpose of this paragraph is clear, and it seems to me unobjectionable. We cannot attempt by planning legislation to deal with existing refuse dumps, although that may be possible by other means. It may be possible under another Clause for them to be removed by Order, but this Clause deals with their extension. We say that existing refuse dumps cannot be dealt with at all, or can be dealt with under some other Clause. We can prevent their extension without consent.

Yes, outwards but not upwards. We are going to control the use of additional land for these purposes. I know one can always argue about another inch. Supposing we concede that a person can use 10 per cent., what happens if, when that 10 per cent. has been used, more is wanted? We have to draw a line somewhere and we must draw that line firmly and say—"If you want to go beyond that, you have to apply for further consent." It does not follow that that consent will be refused. The rule in these cases is the amount of land that is at present used for these purposes, and it seems to me that, if we are to plan at all, we must regard the use of land for this possibly obnoxious purpose, as something which is subject to control. I have still to learn whether the mover and seconder of this proposal are in favour of that control or not. They really rested their case on the de minimis consideration and a good deal of the speech of the seconder was taken up with his particular garden. As far as his garden is concerned, we have taken great care to cover him. We had in mind his garden when we drafted Clause 10(1, c), and if he will examine that he will see that he can do what he likes with his garden and no one will interfere with him. It is when land is used other than that within the compass of a dwelling house and its confines that this Bill regards it as appropriate that there should be control.

The right Gentleman dealt with the point of the garden, I hope to the satisfaction of my hon. Friend the Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth), but he has not dealt with industries like the iron and ore industry where land is used for tipping. Under this Clause every time there is a tip, a fresh application has to be made for permission. The right. hon. Gentle- man has excluded areas where dumping has taken place already, but in his reply he said that for any addition to that area there must be planning permission, so that, if there is a new extract of iron ore, to tip the waste will mean a new application.

Only a person devoid of sense would imagine that he had to apply for permission every time he covered an additional inch of ground. Presumably, the owners of the industry will acquire land for the express purpose of tipping, and they will presumably apply for consent for that land to be used for that purpose, but they will not have to go to the county council for permission every time there is an extra cover of earth on to the land.

7.45 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has apparently thought of the private garden, but I do not think that he has thought at all of the ordinary industrial tipping operation. Surely he knows very well what will happen. A light railway will be constructed along the top of the dump, and the waste will be put into trucks, which would be run to the edge and tipped over. Every time a truck is tipped, the land occupied is extended. The right hon. Gentleman says that an undertaking will acquire authority to use a certain area of land, and it will not be only that land for which they will apply, but what is to happen on the appointed day, when no one has any authority and no one has received any permission? They have not made an application because the Bill did not exist. To comply with the law, every one of these trucks will have to be stopped at a certain point, until a new application is made. I think the right hon. Gentleman is well meaning, as always. I think he is probably trying to do something good, but the Clause, as it stands, is a perfectly lunatic way of trying to do it.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: In page 10, line 22, leave out "may involve," and insert "involves."—[ Mr. Silkin.j

I beg to move, in page 11, line 1, after "that," to insert:

"(i) in determining for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this subsection the purposes for which land was normally used, no account shall be taken of any use of the land begun in contravention of previous planning control within the meaning of Section sixty-nine of this Act;
This part of the Clause deals with resumption of a normal use where land is being used on the appointed day for a use which is not its normal use. The effect of this Amendment is to secure that the paragraph does not permit resumption without planning permission if that use was originally instituted in contravention of the planning control.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page II, line 2, to leave out from "which," to the end of line 3, and to insert:

"was unoccupied on the seventh day of January nineteen hundred and thirty-seven and has not been occupied since that date."
The purpose of this Amendment is to extend backwards the period in respect of which planning permission does not need to be obtained, in order to secure the use of the premises. It is in accordance with an undertaking which I gave.

This is a point which was raised in Standing Committee. The Minister undertook to consider it, and he has fulfilled his undertaking, for which we are grateful.

Amendment agreed to.