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New Clause—(Agreements Regulating Development Or Use Of Land)

Volume 439: debated on Monday 7 July 1947

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(1) A local planning authority may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, enter into an agreement with any person interested in land in their area (in so far as the interest of that person enables him to bind the land) for the purpose of restricting or regulating the development or use of the land, either permanently or during such period as may be prescribed by the agreement, and any such agreement may contain such incidental and consequential provisions (including provisions of a financial character) as appear to the local planning authority to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the agreement.

(2) An agreement made under this Section with any person interested in land, may, if the agreement shall have been recorded in the appropriate register of sasines, be enforceable at the instance of the authority against persons deriving title to the land from the person with whom the agreement was entered into:

Provided that no such agreement shall at any time be enforceable against a third party who shall have in bona fide onerously acquired right (whether completed by infeftment or not) to the land prior to the agreement being recorded as aforesaid or against any person deriving title from such third party.

(3)Nothing in this Section or in any agreement made there under shall be construed as restricting or requiring the exercise, in relation to land which is the subject of any such agreement, of any powers exercisable by any Minister or authority under this Act.—[ Mr. Westwood.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

This new Clause is based on Section 33 of the 1932 Act, and the object of the Clause is to enable local planning authorities, with the approval of the Secretary of State, to make agreements with owners and other persons with an interest in land for restricting and regulating the development and the use of land either permanently or temporarily. I presume that the Subsections speak for themselves and, although I am quite willing to explain them if necessary, I believe there is a general desire to get through the programme in a reasonable time, and I will, therefore, say no more.

I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman of what use this new Clause is, particularly from the point of view of Subsection (3). If I understand it aright, an owner of land may bind himself not to do certain things or to develop his land in a certain way, and he may get the approval of the Secretary of State and the planning authority, but at any moment any other Minister may break the whole bargain, or, indeed, the Secretary of State himself may do so if he changes his mind. There is no security to the landowner that the Government will keep their side of the bargain. Subsection (3) seems to give notice to anyone intending to make an agreement, to this effect: "Take notice that the Government may break their side of the bargain at any time they like." What is the good of asking people to make agreements in those circumstances? Surely, when the Secretary of State gives his approval to an agreement, be ought to be able to say, "My part of the agreement is that I guarantee you will not be interfered with for ten, 15 or 20 years." Unless he can give a guarantee of that sort, the agreement is just waste paper. Before this Bill becomes law, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether he can do something of that description which will make it worth while for landowners to enter into an agreement.

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I would like to know whether Subsection (2) is enforceable in the hands of the owner of land. It is enforceable at the instance of the authority, but is it enforceable at the instance of the authority alone? If so, that would increase the difficulties of the situation to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) referred.

I will certainly look at those points. As I have proved in handling this Bill in the Scottish Grand Committee, I have always been willing to listen to any point which has been raised, and to give it full consideration. I will certainly consider the point with regard to the possibility of making it a fixed agreement. Subsection (3) is the ordinary safeguarding provision. This point was repeatedly argued in Committee, and it is the usual constitutional point. No Minister will take action unless he is consulted, and then it becomes a collective decision. With regard to the point concerning the possibility of giving a guarantee for a certain period, I will look into it.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the agreement is enforceable at the instance of both parties to the agreement?

The hon. and gallant Member has already spoken.

May I, with permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, ask a question? I would like to know the reason for the words in Subsection (2):

"… be enforceable at the instance of the authority."

The hon. and gallant Gentleman will see that Subsection (2) says:

"An agreement made under this Section with any person interested in land, may, if the agreement shall have been recorded in the appropriate Register of Sasines, be enforceable at the instance of the authority against persons deriving title to the land from the person with whom the agreement was entered into."
The fact that it has been recorded in the appropriate register gives the authority the right to enforce it against persons deriving title from the persons with whom the agreement was entered into. The intention is merely to make that point clear.

Apart from that, being an agreement between two parties, it is mutually enforceable.

Question put, and agreed to.

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