asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will further extend the time in which to submit claims for loss of development value and issue simple claim forms for the purpose.
The time limit for submitting claims has already been extended by three months. I regret that any further extension is impracticable. The form of claim is as simple as is possible, having regard to its subject matter.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this form, with its 60 or 70 entries that have to be completed, is by no means an easy one for ordinary people to fill up, even with professional assistance, which is not always available; and in those circumstances can he give an assurance that all forms submitted by 30th June will be accepted as valid claims, even though there may be some omissions in regard to particular figures?
Provision has been made, and I believe it has been announced by the Chairman of the Central Land Board, that it is not necessary to insert figures. I am quite satisfied that the Central Land Board will act reasonably concerning the way in which the claim forms are submitted.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that firms specialising in completing these claims are so inundated with work that they cannot take on any new applications, and will he therefore consider once again extending the time by which these claims can be made?
They really have had ample time. The difficulty is that there is a statutory obligation to make payment within five years, and unless the claims are submitted by 30th June it will be quite impossible to discharge that obligation.
Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that all resources of the local authorities and such organisations as the Law Society are being mobilised in order to see that these claims are made in time?
It is open to any claimant to use any sources available, including the Law Society, and I am sure that local authorities are always ready to help.
Could my right hon. Friend say whether he is considering a proposal which has been put to him that a simple notification of claim by 30th June would be sufficient, and that the full claim itself could be sent in later?
There must be a minimum of information to enable the valuers to get to work and assess the claim. Provided that minimum of information is supplied, there would be no difficulty placed in the way, but a simple notification would be really quite inadequate.
Is it not most important that no sense of injustice should be left in the mind of any property owner, small or large; and is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the very narrow interpretation will meet that requirement?
I am satisfied that there need be no sense of injustice and that no unnecessary difficulties will be put in the way. [An HON. MEMBER: "Time?"] They have had a long time.
Can my right hon. Friend say, arising out of the question of the very small number of claims that has yet been put in, what he proposes to do with the millions of claims that will not be put in because the individuals concerned do not realise that they should be put in? Whose responsibility is it? Is it the responsibility of his Department?
Claims are coming in much more rapidly now than previously, and ample publicity has been given to the matter. I cannot see what more it is possible to do by way of publicity.
If at last claims are now coming in more rapidly, is that not an argument for some small extension of the time?