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Clause 5—(Procedure As To Plans And Sections Etc: Provisions As To Works In Controlled Land)

Volume 478: debated on Friday 20 October 1950

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I beg to move, in page 9, line 10, to leave out "twenty-two days," and to insert "one month."

During the Committee stage, the Attorney-General said that he would look into the question of the period specified in this Clause and in the First Schedule in response to a most eloquent appeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). It is quite clear that the period of 22 days and one month in the First Schedule are closely related, and it appears to my hon. Friend that there was some force in the argument that the time of 22 days would possibly be better if it were a little extended. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said he would consider this point, and I merely move this Amendment in order that we may learn the results of that further consideration.

This matter has received further consideration from the Attorney-General. Under paragraph 4 of the First Schedule highway authorities must, before issuing an authorisation, give notice of their intention to do so to the owner of the controlled land. This notice is an immediate one, and may perhaps be only a day's notice, but the landowners are given a month in which to start legal proceedings in the courts if they question the highway authority's powers to issue the authorisation.

I am authorised to say that the rights of private landowners are in no way affected by the fact that the highway authorities could, within the 22 days available, make the control available by authorisation. The private landowners can still go to the courts, and challenge the validity of the authorisation within the one month prescribed, and their rights would in no way be affected by the fact that the authorisation had already been issued and the undertakers had started work. In view of the discussion we had previously on this matter, and the re-examination that has been given to it, I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to accept the assurance and, if I may say so, let experience decide who is right between these various legal opinions.

In the light of that explanation, and in the hope that difficulties will not arise over this matter when the Bill comes into operation, and, also, in the further hope that if they do arise the right hon. Gentleman, if he is still sitting on that side of the House—which is extremely unlikely—will do something about, it, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.