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Clause 23—(Compensation Excluded In Certain Cases)

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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

I beg to move, in page 27, line 7, at the end, to insert:

(c) for any development on land adjacent to or contiguous with land on which is situate any building listed under section thirty of the principal Act or any ancient monument or any building or land in the ownership or in the trust of the National Trust;
(d) for any development in a National Park designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949;
(e) for any development on land shown on a development plan as an area of natural beauty or scientific interest.
We attach some importance to this Amendment. It raises the question of the application in the Bill of the principle of good neighbourliness, which the Government have insisted is an acceptable and good principle and is the basis of their policy in this respect. The White Paper stated that the Government
"consider it reasonable to exclude compensation in respect of restrictions based on the principle of good neighbourliness,".
We on this side of the House feel that applying the principle of good neighbourliness may sometimes mean that an application for permission to develop must be met by an unqualified refusal—not by any condition attached to a permission but by an unqualified refusal. The Amendment seeks to put that provision into the Bill, confined, as it will be in the words of the Amendment, to very distinct and particular cases.

Our objection to the Bill without the Amendment is that it does not provide for the instance where the correct course is to refuse to allow any development at all and, at the same time, to exclude compensation. The Minister will remember the discussion which we had in Committee arising out of this circumstance, when the Christchurch Meadows were taken as an example and were the object of a discussion which continued for a considerable time. When I then attempted to pursue the argument, I was met by the objection that I was trying to go further than was tenable.

It was put to me that if the owner of an interest in land in the green belt were met with an unqualified refusal of permission to develop that land, as he would be met and should be met, then it was quite wrong that he should be entitled to no compensation at all. My hon. Friends made a concession in Committee. We thought it a right concession to make that in the case of an owner of green belt land the proposition which we had put forward was not tenable.

7.0 p.m.

In this Amendment we have been to great pains to eliminate the possible danger to which the Minister drew attention of going too far and affecting adversely and unfairly owners of land where it would be wrong to do so. We set down in the Amendment a series of instances which can be easily defined and which are clearly specified where we say that if any proposal for development of any kind is made, the answer must be in the national and public interest, immediately an unqualified negative. We say that if an unqualified negative is given in these cases—as it ought to be—it should be accompanied by the exclusion of any compensation payment.

I put it strongly to the Minister that he should consider with care whether this proposal would not strengthen the provisions of the Bill. In the absence of a provision of this kind is there not real danger that we may have a site of great national beauty or historic importance—ancient monuments and the rest—coming into the hands, temporarily, of a speculative owner who wants the ownership of the land for no other purpose than that of putting in an application for permission to develop and, when it is turned down, as it is bound to be turned down in respect of land of community value of the kind described in the Amendment, he would claim compensation, and would have a ground for claiming compensation, unless an Amendment such as we have put forward is accepted by the House?

We believe that, not in all cases, but in particular cases and important cases of the kind that we have specified in the Amendment, it ought to be possible for refusal to be given to an application for permission to develop—an absolute blank refusal with no qualification attached—and if that is done, it should be possible, at the same time, expressly as a provision of the Bill, to exclude the payment of compensation.

I think that the purpose which the hon. Gentleman has in view arouses sympathy. I think that that was made clear in Committee and the same applies now, on Report. The purpose is, I think, not so much to refuse compensation to this or that man, but to make it easy to secure that the countryside is preserved from destruction and that places of great amenity value are not interfered with. I think that is the real purpose of the Amendment.

I will not weary the House with the technical difficulties of the Amendment. I am well aware that it is the right of a private Member to put forward an Amendment in the terms he proposes, and it is the duty of the Government, if they accept it in principle, to offer an alternative in their own drafting. This is, however, rather more than drafting.

I cannot imagine anything that would not come under paragraphs (c), (d) and (e). Almost anything is near an ancient monument or "land adjacent to or contiguous with." One cannot go to Salisbury Plain without bumping up against Stonehenge, or go to almost any part of England where there is not a piece of Roman wall or a piece of earlier Saxon drain, or something of that kind. I do not think that this would work under this definition. Apart from that, I think that the Amendment really misconceives what is our picture of a National Park. Our National Parks are not like the American or Canadian parks, such as Jasper Park, which I know so well. They are places where life goes on and where industry goes on.

Take, for instance, the High Peak where one of the greatest industrial areas is in the National Park—quarrying, lime-making and the rest. Therefore, I would say that what we ought to do is to enforce the planning law sufficiently and rigidly, but not to use the method proposed, which, I think, may have almost the opposite effect to that intended. What would be the result? I have tried to demonstrate it. We had the question of the Malvern Hills and the hon. Gentleman knows the kind of arguments which were put forward in detail.

It may be that we ought to be more careful about refusing permission to develop in the circumstances which this Amendment has in mind, particularly in places of great beauty, whether inside or outside National Parks. I do not think that one should refuse compensation for the refusal. We ought to make a refusal perhaps in such an area where we would not make it in another area, because we say. "I must preserve its beauty," but that does not mean that we have to do it at the expense of the individual. It means that we have to do it at the expense of the public.

For instance, the hon. Member will remember the stone quarrying problems at Buxton. I know that part of the country well, and we had some cases on which we had to decide. It may be that if this Amendment were accepted the owners of land which was bought three or four years ago for purposes of quarrying, bought perfectly legitimately and as part of the occupation of the village, would be told, "Not only shall we not allow you to use your quarry, but we shall not pay you any compensation." What would the Minister do in those circumstances? I am sure that he would stretch his authority and grant permission, rather than be guilty of taking away from people a part or the whole of their livelihood. I think that the Amendment, if accepted, would have almost the exact opposite of what is intended. I suggest that we should be content with the very rigid control which we have.

Ministers can operate that control and be censored if they do not operate it to the benefit of the preservation of beauty, amenities and great historic traditions. But I do not think that we ought to do that at the expense of particular people who happen to own property in the area, or acquire it for perfectly legitimate means under the existing law. I think that we ought to take the burden upon ourselves.

I would respectfully and entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend has said, but I would suggest that apart from the first of the three places which the hon. Gentleman suggests, in respect of which the Amendment is obviously far too widely drafted, that, so far as the second two are concerned, it is unlikely that any very considerable proportion of the land will, in fact, have any established claims at all. It is unlikely that development in such areas will have passed the comparatively rigid test of Part VI of the principal Act, and that if they have, a great many of them will have been excluded under the de minimis provisions.

There is no limit on the date on which these properties come into the ownership of the Trust. I cannot imagine anything more damaging to the prospect of owners giving property to the National Trust than if, by doing so, they cut themselves out of any possible compensation. Though I am in sympathy with the intention of this Amendment, I feel that what is proposed is quite unworkable.

I do not wish to delay the House, because we are making good progress and we wish to make even better progress so that we can finish the Third Reading debate at a reasonable time. But I feel that this approach to the problem divides the House. The Minister sheds tears over someone who has bought a piece of land to start a stone quarry somewhere round the Peak district. He jumps with joy when a local authority puts a road through a piece of land and increases the value of the land on either side of it.

We feel, particularly because of their introduction of this Bill, that the Government do not intend rigidly to enforce the planning laws. The 1947 Act was the only real planning Act which we have had because it was the first Act which tied up finance and planning, and, therefore, we are trying to do something to improve it. This Bill takes away the financial provisions of the 1947 Act and I must advise my hon. Friends to support this Amendment in the Division Lobby.

Division No. 199.]

AYES

[7.12 p.m.

Acland, Sir RichardHargreaves, A.Paton, J.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Harrison, J, (Nottingham, E.)Pearson, A.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Hastings, S.Peart, T. F.
Allies, Rt. Hon. C. R.Hayman, F. H.Plummer, Sir Leslie
Awbery, S. S.Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Popplewell, E.
Bacon, Miss AliceHerbison, Miss M.Porter, G.
Baird, J.Hewitson, Capt. M.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Balfour, A.Hobson, C. R.Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Holman, P.Proctor, W. T.
Bartley, P.Holmes, HoracePryde, D. J.
Bence, C. R.Hoy, J. H.Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Bonn, Hon. WedgwoodHubbard, T. F.Reeves, J.
Benson, G.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Raid, Thomas (Swindon)
Blackburn, F.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Reid, William (Camlachie)
Blenkinsop, A.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Rhodes, H.
Blyton, W. RHynd, H. (Accrington)Richards, R.
Boardman, H.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Roberts, Rt. Hon. A.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bowden, H. W.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowles, F. G.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethJanner, B.Ross, William
Brockway, A. F.Jeger, George (Goole)Royle, C.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Jeger, Mrs. LenaShackleton, E. A. A.
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Burke, W. A.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Short, E. W.
Burton, Miss F. E.Jones, David (Hartlepool)Shurmer, P. L. E.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Callaghan, L, J.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Keenan, W.Skeffington, A. M.
Champion, A. J.Kenyon, C.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Chapman, W. D.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Chelwynd, G. R.King, Dr. H. M.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Clunie, J.Lawson, G. M.Snow, J. W.
Coldrick, W.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Sorensen, R. W.
Collick, P. H.Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Cove, W. G.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Sparks, J. A.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Lewis, ArthurSteele, T.
Crosland, C. A, R.Lindgren, G. S.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Crossman, R. H. S.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Daines, P.Logan, D. G.Sylvester, G. O.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)MacColl, J. E.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Delargy, H. J.McGovern, J.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Dodds, N. N.McInnes, J.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Driberg, T. E. N.McKay, John (Wallsend)Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)McLeavy, F.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Edelman, M.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Timmons. J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Mainwaring, W. H.Tomney, F.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Usborne, H. C.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Warbey, W. N.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Mann, Mrs. JeanWatkins, T. E.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Manuel, A. C.Weitzman, D
Fernyhough, E.Mason, RoyWells, Percy (Faversham)
Fienburgh, W.Mayhew, C. P.West, D. G.
Finch, H. J.Mellish, R. J.Wheeldon, W. E.
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Mitchison, G. R.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Follick, M.Moody, A. S.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Foot, M. M.Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Wigg, George
Forman, J. C.Morley, R.Wilkins, W. A.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Willey, F. T.
Gibson, C. W.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Williams, David (Neath)
Glanville, JamesMort, D. L.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Gooch, E. G.Moyle, A.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Greenwood, AnthonyMulley, F. W.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. RNoel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Willis, E. G.
Grey, C. F.Oldfield, W. H.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Oliver, G. H.Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Oswald, T.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Pauley, W. E.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hale, LesliePaling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Yates, V. F.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Palmer, A. M. F.
Hamilton, W. W.Panned, CharlesTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hannan, W.Pargiter, G. A.Mr. Wallace and Mr. James Johnson,
Hardy, E. A.Parker, J.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 218; Noes, 270.

NOES

Aitken, W. T.Gammans, L. D.Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Garner-Evans, E. H.Medlicott, Brig. F.
Alport, C. J. M.George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydMellor, Sir John
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Glover, D.Molson, A. H. E.
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Godber, J. B.Moore, Sir Thomas
Ansthruther-Gray, Major W. J.Gomme-Duncan, Col. AMorrison, John (Salisbury)
Arbuthnot, JohnGough, C. F. H.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Gower, H. R.Nabarro, G. D. N.
Astor, Hon. J. J.Graham, Sir FergusNeave, Airey
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Nicholls, Harmar
Baldwin, A. E.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Nield, Basil (Chester)
Barber, AnthonyHall, John (Wycombe)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Barlow, Sir JohnHare, Hon. J. H.Nugent, G. R. H.
Baxter, Sir BoverleyHarris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Nutting, Anthony
Beach, Maj. HicksHarris, Reader (Heston)Oakshott, H. D.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Odey, G. W.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeOrmsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Birch, NigelHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelOrr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Bishop, F. P.Heath, EdwardOrr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)
Black, C. W.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Osborne, C.
Boothby, Sir R. J. G.Higgs, J. M. C.Page, R. G.
Bossom, Sir A. C.Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Partridge, E.
Bowen, E. R.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPeake, Rt. Hon. O.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Hirst, GeoffreyPerkins, Sir Robert
Braine, B. R.Holland-Martin, C. JPeto, Brig. C. H. M
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Hollis, M. C.Peyton, J. W. W.
Braithwaite, Sir GurneyHolt, A. F.Pickthorn, K. W. M
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Hope, Lord JohnPilkington, Capt. R. A.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. HenryPitman, I. J.
Brooman-White, R. C.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Pitt, Miss E. M.
Browne, Jack (Govan)Horobin, I. M.Powell, J. Enoch
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Bullard, D. G.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Bollus, Wing Commander E. E.Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.Profumo, J. D.
Burden, F. F. A.Hurd, A. R.Raikes, Sir Victor
Butcher, Sir HerbertHutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Ramsden, J. E.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Rayner, Brig. R.
Campbell, Sir DavidHylton-Foster, H. B. H.Rees-Davies, W. R.
Carr, RobertIremonger, T. L.Renton, D. L. M.
Cary, Sir RobertJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Ridsdale, J. E.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Jennings, Sir RolandRoberts, Peter (Heeley)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Robertson, Sir David
Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Cole, NormanKaberry, D.Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Colegate, W. A.Kerby, Capt. H. B.Roper, Sir Harold
Conant, Maj. Sir RogerKerr, H. W.Ropner, Cot. Sir Leonard
Cooper-Key, E. M.Lambert, Hon. G.Russell, R. S.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Lambton, ViscountRyder, Capt. R. E. D.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. CLancaster, Col. C. G.Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Leather, E. H. C.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Crouch, R. F.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Scott, R. Donald
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.Shepherd, William
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Lindsay, MartinSimon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Davidson, ViscountessLinstead, Sir H. N.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Deedes, W. F.Llewellyn, D. T.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Digby, S. WingfieldLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Snadden, M. McN.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Soames, Capt. C.
Donner, Sir P. W.Longden, GilbertSpearman, A. C. M.
Doughty, C. J. A.Low, A. R. W.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord MalcolmLucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington. S.)
Drewe, Sir C.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughStevens, Geoffrey
Duncan, Capt. J. A LMacdonald, Sir PeterSteward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Duthie, W. S.Mackeson, Brig. Sir HarryStewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Eccles, Rt Hon. Sir D. M.Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Maclay, Rt. Hon. JohnStorey, S.
Fell, A.Maclean, FitzroyStrauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Finlay, GraemeMacleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Fisher, NigelMacleod, John (Ross and Cromarty)Studholme, H. G.
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. FMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Summers, G. S.
Fletcher-Cooke, C.Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Ford, Mrs. PatriciaMaitland, Patrick (Lanark)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Fort, R.Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir ReginaldTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Foster, JohnMarlowe, A. A. H.Teeling, W.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Marples, A. E.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellMarshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Maude, AngusThorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Maudling, R.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.

Tilney, JohnWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Touche, Sir GordonWakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Turner, H. F. L.Walker-Smith, D. C. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Turton, R. H.Wall, Major PatrickWills, G.
Tweedsmuir, LadyWard, Hon. George (Worcester)
Vane, W. M. F.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro) Wood, Hon. R.
Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Vosper, D. F.Wellwood, W.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Wade, D. WWilliams, Rt Hon. Charles (Torquay)Mr. Redmayne and
Mr. Richard Thompson.

I beg to move, in page 27, line 18, after "out," to insert

"for the purposes of the development."
This Amendment is designed to make the position quite clear to those hon. Members who fear that compensation might be excluded if conditions were imposed which required parking facilities to be provided on a scale quite unrelated to the purposes of the development. In other words, conditions cannot be made which are not suitable to that particular kind of development.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 27, line 33, to leave out "the stages indicated, in."

I think that with this Amendment we can take the next one to line 34, to leave out from "situated," to the end of line 35.

These two Amendments go together, and deal with a point which was fully discussed in Committee. The Minister undertook to give some consideration to the points which were then made, and one can only assume that consideration has been given and that for some reason a solution has not been found. The inclusion of the words:

"the stages indicated, in."
will, we feel, lead to confusion and perhaps to some litigation because of a difference of opinion that might exist as to what the stages are.

This point, as the hon. Member has reminded us, was discussed in Committee and it was made in particular by the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine). He pointed out that it would be difficult for anyone to know what are the stages indicated in a plan, since these do not cover with any precision much of the land in the authority's area. I resisted the Amendment on the grounds that the words complained of are taken from the 1947 Act, and like so much of that Act could hardly be improved upon.

I promised that I would consider whether the wording could be redrawn to avoid difficulty, and we have considered this; but we have not been able to think of a proper form of words. If somebody finds the proper form of words we will be glad to consider them, but I do not see how we can get better phraseology. On examination, it did not seem possible or right to frame a provision dealing with prematurity except by reference to those provisions in the development plan which deal with the timing of development. The things are connected and I do not see how we can disassociate them.

I was hoping the right hon. Gentleman might have been able to clear up this question of stages in a development plan. We all know that in the framing of a development plan, which has a life of five years, obviously it will be recognised that certain designations will not be ripe for development until 10, 15 or 20 years have passed. Many of us know that certain designations in existing plans cannot be carried out within a period of five years but only at some future time.

Local authorities may have in their minds a period of years which is quite different from the period of the validity of the plan itself. While the development plan of five yearly periods is subject to review and reconsideration, I think it would be useful if it were possible for the Minister on future occasions to persuade local authorities to have the same sort of timing in various stages of development.

If the timing can be regarded as stages in the development of the plan that will to some extent clear the matter up, but otherwise, if the stages are not clearly tied up with timing, then it will be very difficult to determine what is the kind of stages. I do not think that such timing is regarded as stages at the moment, but perhaps if the right hon. Gentleman could tell us exactly what the position is it would greatly help.

It is quite clear. It is what is called the programme in the first five years, then the five to 20 years and then over that.

In the light of the Minister's statement, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.