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Clause 19—(Power Of The Authority To Acquire Land Compulsorily Under Town And Country Plan- Ning Act, 1947)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

I hope I can induce the Minister to deal briefly with this Clause. I have no desire to detain the Committee too long. It is clear from Clause 19 that the new Market Authority will have power, subject to the approval of the Minister and to the usual planning checks, for compulsory purchase. For this purpose, as the last paragraph of subsection (1) says:

"in relation to the compulsory acquisition of land under the said section thirty-seven".
That is, of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947—
"by virtue of this subsection, the appropriate Minister shall be the Minister."
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be the Minister concerned in the operation of this Clause in connection with any projects for acquisition which the new Market Authority might have in mind. I ask what his general attitude will be towards proposals by the Authority compulsorily to acquire a particular site.

I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman to reply in detail, but I remind him that on two occasions from his Ministry have come rather questionable decisions about acquisition. I do not wish to be offensive, but his Ministry is not equipped to make decisions about compulsory purchase and to take the broad public view of the various uses to which any particular site might be put. That is a planning consideration. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree that in any project put up by the Authority he should consult the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who is the planning Minister. Then we would know that before any project is launched the Minister of Agriculture has consulted the Authority and taken pains to discuss with the appropriate planning Minister before giving consent to the Authority to go ahead with any project.

I would not raise this question but for the fact that the Minister and all of us know that his Ministry is not, and is not meant to be, adequately equipped to take the broad public view of any project for compulsory acquisition before it is launched.

I take the point made by the hon. Member. I am the Minister to make the decision at the end of the day, but there is plenty of machinery which has to be gone through before the matter reaches me.

In reply to the question of how I see this power being used, I would say that, first, it might be used for an annex and, secondly, for the purchase of land on which to build a new market. Those, broadly, are the two main purposes for which I see this power being used. Both would be considerable projects. The market will cover six to ten acres. I find it rather difficult to assess how big the other project need be—it is for the Authority to say—but both would be considerable projects which would go through the planning machinery.

The Authority would say that it wanted a certain piece of land. It would go to the London County Council, which is the planning authority, to have the land designated for that purpose. The Minister of Housing and Local Government could be called in and there might be a public inquiry. I should have thought that would be almost inevitable, certainly in the case of the annex, but it would be up to the Minister of Housing and Local Government who is equipped to deal with these matters. The planning authority would decide whether planning permission should be given. I have nothing whatever to do with planning permission. That is for the Minister of Housing and Local Government. After the planning authority had made the decision, it would be for me to say whether the building should go up.

This is analagous to the position of the Minister of Power when the Coal Boards wants to buy some land. It has to be designated and the project has to go through the normal planning machinery. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans) will feel that his mind is set at rest on this point.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 20 to 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.