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Property (Compulsory Purchase)

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is satisfied with the way in which local authorities are acquiring property under the threat of compulsory purchase orders, or by means of compulsory purchase orders; and if he will make a statement.

I have not received many complaints on this matter; and no compulsory purchase order has effect unless the appropriate Minister decides to confirm it. The basis of compensation is no different whether a property is bought by compulsory purchase order or not.

Is the Minister aware that certain practices take place where there is a threat of compulsory purchase? Is he aware, for instance, that the City of Birmingham, when acquiring property and having to evict an owner, frequently charges £500 if alternative accommodation is found? Would he not agree that this is most unfortunate?

I think I know what is in my hon. Friend's mind, but the position is that I have no jurisdiction over the compensation which owners receive under a compulsory purchase order. That is settled, or can on appeal be settled, by the Land Tribunal and I must not trespass on the Tribunal's ground.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the whole question should be looked into.

I will certainly examine further any information which my hon. Friend sends to me, but I have not anything before me at the moment and, as I say—and it should be widely known—if there is a dispute about compensation, then an appeal lies to the Land Tribunal and the aggrieved person can take advantage of that.

Is it not true that, while the Minister has no control over the amount of compensation to be paid, neither has Birmingham Corporation? As the Minister has said, the appeal lies to someone outside both the Ministry and local Government.

Yes, but I would add that advice has been given to local authorities that if they are unable to reach agreement on the price to be paid for a property which they wish to acquire and they are not actually exercising compulsory powers, they should refer the matter to the Land Tribunal so that a proper decision can be arrived at.