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Schedule 3

Volume 24: debated on Monday 17 May 1982

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Minor And Consequential Amendments

I beg to move amendment No. 103, in page 57, leave out lines 16 to 21.

The amendment deletes the amendment in paragraph 2 of schedule 3, which is now considered to be unnecessary.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 104, in page 57, line 27, leave out

`In paragraph 11A of Schedule 1' and insert—
'In Schedule 1—
  • (a) in paragraph 10(1) which relates to caravan site licences not being required by travelling showmen during certain periods), for the words "falling between the beginning of October in any year and the end of March" there shall be substituted the words "beginning on or after 20th September in any year and continuing until not later than 16th April"; and
  • (b)in paragraph 11A'.
  • No. 105, in page 57, line 27, after 'to', insert 'other'.— [Mr. Allan Stewart.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 106, in page 60, line 22, at end insert—

    `14A. In section 134(1) (which designates the local authority for the purposes of the Building (Scotland) Acts 1959 and 1970) after the word "Highland", there shall be inserted the words "excluding the District of Inverness".'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments:

    No. 107, in page 60, line 27, at end insert—
    15A. In section 163(1) (which designates the local authority for the purposes of the Public Libraries (Scotland) Acts 1887–1955 in the application of those Acts to libraries) after the word "Highland", there shall be inserted the words "excluding the District of Inverness.".'.
    No. 108, in page 60, line 31, at end insert—
    '16A. In section 172(4) (which makes provision for the allocation of planning powers and functions amongst the various categories of authorities):—
  • (a) In the definition of a "general planning authority" after the word "Region" where it first occurs, there shall be inserted the words "excluding Inverness District"; and
  • (b)In the definition of a "district planning authority" at the end, there shall be added the words "and the Council of the Inverness District in the Highland Region".'.
  • The amendments, although somewhat narrow in their application, bring forward a series of reasonably important principles. They are all concerned only with Inverness district council, but I am well aware that, for example, in regard to building control, many other district councils, which might hesitate to undertake planning powers, feel more than competent to take on this responsibility, which in many cases they are already undertaking, while being denied any capacity to regulate the financial basis on which they are called upon to act. Equally, on the planning question, Dumfries, for example, would probably feel likewise, on the principle of the matter.

    I felt that it was appropriate, however, to confine my amendments to those matters exclusively concerning Inverness district, which is entirely within my constituency, and about which the district council has been unanimous in its representations, first to the Stoddart committee and subsequently to the Government. However, that means that I am put in the position of making a case for a series of unique exceptions.

    Therefore, I begin by praying in aid, for the benefit of the Minister, a remark on this aspect made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) when he met representatives of the Inverness district council and myself in New St. Andrew's House on 7 January this year, when he was still the Minister responsible for these matters. He listened to arguments for making the changes to which my amendments would give effect. I can quote the Minister on this, which is always a good thing to be able to do, when one approves of what was said. I took down his words at the meeting.

    The then Minister said:
    "I am not worried about something being unique. If that was the only problem there would be no problem. What is important is whether it enables matters to be more or less effectively operated."
    I trust that the new Minister will lend his support to the views of his predecessor and that he will look at the changes open-mindedly and practically. I have heard him claim to be that sort of person. I hope that he can set aside arguments about precedents and exceptions to uniform arrangements, and all the old-fashioned, bureaucratic twaddle to which we are so often subjected.

    Amendment No. 106 is concerned with building control and would give to Inverness district council in statute the powers that it already operates in practice. I am aware, from a letter to Provost A. G. Sellar of Inverness from the Minister that I received on the evening of the last debate, just before it adjourned, what his view on the matter is. He says:

    "On the question of building control, I can confirm that your council's desire for formal responsibility in this function is being considered in the context of a comprehensive review of the building control system currently being undertaken b) the Scottish Development Department."
    I do not understand why, given our experience of the operation, of building controls in the Highland region, a change cannot be made now. There does not seem to be any practical reason why it should not be made.

    The chief executive of Inverness district, Mr. Brian Wilson put it succinctly in a letter to Scottish Members on 4 December 1981
    "The building control function is, in fact, discharged wholly at District Council level; there is no body of knowledge on such matters within the Regional Council; and while we are popularly regarded as the buildings authority the level of service is dictated not by our assessment of need but by the Region's allocation of resources."
    That is clear and specific. Even much smaller authorities than Inverness, such as Skye and Lochalsh, Bedonoch and Strathspey are clear that this is a function that they could undertake.

    My amendments are narrowly confined to Inverness but the case for transfer of building control to all district councils is clearly made. I do not see why we have to wait for this beyond the consideration of the Bill in the Lords. There is no practical reason.

    Amendment 107 applies to libraries. It cannot be said that Inverness is unable satisfactorily to discharge this function. Equally, the Government are open to the charge of illogicality in that on the one hand they happily allow successful sharing arrangements between three Grampian districts, which hon. Members will know about, but at the same time resist a comparable change in the Highland regions.

    Amendment 108 is the most significant. Hon. Members will remember that when local government was reformed it was decided not to split planning in the Highlands, the Borders and in the South-West. In the case of Inverness, this meant that the new authority—Inverness district—larger in area, population and resource than the old large borough of Inverness, was denied the exercise even of powers in respect of planning. Its powers were less than those that the old large borough had enjoyed.

    One can produce many statistics. Briefly, of the 37 district councils in Scotland that are already responsible for local planning, 10 have populations below or only just above Inverness district, 13 have rateable values below or only marginally above Inverness district, 16 have penny rate products below or only marginally above Inverness district. That is 43 per cent. There is no argument about the ability of Inverness district to undertake local planning.

    Equally—while it may be less easy to demonstrate—Inverness district would strongly deny that such a change would lead to extra cost or any increase in staff. However, such a change would restore to Inverness and its environs control over the development of its own community without disrupting the strategic over-view, which would remain with the region. That should be remembered. It would create a situation that is not significantly different from Aberdeen within the Grampian region, or Dundee within Tayside.

    There is evidence that the existing arrangements have caused unnecessary difficulties, disagreements and disputes. I shall give four examples. In 1978, there were three applications for the establishment of hypermarkets on the Longman estate, owned by the district council which, like the large borough before it, has resisted its use for retail outlets. Despite the opposition of the district and the then regional planning officer, Mr. Calder, the committee agreed the applications. Subsequently, they were called in by the Secretary of State and rejected, but obviously it left a mark of dissent.

    Secondly, in 1981, Calor Gas sought greatly to enlarge its storage of liquid petroleum on the Carse estate, also owned by the district council, which strongly opposed the idea. In the end, it went ahead. I shall not comment on the pros and cons, but there is no doubt that, as a result, limitations were imposed on densities in the adjoining area, and so affected what the district councils could do.

    Thirdly, there is a similar outline application from Comet, for which the regional council has already expressed some support.

    Lastly, there is the golf course, which I shall not mention at length, because at present I am seeking a meeting with the Secretary of State, whom I am glad to see here. However, I shall mention two aspects of the matter, which show the lack of agreement between the two levels of authority, which would have been overcome if Inverness district council had had planning powers. The application went to the Secretary of State, and the view of both the district council and the Highlands and Islands Development Board is that he received the wrong information and reached his conclusion on the wrong information. The Highlands and Islands Development Board wrote a letter on the subject, in which it said that
    "The concern of the board is with the manner in which the decision was reached and the air of unreality which emanates from the Reporter's advice … We remain very concerned at the way in which this evidence was treated … This … is a casual way to treat the views of an economic development agency with 16 years34t experience of tourism promotion in the Inverness area.'
    That is a pretty trenchant comment to be made by the secretary of the Highlands and Islands Development Board and directed to the Scottish Development Department, for which the Secretary of State is responsible.

    It was for that reason that I wrote to the region asking it to postpone the Inverness plan for six weeks or so, to give me a chance to argue with the Secretary of State, who is a reasonable man and who, after all, must be affected by the fact that two public authorities take a dissenting view from that of his reporter. The region was unwilling to do that. It went ahead, and I was told that, according to focus officio—whatever that may be; I am sure that the Minister, with all his legal wisdom which, admittedly, has only recently been conferred on him, but it must by now be seeping in, will be able to tell me what it means, although I am told that it means that the matter is beyond recall, rather like a former Minister—the matter cannot be brought up again. If that is so, I hope that the Secretary of State will still be able to admit that he was wrong and say that subsequently a further application would be successful. There are serious disagreements and that cannot be good for the harmonious working of local government.

    1.45 am

    At the 7 January meeting the hon. Member for Pentlands—now Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and who is not lacking in shrewdness in these matters—put forward an argument that was a variation of the famous West Lothian question from the days of the devolution debates. He said that the situation would arise, if Inverness was given local planning powers, in which regional members elected in the area of Inverness district would have a voice in planning decisions outwith the district—for example, in Caithness and Sutherland—but the converse would not apply.

    That situation could easily be circumvented, in much the same way as non-elected members operate on the education committee, by excluding them from voting on local planning matters outwith the Inverness district. I would not dream of attempting to produce a form of words for that, but I see no reason why that could not be done at the next stage of the Bill.

    There is also the famous argument on lack of uniformity, of which I am somewhat tired. In a letter to Inverness district council, the Government state that
    "a hybrid system in which the powers of authorities within the same regional area vary will tend to public confusion and, arguably, to a less efficient use of resources, without any guarantee of improvement in the quality of the service concerned."
    There is much more twaddle of that nature.

    That is old stuff. The Bill would not be necessary if one should not reassess what one is doing. The difficulties involved in public comprehension are not well-founded and have no supporting evidence to my knowledge apart from assertion. Both the practitioners of local planning—the architects and lawyers—can see no difficulties, nor does the local chamber of commerce, which comprises the people likely to be making the applications. The only basis for the argument is that it has been repeated many times.

    I accept, however, that the argument of uniformity is central, so I conclude by repeating the wise words of the hon. Member for Pentlands. He said
    "I am not worried about something being unique. If that was the only problem there would be no problem. What is important is whether it enables matters to be more or less effectively operated."
    I am sure that the effect of my amendments would lead to matters being more effectively operated. For that reason I recommend them to the House. I also thank right hon. and hon. Members for their patience in giving me such a good hearing at such a late hour.

    I am sorry to intervene at such a late stage in the Bill and at such a late hour, but the matter is as important to my constituency, as it is to that of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston).

    I do not believe that it is any secret that in the original planning for the 1973 Act I was totally against the removal of district planning from the Highlands, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. I felt that the in-words, "estuarial planning", were completely irrelevant. I refer to the idea that all the land mass round the Clyde must be in one region—Strathclyde—and all that round the Forth and the Tay another. However, that idea was blown when Fife was given its own regional status.

    The hon. Member for Inverness had a sound point and I agree that the districts in the regional area are quite capable of dealing with local planning. It is wrong to say that the populations are too small or that the planning staff would be too expensive. Strategic planning comes into force so rarely that it can be discounted. We shall have a major power station, a Solway barrage or a pulp mill only once in a blue moon. When that blue moon rises, the Secretary of State will no doubt make a decision anyway. Therefore, the Scottish Development Department has greatly overplayed regional strategic planning in the past decade.

    The districts have intimate local knowledge of planning for housing, garages, garden sheds and so on and such decisions could well be left to them. Regional planning in the Highlands and Dumfries and Galloway should be carefully considered by my hon. Friend the Minister. One of my few disagreements with the Stodart report is that I do not think that sufficient weight was given to those regions that wish to have district planning. I hope that my hon. Friend will reconsider the matter, because in principle I agree with the hon. Member for Inverness.

    As always, the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) put forward his case most cogently. He was at his persuasive best tonight, but I am sorry to tell him that he has not—in general terms—persuaded me. There are strong general arguments in favour of the principle of uniformity.

    I shall deal with his three specific points in the amendments. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), now Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said
    "We will of course consider the Inverness case as a part of our general review of building control".
    The hon. Gentleman asked why we could not make a decision on Inverness before that review. It would be wrong to change responsibility in statute—as his amendment would do—before the nature of the building control function has been redefined in the review.

    As regards library services, there is little that I would wish to add to the letter in which I tried to spell out the Government's position as clearly and fully as possible to Provost Sellar. The hon. Member for Inverness had the support, in principle, of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro). However, no district in Dumfries and Galloway has supported the Inverness proposals outright, although some wanted more powers, statutorily or otherwise. As a result of the representations from Inverness, we consulted the districts in the three regions concerned. In Highland, two districts supported Inverness. Four districts find the present system acceptable and the region strongly supports the status quo. The region argues that the divisional committee system already deals with 95 per cent. of all applications and that the transfer of powers—as suggested by Inverness—would be costly in terms of resources and manpower. Therefore, there is a clear difference of view locally.

    The hon. Member for Inverness asked me what focus officio meant. In essence it means that the Secretary of State has taken his decision and cannot reopen it or comment on it.

    Does that mean that even if the Secretary of State is convinced that he has made a mistake he cannot publicly admit it? The Secretary of State may be many things, but he is not infallible.

    We are, of course, talking about a legal term. The legal term that the hon. Gentleman asked me to define means that the Secretary of State has taken his decision, cannot reopen the question and cannot comment on the decision that he has made.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move Government

    Amendment No. 109, in page 61, line 18 leave out
    'words "subsection 108A of this Act"'
    and insert 'word "subsection"'.

    With this it will be convenient to take Government Amendment No. 110.

    Amendments agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 110, in page 61, line 20 after '1966', insert ' and to section'.

    No. 11, in page 64, line 46, at end insert—

    'The Electricity (Scotland) Act 1979 (C 11)

    32A. In section 5(2) (which provides that the Secretary of State shall appoint an Amenity Committee and a Fisheries Committee)—

  • (a) for the words from "two Committees" to "respectively)" there shall be substituted the words "a Committee (in this Act referred to as the Fisheries Committee)"; and
  • (b)for the words "those Committees" the shall be substituted the words "the Committee".
  • 32B. In Schedule 4 (which makes provision for the constitution and functions of the Amenity Committee and the Fisheries Committee)—

  • (a) in paragraph 1—
  • (i) the words "Amenity Committee and the" shall cease to have effect;
  • (ii) for the words "them respectively" there shall be substituted the word "it"; and
  • (iii) for the words "amenity and fisheries respectively" there shall be substituted the word "fisheries";
  • (b) in paragraph 2 for the words "each of those Committees" and "each Committee" where they respectively occur there shall be substituted the words "the Committee";
  • (c) in paragraph 3—
  • (i) the words "Amenity Committee and the" shall cease to have effect; and
  • (ii) for the words "each of those Committees" there shall be substituted the words "the Committee";
  • (d) paragraph 5 shall cease to have effect; and
  • (e) in paragraph 6 the words "Amenity Committee and the" shall cease to have effect.".—[Mr. Allan Stewart.]
  • I beg to move Amendment No. 112 in page 65, line 15, leave out 'over school age' and insert `taking part therein'. The purpose of this amendment is to make it clear that, although leisure and recreation provision is handed over to the districts, the responsibility for further education in the widest sense will remain the responsibility of the regions. Nothing in the Bill is intended to confine the activities that the regional council might wish to mount to promote the educational development of those within its area.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendment made: No. 113, in page 65, line 23, at end insert—

    'The Tenants' Rights, Etc (Scotland) Act 1980 (c.52)

    34A. In Section 2—

  • (a) in subsection (6) which prescribes a time limit for service of a notice of acceptance—
  • (i) in paragraph (a) after the words "(3) above" there shall be inserted the words "or by referring the matter to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland under subsection (2)(d) of section 7 of this Act";
  • (ii) in paragraph (b) for the words from "determined" to "Scotland" there shall be substituted the word "resolved"; and
  • (iii) after sub-paragraph (iii) there shall be inserted the following sub-paragraph—
    • "(iiia) the service of an offer to sell on him by virtue of subsection (3)(b of section 7 of this Act"; and
  • (b) at the end there shall be added the following subsection—
    • "(12 In the foregoing provisions of this section, 'offer to sell' includes such offer to sell as is mentioned in section 7(2)(d) of this Act.'.

    34B. In section 7(2) (c) (which relates to matters being referred to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland)—

  • (a)after the words "right to purchase)" there shall be inserted the words "or has made an order under subsection (3)(b) of this section"; and
  • (b) after the words "said finding" there shall be inserted the words "or, as the case may be, order".'.—[Mr. Younger.]
  • I beg to move Amendment No. 114, in page 65, line 31, at end insert—

    '35A. In paragraph 33 of Schedule 32 (which makes provision as regards rates in Scotland in respect of lands and heritages in an enterprise zone),—
  • (a) at the end of sub paragraph (1) there shall be added the following proviso— "Provided that where the lands and heritages are situated only partially within any one enterprise zone their value shall, for the purpose of determining what rates (if any) are payable in respect of the lands and heritages, be apportioned between so much of them as lies within, and so much of them as lies outwith, that zone as if—
  • (i) the apportionment were by reason of their extending into two or more rating areas; and
  • (ii) the boundary of the enterprise zone were the boundary of such an area."; and
  • (b) at the end of sub-paragraph (4) there shall be added the words "; and `rating area' means the area of a rating authority.".'.
  • This amendment ensures that exemption from a liability to pay rates in respect of certain domestic lands and heritages situated within an enterprise zone in Scotland should clearly apply to those parts of properties straddling a boundary which lie within the enterprise zone. That was always the Government's intention.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Schedule 4


    I beg to move amendment No. 127, in page 67, line 29 at end insert—

    '1968 c. 49.The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.Section 85.'.
    This is a technical amendment to repeal section 85 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 which has become redundant.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made:

    No. 115, in page 69, column 3, leave out lines 9 and 10 and insert—

    'In Schedule 4, in each of paragraphs 1, 3 and 6 the words "Amenity Committee and the"; and paragraph 5.'.

    No. 116, in page 69, column 3, leave out lines 22 to 24 and insert—

    'In section 1 (1), the word "tenancy".

    In section 4 (3), the words "incurred in connection with the sale of the dwellinghouse".'.— [Mr. Allan Stewart.]

    Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.— [Mr. Younger.]

    1.58 am

    The House will know that we are voting against the Third Reading because of our extreme opposition to clause 1. There are many useful things in the Bill. I thank my hon. Friends who handled the Bill in Committee for the Opposition, the other Opposition Members of the Committee and some Conservative Members, for making some improvements to the less contentious parts of the Bill. However, we thoroughly deplore clause 1 and we shall vote against the Third Reading.

    Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

    The House divided: Ayes 100, Noes 39.

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    Division No. 152]

    [2.00 am


    Alexander, RichardDover, Denshore
    Ancram, MichaelDunn, Robertf(Dartford)
    Atkinson, David(B'm'th,E)Fairbairn, Nicholas
    Berry, Hon AnthonyFairgrieve, SirRussell
    Biggs-Davison, SirJohnFaith, Mrs Sheila
    Blackburn, JohnFenner, Mrs Peggy
    Boscawen, Hon RobertGarel-Jones, Tristan
    Bright, GrahamGoodlad, Alastair
    Brooke, Hon PeterGriffiths, PeterPortsm'thN)
    Brotherton, MichaelGrist, Ian
    Brown, Michael(Brigg&Sc'n)Gummer, John Selwyn
    Bruce-Gardyne, JohnHamilton, Hon A.
    Budgen, NickHampson, Dr Keith
    Carlisle, John(LutonWest)Hannam, John
    Cope, JohnHawkins, Paul
    Corrie, JohnHawksley, Warren
    Cranbome, ViscountHeddle, John
    Dorrell, StephenHogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm)
    Douglas-Hamilton, LordJ.Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas

    Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRoberts, M.(CardiffNW)
    Kimball, Sir MarcusRost, Peter
    Knox, DavidSainsbury, Hon Timothy
    Lee, JohnShaw, Giles(Pudsey)
    LeMarchant, SpencerSims, Roger
    Lester, Jim(Beeston)Speed, Keith
    Lloyd, Peter(Fareham)Speller, Tony
    Lyell, NicholasSpicer, Michael(SWorcs)
    MacKay, John(Argyll)Sproat, Iain
    McNair-Wilson, M.(N'bury)Stainton, Keith
    McQuarrie, AlbertStanbrook, Ivor
    Major, JohnStevens, Martin
    Marlow, AntonyStewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
    Mather, CarolStradling Thomas, J.
    Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinTemple-Morris, Peter
    Meyer, Sir AnthonyThomas, Rt Hon Peter
    Mills, Iain(Meriden)Thompson, Donald
    Moate, RogerThorne, Neil(llfordSouth)
    Monro, Sir HectorTrippier, David
    Morrison, Hon C.(Devizes)van Straubenzee, SirW.
    Murphy, ChristopherViggers, Peter
    Myles, DavidWalker,B. (Perth)
    Neale, GerrardWall, Sir Patrick
    Newton, TonyWaller, Gary
    Normanton, TomWells, Bowen
    Osborn, JohnWheeler, John
    Page, John(Harrow, West)Wolfson, Mark
    Page, Richard(SW Herts)Young, Sir George(Acton)
    Parris, MatthewYounger, Rt Hon George
    Pollock, Alexander
    Proctor, K.HarveyTellers for the Ayes:
    Renton, TimMr. Ian Lang and
    RhysWilliams, Sir BrandonMr. David Hunt.


    Brown, Ron(E'burgh, Leith)Cryer, Bob
    Campbell-Savours, DaleDewar, Donald
    Canavan, DennisDormand, Jack
    Carmichael, NeilEadie, Alex
    Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stolS)Ewing, Harry
    Craigen, J.M. (G'gow, M'hill)Hamilton, James(Bothwell)

    Hamilton, W.W. (C'tral Fife)Maxton, John
    Harrison, Rt Hon WalterMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
    Haynes, FrankO'Neill, Martin
    Hogg, N.(EDunb't'nshire)Penhaligon, David
    Home Robertson, JohnRobertson, George
    Hughes, Robert(Aberdeen N)Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
    Johnston.Russell(Inverness)Skinner, Dennis
    Lambie, DavidWainwright, E.(DearneV)
    McCartney, HughWelsh, Michael
    McKelvey, WilliamWhite, J.(G'gowPollok)
    MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWilson, Gordon(Dundee E)
    Maclennan, Robert
    McNamara, KevinTellers for the Noes:
    McTaggart, RobertMr. George Morton and
    McWilliam.John Mr. Allen McKay.
    Marshall, D(G'gowS'ton)

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    Bill read the Third time, and passed.

    Statutory Instruments &C

    Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 73A(5) (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.).


    That the draft Electricity (Borrowing Powers) (Scotland) Order 1982, which was laid before this House on 8th April, be approved.— [Mr. Younger.]

    Question agreed to.

    Civil Aviation Bill Lords


    That, in respect of the Civil Aviation Bill [Lords], notices of Amendments, new Clauses and new Schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time.—[Mr. Boscawen.]