(1) Subject to the provisions of this Section and of any regulations made thereunder—
- (a) the authority empowered by an interim development order to permit the development of any land shall not, except with the consent of the Minister, carry out on that
1457 land any development other than development which is permitted by the interim development order itself;
- (b) the authority responsible for the enforcement of any provisions of a planning scheme shall not, except with the consent of the Minister, carry out any development to which those provisions apply other than development which, if they were not so responsible, they would be entitled to carry out thereunder without the permission or approval of the responsible authority;
and the consent of the Minister under this Section may be given either as respects any particular development or as respects development of any description, and either subject to or free from any conditions or limitations.
(2) If any development for which the consent of the Minister is required under this Section is carried out by an interim development authority or a responsible authority without such consent, or if any conditions or limitations imposed on the grant of such consent (including conditions or limitations as to the period for which any building or use may be maintained or continued) are not complied with, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, give directions to the authority requiring them to take such steps in respect thereof (whether by the removal or alteration of any building or work, the discontinuance of any use, or the reinstatement of any land) as he considers requisite having regard to the provisions of the scheme, or, as the case may be, to the provisions which ought in his opinion to be included in the proposed scheme; and any Such directions shall be enforceable, on an application made on behalf of the Minister, by mandamus:
Provided that before giving any directions under this Sub-section, the Minister shall give notice to the authority of his intention so to do, and shall, if they so require, afford them an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by the Minister for the purpose.
(3) In relation to any development by an interim development authority who carry on a statutory undertaking, being development carried out upon land to which Section twenty-eight of this Act applies, the reference in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of this Section to the Minister shall be construed as a reference to the Minister and the appropriate Department; and paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section twenty-two of this Act the proviso to Sub section (1) of Section twenty-nine of this Act, and Sub-sections (2), (3) (6) and (7) of the last-mentioned Section, shall apply in relation to any application for consent under this Section in respect of any such development as if in the said Sub-section (7) for the reference to Section three of the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Act, 1943, there were substituted a reference to Sub-section (1) of this Section.
(4) For the purposes of Section forty-one of the Town and Country Planning Act, 2932 (which provides that the provisions of a planning scheme shall not apply to land held or used by statutory undertakers for the purposes of their undertaking except in so far as they consent thereto) a responsible authority who carry on a statutory undertaking shall be 1458 deemed to consent to the application of the provisions of the scheme to any land belonging to them which is held or used by them for the purposes of that undertaking unless and until they have given to the Minister notice in writing stating that they withhold the consent.
(5) The Minister may make regulations with respect to the manner in which applications for consent may be made under this section, and with respect to the granting of consent thereunder, and in particular provision may be made by any such regulations—
- (a) for dispensing, in relation to any such development as may be specified in the regulations, with the necessity for such consent;
- (b) for securing that, in such cases and subject to such conditions as may be so specified, an application for the sanction of the Minister or of any Government Department or authority, made in respect of any development under any enactment other than this section, shall be treated as a sufficient application for such consent.
(6) Except as expressly provided by this Section, the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts, 1932 and 1943, and of this Act relating to interim development applications and the revocation or modification of permission granted thereon shall not apply to an application for consent made under this Section by an interim development authority.—[Mr. H. Strauss.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This is a long Clause, and I am afraid it is extremely technical, owing to the technicalities of planning legislation. It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I explain, rather as a layman to laymen, what the purpose of the Clause is, and what it does; of course, being prepared to answer such technical points as may be raised. I have some hope that they will not be raised, for this reason: that they could only be raised by lawyers, and the lawyers will see the answers. The purpose of this Clause is to fill a very important gap in the existing law. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning exercises, by the nature of his office and the wish of the House, certain control over development of land throughout England and Wales. That is exercised through the machinery, mainly, of the Act of 1932 and the Act of 1943. The way my right hon. Friend exercises that control is mainly through supervision of the control that is exercised by the planning authority itself. The would-be developer of land applies to the planning authority for leave to develop that land, and, if that permission is refused, the would-be developer has a right 1459 of appeal to the Minister. The matter çan come before my right hon. Friend in that way, or, if it is of great importance, my right hon. Friend can ask for the decision on the application to be referred to him. It is in this way that my right hon. Friend controls development throughout England and Wales.
But there is one exception to this possibility of control and it is with that exception that this new Clause is designed to deal. That exception arises when the planning authority is itself the developer. There is no obligation on the local authority to apply to itself for an interim development consent; and, therefore, there is no application over which my right hon. Friend has any control. This apparently complicated new Clause is designed to give my right hon. Friend the same sort of control where the development is carried out by the planning authority itself as he would have if someone else had to apply in the first instance to the local authority. As I think the Committee will appreciate, where the planning authority has had to devote its mind to the merits of an application made to it, even there the Minister has and needs a right of some control or supervision. It is more than ever necessary in a case where the planning authority itself might, in eager pursuance of some desirable object perhaps, not have given adequate attention to planning considerations at all. In any event, there is the same case for my right hon. Friend having some control, and therefore some responsibility to the House, as if it were one of those applications for which he has control under the existing law. It would very much astonish the Committee, I think, to learn that there are cases in which every Member of this Committee would assume that the Minister had control under planning legislation, whereas in fact, until this Clause is embodied in legislation, my right hon. Friend has no statutory control at all.
On the apparent complication of the matter, perhaps I should say a little about the form of the Clause. Sub-section (1, a) gives effective control over interim development—and practically all the land in the country is at present in the interim development stage. Sub-section (1, b) contains corresponding provisions to deal with an operative scheme. Sub-section (2) gives the Minister a remedy if things are 1460 done without, or contrary to, his consent. Sub-section (3) is put in to give an additional safeguard for statutory undertakers, to make it certain that where their operational developments are affected, the matter is attended to, not only by my right hon. Friend, but also by the Government Department mainly concerned with that statutory undertaking. The rest of the Clause deals with various technicalities, to make the new control effective. I hope that I have given enough preliminary explanation of the Clause.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."
§ Mr. Wilmot
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 2, at end, insert:any power to permit development conferred by a planning scheme on the responsible authority thereunder, or by an interim development order on the interim development authority thereunder shall, in relation to development carried out after the commencement of this Act by the authority themselves, be exercisable by the Minister.The Amendments to the new Clause which are on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) and myself are designed to meet what appears to be an objection to a Clause with the purpose of which we have sympathy. It would appear, as the Clause is drafted, that the public authority which is developing is going to be in a worse position than the private developer; and, as I should gather that that is not the Minister's intention, I would ask him to accept this series of Amendments, or to give us an undertaking that he will look at the point and cover it on the next stage. As I understand the position, the private developer, under the 1932 Act, is not under an obligation in every case to come to him for permission. It is true that if he proceeds without permission he may suffer certain penalties or disadvantages. The public developer, under this new Clause, would be bound to come to him for permission; and, in certain circumstances, the public developer would, therefore, be in a less favourable position than he would have been with the same proposals had he been a private developer. 1461 The same objection applies where compensation becomes payable. If it were a private developer, in certain circumstances, if he has been injuriously affected by the operation of a town and country planning scheme, he may claim certain compensation. As I understand the new Clause, a public authority developer would not be able to claim that compensation. Neither my hon. Friends nor I have any wish to hamper the purpose of the Clause, which is to give the Minister general powers of control, but we do not wish a public authority which is carrying out development to be in a less advantageous position than a private developer would be.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
The hon. Member talked about a public developer. Has he in mind simply a local planning authority, or is he talking about a public authority, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, or the Post Office?
§ Mr. Wilmot
What I had in mind was a municipal electricity undertaking. I believe Durham is such a case. The Minister is reviewing certain development proposals there having regard to their effect upon the view and so on. I am anxious to secure that such a municipal undertaking would not be put in a worse position than if it had been a private undertaking.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Perhaps I might have a discussion with the hon. Member afterwards. I think I can satisfy him without much difficulty that the words of the Clause are better, both in form and in substance, than those of his Amendment. He said a private developer would not be actually prohibited from carrying on development, but he could be stopped. It a private developer were rash enough to go on without permission, he could be compelled under the Act which we passed last year to remove what he had done at his own expense, which is a very real sanction.
§ Mr. Strauss
I think the hon. Member is thinking of the law as it was before we altered it last year with this very 1462 drastic sanction. Possibly that is what happened between 1932 and 1943, but I should be surprised if he could point to a case where it had happened since. The Amendment would merely transfer to the Minister the consent powers where the authority themselves are the developers. Under the law as it stands there is room for doubt whether a responsible authority is bound by the provisions of the scheme, and whether the interim development authority can obtain their own permission for development in the interim period. Therefore our form of words is superior. The Amendment would not affect or improve matters as far as compensation is concerned. There again it is highly technical, because in 99 cases out of 100 the question of compensation is irrelevant, since it would be the same body who were paying and receiving compensation, but since the only development for which permission would in practice be likely to be refused would be development contrary to the national interest or to the interests of other local authorities, there appears to be no ground for payment of compensation. But I will go into matters with the hon. Member. They are too technical to be discussed with convenience across the Floor. We cannot accept the Amendments nor, I think, will the hon. Member on consideration think them as suitable as what is on the Paper.
§ Mr. Wilmot
I should like the hon. Gentleman to go a little further and give an undertaking that he will see to it that a public developer, both in respect of compensation and otherwise, is put in no worse position than a private developer would be. If he will give that undertaking, we will discuss the manner of achieving it.
§ The Solicitor-General (Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I understood from the hon. Member's earlier speech that he had particularly in mind the case of a local authority which is a statutory undertaking. I have checked over the safeguards that there are for a local authority conducting such an undertaking and, in my view, under our wording they are just as well protected. If there is any further point that strikes him, I, too, shall be pleased to consider it, but that is my considered view having looked at it again.
§ Mr. Wilmot
It may be that activities of a local authority which are not strictly speaking activities of a statutory authority might not be covered in the same way. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would say that whatever it is necessary to do to put the local authority developer in no worse position will be done, I shall be happy to withdraw.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I think I can give the undertaking.
Question again proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."
§ Mr. G. Hutchinson
I think the Committee will agree that my right hon. Friend should have the powers he is going to take in this new Clause but, if he is going to look at the matter again before Report, I invite him to consider whether the power he is going to take will not actually go very much further than the case requires. There is an Amendment to the Clause, on the Paper in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage), which has not been selected. I should have thought that, if the Clause were limited in the way suggested in that Amendment, it would be sufficiently wide to enable my right hon. Friend to exercise the measure of control of development of this nature which he is going to exercise. I would in the circumstances invite him, when he looks at the Clause again, to see whether it would not be possible to give local authorities a little wider scope than he proposes to give them at present and to restrict the power to control the development that they may promote on their own site to those major subjects which I think my right hon. Friend had in mind when he put the Clause down.
§ Mr. Strauss
It is certainly contemplated that it may be possible to do quite a lot in that matter to relieve local authorities, and that is the purpose of Sub-section (5), which enables the Minister to authorise certain classes of application without the necessity of this control. I will consider the point, but I think that Sub-section gives my hon. and learned Friend what he wants.
Question put, and agreed to.
Clause added to the Bill.