§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ Clause 13:
§ Relaxation, for certain purposes, of restrictions on diversion of property of religious or educational bodies
§ 13.—(1) Such of the restrictions imposed by subsection (1) of section five of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and Article 16 of the Articles of Agreement for a treaty between Great Britain and Ireland set out in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, on the power of the Parliament of Northern Ireland to make laws as preclude it from making a law so as directly or indirectly to divert the property of a religious denomination or educational institution shall cease to extend so as to render void, in relation to the property of a religious denomination (other than the fabric of a cathedral church) or the property of an educational institution, a law made by that Parliament in so far as it provides or enables provision to be made for—
- (a) the compulsory acquisition (on payment of compensation) of land for the purposes of housing or slum-clearance, or the development or redevelopment of any area; or
- (b) the control of the use of land.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, in subsection (1), to leave out all words after "extend", and to insert instead:
- "(a) so as to render void, in relation to the property of a religious denomination or educational institution (other than buildings occupied by it and used by it exclusively for religious or educational purposes), a law made by that Parliament in so far as it provides or enables provision to be made for the compulsory acquisition (on payment of compensation) of land for the purposes of housing or slum-clearance, or the development or redevelopment of any area;
- (b) so as to render void in relation to any property of such a denomination or institution, a law made by that Parliament in so far as it provides or enables provision to be made for the control of the use of land."
§ The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, in rising to move this Amendment I would remind your Lordships that during the Committee stage on February 13 I undertook to consider any representations that anyone might wish to make about Clause 13 of the Bill, and to discuss the clause with anyone who wished to do so. I said also that I should be prepared to examine whether it would be possible to make exemptions from the clause on the lines proposed in the Amendment by my noble friend 816 Lord Craigmyle, which he did not move. It would not have been practicable to consult every separate denomination—there are nearly 200 in Northern Ireland—but the principal denominations were all asked last week whether they wished to make any representations about Clause 13.
§ Representatives of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Northern Ireland met me last Friday to discuss the clause. Representatives of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Ireland, the non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Congregational Union and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, have been good enough to send a statement of their joint views, which they have expressed on a personal basis, but the Government have now been informed that they represent the official views of these Churches.
§ There is a considerable measure of agreement, both between the views of the various denominations, and between the Churches and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Governments. First, all are agreed that no impediment should be placed in the way of schemes for slum clearance, housing and development, although it is fair to add that not all the Churches have accepted that the absence of compulsory powers to acquire their properties is necessarily such an impediment. Second, all are agreed that there is a broad distinction between, on the one hand, property used for the essential purposes of the Church and educational purposes, and, on the other, property not used for these purposes—for example, dwelling houses which are owned as investments and which, in many cases, have been bequeathed to and not bought by the Church. Your Lordships will remember that I made that distinction in the course of our previous debate.
§ The Churches are all concerned particularly about property of the former kind; that is, property used for essential purposes. The need for the clause has arisen mainly, though not entirely, in connection with property of the latter kind, property held as an investment. Third, the anxieties expressed by the Churches have related to the compulsory acquisition and to the control of the 817 use of their property; that is, to planning. Your Lordships will see that that is reflected in the second part of this Amendment, where the position as to planning is left unaltered. This measure of agreement seemed to the Government to indicate that it should be possible to devise a reasonably acceptable Amendment which would give assurance that the essential activities of the Churches would not be hindered unnecessarily.
§ It has not been easy, it has required very careful consideration, to arrive at a suitable formula for this purpose. It is clear that any such Amendment should at least cover churches and schools. The Churches have represented that to exempt only churches and schools, as such, would be insufficient; yet if the types of property which were to remain exempt from compulsory purchase were defined too widely the value of the clause might be reduced. Your Lordships will remember that I said that I was not prepared to do that; although I announced that I was prepared to listen to representations and to have consultations.
§ The Amendment which the Government propose is intended to draw a reasonable line which takes proper account of these conflicting considerations. It includes not only churches and schools but also such buildings as church halls—provided they are occupied by a religious denomination and are used by it exclusively for religious or educational purposes—convents and colleges. Then the second Amendment which the Government have put down covers the curtilages of these buildings. It is not intended to include institutions which are of a charitable rather than a specifically religious nature—for example, children's homes. The institutions covered by the Amendment are those which are most closely related not only to the religious and educational work of the Churches but also to the particular area which they serve. The property which is not covered is not so closely tied to any one area; and your Lordships will remember that if it had to be taken compensation would be paid.
§ The Government are aware that some Churches are satisfied, but others may be disappointed that the Amendment does not go further. But I was very conscious that even this Amendment might be criticised also on the ground 818 that it goes too far. Therefore the Government and the Northern Ireland Government have considered this very carefully, and they are satisfied that the Amendment would not frustrate the achievement of the essential objects of Clause 13 of the Bill. They are also satisfied that to widen the Amendment would involve a real danger of doing this. For instance, the Roman Catholic representatives have suggested that vacant land bought for the purpose of building churches and schools should be protected on the ground that they have difficulty in acquiring sites for these purposes. The Government have considered these representations most sympathetically but do not feel—I repeat, do not feel—able to accept the principle of giving absolute protection to undeveloped land. The Amendment has been drafted so as to preserve a reasonable balance between the interests of the Churches and the needs of the whole community, which was the original aim of the second part of Section 5 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and is the aim of Clause 13 of this Bill. And to go further than we have done in this Amendment would upset this balance.
§ The consultations with the Churches were undertaken without commitment on either side, and the Amendment now proposed has been put forward on the Government's sole responsibility, after the most earnest consideration of the representations which have been made to them. It might well have been a matter of considerable difficulty, if indeed it were possible at all, to secure complete agreement. The Government hope that the Churches will feel able to agree that the Amendment substantially meets the views they have expressed. In any event, the Government are satisfied that the new powers available under the clause will be administered reasonably and that there will be adequate safeguards against abuse.
I want to add—and I say this with the utmost seriousness—that the Amendment has been proposed, despite this, because it would be most unfortunate if a measure intended to assist social progress in Northern Ireland were to be the cause of fears and mistrust. I think all your Lordships will have been as struck, as I was, by the speech on the Committee
stage of my noble friend Lord Dunleath, when he tried, in his words,
to put these matters of fear and mistrust behind us and to look at the future.
It is in that spirit, my Lords, that I say it would be unfortunate if a measure—and I think a great measure—of social progress were to be made to-day through fear and mistrust, the subject of contention. The Government are willing to go as far as they reasonably can to put in statutory form assurances that the new powers will not harm any of the Churches.
§ There is one other point that I feel I ought to mention. In one respect the representations by the Roman Catholic Church have differed from those of the other Churches. While all the Churches have been particularly concerned about property used for the essential purposes of the Church, the Roman Catholic Bishops' concern for their property stems largely, as the statement said, from the fear that the powers which would become available under Clause 13 would be used so as to discriminate against them. As I explained when the clause was discussed in Committee, the Northern Ireland law on housing and slum clearance is basically the same, in the relevant aspects, as that of England, and the compulsory purchase of property is not left in local hands. The Central Government are an integral part of the process. The making of vesting orders (the Northern Ireland equivalent of compulsory purchase orders) rests with the Northern Ireland Government.
The Roman Catholic Bishops have not felt able to accept that this fact is an adequate safeguard against abuse, and have mentioned instances of what they consider to have been a discriminatory use of the powers of the Northern Ireland Parliament and Government. I want to make this point: not one of those instances has related to the compulsory acquisition of property. For over 40 years there has been power in Northern Ireland to acquire by compulsion the property of religious and educational bodies
… for the purpose of roads, railways, lighting, water, or drainage works, or other works of public utility".
This is a considerable list of purposes, and if it were the case that such powers
were likely to be abused, the experience of 40 years would surely have given some indication of this.
I know of no suggestion by anyone that those powers have been used in a discriminatory manner. On the contrary, it seems to have been accepted on all sides that their exercise has given rise to no serious difficulties. It is thus admitted that the only experience which is directly relevant to this clause gives no support to the contention that the powers of the clause are likely to be abused. This fact should give added assurance that the clause, as proposed to be amended, need arouse no fears in the minds of those affected that the new powers will be administered in an unreasonable manner.
§ I felt—and I think that when I said that I so felt some of your Lordships agreed—that your Lordships, as a House, wanted me to have consultations to see whether the fears and mistrusts which had been expressed could be removed. As I said at the time, and I repeat, I could go only to the extent which, in my considered and sincere view, did not interfere with the social purposes which I have mentioned and to which I attach so much importance. Both Governments think that there will not be such an interference as will affect their social purposes and endeavours, and therefore we have put down this Amendment. I hope that it will be accepted as something which, while preserving our social desires, is an effort to get rid of any grounds of fear and mistrust and allow good government and social purposes to proceed. I beg to move.
Page 15, line 20, leave out from ("extend") to end of line 29 and insert the said new paragraphs.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ 3.34 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I am sure the whole House will be grateful to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack for the very careful explanation he has made of the situation, and I should like to express my personal thanks to him for the manner in which he conferred with those of us who were affected. I feel that perhaps some of the trouble which has been poured upon the noble and learned Viscount might have been prevented if the interests concerned had 821 had far longer notice from the Northern Ireland Government of the details of the proposals in the Bill, and the Protestant Churches, as well as the Roman Catholic Church which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, mentioned the other day, have drawn my attention to the fact that they had had no consultation beforehand. That seems a pity. However, I think the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor stood up very well to the difficult circumstances which have appeared.
I should like to say that, after my talk with him earlier in the week, I wrote to the representatives of the Protestant Churches, and within twenty-four hours I had a telegram from them to say that they accepted the Amendment now appearing on the Order Paper. It remains for those who represent the views of those who hold the Roman Catholic faith to say how far they are satisfied. I think that the general position which the noble and learned Viscount has put with regard to the purposes of the Bill, and what ought to be done in these matters where there are very great and important social purposes to be achieved, are sound. I agree with what he said and I hope your Lordships will give the Amendment your consent.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, this House is a fairly open society. We had a Roman Catholic monk speaking to us yesterday, but we have not yet got any Roman Catholic Bishops in this House, so perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if I say a few words from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland. I have been asked to say that the Bishops there welcome the extent to which the British Government have sought to meet their anxieties. It will be appreciated that the Bishops have had very little time to consider the proposed Amendments and obtain legal advice concerning them. If one had said they had had twenty-four hours, that might be about right, but, of course, they had those valuable consultations last Friday which the noble and learned Viscount was so kind as to conduct. There are inevitably some points with regard to the wording of the Amendments on which they may 822 wish for clarification, and these can presumably be taken up later; but the Roman Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland are most anxious that I should emphasise that they are very grateful to the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, and those who have helped him, in the Home Office and elsewhere, for all the trouble they have taken during the last week to find an agreeable solution.
The House will perhaps allow me to say one or two words, and they will be only one or two, about my own attitude. I do not want to pursue the general question of discrimination in Northern Ireland. In my opinion, it is beyond doubt as a fact that there has been for many years grave discrimination against the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. I do not think anybody can doubt that as a fact, although there may be explanations and excuses which some regard as adequate and some not; the fact is, without doubt, that there has been grave discrimination. The noble and learned Viscount argued that in what he regarded as the most relevant case, the case of compulsory acquisition, there had been no cause for complaint, and I am not instructed—shall I say?—to argue against him there.
But if you want one example—there could be many—of discrimination in fields rather close to this, I would provide this one for the House. The first half of an appartment building on a blitzed site in Northern Ireland has recently been rebuilt. Some 32 flats have now been completed and are in occupation. How many of those 32 flats should reasonably be expected to fall to Roman Catholics? It is said that between a quarter and one-third of the population of Northern Ireland are Roman Catholics, and it is said—though I cannot check this—that of the 8,000 applications on the Corporation's housing list about 6,000 are Roman Catholics. How many of those 32 flats were awarded to Roman Catholics? The answer is, not a single one—not one! Therefore, if people tell me there is no discrimination in the housing field against Roman Catholics I am afraid I must ask them to think again. So much must be said on that point, but no more, perhaps, on a day of peace and harmony.
823 I myself certainly have no intention of moving a further Amendment, even if it lay in my power, this afternoon. I will, if it comes to dividing, and I hope it will not—in a sense I hope this will not be contested—certainly support the Amendment the noble Viscount has brought forward this afternoon. For reasons I need not go into now, it does not go as far as the Roman Catholic Bishops would have wished, or as I and others would have wished. But this is a wicked world; truth and justice are lucky if they get half a loaf, and on this occasion I think they have got three-quarters of a loaf. Therefore, I think it would be very churlish if I did not say "Thank you"; and I say "Thank you", with emphasis, to the noble and learned Viscount for his efforts in this matter.
§ LORD RATHCAVAN
My Lords, could the noble and learned Viscount say what exactly is the definition of "curtilages ".
§ LORD CRAIGMYLE
My Lords, perhaps the noble and learned Viscount would care to answer that question with a small question I shall ask, and I must apologise that I have not given him notice. I rise really to add my little word of gratitude to the noble and learned Viscount. He has been good enough to drag my name into the explanation of his Amendment, and I must say that when, to-day, I saw the Amendment, I was greatly pleased at how far the noble and learned Viscount had been able to go in this matter. The small question I want to ask him is as to the exact significance of the word "exclusively" which is in the third line of paragraph (a). There is a modern custom of holding in a church an occasional dramatic performance or a concert which are not exclusively religious. I was just wondering whether the occasional use of the church for such purposes would exclude it from the benefits of this clause.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I, too, should like to express my thanks to the noble and learned Viscount for having so readily and wholeheartedly responded to the request that was made to him to meet the various representatives of the religious denominations. We all know 824 and respect the noble and learned Viscount, because when he gives an undertaking to do a thing he does it, and he does it wholeheartedly and conscientiously. The noble and learned Viscount may remember that on the occasion when he gave the assurance that he would see these people, I expressed the hope that he would not go too far. I must confess that I am disappointed in this Amendment because I think he has gone too far. I am sure the noble and learned Viscount genuinely believes that this will not impede slum clearance, development and re-development. With a good deal of practical experience in these matters, I am bound to say that I think it will.
I do not like to brag in this House about my past experiences in these matters, but I have to say what my credentials are for saying what I am about to say. I had seven years' experience of development and re-development in London, as chairman of the housing committee, and quite frequently in going into new areas we had to acquire church property and pull it down. Often it was old property which was beginning to outlive its structural usefulness, but in fact it stood in the way of good re-development and we were compelled on occasion to make compulsory purchase orders and to acquire these properties compulsorily. There was no exemption in the British Statutes; we were able to do it and, with good will, we were able to come to an arrangement with the denominations and offer them adequate compensation and suitable sites in the new areas. But the point I want to emphasise is that it was often essential to acquire these sites of (to use the words of the Amendment) buildings which were being occupied and used exclusively for religious or educational purposes.
No difficulty has arisen in the past over these powers, and I think I can say, speaking for London—and I am sure I can say that I speak also for other large cities where development and redevelopment will have been necessary—that it has been possible to achieve these things with good will on both sides. As the noble and learned Viscount pointed out, the existing powers enable the Northern Ireland Government to acquire properties for road purposes and, again, no difficulties have arisen. Why it should be necessary to provide addi- 825 tional safeguards in the case of housing, slum clearance, development and re-development, I just do not know. I hope the noble and learned Viscount will forgive me if I say in the strongest possible terms that I think that to a certain extent—I am not going to say to what extent—this impedes the development and redevelopment which is necessary in Northern Ireland.
Having said that, if all the denominations come forward to-day and say that they accept this Amendment as it stands without any qualification whatsoever, without desiring to alter a word here and a word there, which can be only for the purpose of weakening the Amendment—it could have no other purpose, because the Amendment is perfectly clear as it stands and requires no clarification—then I would accept that. Of course, the noble and learned Viscount will explain what "curtilages" means. It is a perfectly well understood term in legal language, and clarification does not necessitate any alteration of this wording. Any attempt to juggle with this wording and to change a word here or a word there, which as I say would have for its purpose only the weakening of the provisions of the Amendment, would be strongly resisted. But if in fact this Amendment is now accepted as a fair compromise by all parties, then, in the interests of removing (to use the noble and learned Viscount's own words) fear and mistrust, and in the hope that it may create a better atmosphere on all sides, I shall be prepared to accept these words as they stand.
My noble friend has referred to discrimination. I am not in a position to say whether there is discrimination or not; but I am bound to say that I am not impressed by the fact that certain dwellings, 32 dwellings, were allocated in a particular way. I think that unless the local authority is aware of the religion of every single applicant for dwellings—
§ LORD SILKIN
All my noble friend knows is that these dwellings happen to have been allocated in a particular way. I have had a great deal of experience of the allocation of dwellings, and I have yet to learn that, even in Northern Ireland, an applicant has to state his religion before he can put in an application for a dwelling. I should be astonished to find that the housing committee deliberately sat down and eliminated all applicants of a particular religion. I just cannot accept that. I accept what my noble friend has said as to the result. If he says that they were all allocated to members of a particular religion I would accept that; but to say that that is proof of discrimination is quite another thing and I would not accept that. I did not really want to make much of that point. My chief purpose in intervening was to say quite specifically that, much as I dislike this Amendment, I would accept it; and I hope that my friends in another place will accept it if it is accepted by all parties without any qualification. I hope that it will be possible for that to be done.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, having kept quiet on this Bill so far, I should like to say that my family has had a long association with the North of Ireland. I should also like to say that I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has just said. I think the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has been extremely gracious and generous in suggesting this Amendment. I do not find myself in agreement at all, I am afraid, with the noble Earl, Lord Longford when he speaks about discrimination against Catholics in the North of Ireland. I am afraid the noble Earl is living in the past. He reminds me of a time when I was a very small boy, about six years old, and I was riding along the shores of Lough Neagh one morning with my father and we passed an old Lough Neagh fisherman. My father said, "Good morning, Jimmy", and the reply came back, "Fine morning, my Lord, and not 827 a bleeding Papist in sight!" Those days are really past, and I can assure the noble Earl that he can travel the length and breadth of Northern Ireland and will never be addressed in those terms. However, my Lords, I really beg the noble Earl to accept that in the North of Ireland there is no discrimination.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
In fact, my Lords, those in authority in the North of Ireland bend over backwards to be more than fair to the Catholics because the Catholics are in a minority. Therefore on this matter I really cannot agree with the noble Earl. I agree with the Amendment. I think the noble and learned Viscount has been very generous and I congratulate him on his generosity.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, I should like to join the noble Earl, Lord Longford, in welcoming this concession, and agree with him that we should regret it has not gone further. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, or the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard. I feel it has not gone far enough, because property that is not employed for religious or educational purposes is still liable to compulsory acquisition, and also because the use of all land, even if it is employed for educational or religious purposes, is still liable to control. I feel it will be very helpful if we can have some indication of the likely scope of this, as to what is embraced by the phrase "control of the use of land". To give one example, could it preclude a religious order from changing the use to which their buildings are being put for religious purposes?
On the question of compensation which I raised before, your Lordships may have seen the letter in The Times this morning from a professor of Queen's University, Belfast, supporting much of what I said last week. I would point out that under this Amendment compensation still has to be paid when property of a religious or educational institution is compulsorily acquired. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack has maintained that Clause 14, which removes the right of compensation in all other cases, is essential when redevelop- 828 ment or clearance work is going to be done. I hope we shall receive some explanation as to why the new Amendment says that compensation must be paid in the case of the property of a religious or educational institution, when this is completely impracticable in all other cases.
My Lords, I have been in Ireland for almost the entire interval since the Committee stage. I flew there on Tuesday night and flew back this morning; and, despite what noble Lords opposite have said, I think I should try to make it clear that there is a very deep resentment felt among Catholics (I am not a Catholic and not speaking as a Catholic) and nationalists in Ireland about this matter. I think it is most regrettable and most deplorable that at a time when, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, pointed out on Second Reading, relations between North and South and between the two religions are perhaps better than ever before, a measure of this kind should come up and be presented in a way which has caused a great deal of feeling. I have here the Irish Independent, which reports on its front page your Lordships' debate last week: "Catholic Reaction to Northern Ireland Bill. Betrayal of Promise". That was the effect it had in Ireland. I hope that this Amendment, though welcome, will not be considered as a final and sufficient concession to those of Catholic and liberal convictions, but that there will be further discussion between the Government and interested parties.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, may I first of all thank your Lordships generally for the reception which this Amendment has received, and especially for the kind words of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. I do not think it would be helpful to my general thesis to join in any further discussion based inevitably on individual cases, of which most of your Lordships do not know the facts, with regard to discrimination. I have pointed out the particular field with which I had to deal, and it would be far more profitable if we took the approach which I mentioned—which was taken by my noble friend Lord Dunleath on the last occasion and followed by my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard to-day—of 829 looking to the future rather than concentrating on difficulties in the past.
My noble friend Lord Rathcavan asked me about the word "cartilage". It is a legal term of which there is no general statutory definition but which is well understood. If I may give one definition, it is a garden or field or piece of void ground lying near and belonging to the house in question. One could summarise that as "the surround of the building in question". It therefore includes structures erected on the surround, and one of the tests applied is whether the ground is within the same enclosure as the building in question, and, in the case of a dwelling house, whether it is domestically appertinent. I think my own definition of "the surround" is probably the one that conveys it most. And, of course, what is important is that it would be the surround of the church or of the school but would not include playing-fields several miles away. I hope I have given a general answer which satisfies my noble friend.
If I may deal with the other particular point. My noble friend Lord Craigmyle asked me about the word "exclusively", and I think this deals with the point he had in mind. The test of exclusive use does not mean that every activity carried on in the building in question must be of a religious nature, in the narrowest sense of the expression. If I may turn from the religious to the educational, I would point out that the ordinary school is no less used for educational purposes because on certain occasions it is used as a polling station at an election. That would be disregarded under what we lawyers pedantically call the de minimis rule. And it is thought that the expression "religious purposes" would be construed reasonably widely. Thus, if a church hall is used by members of a church for social activities closely connected with the work of the church, this would not deprive the hall of protection. For instance, the use of a church hall for meetings of a youth club organised by the church in question would, in my view, be permissible.
I want to point out, however, that it is a matter of degree and fact, and much would depend on the extent to which the hall was used for social activities, and on the nature of those activities. Sport- 830 ing activities, for example, would have difficulty in passing as religious. But, provided that the social activities were not unreasonable, they could, as a whole, be regarded as part and parcel of the religious activities of the church, and protection would not be lost. I have stated that, and I must make the usual caveat that that is a pronouncement of your Lordships' House sitting legislatively and without having heard counsel on the point. But that is my view, and I hope it may go some way to satisfying my noble friend.
I was asked a question by the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, on change of use. I ought to tell the noble Lord that in Northern Ireland, broadly, town planning follows the English system and procedure, and it is a principle of planning law, which is recognised in Northern Ireland as in Great Britain, that there are broad classes of use, and that changes of use within the same class are not subject to planning control. Thus a change from one religious use to another, or from one institutional use to another, would not be subject to planning control in Northern Ireland.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, has returned to the attack on the question of planning in regard to the next clause, Clause 14. I have done my best to satisfy him on that matter on the last two occasions, on Second Reading and I think again on the Committee stage. I am afraid I cannot do any more to-day, even if it were in order, except to make the general point which I have made to him, that in order to carry out effective planning it is necessary to be free of this restriction; otherwise the Government, which is carrying out town planning, is subject to very difficult legislation, which is all the more annoying if the Government are in any doubt and the matter is brought to the House of Lords. It is in order to free them from that difficulty that it is necessary to take this step.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was most reasonable and, as I think he realised, I have been very worried about his point. I can assure him that the Northern Ireland Government, and I myself, have considered it. As I said, the main difficulties will occur in regard to investment property which is not affected by the Amendment and, as he says, although it is a circumscribing circumstance, 831 there is the chance of acquiring by agreement in cases where it is necessary. But the noble Lord put his finger on the real matter. I admit to him that there will probably be some cases of difficulty which will arise—we do not think there will be many—but we do not think they will interfere with the general purpose. But we come back to what the noble Lord himself said: that he was ready, if it would remove the fear and mistrust and let us start from a better commencement, to accept the matter. That is the most important aspect, and I am most grateful to the noble Lord for saying it. My Lords, I hope I have not detained you too long. I have tried to deal with the points that were raised and I hope your Lordships will now accept the Amendment.
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, after my explanation to my noble friend, Lord Rathcavan, I think, if your Lordships agree, we should take the second Amendment formally. I beg to move.
Page 15, line 31, at end insert ("and the reference to buildings includes a reference to the curtilages thereof").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.