§ [No. 9]
Clause 15, page 15, line 18, at end insert—
( ) If any dispute arises under the last foregoing subsection as to the date on which the breach of planning control occurred, the onus of proof as to that date shall rest on the person claiming the benefit of that subsection.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, Clause 15(3) provides that exemption from enforcement action in certain specified classes of development is gained if enforcement action is not taken within four years of the date of the breach. The effect of the Amendment is to require a person claiming exemption to prove that the breach of planning control occurred more than four years previously, instead of leaving it for the local authority to prove the contrary. I may say that this is part of a change very much to the benefit of the applicant.
The previous position was that if the local authority came into possession of knowledge of what they believed to be a breach they could take action at any time within two years no matter how much earlier the alleged breach had taken place. This Amendment defines the period as one of four years. If the breach occurred before that time, no action falls to be taken against the individual who is in breach of planning control. It was felt that it was reasonable in these circumstances that the obligation should he placed on the individual to show that the breach had taken place more than four years previously, because he was the person most likely to be in possession of the information to prove it—for instance. bills paid for the work undertaken and the like. I beg to move that 1117 this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 9.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Hughes.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, this is an Amendment which we welcome. Since it is the first of the non-drafting Amendments, I thought that perhaps it might save your Lordships' time if I were now to remind the House that we discussed this Bill very fully in all its stages seven months ago. It has now come back from the other place with 100 Amendments, covering 14 pages of the Marshalled List. Having examined, to the best of my ability, all these Amendments, most of which are drafting—I should like to take this opportunity of saying that those of the remainder which are not drafting I think are certainly Amendments to which we are willing to agree.
Two of the Amendments (Nos. 44 and 76), which take up the most space and occupy between them six pages, are concerned with the powers to appoint joint commissions between Scotland and England on matters affecting planning on both sides of the Border. This, I think, was suggested many months ago by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. Because I think it might save time, I should like to say that I do not myself propose to make any further comment on any of these Amendments, to which I am willing to agree, although I shall listen with interest to any noble Lord who may wish to speak on them.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.