HL Deb 04 November 1975 vol 365 cc986-8

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government which local authorities have prepared their schemes under the Community Land Bill ready for presentation to the Secretary of State by 31st December 1975, having regard to the fact that information was given on 27th October that many local authorities, though not named, were ready.


My Lords, it would be premature before the Community Land Bill receives Royal Assent to ask local authorities to report progress on their preparations for implementing the scheme.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Baroness for that reply, may I ask whether she is aware that it was stated in our debate the other day that a number of local authorities had already prepared their plans? Would it not be in the national interest for those local authorities which had prepared their plans to receive a little commendation? —for, though I do not agree with the Bill, I always like to commend people when they have done something good. Arising out of that question, may I ask the noble Baroness whether there is more than one local authority which has prepared its plans? Will the noble Baroness bear in mind that I thought her very polite Answer rather eccentric?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I believe that, particularly in this House, we are all very much in favour of eccentrics and I take that as a compliment. In answer to the noble Baroness's question, the information was volunteered informally by local authorities and their associations and we have neither the statistics nor the names to give her. However, I will certainly pass on her commendations through my Department as the names of the local authorities come to our attention.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Baroness for that reply, may I ask her whether it is not a little odd or indeed a little funny, that when we were opposing—as I certainly opposed it —the very short time given to us, she made so much of the fact that there were many local authorities which had been able to do it, whereas now she does not seem to know which they are? Is that not even more than eccentric?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I shall not be drawn about that. I admit that I am odd, funny and eccentric. Nevertheless, there are a number of local authorities which, according to the confidential information which we have, are in the process of making their plans. Until Royal Assent, we shall not be in a position officially to announce that. It would be improper and we should not be able to give a comprehensive reply without being able to state any names or statistics. I do not see any contradiction in that at all and, if I may say so, it was not I who made a great deal of this but Members of the Committee, including the noble Baroness herself.


My Lords, if the noble Baroness cannot give my noble friend any information on that score, can she tell us whether there are any local authorities which have taken no steps whatever with regard to making plans and which have declared quite clearly that they have not the slightest intention of doing so?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, the noble Lord appears to be better informed than I. I have heard rumours—which I would hesitate to repeat except within this Chamber—that there have been some authorities which have been advised on political grounds not to go ahead with the plans, but I should not like to state that.