§ The Lord Advocate (Lord Mackay of Drumadoon)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is the first of a package of four Bills standing on the Order Paper in my name. With the leave of the House, I shall speak briefly to all four together and then remove the remaining Bills formally.
The purpose of the four Bills is to consolidate legislation on town and country planning in Scotland. The legislation was last consolidated in 1972. Each of the Bills incorporates amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Scottish Law Commission which are intended to remove certain minor anomalies in the existing law.
587 The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill is the largest of the four measures. In consolidating enactments relating to town and country planning in Scotland, it seeks to restructure and clarify existing legislation. The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Bill consolidates enactments relating to special controls in respect of buildings and areas of special architectural or historic interest. The Planning (Hazardous Substances)(Scotland) Bill consolidates enactments relating to special controls in respect of hazardous substances. Finally, the Planning (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Bill deals with the repeals, consequential amendments, transitional matters and savings which are consequential on the consolidation package.
This consolidation package runs in total to some 407 sections and 25 schedules. It is a considerable testimony to the industry, painstaking application and skill of the draftsman. His considerable efforts have not just brought together the Scottish legislation and town and country planning and related topics. They have added a much needed restructuring and coherence to the Scottish planning code. I am sure that the whole House will welcome the efforts that he has made which will also be welcomed by all those involved in planning in Scotland—those who seek planning permission, local authority officials, planning experts and lawyers and reporters within the Scottish Office Inquiry Reporters Unit.
It is also notable that no fewer than 43 separate recommendations by the Scottish Law Commission for the resolution of inconsistencies and anomalies were initiated by this process of consolidation. The Scottish Law Commission is to be commended for its efforts in assisting with this important piece of consolidation.
In my submission, these legislative measures are worthy and extremely beneficial. I commend the Bills to your Lordships. If your Lordships are content to give all four Bills a Second Reading, they will be referred in the usual way to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. In the case of the fourth Bill, the Planning (Consequential Provisions)(Scotland) Bill, which is not itself a consolidation Bill but which contains sweeping-up provisions consequential on the other three Bills, there is a Motion in my name on the Order Paper that this Bill should also be reserved to the Joint Committee. I commend the Bills to your Lordships.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time—(Lord Mackay of Drutnadoon.)
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, I welcome the Bill and thank the noble and learned Lord for his explanations. There is general agreement that the package is beneficial, but perhaps it is only fair to mention the fact that I have had representations from the Scottish Law Society. The noble and learned Lord will be aware that the society has been most helpful to us in our deliberations in this House. Indeed, we have received many helpful suggestions from the society which the Government have taken up.
Although the Law Society agrees that the measures will considerably improve the structure of planning law, it feels that it would have been better if a little more 588 time had been allowed for pre-legislative consultation, considering the fact that the committees were meeting during a holiday period. Therefore, it was a little more difficult to have quite as much time to consider the very complicated provisions in the Bill. Of course, I am speaking about people who face the problems of planning on a daily basis. As I am sure the noble and learned Lord knows, they can make a contribution. However, having said that, I hope that the noble and learned Lord will take note of what I have said, and that perhaps in, say, another 10 years or so when we have another Bill, a great deal more time will be given to pre-legislative discussions.
§ Lord Mackay of Drumadoon
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his support for the Bills. I was mildly surprised to hear about the Law Society's observations which may, to some extent, proceed on a misunderstanding of the purpose of the legislation which is primarily to consolidate existing legislation, not to amend the law. However, my officials will take account of those concerns and, if appropriate, some cognizance will be taken of them in the future.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.