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The Earl of Lytton: I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord the opposition Chief Whip for that intervention. I am glad that the concerns of his noble colleague have been met.

Turning to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, about my powers of persuasion, I do not feel that I have any role in this other than to try to act as an honest broker in regard to what I believe is an important and beneficial piece of legislation. I sincerely believe that the Bill will produce net benefits, streamlining and a reduction in friction.

I am greatly indebted to others for having used their powers of persuasion to convince the Inns of Court, government departments and the various Crown offices that the Bill is worth while and will be of benefit to them as well. The fact that they have recognised that is another indicator of the fundamental utility of the Bill. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 94:


After Clause 17, insert the following new clause--

22 May 1996 : Column 951

The Crown

(" .--(1) This Act shall apply to land in which there is--
(a) an interest belonging to Her Majesty in right of the Crown,
(b) an interest belonging to a government department, or
(c) an interest held in trust for Her Majesty for the purposes of any such department.
(2) This Act shall apply to--
(a) land which is vested in, but not occupied by, Her Majesty in right of the Duchy of Lancaster;
(b) land which is vested in, but not occupied by, the possessor for the time being of the Duchy of Cornwall.").

The noble Earl said: I have already spoken to this amendment inserting the new clause in connection with Amendment No. 93. I therefore beg to move Amendment No. 94.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18 [Interpretation]:

The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 95:


Page 12, leave out lines 37 and 38.

The noble Earl said: This is a drafting amendment consequent upon the revised procedures for repeal under Amendment No. 98. There is accordingly no need to define the two Acts referred to in Clause 18 and the amendment deletes the reference. I hope that will be sufficient explanation for the Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: Schedule 2 to the Bill, which Amendment No. 98 replaces, repealed some parts of the building Act. Following representations received by officials in my department from interested parties, we are content that this should be removed.

As the noble Earl said, the powers introduced by Amendment No. 98 may appear wide but are restricted to private and local Acts, and I am content that they are necessary. They will be used only where researches confirm that they are necessary and after discussion with the appropriate parties.

The Earl of Lytton: I thank the Minister for those remarks. I commend Amendment No. 95.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 96:


Page 13, line 5, leave out from (""owner"") to end of line 11 and insert ("includes--
(a) a person in receipt of, or entitled to receive, the whole or part of the rents or profits of land;
(b) a person in possession of land, otherwise than as a mortgagee or as a tenant from year to year or for a lesser term or as a tenant at will;
(c) a purchaser of an interest in land under a contract for purchase or under an agreement for a lease, otherwise than under an agreement for a tenancy from year to year or for a lesser term.").

The noble Earl said: In speaking to this amendment, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 97.

Following legal scrutiny, it became apparent that the definition of "owner" in the Bill was defective and that a clearer definition needed to be incorporated. This amendment does no more than seek to remedy that. It does

22 May 1996 : Column 952

so in a manner consistent with the original intention of the Bill. Amendment No. 97 simply removes the words rendered superfluous by Amendment No. 96. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 97:


Page 13, line 33, leave out subsections (2) and (3).

The noble Earl said: I have already spoken to this with Amendment No. 96. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.

The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 98:


After Clause 18, insert the following new clause--

Other statutory provisions

(".--(1) The Secretary of State may by order amend or repeal any provision of a private or local Act passed before or in the same session as this Act, if it appears to him necessary or expedient to do so in consequence of this Act.
(2) An order under subsection (1) may--
(a) contain such savings or transitional provisions as the Secretary of State thinks fit;
(b) make different provision for different purposes.
(3) The power to make an order under subsection (1) shall be exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.").

The noble Earl said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also about Schedule 2. I touched on this new clause when I spoke to Amendment No. 95. This is a substantial amendment which inserts a complete new clause dealing with repeals and amendments to private and local Acts of Parliament.

During discussions with lawyers it became apparent that nobody quite knew how many local Acts might refer to the London building Acts or contain similar provisions of their own which would necessitate repeal when this Bill becomes law. It is thought that there are very few of them but the eventuality has to be covered. This amendment would give greater flexibility in dealing with that specific problem.

Schedule 2 is rendered unnecessary because the new clause supersedes its provisions. I beg to move.

The Earl of Kinnoull: I have not given notice of my question to my noble friend the Minister but I should like to raise two points on this amendment.

First, there may well be a proud local Act which works very well and it would seem from this amendment that the Minister can reduce its potency and even wipe it out by going through certain parliamentary procedures. Would there be proper notice given to the people concerned with the local area? I believe that there is a Manchester Act which is little used in this area, but there is that Act. That is already outside the London area and could be affected.

Secondly, new subsection (2)(b) states that an order may:


    "make different provision for different purposes".

22 May 1996 : Column 953

Could the Minister give some example which would add to the clarity of those words?

Lord Lucas: I beg pardon of the Committee for having given my comments on this amendment with Amendment No. 95. I must have been confused by the grouping list. However, I shall repeat what I said earlier.

The powers in Amendment No. 98 are wide but we feel that they are necessary, not least to deal with the London building Acts, but also to deal with other local Acts which exist for other parts of the country, because we intend to introduce a national practice which will apply nationally and not be subject to local variation. I shall write to my noble friend Lord Kinnoull about the exact wording of this clause and I hope that I shall be able to give him some comfort on exactly why the phrase that he mentioned is necessary.

However, as I said previously, we confirm that this clause will be used only where research has confirmed that its use is necessary and after discussion with appropriate parties; that is to say, we shall not take action without talking fully through the implications of that action with everyone who might be concerned.

The Earl of Lytton: I am grateful for the Minister's explanation. Perhaps I may add to that by saying to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, that it is important to realise that, although this appears to be a very sweeping power, it deals with local Acts. So it is not a question of any wider general right of appeal. He mentioned Manchester. There is also thought to be a local Act for Bristol which might be affected. It will be a matter of carrying out a trawl to establish how many of these measures are affected and whether the provisions are being incorporated into currently applicable legislation.

With the benefit of those words and the Minister's explanation, I commend the amendment to the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 19 [Repeals]:

On Question, Whether Clause 19 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Lytton: Clause 19 is rendered unnecessary by Amendment No. 98, to which the Committee has just agreed. It means that repeals or amendments will be made by order rather than in a schedule to the Bill. For reasons which I explained, neither the schedule nor its enabling clause is of any further effect and I am happy that they be deleted.

Clause 19 negatived.

Clause 20 [Short title, commencement and extent]:


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