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Baroness Maddock: In speaking to the amendment, I asked specifically whether members could be appointed for more than one term of office.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I believe that my answer was "Yes". They can be reappointed, so that would mean for more than one term.

Amendment No. 216C is also unnecessary, in that it seeks to remove any liability from members and clerks to tribunals for any acts or omissions carried out by them while undertaking their tribunal functions. Naturally, those holding judicial office have public policy immunity from an action in negligence. Similar protection already exists for members and clerks to valuation tribunals through the standard procedures governing the relationship between public bodies and their sponsoring departments. Departments will indemnify members and staff against any personal civil liability that is incurred in the execution of their official functions, provided that they have not been seen to act recklessly. I believe that I have answered all the questions asked by the noble Baroness.

Baroness Maddock: I thank the Minister for his reply. I am not sure that he takes us much further on the resolution procedure using Valuation Tribunal Service management statements—in fact, his comments are precisely what we have heard before. However, I shall consider carefully what he said and take advice. We may return to some of these questions at a later stage. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 216 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 216A not moved.]

Clause 106 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [The Valuation Tribunal Service]:

[Amendment No. 216B not moved.]

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clause 107 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 216C not moved.]

Schedule 5 agreed to.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 216CZA:



"SCHEDULE 5A AMENDMENTS RELATING TO OPEN SPACE

Open Spaces Act 1906 (c. 25)

1 In section 20 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 (definitions) for the definition of "open space" there is substituted—
"The expression "open space" means any land laid out or maintained (or appropriated for laying out or maintaining) for the open air recreation, exercise or enjoyment of the public and—
(i) includes ancillary purposes, and buildings or structures on the land for those purposes, and
(ii) does not exclude land merely because restrictions of public access or charges are imposed as may be permitted by any Act."

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Town and Country Planning Act 1959 (c. 53)

2 (1) The Town and Country Planning Act 1959 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 23 (exercise of powers of appropriation)—
(a) subsection (2) is omitted, and
(b) in subsection (3)(b) after "common" in each case there is inserted "or open space".
(3) In section 26 (exercise of powers of disposing of land)—
(a) subsection (2) is omitted, and
(b) in subsection (5)(d) after "common" in each case there is inserted "or open space".
Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70)

3 (1) The Local Government Act 1972 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 122(2)(a) (appropriation of land by principal councils), after "common," there is inserted "open space".
(3) In section 123 (disposal of land by principal councils) for subsection (2A) there is substituted—
"(2A) A principal council may not dispose under subsection (1) above of any land consisting or forming part of an open space except with the consent of the Secretary of State.
(2AA) Section 19 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 (commons, open spaces etc) shall apply to a consent under subsection (2A) above as it applies to a compulsory purchase order under that Act."
(4) In section 126(4)(a) (appropriation of land by parish and community councils and by parish meetings), after "common," there is inserted "open space".
(5) In section 127(3) (disposal of land held by parishes and communities), after the first "(2A)" there is inserted ", (2AA)".
Acquisition of Land Act 1981 (c. 67)

4 In section 19 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 (commons, open spaces etc), for subsection (4) there is substituted—
"(4) In this section, "common", "fuel or field garden allotment" and "open space" have the same meanings as in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990."
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c. 8)

5 (1) The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 229(2) (appropriation of land forming part of common etc) after "common" there is inserted ", open space".
(3) In section 336(1) (interpretation)—
(a) for the definition of "common" there is substituted—
"common" means—
(a) a common or town or village green registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965 (c. 64) or exempt from registration under section 11 (exemption from registration) of that Act or by virtue of any other act; or
(b) any other land to which section 194(3) of the Law of Property Act 1925 (c. 20) (restriction on inclosure of commons) applies;" and.
(b) for the definition of "open space" there is substituted—
"open space" means—
(a) land laid out or maintained for the open air recreation, exercise or enjoyment of the public;
(b) a garden square protected or maintained under a local act;

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(c) any other land or water used or designated on a development plan for open air public recreation, exercise, sport or visual enjoyment or for nature conservation or a zoo; or
(d) land which is a disused burial ground; and
(i) includes ancillary purposes, and buildings or structures on the land for those purposes, and
(ii) does not exclude land merely because there are restrictions of public access, or charges are imposed for that access."

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 216CZA and to speak to Amendment No. 222A grouped with it. We have come to a new topic, but that is inevitable in a Bill which might be entitled, "Local Government Bill: Here is Everything on the Shelf which we Prepared Earlier". I say this to give the Ministers an opportunity to find their notes.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Panic over; we have found our notes.

Baroness Hamwee: Perhaps I should have had more confidence in my argument.

Amendment No. 222A provides the clause to introduce the new schedule set out in Amendment No. 216CZA. Both reflect the concerns of the Open Spaces Society, to which I am obliged for both the point here and the drafting. The society has asked me to point out—I am sure that this will be the killer blow from the Minister—that on page 9 of the Marshalled List, at the end of the first amendment, Paragraphs 5(3)(d)(i) and (ii) should not apply only to sub-paragraph (d), but to the entire definition of "open space". I hope that the Minister will not base his arguments on only that point.

We all know the value of open spaces, but even quite small spaces can be vulnerable to development if they are not, for example, metropolitan open land; I refer to far smaller areas. Once gone, they are usually irreplaceable. The Open Spaces Society has expressed concerns that although development plans recognise their importance, too often a planning authority's own requirements amount to exceptions to development plans, and the Secretary of State—to whom applications in that situation must be referred—usually refuses to call in those requirements unless the open space is clearly of more than local importance. In general and almost by definition it is not so regarded.

The amendment seeks in part to establish consistency of definition and in part to define the powers of the Secretary of State. Ministers will appreciate that, while I am reluctant to centralise, although a degree of centralisation is inherent in this area, I would like to pursue the matter in order to probe the issues.

The principal powers under which local authorities acquire and maintain public open space are contained in the Open Spaces Act 1906 which consolidated earlier legislation. It provided a definition of "open space" which referred to,


    ". . . land . . . inclosed or not, on which there are no buildings or of which not more than one twentieth part is covered with buildings, and the whole or remainder of which is laid out as garden or is used for purposes of recreation, or lies waste or unoccupied".

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The Open Spaces Society believes that this definition is too restrictive for modern conditions and proposes a substitution as set out in the suggested new Schedule 5A.

For the purposes of compulsory purchase and local authorities' appropriation and disposal of land, there are definitions of "common" and of "open space" in both the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which are repeats from earlier legislation and apply also for the compulsory purchase provisions of the Local Government Act 1972. The Commons Registration Act 1965—I hope that all noble Lords are with me so far—permits a clearer definition of "common", which is what is being proposed in the new schedule.

Regarding the definition "open space" the Planning Policy Guidance Note, PPG17, notes the 1990 Act definition, but states that,


    "open space should be taken to mean all open space of public value, including not just land, but also areas of water such as rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs which offer important opportunities for sport and recreation and can also act as a visual amenity".

While the amendment proposed here does not go quite so far, in the view of the society it is more realistic than the outmoded statutory definition.

The Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 relaxed controls and enabled local authorities to appropriate or dispose of open spaces other than common land merely by advertising their intention for two successive weeks in a local paper and considering the objections received. The proposed amendments intend to revert to the pre-1980 procedure and require any intended appropriation or disposal to be referred to the Secretary of State for a decision, as must still be done for the appropriation of a common.

So, bringing the definitions up to date and imposing more consistency is, in short, the intention of this quite lengthy amendment. I beg to move.


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