Perhaps I may remind noble Lords of what was involved for some in the first tranche. Nottingham City Council would be given powers to create a venture capital fund to invest in high-tech business, start-ups and growth businesses. I think that for Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham the deal has been backed by tax increment finance schemes. A control over part of central government’s skills budgets will be given to Sheffield, while Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham will join Manchester in creating apprenticeship hubs. That is just a flavour of what has been achieved from those first few city deals.

6 pm

We also welcome the expansion of city deals outside the first core eight, which was announced last November. We await final announcements, which I think are due in March of this year. As the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, said, this amendment is asking for a report within a year of the second round of city deals being completed to lay out proposals for wider devolution to all local councils. I do not often quote Ministers favourably but

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I would like to share with the House what Greg Clark said. In explaining the broad terms of the plan, he said:

“Cities will need to make a case for new investment and powers, with a clear evidence base and a strong economic rationale. You will need to show how new flexibilities will benefit local people. And you will need to demonstrate how you would manage budgets, and hold yourselves accountable to residents. Every deal is a two-way trade”.

I agree with that.

While supporting this amendment, we would call for a new English deal open to all local authorities, not just to certain cities—a point stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin—in which there is a decentralisation of power from Whitehall to local communities, with councils coming together to make best use of these powers. This new deal must include devolution of powers in areas such as transport, housing, skills and ways of boosting economic development. Rather than the Government poring over a list of approved councils or a map of new boundaries in deciding who to entrust with greater powers, and where, local government should decide how it wants to organise itself for the purpose of taking these powers. It could be a city with a mayor, a city with a leader, a city region, a county or another combination that makes sense locally—including, of course, working with businesses, particularly LEPs.

People rightly feel that politics is too distant; they do not have enough power over their own lives and the places where they live. We should also take the opportunity to build on the momentum which flows from the first and second rounds of city bids, while embracing the wise counsel on this issue of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, in his report on growth, to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, referred. This report set out the case for a major reconfiguration of responsibilities for economic development between central and local government, and indeed between government and the private sector. In this context, the call for a report would seem extremely modest and I hope that the Government will accede to it.

Lord Shipley: My Lords, in speaking to this amendment I first declare that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association and, as your Lordships know, a government adviser on cities policy. This amendment would extend the city deals structure, potentially to all councils, and it would be a practical manifestation of what we passed in the Localism Act. I welcome that. The aim of this amendment is to boost economic growth, based on the core package for wave 2 cities. As the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, explained there will be a confirmation, I think within a few weeks, of those wave 2 cities. However, the core package will be derived from the experience of those in wave one. I expect that that announcement will be made during March; I certainly hope it will be before Easter.

The amendment would mainstream the core package of the city deals. When the Deputy Prime Minister launched the wave two process at the end of October, he said that,

“while it’s too early to talk exactly about what a third Wave might look like, I very much see this”—

wave two—

“as a step in a journey”.

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I have concluded that the door is ajar and that this amendment may well represent a means of providing it with a gentle push, for all the reasons that my noble friend Lord Jenkin outlined. There is a very clear base of evidence that if you localise, decentralise and devolve, you will actually drive faster economic growth if you provide local councils and their local enterprise partnerships with the statutory means of delivering that economic growth.

I have one caveat. Councils will need to show governance structures demonstrating their stability, their ability to manage risk and their ability to pool thinking and resources with their local enterprise partnerships and neighbouring councils so that driving growth in an area is seen as a collaborative process rather than a competitive one. I am particularly impressed by the governance structure that is in place in Greater Manchester, where the combined authority—enabled under legislation from 2009—provides a model that could be built on in other parts of the country.

Finally, on timing, if wave 2 city deal announcements are made later in 2013, this amendment will be implemented some time around the summer or autumn of 2014. As my noble friend Lord Jenkin said, this gives the Government an opportunity to consult and think further—but then to come forward with a means whereby the powers that are being given to a number of cities will actually be available to all of local government.

Lord Smith of Leigh: My Lords, I must follow the noble Lord’s compliments to Greater Manchester by speaking at this point. I need to declare my interests, which I repeat from Second Reading, particularly to mention that I am the chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. I therefore support this amendment, which gets to the heart of the Bill’s Title—it is what the Bill should be about.

I took part in the negotiations with the Government over the city deal. It was a very interesting process. Obviously, we developed ideas on our own and in conjunction. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, is absolutely right that it needs to involve not just local authorities but the local business community. It takes a very special skill for many businesspeople to rise above their day-to-day work to have that comprehension of local economic policy, but in Greater Manchester we are fortunate to have many people who can do that. We rely on them and other partners such as universities, which are very important, too. On the key partners, we need to remind the Government that this is not a financial issue for local authorities. We are actually asking for devolution—not necessarily for more money but to have the money spent at a local level, where many of us believe it will be spent more effectively. In some cases, no money is involved at all; it simply gives us permission to do what we currently have to do.

The city deals work. They can harness the strengths of local partners and build on local knowledge, and they can be addressed to the local circumstances. I am sure that the city deal for Greater Manchester is different from the city deal for Newcastle, because the issues are clearly different. We will have some similar issues. No doubt skills are a very important part but, for us, transport was a key issue. As the noble Lord,

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Lord Jenkin, rightly said, this amendment mirrors the report of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine. It is really beginning to address this point about freedom. At a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Friday, we were pleased that we were beginning directly to fund local businesses to take on new workers and expand, so the measure is working practically on the ground. It is not a theoretical thing, and I will be very glad to see the rolled-out programme.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, I am a bit concerned about the wording of the amendment because I would not like every local authority to have to have its own deal with the Government. That is not what the spirit of this measure is about. What we did very carefully in Greater Manchester was to think about the functional economics. What is an economic area that makes sense? As important and lovely as the great city of Manchester is, its geography is a very odd shape. It is very long and thin. It is not a functioning economic area. The centre of Manchester and the centre of Salford are very close together, so we need to go over local authority boundaries. I hope that in passing some version of this amendment, we can encourage local authorities to be co-operative, as the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, said, to work together to think about what is in the interests of their communities and to make sure that we start to deliver what all noble Lords want, which is more growth, more employment and more opportunities in the country.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Leigh, because outside Greater London, Greater Manchester is probably the best example of a classic city region in this country. City regions suddenly became all the rage a few years ago under the Labour Government, and they are perhaps making a bit of a comeback now.

The problem is that when people get new ideas, they tend to regard them as a template that applies everywhere. There is no doubt that city regions can be very powerful places in democracy and growth, but the geography of this country is not the same everywhere. Even within England, there are places which it is difficult sensibly to allocate to a city region. The temptation is for people to look at the model and try to impose it everywhere, instead of asking about the geography of this country, which is very different in different places, and about the appropriate model given the geography of a region or sub-region.

A classic example is the towns of west Cumbria—Barrow, Whitehaven and Workington—and their local authorities, Allerdale, Copeland and Barrow. It is very difficult to say which city region they can be part of. Newcastle upon Tyne might have imperialist designs on them and pretend they are part of it, but they are clearly not, and they are equally clearly not part of the Greater Manchester city region, Merseyside or whatever. They are different. The largest places in those areas, including Carlisle, are smaller than the largest places in west Yorkshire or Greater Manchester, obviously, so the system that is used ought to take account of the geography of those areas. That is not to say that they should not have the kind of powers which are set out in this amendment, the powers that existing city deals have, which will, I hope, go on to get more; it is to say

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that central government has to get out of the mindset of trying to fit everybody into the same size bottle and accept powers have to be devolved to some smaller places because that is the nature of the economic geography and the economic regions in those areas.

It will not surprise noble Lords to learn that I think that east Lancashire is another area, not quite as extreme an example as west Cumbria, that is very difficult to fit sensibly into any particular city region. If we were forced into a big city region, it would be Greater Manchester, but we would always be peripheral and far too far out. Despite the wishes of some people in Preston, it is very difficult to claim that Lancashire is in any way geographically a city region with Blackpool out on the coast, Blackburn and Burnley, former county boroughs, further inland, Lancaster further to the north and then all the other places.

If this is going to be successful, it has to be accepted that it is not just the major metropolitan centres, such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, and smaller but equally important ones such as Norwich, that are going to be the engines of growth in this country. They are probably the main engines of growth because of geographical factors, but the rest of the country needs a fair deal as well, and we do not want to be looking forward to a country where some areas are growing: the south-east and Greater London, obviously, but also those cities that have been remarkably successful in recent years, of which Leeds and Manchester are perhaps the leading examples. Those of us who live out in the sticks need a decent standard of life, a decent level of growth and a decent level of local services, just the same as everywhere else.

My final point is that it is more difficult institutionally where there is two-tier local government. In some areas, the districts are not important. District councils vary hugely across the country. There are some areas where shire districts are not really important within the economic development sphere, never have been and are never going to be. Some of them are quite weak rural authorities in that sense. There are other areas where they are the motors of economic development and the places were inspiration, motivation, ideas and people from the public sector and the private sector come from. I suggest that west Cumbria and east Lancashire are classic examples of this there the county councils traditionally have not had a very strong economic development role.

6.15 pm

Instead of trying to impose one system and saying that the county has that function, there must be some working together at county and district level because in areas such as Pendle, Burnley, Blackburn and Hyndburn, the districts are going to provide the growth. I do not mean just the district council; I mean the level at which it is going to happen and where the local economic areas are: Burnley and Pendle, Blackburn and Hyndburn and so on. In the system that the Government come up with to devolve powers and perhaps some money, that is where the money is going to be found locally. They have to take account of the geographical and economic realities on the ground and not just assume that what has worked in one place automatically will work everywhere else.

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Lord Beecham:My Lords, on behalf of the city of Newcastle, I disavow any territorial ambitions in relation to Cumbria, even though we are connected by the Roman wall, part of which runs through and, indeed, is visible in the ward I represent.

I am the fifth consecutive former council leader to address the Committee this afternoon. It was in that capacity that I first made the acquaintance of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, some 30 years ago when he chaired the inner city partnership in Newcastle. At that time, a number of authorities had such a partnership chaired by a senior Minister, and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, was chairman of the Newcastle inner city partnership. I recall rather amusing him by referring to the city action teams that were created in those days as “feral cats”. He might remember the phrase. We worked well together, as did other inner city partnerships. It was a process initiated by Peter Shore in the Callaghan Government of the late 1970s.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I ought to put on record—I do not think that the noble Lord will disagree—that there were some areas that found that extremely difficult. I need only mention Liverpool.

Lord Beecham: Liverpool was in many minds at that time. The noble Lord and I perhaps shared a view about Liverpool, but we were not alone in that.

The principle of looking across government departments and local authority functions embodied in a small way in those arrangements was returned to under the previous Government with the concept of Total Place. As I think I have said before in debates in your Lordships’ House, that has, I believe, been rebranded as community budgets, but it is consistently compatible with the thrust of the Government’s policy on city deals and the thrust of the amendments, which, of course, I support. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, was quite right to refer to the powers and resources that are required to invigorate local economies. That involves, by definition, a wide range of public organisations, including government departments. One thinks of BIS, the Department for Transport, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education, the DCLG, Defra and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. All potentially have a role to play with not only their policies but sometimes with their resources in individual areas. I hope that the Government can look at reinforcing the concept of the city deal by connecting it to the concept of community budgeting or Total Place, so that one looks at the sum of government-directed public expenditure in an area and sees how it can fit into and be applied to the issues of economic growth and regeneration.

Of course, the city deals that have been announced are welcome. Newcastle has benefited; I think that the figure is roughly £80 million. Liverpool got a little more at £110 million. That is not necessarily cash coming from the Government. It is the value of some of the freedoms that have been given, including, for example, tax-increment financing. Tax-increment financing is the permission effectively to borrow against the anticipated business rate income, which will generated by development. It has been deployed effectively for some years in the United States. There is reason to hope that it will help us here.

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It is not, then, a question of the Government passing resources to the local authority, but of borrowing. Useful and impressive though those schemes and those amounts of money to invest will be, however derived, they have to be contrasted with the loss of financial resources to the very same authorities as a result of the local government finance settlement, exceeding on an annual basis in the cases of both Liverpool and Newcastle—and perhaps the others, I cannot say for certain—the value of the city deal and its financial implications. That is ultimately money taken out of the local economy, which is likely to have a deleterious effect on that local economy, employment and business. It is a curious inconsistency, which the Government have to address. They have to align their local government finance policies with the ambitions, which we share in local government, across the parties, of the city deal programme.

Finally, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, and my noble friend Lord Smith on the need for local authorities to co-operate and not to be seen to be competing with one another, at least in the same sort of area. There will no doubt be competition —healthy, I hope—between different parts of the country, offering different attractions for investment from within this country or overseas; that is a healthy process. However, it would be a great mistake if, within regions—or, to use the current governmental phrase, sub-national areas—there were to be cut-throat competition between more-or-less neighbouring authorities.

It was striking in those dark days of the 1980s—which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, did his best to brighten in Newcastle—that the region of the north-east came together in two ways. First, it came together—I have to say, at my suggestion—to create a Northern Regional Councils Association, which included Cumbria in those days, as it rather looked to the east than to the south. It also came together to facilitate the hugely important Nissan development in Sunderland. There was no competition between authorities as to who should get that. We came together and worked with business in the region and the Government of the day on behalf of the region as a whole. It is effectively a functional economic area, to use the jargon. That spirit of co-operation certainly needs to be driven, and I hope that the Government will incentivise it as these proposals go forward. I hope that—with the slightly cautionary words of the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, about not conferring significant powers and functions on unviably small groups of authorities on their own terms, with which I agree—

Have I misunderstood the noble Lord?

Lord Greaves: My Lords, that was not my point at all. My point is that people who live in big cities think that these places are functionally unviable because they are smaller than where they come from. My point is that they are not necessary functionally unviable just because they are smaller. They are big towns, small cities and areas with an urban nucleus which can actually do the job themselves, even though their population might be only 500,000 rather than 8 million.

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Lord Beecham: I agree with that. What would be a concern would be the individual smallish councils in an area each seeking a separate agreement. It is the point about co-operation, which I thought the noble Lord was advancing, that I seek to emphasise and I assume the Government would accept.

Again, will the Minister indicate in replying whether the Government will look at the connection between the city deal programme and community budgeting or Total Place, and whether these things need to be linked? If that needs to be discussed further during the course of the Bill—I do not expect an immediate response—perhaps we can have some discussions about that before we get to Report stage.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I first thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate. I noted that my noble friend Lord Jenkin’s final words in moving the amendment were, “I hope my noble friends on the Front Bench smile” at his proposal. I assure him that whenever he makes a contribution I often smile, because I often agree with what he says. In what he said, there is nothing specific with which I can disagree. I think it would be generally accepted by the Committee that all contributions across the Chamber were supportive of the initiatives that are being taken.

I was particularly delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, agreeing with my honourable friend in the other place, Greg Clark. What can I say? Détente has broken out. I am glad that we agree on these issues. When we have these debates, it is important that things which are working across the board are acknowledged as doing so. I do not think for a moment that we are where we want to be with the city deals. This is an evolving issue. We are clearly seeing the trialling of city deals, as has been acknowledged by many noble Lords.

Look at the first wave of the cities listed outside London: Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield; I feel a bit like a train announcer here.

Lord Beecham: A high-speed train?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Dare I say it? HS2 may well also assist.

Lord Greaves: It did not reach Newcastle.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I am glad that the city deal has. I was concerned by the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, about the expansion of areas and Manchester connecting with Newcastle. As a Liverpool fan, for football reasons alone, that is something that we would want to park.

Coming to noble Lords’ points, I first reassure your Lordships on where we are on city deals. As the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, said, it is not a one-size-fits-all proposal. City deals are about bespoke solutions unlocking local growth and trialling different and innovative approaches. Perhaps it would not be appropriate for every single trial to be rolled out wholesale to every single council across the country. That said, the Government have a strong record of commitment to the localist agenda and are working directly with local authorities to provide the powers and support that

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they need. Where local models and city models make sense, I say to my noble friend Lord Jenkin that we will seek to make them more widely available.

On what we have already done with local authorities, we have given them greater control over their own budgets. First, an estimated 70% of income will be raised locally, compared to 50% to 60% under the current formula grant system. Secondly, from next April, councils will retain nearly £11 billion of business rates. Thirdly, the Government intend to devolve a greater proportion of future growth-related spending, based on the recommendations to which many noble Lords have alluded, as detailed in my noble friend Lord Heseltine’s recent, excellent review. My noble friend Lord Jenkin quoted my noble friend Lord Heseltine. We agree with him that local leaders and businesses are best placed to set the strategic direction of the area. He made a powerful case for increased devolution, and the Government agree with that.

Local people and businesses are better placed to take greater economic powers from central government, particularly in terms of funding and responsibilities, as the LEPs have. They can act as a stronger voice for local people, incorporating the local private sector. As several noble Lords have acknowledged, we have allocated funding. The Chancellor announced an additional £250,000 of capacity on top of the £625,000 core funding announced in September. So steps have already been taken, and I am pleased that noble Lords have acknowledged that.

6.30 pm

The Government have provided a response to the recommendations of my noble friend Lord Heseltine, in the Autumn Statement, which set out a direction for the devolution of government spending to local areas on the basis of strategic plans developed by local enterprise partnerships through creating a single funding pot for local areas, which will be available from April 2015. We will also publish a full response to the recommendations of my noble friend Lord Heseltine in the spring.

My noble friend Lord Jenkin referred to reporting back on the city deals. The first step is very much for the Government to present and publish a full response, as we intend, to the recommendations of my noble friend Lord Heseltine. Before we do that, we will work with the local enterprise partnerships and other stakeholders and partners to ensure that the links between the timing of spending reviews and the need for plans are made and understood.

The single funding pot will include specific areas, as per the recommendations in the report of my noble friend Lord Heseltine. The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, highlighted some of these. The single pot will include transport, housing, skills—the important thing in getting people back to work—and local growth funding.

Different elements of the city deals package will continually be assessed and, as appropriate, we will look to extend them to local authorities as and when appropriate—indeed, to all local authorities when we believe that to be relevant. The Government will also consider reporting back on any measures that we are trialling in a city deal, when appropriate. I hear what has been said about the specific report but it is important

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that we respond fully to the Heseltine report and then subsequently report back on the trialling on which we are taking part in the first and second wave. On behalf of the Government, I welcome the widespread support for city deals. Based on those assurances, I hope that my noble friend will see it as appropriate to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I think that my noble friend did indeed smile. He has given us a very fair and encouraging report, and I entirely take the point with which he finished, that there will be a full response to the report of my noble friend Lord Heseltine. There was one point on which I disagreed with my noble friend Lord Heseltine, when he suggested that local authority structures should be reviewed and they should become single-tier authorities. I told him that I did not agree with that, and the Government have made it perfectly clear that they do not agree.

I warmly support what has been said about the need for co-operation. When we debated the Localism Bill—my noble friend Lady Hanham will remember this—there was a good deal of scepticism about the Government’s wish that local authorities should co-operate. The fact of the matter is that two years later one can point to any number of examples where local authorities are co-operating admirably. That is a far better way than to embark on a major restructuring, which would be unrealistic.

I shall not comment in detail on everybody who has spoken. I am extremely grateful for the amount of support that we have received. I mention two points. The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, mentioned the achievement of the Nissan investment. That was very much a collaborative exercise; I was the Secretary of State for Industry who in the end persuaded Nissan to come here. We were negotiating as well with Honda, which eventually went to Swindon. I composed what my Japanese friends were kind enough to say was a sort of haiku: “We get fonder and fonder of Honda, but the kissing with Nissan is missing”. In the end, the kissing was everywhere; we got them both.

That was a very good example of local authorities co-operating. My noble friend Lord Greaves mentioned the West Cumbria authorities: Allerdale, Copeland and West Cumbria. I had been led to believe—with considerable optimism, I hope—that the decision will be announced that the idea of a nuclear repository within that territory, on terms that will need to be finally agreed, is welcomed. We had a three-month delay on this. But the co-operation of the county council and those two district councils has, to my mind, been an admirable example of how local authorities can work together in the national interest.

I thank my noble friend Lord Ahmad for his very encouraging response and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 60 withdrawn.

Clause 9 agreed.

Schedule 3 agreed.

Clauses 10 to 12 agreed.

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Amendment 60A

Moved by Lord Shipley

60A: After Clause 12, insert the following new Clause—

“Planning permission required for development

(1) Section 57 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (planning permission required for development) is amended as follows.

(2) Subsection (3), after “Where by a development order (or a local development order)” insert “issued by the local planning authority.”

(3) After subsection (3), insert—

“(3A) Where a local planning authority propose to make an order under this section they shall first prepare—

(a) a draft of the order; and

(b) a statement of their reasons for making the order.

(3B) The statement of reasons shall contain—

(a) a description of the development which the order would permit; and

(b) a plan or statement identifying the land to which the order would relate.

(3C) Where a local planning authority have prepared a draft local development order, they shall consult, in accordance with regulations, persons whose interests they consider would be affected by the order.”.”

Lord Shipley: In moving Amendment 60A, I shall also speak to Amendments 60B and 60C, as well as Amendments 71 and 71A. I present the apologies of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, who is unavoidably away today. Amendment 71A, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, is in practice virtually the same as Amendment 60A in our name, but the grammar in his is better than the grammar in ours.

Amendment 60A would allow local authorities to set their own permitted development rights. It is a logical extension of the Localism Act, because what is and is not permitted development should be decided locally. The current system allows central government to set out permitted development rights and provide local authorities with limited mechanisms to amend this. We noted the debate in your Lordships’ House on Monday about free schools and the powers of government over permitted development rights, and the limited powers that local authorities can sometimes have. We shall debate that issue further, but allowing permitted development to be managed by a local authority at a local level would mean that individual local issues and differences such as between rural and urban, suburban and city and town centres could be considered.

I accept that the proposal is a significant change to the planning system, and there may be concerns about that both from professionals and from the Government. Any change would need to be accompanied by robust consultation before commencement, but there is a principle behind this that permitted development should be decided at a local level.

Amendment 60B would remove the need for the Secretary of State to give approval for local development orders. Local authorities can currently restrict or extend permitted development rights via the use of an article for direction or a local development order. That can be important when, for example, a council could better

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support local economic growth. But the procedures that have to be followed are complicated and time-consuming and rarely used by local authorities. I have been concerned by the length of time that it can take to get a conclusion to a consultation on an Article 4 direction from the beginning of the consultation. Removing the need for the Secretary of State to give approval for each and every local development order as it is implemented across the country would make the procedures quicker and more effective.

Amendment 60C would remove the need for an individual annual report on all local development orders. I question whether those annual reports are necessary. If there was a problem with the local development order, I think it is inevitable that councillors and planning officers would know about that. However, Schedule 4A to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 states that an annual report must be produced detailing,

“the extent to which the local development order is achieving its purposes”.

The schedule also states:

“The Secretary of State may prescribe the form and content of the report”.

This is very centralist, and I think that the provision could be safely removed from the statute book in order to speed up the process of extending and relaxing rights better to support growth. At a time of constraint in local authority staffing and planning departments, it would also free up considerable local authority resource and time. As I said a moment ago, councillors and planning officers will know whether a local development order is not working properly.

In the absence of the noble Lords, Lord True and Lord Tope, both of whom are unavoidably unable to be here, I wish to comment on Amendment 71. This amendment would offer local discretion on permitted development reforms. As I am sure my noble friend the Minister knows, there is great concern about this. The amendment would offer councils the local choice of whether or not to introduce the permitted development changes which the Government are seeking to introduce. It is not clear to me, and has not been throughout the process, why the Government want to do this. It is supposedly to have a positive impact on growth. It is not clear to me how the Government’s proposals would have a positive impact on growth. I have concluded that permitted development rules should not be changed by Whitehall, since such a move cannot take account of significant local differences. As I said a moment ago, city centres, suburbs, town centres, urban areas and rural areas may all have different requirements, and councils are best placed locally to make these judgments. This is a very important issue, and there is a very important principle at stake. If we believe in localism, surely we should permit a planning authority to have local discretion on permitted development schemes. I beg to move.

6.45 pm

Lord Beecham: My Lords, I strongly support these amendments. It seems contrary to the whole thrust of the Localism Act that central government should impose its decision on what are absolutely fundamentally local matters, and do so in such a way as effectively to

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preclude the local council from taking decisions of this kind in consultation with its residents. For example, it would be interesting to know how many extensions are being built under the dispensation given by the Government. I should think that on the whole that would be more likely to engender conflict between neighbours than lead to any significant development of extended housing in urban areas.

In addition to that, we had the recent announcement, which I referred to in the Chamber a few days ago, of the Government’s decision to grant permitted development status to the conversion of office premises into residential premises. This has provoked a good deal of concern up and down the country, not least within a couple of miles of this place. I do not know whether it has succeeded, but I understood that the City of London was endeavouring to negotiate an opt-out, as it were, from this provision. That seems to be a fashionable thing to do these days.

I do not know whether the Minister can tell us what has happened with that, but can she explain why the Government deem it necessary to override local authorities? Councils can, of course, give this permission if an application is made, and indeed if it is refused it may be appealed, but why should the Government take this decision, effectively on behalf of every local authority in the country, and see that it applies willy-nilly? What is the rationale for that? Where is the evidence that it will lead to the satisfactory development everywhere of housing of an adequate standard, particularly affordable housing of an adequate standard? I recognise, of course, that in certain places that could be the outcome, but why should that decision not be made by those responsible for their local community?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, pointed out, Amendment 71A in this group, which stands in my name, is to all intents and purposes identical to the amendment that he moved and which stands in his name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. It is also identical to the amendment moved in another place by my honourable friend Roberta Blackman-Woods.

The thrust of the amendment is to reverse the current arrangements whereby permitted development is determined at the centre but with local authorities having the right to restrict or extend permitted development rights by an Article 4 direction or a local development order. It would anchor the process of permitted development rights at the local level with full obligations to prepare a draft order for consultation. The Minister will doubtless argue, as was argued in the Commons, that the powers available under Article 4 or a local development order are sufficient to secure that the decision of the centre can be modified in the local context. However, the LGA briefing—the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, endorsed this—makes clear that these approaches are heavily bureaucratic, time-consuming and resource-intensive. If the Minister does not accept that case, I would be grateful if she would provide the evidence to the contrary. Accordingly, the briefing suggests that these approaches are rarely used. As I say, if this is challenged by the Government, will they supply evidence demonstrating that these approaches are used?

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I have also added my name to Amendment 71 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord True and Lord Tope. This is a narrower amendment and requires that a new or amended development order that grants planning permission for development within the curtilage of a dwelling house should have approval from the local planning authority before being applicable.

My noble friend Lord Beecham has clearly argued the case for supporting the amendment and said why the Government’s position is inappropriate. The noble Lord, Lord True, has spoken previously about concerns in his local borough regarding developments in gardens and the challenges that this poses to the local community. Alarm bells were certainly set ringing by the November 2012 technical consultation on extended permitted development rights for home owners and businesses. Its proposals included doubling the size limits for single-storey domestic extensions, although for a limited period. Will the Minister let us know what is happening with that consultation, when we might expect the Government’s response, and whether, in advance of that response, we might at least have an understanding of the direction in which it is travelling?

Amendment 60B in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Tope and Lord Shipley, seeks to remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to approve all local development orders. We agree with this, but could this not also be addressed by secondary legislation? Is primary legislation required to do that?

On Amendment 60C, will the Minister please remind us what happens to the reports that are made under Section 35 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004? The amendment seeks to remove the requirement for those reports. What happens to the reports that are made and how do the Government deal with them? Is there any process by which the results of that are reported to Parliament?

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, that was rather a quick ending. I am grateful for this short debate, which I thought might take a bit longer.

The amendment tabled by my noble friends Lord Tope and Lord Shipley, and Amendment 71A in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, have the admirable aim of giving local authorities the power to decide how to adapt nationally set permitted development rights to their own local circumstances. I am pleased to say that that power is already there. Where local authorities have concerns about the impact of permitted development rights locally, they are able to consult their local communities on removing those rights via Article 4 directions. I know that my noble friend Lord Shipley said that that process is complicated, but it is really up to local authorities how complicated it is and how long it takes. It is in a local authority’s hands; it has to consult for 28 days, but after that it can decide whether to confirm an Article 4 direction. Because there are concerns regarding potential compensation issues, local authorities can, if they give 12 months’ notice that they are going to consult on an Article 4 direction, always manage to avoid compensation requirements.

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Where the aim is to extend permitted development rights locally, local development orders provide a quick and simple way to do this. After a slow start, the number of local development orders being put in place across the country is increasing. Local authorities are recognising the benefits of this flexible provision, which can be put in place through a simple and streamlined procedure. More than 30 local development orders have now been put in place in enterprise zones, and local development orders are contributing to growth by helping to speed up everything from small domestic alterations to major industrial development. Rather than being a cumbersome process, as suggested, local development orders work quite well.

Amendments 60B and 60C, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Tope and Lord Shipley, are intended to make the local development order process even more straightforward. The amendments seek to remove the Secretary of State’s role in the local development order process and remove the requirement for local authorities to report on local development orders, with the aim of reducing burdens further. The Secretary of State only exceptionally exercises his powers to intervene in local development orders. In many cases, local authorities can proceed to adoption within a few days of submitting local development orders to the Secretary of State. However, that does not mean that we should not constantly be seeking to improve and simplify the processes under which development takes place.

Officials have already begun discussions with the Local Government Association with the aim of learning from the experience of local authorities about the best way of using local development orders. That experience is growing rapidly, and it is important to capture it in deciding whether and how local development orders can be improved, including in the ways that my noble friends have suggested. Given my assurance that local development orders are a perfectly reasonable way forward, I hope that my noble friends are willing to withdraw or not move these amendments. I have also given an explanation of how the Article 4 direction plays, or could play, a particularly big role in the control by local authorities.

I turn now to Amendment 71, tabled by my noble friends Lord True and Lord Tope—I am sorry they are unable to be here—and the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, who has spoken to it. I appreciate the noble Lords’ wish to make sure that local authorities are able to take their particular circumstances into account when considering the operation of national permitted development rights. This is indeed a vital safeguard, because nationally determined rights will of course have different effects in different local areas. As I have already outlined, local authorities have this power now through the use of Article 4 directions, which they can implement themselves. However, I remind noble Lords that every time permitted development rights are removed, local people are deprived of the benefits that they offer and become subject again to the additional work and costs of putting in a planning application.

Extending development rights will reduce the bureaucracy and delays that home owners face when they want to carry out what remain, even with these

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revised proposals, small extensions. That applies to businesses also. This amendment would deny people those benefits on a much wider scale. It would fundamentally undermine the well established and popular system of permitted development rights, which allows home owners the freedom and flexibility to make the best use of their homes without getting bogged down in red tape. However, I hear noble Lords’ concerns and I am sure that we will return to this issue at a later stage, when perhaps other noble Lords who tabled amendments in the group are here.

The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, asked about the consultation. It ended on 24 December and is being considered at the moment. I hope that we will have some indication of the response in due course. There is no fixed date for the announcement of the response, but I hope, given my explanations, that noble Lords will withdraw or not move their amendments.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, the Minister used the word “small” in reference to extensions. Does she understand and agree that what is or is not small depends to some extent on the size of the existing house and, particularly if it is an extension into a back yard, the existing size of that back yard?

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I appreciate that proposals and applications for extensions will always be different because it will depend on the nature of the property—for example, whether it is terraced or detached. Permitted development rights are being removed for small-scale and reasonably small-scale developments.

Lord Shipley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her detailed reply. She may be right to say that there will be a desire to return to some of these concerns on Report. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 60A withdrawn.

Amendments 60B and 60C not moved.

Amendment 60D

Moved by Lord Greaves

60D: After Clause 12, insert the following new Clause—

“Notification of Parish Councils

(1) After section 261 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 insert—

“261A Notification of parish councils

(1) Where an order is made under this Part by any authority or person for the stopping up, diversion or creation of any highway, the extinguishment of any rights over a highway, or for any work in relation to a highway, a copy of the order shall be sent to each parish council that the highway crosses or serves.

(2) “Highway” in this section includes a footpath, bridleway or other right of way.”

(2) After section 129F of the Highways Act 1980 insert—

“129FA Notification of parish councils

Where an order is made under this Part by any authority or person for the stopping up, diversion or creation of any highway, of the extinguishment of any rights over a highway, or for any work in relation to a highway, a copy of the order shall be sent to each parish council that the highway crosses or serves.”

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(3) In section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 (registration of greens) after subsection (9) insert—

“(9A) Where an application is made under this section to register land as a town or village green, a notice of the application must be sent to any parish council whose area includes the land that is the subject of the application or any part thereof.””

Lord Greaves: My Lords, the amendment would add a new clause after Clause 12, headed “Notification of Parish Councils”. I apologise that the amendment was circulated a day late but it took me some time to track down the bits of legislation that I need to amend. The genesis of this came from the National Association of Local Councils, which knew what it wanted to do but relied on me to find out how to do it.

The amendment is about three different matters which are conveniently lumped together. It would amend parts of different Acts to make sure that when certain proposals or orders are made by what I might call higher authorities, parish councils are notified. The amendment goes no further than saying that they have to be notified but, clearly, notification is the first stage in reaching a view and perhaps putting it forward.

The amendment follows the procedure on planning applications whereby parish and town councils have, under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the right to be notified about planning applications. The first provision amends that Act and would secure that when,

“an order is made … by any authority or person for the stopping up, diversion or creation of any highway, the extinguishment of any rights over a highway, or for any work in relation to a highway, a copy of the order shall be sent to each parish council that the highway crosses or serves”.

The second part would make a similar amendment to the Highways Act 1980. The wording is very similar but, in practice, it refers to rights of way orders. It really refers to lower-order highways—bridleways, footpaths and similar routes. The third part refers to Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 concerning the registration of greens, and we will be moving on to that shortly. This part of the amendment would make a provision that, where an application is made to register land as a town or village green—that is, the beginning of the registration process—the parish council that includes the green or part of it should be informed.

So far as concerns the second part of the amendment, I am aware that the practice guidance notes on rights of way orders—that is, in relation to footpaths, bridleways and so on—issued by the Rights of Way Review Committee, include consultation with various local bodies, including parish councils. However, I am informed by the NALC that that does not always happen and it would much prefer to have such a requirement in primary legislation. With regard to both the other matters, I am informed that they have caused difficulties for parish councils over the years and that these fairly simple provisions would make life a lot easier for them. I beg to move.

7 pm

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I look forward to the Minister’s reply but, on the face of it, these amendments seem entirely sensible.

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I absolutely agree with my noble friend that it is very important that parish councils are notified of the making of any legal orders affecting rights of way and other highways serving or crossing a parish and indeed of any town and village green applications relating to land within the parish. It may be helpful to the Committee if I set out how the process works to ensure that this is the case.

First, as regards rights of way creation, diversion and extinguishment orders, paragraph 1(2)(b)(ii) of Schedule 14 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and paragraph 1(3)(b)(ii) of Schedule 6 to the Highways Act 1980 require the order-making authority to serve notice on,

“every council, the council of every parish or community and the parish meeting of every parish not having a separate parish council, being a council, parish or community whose area includes”,

any land affected by a rights of way order.

As regards orders for stopping up or diverting highways for the purposes of development—that is, Section 247/248 orders—Section 252 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requires that, before making an order, notice be served on the local authority in the area of the proposed stopping up or diversion of a highway. Therefore, the notice of a stopping up or diversion is served on the parish council in whose area the development lies.

For town and village green applications, existing regulations require notification of Section 15 applications to parish councils. Specifically, the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008, which apply to registration authority areas in England in respect of which the registration provisions in Part 1 of the 2006 Act have been commenced—known as “pioneer areas”—and the Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) (Interim Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2007, which apply to other authority areas in England, require notification of such applications to parish councils.

Schedule 14 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Schedule 6 to the Highways Act 1980 require that, before a rights of way creation, diversion or extinguishment order is confirmed by either the Secretary of State or the order-making authority, notice shall be given in the prescribed form: first,

“stating the general effect of the order and that it has been made and is about to be submitted for confirmation or to be confirmed as an unopposed order”;


“naming a place in the area in which the land to which the order relates is situated where a copy of the order and of the map referred to therein may be inspected free of charge … at all reasonable hours”;

and, thirdly,

“specifying the time (which shall not be less than 28 days from the date of the first publication of the notice) within which, and the manner in which, representations or objections with respect to the order may be made”.

The notices shall be given, among others, to,

“every council, the council of every parish or community and the parish meeting of every parish not having a separate parish council, being a council, parish or community whose area includes”,

any of the land to which the order relates.

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The Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008, which apply in the pioneer authority areas that I mentioned earlier, require, in Regulation 22(1)(a), an applicant to serve a notice of any application to a registration authority under Part 1 of the Act,

“on each of the persons specified in Schedule 6”.

Schedule 6, as it applies to Section 15 applications, requires the notice to be served on any local authority other than the registration authority in whose area the land in question lies. “Local authority”, as defined in Regulation 2 of the 2008 regulations, includes a parish council and the chairman of a parish meeting.

Finally, the Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) (Interim Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2007, which apply to the non-pioneer authority areas, require, in Regulation 5, a registration authority to send notice of an application in the prescribed form to every “concerned authority”. In this case, “concerned authority” is defined in Regulation 2(2) as,

“a local authority … in whose area any part of the land affected by the application lies”.

“Local authority”, as defined in Regulation 2, includes a parish council.

I believe that what I have illustrated answers my noble friend’s questions. With those assurances and the details that I have provided, I hope that he will be happy to withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, I declare interests as the president of the National Association of Local Councils and as chairman of the Rights of Way Review Committee. If there is a failure to give the relevant notification to a parish council, will any sanction or redress be available to the parish council? I realise that the Minister may not be in a position to answer that question straight away.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I am sure that there are instances where that is the case. For completeness, it may be appropriate if I write to the noble Earl on that specific point. However, I assume that appeals procedures are available to parish councils to take forward where orders are not adhered to.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and should be grateful to receive a copy of his letter to the noble Earl. It may be that what is now required is for the NALC to circulate to its member councils the fact that there is a need and a requirement for them to start to demand their rights from higher authorities. However, I am very grateful for the Minister’s care in setting out the details and, on that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 60D withdrawn.

Clause 13 : Registration of town or village green: statement by owner

Amendment 61

Moved by Lord Greaves

61: Clause 13, page 15, line 26, after “must” insert—

“(a) ”

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Lord Greaves: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 62 and 63. This group also contains a couple of amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie. I shall refer to them in passing, although I shall wait for him to speak to them.

Clauses 13, 14 and 15 take us on to a new area in the Bill: the registration of town and village greens. These clauses refer to Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, and some of us have fond memories of the passage of that legislation through your Lordships’ House.

Clause 13 inserts new Sections 15A and 15B into the Commons Act. Section 15 refers to the registration of town and village greens which exist—or which people claim exist—but which are not yet registered. It sets out the procedure for registration and that takes place through the commons registration regulations by commons registration authorities, which are local authorities in two-tier areas—now county councils.

Before we can understand any of these amendments or clauses we need to understand town and village greens and their registration. They are areas of land that may or may not be registered—most of them are now registered—in the commons register, and they confer on local people the right to informal recreation on that land. They are also open spaces. That common law right was codified in the Commons Registration Act 1965 and again in the Commons Act 2006.

Clause 13 brings in a new right for a landowner to bring to an end a period in which people have had rights to take part in informal recreation on that land. A piece of land can be registered as a town or village green under certain conditions: first, if people have used it for 20 years—usually continuously, but, basically, for 20 years; and secondly, if they have used it for lawful sports and pastimes—in other words, informal recreation—as of right as opposed to by right. That sounds legalistic and obscure but “as of right” means that they have not been stopped from using it; they have not used force; they have not used it secretly, having sneaked on there at two o’clock in the morning and kicked a ball about and left before anyone saw them; and they have not had permission. All those matters are crucial. If the owner of the land gives people permission by putting a sign up saying, “Ball games allowed”, that negates the ability to register it as a green. It is an ancient right and it is closely prescribed by those requirements.

If a piece of land has been used in that way without any of those conditions applying for 20 years or more, it can be registered as a green. It is very important to understand that if that happens, it is not being created as a green; it is simply recognising the legal fact that, under the old common law and under the Commons Act, where it has been codified, it is a green. It is a matter of fact. It is quite different from planning permission, which is a matter of saying, “Given the circumstances of that land and given all the planning laws and regulations, is it a good idea for that planning permission to be given?”. For example, it is very different from a designation as a piece of new green space under the new designation in the NPPF, where it is a matter of opinion as to whether that is a good idea or not. Either it is a green or it is not a green. That is why the process of registration often seems fairly bureaucratic, legalistic and long-winded.

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Within the 20-year period, an owner can simply prevent the area ever being registered as a green by stopping people or by giving permission to people, whichever he wants to do. Clause 13 brings in a new right for a landowner to bring to an end the possibility of it being registered as a green—in other words, to bring to an end the period in which lawful pastimes can take place on it—by making a statement to a commons registration authority. In future, even if it has been used for more than 20 years or since the 15th century, it cannot be registered as a green.

7.15 pm

However, Section 15(3) of the Commons Act says that if the use has been for longer than 20 years, and it ceases, you can still apply to register within two years after the cessation of use. That use does not cease because the landowner is doing something but just stops. If the use has stopped within the past two years, but it was used before that, you can still register it as a green. The advice from the Government, which is clearly set out in the Explanatory Notes, is that this provision in Section 15(3) of the Commons Act means that even if an owner of the land makes a statement under the new clause in this Bill to the registration authority that it is no longer being used, you still have two years in which you can register it as a green. The owner makes a statement under the new Section 15A of the Commons Act, but a person can still make an application for registration under Section 15(3) within two years.

The question in regard to this amendment—which is pretty complicated, for which I apologise, but I think the point needs explaining—is: how are people to know that such a statement has been made by the owner so that they have an opportunity to exercise their rights under Section 15(3) of the Commons Act? At the moment the Bill contains no proposals that anything should happen other than that the authority should state in the register of greens that the statement has been made. That is all it has to do. The purpose of these amendments is to set down proposals that there has to be a minimum of local publicity such as a sign on the green or information on the website or an advertisement in the local newspaper or all three, and anything else which local people feel is appropriate. That is not excessive to the landowner or to a commons registration authority.

If someone’s rights are being taken away, it is common sense that they should be told about it. The owner of the land does not have to put up a fence or a gate with a lock and a sign saying, “Keep out”. He can simply allow people to continue using it for the next two years in blissful ignorance that their rights will cease after the end of two years, or their ability to use that land for that purpose will cease after two years and they will be locked out without any redress whatever. This is a simple, reasonable amendment to say that when a landowner makes a statement that the use of the green for informal recreation has ceased, there should be sufficient publicity to allow people time, if they wish, to make an application for a green registration, which can then be tested in the normal way. I beg to move.

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Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, we have Amendments 63A and 63B in this group. I should start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, for his knowledgeable exposition on these issues. I was told by one of his colleagues that he is the world expert on these matters, as he has demonstrated.

By way of background, Clauses 13 and 14 mirror the approach taken in so much of the Bill. This issue is largely subject to anecdote, so the Government have taken the opportunity to address it in legislation in an unacceptably tough manner. Let me be clear: we reject the opportunity to use town and village green provisions to thwart development which is unwanted by some. However, we equally reject legislation that would, in large measure, make it difficult to establish such a provision in the future. Our approach is not to seek a deletion of these clauses but to amend them in an attempt to get a better balance.

Amendments 63A and 63B address the issue of the publicity that must be given to a statement under Clause 13. As the noble Lord explained, the statement is that which a landowner can deposit with a registration authority to bring to an end any period during which persons have indulged as of right in lawful sport and pastimes on the land. The knowledge of cessation of use is important because it is the trigger to the two-year window in which a person can seek to register the land as a green. Without that knowledge there is the prospect that the two years will elapse and the chance to register will be lost.

Amendment 63A inserts “must” rather than “may”—an issue that perhaps we do not need to dwell on extensively. However, Amendment 63B requires regulations concerning publicity to be inserted into the Bill. On that basis, we have broadly common cause with the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, on these amendments. His proposition about the nature of the publicity is more detailed and possibly more appropriate, but we seek to achieve the same thing by our amendments.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: My Lords, I support this group of amendments on a very important issue. I will make a perhaps slightly illegitimate point, because I probably do support the removal of the two clauses, which I consider unnecessary. I apologise to the Committee for the fact that I will not be here for the debate on whether the clauses should stand part, so I will say that were I to be here I would support the proposition that they should not.

The amendments in this group are particularly important if the clauses remain—in particular the need to publicise and notify those whose interests could otherwise be removed surreptitiously, without them realising that that had been done. However, it is important to say—as the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, said—that these two clauses typify the Bill in that the number of applications for town and village greens has considerably reduced and is very small compared with the number of planning applications that are approved every year. Therefore, we must challenge considerably whether primary legislation is necessary. It is quite a large sledgehammer to crack a nut that probably does not exist—or, if it does, exists in very small proportions.

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Baroness Hanham: My Lords, in responding to the noble Lords, Lord Greaves and Lord McKenzie, it may be helpful if I briefly set out why we are reforming the system for registering town and village greens. This explanation will take us through to the next group of amendments. In short, the reforms are needed to prevent the greens registration scheme being used to stop or delay planned development decided through the democratically accountable planning system. The changes will also protect the ability of local communities to promote or support development in their areas through consultation and decision-taking on planning applications and local and neighbourhood plans. Another aim is to reduce the financial burden on local authorities in considering green applications, and the costs to landowners whose land is affected by these applications.

Clause 13 inserts new Section 15A into the Commons Act 2006 which allows a landowner in England to deposit a statement and map with the commons registration authority, the effect of which is to bring to an end any period of use “as of right” for lawful sports and pastimes on that land. The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, very expertly went through what lies behind this clause. I will briefly say that under the current system, if landowners want to protect their land from town or village green registration, they may erect fences and/or notices to physically prevent access to the land. However, the courts have ruled that even taking such steps does not necessarily bring to an end any use “as of right”, in particular where fences or notices are not maintained in the event of damage or removal. Clause 13 will allow landowners to achieve the aim of ending use “as of right” through the submission of a statement. We hope that this reform will encourage landowners to allow recreational use of their land, safe in the knowledge that they can prevent the registration of their land as a green. That will then be of benefit to those who use the land, as well as to landowners.

The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, tabled Amendments 61, 62 and 63. As he explained, their intention is to ensure that, where a landowner makes a statement, notice is given to local people and other interested parties so that they are aware that the clock is ticking on the time that is available for making a town or village green application. Amendments 63A and 63B, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, would require that publicising the deposit of a statement should be mandatory.

In line with the statements made by the honourable Member for Sevenoaks in the other place, I offer the Committee the reassurance that we intend that, where a landowner statement is deposited with a commons registration authority, the authority will be required to publicise it. This will ensure that local people and other interested parties are made aware of the fact that a statement has been deposited. We intend to use the power to make regulations, set out in subsection (6) of new Section 15A, to make publication of the statement one of the steps that an authority must take when the statement has been deposited.

It is our view that the specific publicity requirements are best set out in regulations; it is not necessary to include such detail in the Bill. However, my officials will draw up those regulations in close consultation with key interested parties, including the Open Spaces

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Society and the Association of Commons Registration Authorities. The regulations will require that commons registration authorities take appropriate steps to ensure that local people and other interested parties are made aware of the fact that a landowner statement has been deposited.

Amendment 63 would ensure that a landowner statement under this clause cannot be made until regulations prescribing the detail of the process under subsection (6) have come into effect. However, there is already provision for Clause 13 and those regulations to come into effect at the same time. The commencement provisions in Clause 31 provide that the Government can commence Clause 13 at an appointed time, and I reassure the Committee that the reason that the clause will be commenced in this way rather than on a set date is to ensure that these provisions are not commenced until regulations are finalised. I hope that, with those reassurances, noble Lords will not press their amendments.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, I am grateful for that detailed response and for the Minister’s comments. I am also grateful to her for referring to Amendment 63, which I forgot to speak to. I thought that I had spoken long enough—and I am sure that the Committee did, too. That is my excuse, anyway. What the Minister said is exactly what my amendment would do, so I am very happy not to press it.

On the publishing of information when a statement is deposited with a commons registration authority, I think that the Minister’s response fitted the bill and that her assurance was okay. We will look at the regulations when they come out and, if they do not say what the Minister has just said, she will have to explain why—but I am sure that they will.

The only point I will make is that it is very important that the publishing of the fact that a statement has been made should be sufficiently local. Some commons registration authorities are big unitary authorities such as Northumberland or Cornwall, or big counties such as North Yorkshire or Lancashire. Simply publishing statements centrally or on a website will not get to the people who are using a piece of land in a village or town. It is very important that publication is sufficiently local so that somebody will pick it up and pass it on. With that comment, I am pleased to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 61 withdrawn.

Amendments 62 to 63B not moved.

Clause 13 agreed.

House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.31 pm

Health: Neglected Tropical Diseases

Question for Short Debate

7.30 pm

Asked By Baroness Hayman

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in combating neglected tropical diseases since the London declaration on NTDs of January 2012.

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Baroness Hayman: My Lords, much has been achieved since the signing of the London declaration on neglected tropical diseases a year ago today. Substantial progress has been made in raising awareness of the issues—in that respect I welcome the number of noble Lords who have put down their names to speak in tonight’s debate—and in the fight to control and eventually eliminate the scourge of this group of debilitating and disabling conditions.

They are diseases caused by viruses and bacteria transmitted through snails and worms, flies and mosquitoes. They are found predominantly among poor, rural and semi-urban populations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with almost half their health burden in sub-Saharan Africa. NTDs cause disfigurement and disability, anaemia, stunting and blindness to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. It has been estimated that among the 1.4 billion people who constitute the poorest in the world today, there is not a man, woman or child who has not, is not or will not be affected by at least one of these diseases. They are not just neglected diseases in terms of research or money: they are the diseases of neglected people.

The London declaration set out an ambitious plan to work towards the control and elimination of NTDs, building on the programme set out by the World Health Organisation. The substantial progress that has been made in the past year has been clearly set out in a series of recent reports from, among others, the WHO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Only yesterday, the executive board of the WHO passed an important, comprehensive and authoritative resolution committing the authority to grow the programmes already in place and integrate them further into the health and development agenda.

I do not intend tonight to do the Minister’s work for her by answering in detail my own question as to the progress made over the past year, but I want to emphasise the advantages that have come from the partnership approach of the London declaration: the bringing together of the pharmaceutical companies that have contributed, free of charge, more than 1 billion treatments; the endemic countries, 40 of which have developed multiyear integrated NTD plans; the donors who have committed funds to support delivery of those programmes and increase the resources available for mapping and research; and the academic institutions that are undertaking that research such as the London Centre for NTDs launched today—an important UK initiative—which will concentrate on identifying and supporting best practice and answering the practical operational questions that we need so much to understand.

The commitment to rigorous monitoring and evaluation through the scorecard for the London declaration will track delivery, highlight milestones and targets and help identify priority action areas. This joint working, accountability and transparency is one of the reasons why aid directed to NTDs is so obviously smart aid. It is aid where resources deployed are cost-effective—we come back again and again to the 50 pence per person per year for de-worming programmes—and aid that leverages resources and

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commitments from endemic countries, private and philanthropic sectors as well as from voluntary organisations and donor Governments.

DfID and the British Government deserve great credit for being, together with US aid, a leader in this field and I pay tribute to the previous Minister at DfID, Stephen O’Brien MP, who provided committed and knowledgeable leadership, without which we would never have got this far. I hope when she comes to wind up that the Minister will have something to say about the Government’s efforts to encourage other countries, particularly in Europe, to allocate resources in this area.

In the few minutes that I have left, I want to talk about the reasons for making NTD control a global health priority and I remind the House of my non-financial interests in the area, particularly as a trustee of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and to look forward to some of the areas that we need to develop for success in the future.

The value-for-money argument for making NTDs a priority goes alongside the humanitarian argument. Unlike many other diseases, we have cheap and effective tools for alleviating the misery of the disease, disablement and discrimination that these conditions cause. What we need is political will as well as resource. I hope that this debate tonight will contribute in some small way towards that political will.

These are age-old afflictions. Twenty years ago, I chaired the Whittington Hospital in Archway in London. The first health facility on that site was a leper hospital in the 12th century. It was opened and positioned there because it was just beyond the boundaries of the city of London, from which people with leprosy were barred. Much more recently on Ellis Island, emigrants from Europe to the USA were examined by immigration officers for trachoma and sent home if they were found to be infected. This experience of exclusion and discrimination still exists for many in the developing world today.

However, as a global health priority, NTDs have a much shorter history. It is less than a decade since Peter Hotez of Sabin, David Molyneux of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Alan Fenwick of Imperial College first used the term in biomedical journals and they have been tireless advocates for this cause, alongside Dr Lorenzo Savioli at the World Health Organisation. Despite their widespread prevalence, these diseases have been neglected in multiple ways and for multiple reasons. They have attracted tiny proportions of budgets for treatment from donor Governments or for research from private or academic institutions. Médecins sans Frontières presented evidence last month that only 1.4% of clinical studies undertaken in the past year focused on neglected diseases, although they cause around 11% of the global disease burden.

This is partly because of the demographic that they afflict and its lack of purchasing and political power, but also because in public health terms these diseases have been seen as causing morbidity rather than mortality. So the focus in the millennium development goals and elsewhere has been on the big three killers in the

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developing world—AIDS, TB and malaria. However, there is growing evidence of the important and significant interaction between NTDs and these three diseases.

As well as the obvious overlap in geography and the demographics of co-infection, the data suggest a strong association of exaggerated symptoms, rapid progression of disease and a higher risk of fatality in all three diseases where there is the presence of NTDs. To take just one example, studies in Tanzania and Zimbabwe demonstrate that women with female genital schistosomiasis have a 3% to 4% higher chance of being infected with HIV than those who are free of the disease. If we are to achieve the millennium development goal on AIDS, TB and malaria, we also need to tackle neglected diseases. I hope that the Minister may also say something about encouraging global fund programmes to integrate NTD control, as they have, for the first time, in Togo.

However, progress in achieving other millennium development goals is also impeded by the epidemic of NTDs and its effects on maternal mortality, school attendance and livelihoods. Controlling NTDs is an important component not only of the global health agenda, but of the more general development agenda.

If we are to achieve the ambitious targets set out in the London declaration, we will have to meet many varied challenges, not the least of which is providing the basic building blocks of public health, clean water, sanitation, hygiene and education. These are essential to underpinning NTD initiatives. We need to develop greater capacity to deliver and distribute the drugs that are available, and we need to know more about the best treatment regimes and about synergies with other health programmes, such as the distribution of bed nets and vaccination campaigns. I think that the London centre will be hugely helpful in this respect. We need to mobilise research and development on vector control, which is often a neglected area itself. Evidence from the WHO Global Burden of Disease 2010 study shows that diseases such as leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis and hookworm are unlikely to be eliminated solely through mass drug administration programmes. We urgently need research into the development of new control tools, including drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. We need a good pipeline of innovative products if we are not to be talking, in 20 or 30 years’ time, of re-emerging diseases.

Margaret Chan, the director of the World Health Organisation, has issued a clarion call by saying on the publication of its latest report:

“Overcoming Neglected Tropical Diseases makes sense for economies and development … Many millions of people are being freed from the misery and disability that have kept populations mired in poverty ... We are moving ahead towards achieving universal health coverage with essential health interventions for Neglected Tropical Diseases, the ultimate expression of fairness”.

As we look to the global health agenda post 2015, what better rallying cry could we have?

7.41 pm

Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I begin by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for initiating this timely debate. Neglected tropical diseases form a group of 17 diseases, and as one who was born and brought up

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in Africa, I have seen the effects of some of them. They often affect the poorest of people in the hardest- to-reach areas. Because most of these diseases do not exist in more developed nations, it is easy to forget just how prevalent they are in other parts of the world. They cause death or weaken individuals, putting them at risk of being affected by other conditions. They damage the lives of more than 1 billion people across the globe and cost millions of pounds in healthcare and loss of production.

Large-scale diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis receive worldwide media attention and a great deal of research and funding, including commendable commitments from our own successive Governments. However, it must be acknowledged that in some parts of the world, the combined impact of the neglected diseases is comparable to that of the likes of malaria. We must come to terms with the scale of the task at hand. Some diseases are at risk of spreading further, so it is important that we do all we can to stop that happening.

As with so many of the world’s ills, the key to nipping the problem in the bud will be as much prevention as possible. It is now one year since the London declaration made a call to the world to work together in order to support and realise the World Health Organisation’s 2020 Roadmap on Neglected Tropical Diseases. I was pleased to read the WHO’s second report on NTDs, published earlier this month. It highlights what it describes as “unprecedented progress” made over the past two years. A regular supply of medicines and general worldwide strategic support has resulted in a vast improvement in the health of many people. There now seems to be a much closer focus on simplifying and fine-tuning the logistics of getting medication to as many people as possible in the most cost-effective ways. The outlook has shifted away from instigating the strategy to progressing it in a sustainable way, and the 2020 road map to control or eliminate at least 10 diseases by the end of the decade seems to be firmly in sight.

Today marks the launch of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research, which is another huge milestone in taking forward further research and, more importantly, providing a bricks-and-mortar hub for continued global co-ordination. We should all be extremely proud that this global initiative has been based here in London from outset—from the coalition of organisations through to the declaration, and now to the establishment of this centre. The United Kingdom has a reputation for identifying and honouring its moral duty to assist others, and our leadership of this initiative continues that fine tradition. Just last year, our Government committed £195 million to support the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases. In a wider context, this initiative serves as the perfect example of what can be achieved when people come together and collaborate for the greater good. Governments, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, NGOs, funding agencies and philanthropists have all provided expertise and resources that have resulted in measurable impacts being made in the affected communities.

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7.46 pm

Lord Stone of Blackheath: My Lords, my involvement in this area has come about from chairing DIPEx, an online health charity. We publish videos and audio interviews conducted over 10 years of qualitative research into people’s personal experiences of illness by a brilliant team of academics at Green Templeton College, Oxford. Our website, healthtalkonline, was featured last week in the Times as number two in the top 50 websites that “you cannot live without”. We are good at publicity. Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, the chair of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, has been a great supporter of DIPEx International, and he thought that perhaps our methodology of videoing patients’ experiences might help NTD workers to record and report their effectiveness because they do not get enough exposure; they are neglected. We are looking at that with the institute.

When I met Professor Alan Fenwick, the expert at the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative at Imperial College, he amazed me. The initiative has used its DfID funding to such great effect that it facilitated some 4 million treatments against schistosomiasis in its first year, which was 2011. By 2012 it had reached eight countries and provided 15 million treatments. Similarly, the Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has increased its number of treatments against lymphatic filariasis from 35 million in 2011 to 52 million in 2012. Both are confident that they will further expand their coverage in 2013 and get to Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.

It is excellent that DfID funding is reaching the poorest of the poor with cost-effective treatments of NTDs, but the world should view addressing these diseases not only within the health context, of course, but also in the important economic context. The Hudson Institute says that about 50 million DALYs—disability adjusted life years—are lost in developing countries to the NTDs alone. The treatment of NTDs is immensely cost-effective on a massive scale. The teams involved in these projects want the correct measurements, graphic representation and feedback loops in place to prove the effectiveness of allocating further huge resources to this work because it pays over the long term. The sources of funding are entitled to know that the route whereby their cash is getting to good causes is providing value for money. If they know that, they can target their funding better and co-operate across the piece, and thence give more. Yesterday evening, Lindsey Wu of Policy Cures described the integration of the malaria vaccine technology road map being co-ordinated by the World Health Organisation. It seeks to involve players at all stages of malaria control and elimination and considers how that can back into early stage vaccine work. This type of holistic approach at all stages goes beyond the lab to deliver the most impact on the ground.

There are, of course, powerful drivers for “commercial” funders to conduct R&D on drugs and thus develop vaccines and diagnostics, but not enough resources are allocated to the less commercial end, which is that of vector control. Millions of people could be prevented from getting these diseases in the first place. Furthermore,

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more attention is needed on the less exciting areas of operational research, implementation and logistics, as well as an integrated approach to multiple NTDs.

This whole project is amazingly heartening and I urge the Minister to look at the need for well informed, powerfully and graphically presented feedback loops, which could inspire greater integration of funding and bring the successful treatments of these neglected diseases to the attention of the larger world community; thereby supporting these great people working in this field and enabling millions of wonderful individuals in these countries not only to live but to live better lives.

7.50 pm

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I thank my noble friend because I know that water fleas, snails, blackfly and many other deadly insects and parasites are still infecting millions with NTDs such as trypanosomiasis and onchocerciasis. “Trips” and “oncho” became part of my vocabulary when I joined Christian Aid 40 years ago. Remembering the WHO mass-spraying campaigns in west Africa at that time, I now feel disappointment that we always seemed to be on the point of eliminating oncho but never quite succeeded.

Agencies specialising in this field have long had the target of “clean water for all”. Water is given a green light in the MDGs but this remains an enormous task —the UN says that 783 million are still using traditional drinking water supplies and one of the most successful agencies, WaterAid, now has 27 country programmes, which last year provided 1.6 million people with safe water and 1.9 million with sanitation. Oxfam and CARE have also been prominent in this field. Coming from the background of the voluntary sector, people like me can sound quite glib in describing the needs of the poorest people—all they have to do is boil their water, wash their hands and follow the advice of the nearest health centre. However, life of course is a little more complicated: the advice may be 50 or more miles away; tradition and culture dominate; and the worms and flies may be too numerous. Education is vital. Water and sanitation must be complemented with child-focused health education that promotes lifelong healthy behaviour.

I have some scepticism about the donations offered by pharmaceutical companies and the doctors they direct, and even control, in developing countries, which undoubtedly gives them a PR advantage. I am also aware of the ill effects of overprescription, which leads to dangerous dependence and painful withdrawal. I remember how subsidiaries of well known pharmaceutical companies in countries such as Bangladesh bought doctors and tyrannised village clinics that did not comply with them. I nevertheless congratulate these companies, and the charities that are contributing to this important campaign. We know that more than 700 million people have been treated for seven diseases and that the numbers treated for soil-transmitted worms have quadrupled in one year, which is nothing but impressive.

Just after DfID announced its fivefold increase in support for the NTD programme—which is to be warmly welcomed, alongside the US contribution—the

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asked, a year ago, whether increased funding for neglected tropical diseases really made poverty history. It pointed out the risks of undermining healthcare systems and of relying on volunteers, the gaps in the knowledge of combination drugs, and the limits in the evidence base for these drugs. Mass campaigns, although necessary to meet the MDGs, can at the same time take staff away from fragile healthcare administrations.

I have consulted Save the Children, which of course is well aware of the importance of tackling the NTDs with major campaigns. However, its key message is that, as the communities affected are often those excluded from health services, any work to ensure sustainable access to NTD prevention and control interventions should always be integrated with the strengthening of comprehensive health systems for sustainable change. Does the Minister agree with that and will she ask DfID to ensure that health workers who get involved in these interventions are always adequately remunerated, trained and motivated to support them as part of a package of essential services?

7.54 pm

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for securing this debate on a very important topic and, as we have heard, a very neglected one. There are great signs of engagement and creativity, as noble Lords have said, but the statistics and effects are absolutely horrifying. I want to develop the point that has just been made about an integrated and sustainable approach. For medical intervention and investment to be effective—I think the noble Baroness used the term “smart aid”—there has to be an embedding in the local culture. Often, there have been ways of handling these things for many years, and it is not easy for western medicine to come in with all its technology and suddenly change the situation. In fact, an article in the Lancet in March 2012 provided evidence of the hostility to this kind of intervention because people in the local community did not understand it and were threatened by it. The article said that it was important, alongside the medical intervention, to enable what it called “behavioural change” and an “integrated biosocial approach”.

I want to give an example of that and encourage the Minister, and our own investment from this country and the work of the London centre, to take this approach seriously. I declare an interest as a trustee of Christian Aid, and it is good that there are other Christian Aid supporters here. Christian Aid commends what it calls a “community health approach”, which is local, joined-up and sustainable. It has four aims: to respond to local priorities; to integrate the approach to the various diseases and health issues; to develop a local health system; and to involve local people and local resources.

I will give your Lordships an example. A cross-border malaria initiative in Zambia was launched by Christian Aid and a number of partners in July 2010. So far, 100 local people have been identified, engaged and trained up to work as volunteers to enable this integration of the care response and its embedding in the local community. That is the kind of approach that I think we must commend and invest in.

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I have two other quick points. Resourcing is crucial. Although it is not the main topic of this debate, I cannot resist reminding noble Lords that before Christmas we debated the issue of tax justice. Much of the wealth that is created in countries where these tropical diseases are prevalent is through tax avoidance schemes and is taken out of the country to where it cannot be taxed to provide local resources for a local response. We need to recognise that that is part of the picture.

Finally, I will say something about vigilance. In the 1960s, sleeping sickness was virtually eradicated in Africa, but by the 1990s, it was beginning to return. There is a frightening pattern in a lot of aid and welfare interventions that almost get there but somehow do not quite integrate and create something sustainable. The problem then creeps back. That is why I commend to the Minister, and ask her to take very seriously, this approach of community health, which is local, sustainable, joined-up and able to build a system so that the approach to neglected tropical diseases will be a lasting and effective one.

7.58 pm

Lord Trees: My Lords, the debate today is to mark the first anniversary of the London declaration on neglected tropical diseases. I want to celebrate that important initiative and the considerable progress that has been, and is being, made to control and eradicate these diseases. However, I also want to emphasise that we cannot yet be complacent. The job is not finished and there is much to do, even though the way forward is largely clear.

The NTDs are now getting the attention they deserve because they afflict huge numbers of people in the poorest countries of the world—the so-called “bottom billion”. These diseases are inextricably bound with poverty. It contributes to these diseases and these diseases, in turn, contribute to poverty. Their control is an essential step in the achievement of several key millennium development goals. These diseases, which include many with bizarre, exotic and frightening names such as Kala-Azar, Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, elephantiasis and river blindness, are for the most part chronic and persisting infections, which may eventually kill but which in many cases simply—but seriously—disable, disfigure and stigmatise. The effects are pervasive and extensive in the societies in which they occur.

Another of their characteristics is that many can be treated, controlled and even eradicated with tools that we already have. These are the low-hanging fruit of tropical diseases. The costs of making progress are relatively low and the benefits are huge, as has been said by several speakers. It is very much to the credit of the WHO, the Gates Foundation, various NGOs, scientists and healthcare workers throughout the world, and of course, the London declaration, that these diseases are now being tackled in a concerted and coherent way. The contribution of the UK to this global effort is huge. DfID has played a very substantial part, as have many scientists, medics, vets and healthcare workers based in our universities and in our two schools devoted to tropical medicine and public health in Liverpool and London.

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Another hugely important factor has been the donation of drugs by major pharmaceutical companies to this programme. Drugs to the value of $2 billion to $3 billion a year are being donated by big pharma; this is an altruistic gesture that is not always fully appreciated. As a vet, it gives me satisfaction that a lot of these drugs were initially developed for the control of worms in animals. A staggering 700 million tablets are administered each year to school children in developing countries to control enteric worms, and that is just one example. All of these efforts have resulted in a substantial reduction in the incidence of infection and disease, and put the goals of controlling and eradicating many—if not most—of the 17 targeted NTDs by 2020 within reach.

However, there is still a need for an estimated $2 billion to sustain this effort to achieve these goals. That is a lot of money. Currently only 0.6% of overseas development assistance for health globally is being allocated to NTDs. Some $2 billion spread over 7 years among the wealthiest nations of the globe, given the huge return, is surely not only a desirable, but also a necessary investment. Fit and healthy people can work to feed themselves, their families and, their populations and they can contribute to the economic and social progress of their countries which in turn reduces conflict and migration.

There is still a need to develop new products and technologies to continue supporting the development of healthcare systems, health services in endemic countries and particularly systems for delivery of drugs to the point of need. We need to ensure clean water supplies and good sanitation. Notwithstanding that, we now have many of the tools we need. It is the appliance of science, the delivery of what we have, that is the major challenge. Given that there are freely available drugs for many of the NTDs, it is a responsibility we all share to apply these tools to achieve the global benefits. If we fail to do that—to satisfactorily deal with the low-hanging fruit—what hope have we to tackle more complex or technical health problems facing the world?

8.03 pm

Lord Rea: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for bringing this important subject before the House. I was stimulated to take part because half a lifetime ago I worked with children in Lagos, Nigeria, for two and a half years and met with some of these diseases. They can have a debilitating effect by causing anaemia, malnutrition, impairment of immunity or renal failure. Most of them have a secondary host, or vector, which spreads the infection. These include a number of insects and other organisms which have been referred to and described by other speakers. I think noble Lords would agree that nobody living in the Western world would tolerate being exposed to any of these pests. However, people living in poor housing with no clean water or sanitation cannot guard against them. In this context, I would echo the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, in asking the Minister how far vector control for NTDs other than malaria is being addressed by any of the programmes supported by DfID.

People suffering from these tropical diseases are also subject to the full panoply of other universal infections, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, which

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are more likely to be severe because of lowered immunity, caused by one or other NTDs, and associated malnutrition. While welcoming the international initiatives that have been praised by everybody, I have a slight caveat, as did the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. Anthropologists Tim Allen of LSE and Melissa Parker of Brunel point out in the


that, welcome though treatment of NTDs is, the mass administration of drugs gives rise to a danger that these vertical programmes can undermine already fragile and overstretched healthcare systems. However, I think that with care, co-ordination and collaboration this can be avoided. In fact, if properly managed, these programmes can actually strengthen primary care.

Populations receiving mass medication often do not understand why tablets are being given to everyone, including those with no symptoms, and may not understand or accept scientific explanations of the causes of NTDs. The two anthropologists I mentioned write:

“The availability of tablets is not enough ... dealing with NTDs in a sustainable way will involve a range of factors including behavioural change. Imagining that mass drug administration ‘will make poverty history’ is unrealistic”.

I think that the leaders of the current interest in conquering NTDs are fully aware of this, and I certainly feel that this was given evidence by the excellent research papers that were given at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine this afternoon. As someone who has worked at the grass roots, the observations of the two anthropologists need to be taken into account; they have the ring of truth.

I would like the noble Baroness to reassure me if she can that the generous funding going to mass treatment of NTDs is not diverting DfID researchers away from the longer-term, but ultimately much more sustainable, objective of relieving poverty and improving health by strengthening health systems, improving nutrition, ending illiteracy and providing clean water and sanitation. Mass administration of drugs can set the ball rolling, but only through these wider means can NTDs be sustainably controlled and eventually eliminated.

8.08 pm

Lord Patel: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness for initiating the debate and for other reasons which will become quite obvious in a minute. Much of the debate implies that we have treatments available for a lot of these diseases. That is far from the truth. We have some treatments available for some of the diseases, and none for others. In some cases, those that are available are highly toxic and, more likely than not, will kill the patient. We need more research in developing cheaper, more effective drugs. We also need a long-term strategy for the eradication of these diseases.

So far, we have succeeded in eradicating one disease: smallpox. We may succeed in eradicating guinea worm disease and possibly polio, but we are a long way from eradicating the others.

I am currently chancellor of the University of Dundee. I mention this because the University of Dundee has received funding from the Wellcome Trust in the fight

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against neglected parasitic diseases, including support for a multimillion-pound partnership with GlaxoSmithKline to discover new drug treatments. I have been associated with the University of Dundee since the day I went there as a medical student—I would hate to say how long ago that was. The Drug Discovery Unit at Dundee will work with the GSK discovery unit in Spain, and the goal of the collaboration is to develop safe and affordable treatments for Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and African sleeping sickness. The partnership aims to deliver at least one treatment for one of these diseases in the next five years.

These parasitic diseases afflict millions of people worldwide and are collectively responsible for about 150,000 deaths every year. The drugs that are available are difficult to administer, have toxic side-effects and are not always effective due to the drug-resistance of some of the parasites. We have made significant progress towards the development of a new treatment for African sleeping sickness over the past five years and there have been promising results in identifying potential treatments for leishmaniasis.

Currently we have a portfolio of discovery projects in various stages of development in African sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis. We have several types of compounds with promising activity in animal models. The next step is chemically to modify these molecules to find the optimal balance of drug-like properties for clinical trials.

Having an industry-experienced, multidisciplinary drug discovery team is very important and this public/private partnership is critical in developing drugs for these neglected diseases. A report published by the London School of Economics and Political Science, called The New Landscape of Neglected Disease Drug Development, found on the basis of vast amount of empirical data that the PPP approach brings together the best skills of the public/private partnership, and that currently there is very little investment of public money for the development of drugs for neglected tropical diseases. The report points out a surprising lack of policy incentives to support PPPs, which have become a cornerstone of both large and small pharmaceutical companies’ involvement in neglected disease R&D, and adds that some of the incentives on offer could well be counterproductive.

It is important for the Minister to take on board that if we as a country are going to be successful in developing drugs for these diseases, there needs to be more support from public money so that we develop public/private partnerships.

8.12 pm

Lord Crisp: My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lady Hayman on securing the debate and her commitment to this whole area. I also congratulate the Government on their championing and funding of this area. It is another great example of UK leadership in development. I agree with my noble friend that Stephen O’Brien provided really knowledgeable leadership and commitment in this area.

I have a non-financial interest as chair of the trustees of Sightsavers, an organisation that treats and provides surgery to more than 20 million people suffering from,

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or at risk from, neglected tropical diseases every year. I am delighted that we have been supported by DfID to lead a global survey of blinding trachoma, which will take us into 30 of the poorest countries in the world. Noble Lords will not be surprised to learn that with that background my comments are going to be about the two diseases that particularly affect eyes: onchocerciasis and blinding trachoma.

I want to make four simple points. First, while I agree with my noble friend Lord Patel that there is much research to do, when it comes to these two diseases—and others—we know what to do. It is well documented, researched and deliverable. We can rid the world of these diseases and we can do so sustainably.

Secondly, the way in which this whole programme around NTDs is developing is an example to other areas of health and, indeed, development. First, there is wonderful co-operation, which my noble friend Lady Hayman mentioned, but that co-operation is not new; it did not start a year ago. Co-operation has been going on at all levels around these two eye diseases for more than 25 years; indeed, Merck has provided free drugs for these eye diseases for the past 25 years.

In addition, in Africa there has been developed a process called community-directed treatment, which relates directly to what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby said earlier. We in Sightsavers are in touch with 100,000 community volunteers in villages who deliver these pills. It was developed in Africa; it was not actually developed by western medicine, it was developed by Africans as a way of reaching people in the community. What is interesting is that we can use that network not only to treat people with the eye diseases—indeed, ivermectin happens to treat lymphatic filariasis as well as onchocerciasis—but to deliver other drugs. We as an eye organisation are involved with others in delivering treatments for a whole range of different things. The third way in which this is such a good example is that surgery is often delivered by non-medical staff, and there are examples of how you can do things very effectively by being radical and innovative.

My third point is, as again the noble Baroness said in starting off, that this is smart aid; it works. This should be publicised; it should be communicated. Who can argue with 50p to stop people going blind? That is what we are talking about.

My final point is the sustainability one that has been brought up by a number of people. These are diseases of poverty and indeed, as we have heard, of neglected people. They are linked to things like clean water and weak health systems. So my questions to the Minister are very simple. First, what is DfID doing to integrate its policies around neglected tropical diseases with its policies on water and sanitation? Secondly, how is it going to make sure that the strengthening of health systems will be part of the post-2015 development agenda?

8.16 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for initiating this important debate. Although neglected tropical diseases are the most common infections among the world’s

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poorest communities, they receive little attention in the media. As we have heard, while they are not always fatal, their effect on individuals and communities can be devastating. They disproportionately affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people and are a serious impediment to economic development in many developing nations.

There is no doubt that the coming together of the global health community in January 2012 to plan a new way forward for achieving a world free of these devastating ailments was a historic occasion. The commitment to the control or elimination of 10 NTDs in line with targets set by the World Health Organisation marked the beginning of a new and co-ordinated effort.

As we have heard, the lives of millions of people have improved since the launch of this plan. However, more resources and political will from all Governments will be needed if we are to achieve the WHO’s 2020 goals. The control and elimination of NTDs is feasible through mass drug administration but failure to also address the underlying causes, including the environmental conditions that contribute to their spread, such as clean water, improved sanitation initiatives and vector control, will make this task almost impossible.

The barriers and risks to achieving the WHO targets include: conflicts and the consequent movement of people; population growth; vector or intermediate host control; resistance to medicines and pesticides; expectations overtaking science; inadequate support for research; and, of course, climate change. We still have a world where some 780 million people are without adequate sanitation and safe drinking water; 40% of those without access to improved water sources live in sub-Saharan Africa, where many of the NTDs are prevalent. The biggest challenge is in India, where more than half the country’s population—625 million people—are without basic toilet facilities.

An integrated approach is essential if we are to meet the WHO targets. As we have heard from the noble Earl and my noble friend, there are other risks attached to promoting mass drug administration, including the undermining of already fragile and overstretched healthcare systems and the difficulties involved in relying on volunteers to assist with drug distribution in targeted communities.

However, schemes such as the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Little Doctors programme are shining examples of how education, public health and drugs can be combined effectively. In addition to providing regular treatment, the programme teaches students from upper grades to assist teachers with de-worming days. The Little Doctors also share hygiene and other health messages with their classmates and families to help prevent reinfection.

To ensure that the objectives of the London declaration are delivered, we need clear government strategies. I, too, would like the Minister to explain what action the Government are taking to improving access to clean water and improved sanitation. What steps are being taken to build healthcare capacity and generally to improve public health and education in the target areas?

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8.21 pm

Baroness Northover: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for securing this debate and for all her work in this area. Her passionate and expert speech and those of other noble Lords remind us how important it is to tackle the so-called neglected tropical diseases. They blight the lives of more than a billion people, cause disability, disfigurement, stigma and an estimated half a million deaths annually in some of the poorest countries in the world. They cause terrible suffering and perpetuate dire poverty. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, spoke of diseases of neglected people. That is a good way of describing them.

Last year, as noble Lords have mentioned, we made a fivefold increase in our commitment to this area and we are maintaining that support to ensure that these diseases and those who suffer from them are neglected no more. This is an area in which some of our outstanding institutions, such as the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College, are playing a leading role. Various noble Lords mentioned that the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research has formally opened this afternoon at the London School, which everybody is extremely pleased to see. The noble Lord, Lord Patel, spoke of the work being done in Dundee and of the importance of public/private partnerships, something which DfID strongly supports and has built into its approach to tackling NTDs.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, and others have said, there is partnership across a number of organisations here. The pharmaceutical industry is playing a vital part in this regard. We are also working with the World Health Organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the US Agency for International Development.

One year on from the London launch, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and others for the tribute that they have paid to the step change that DfID has made in this area. Like the noble Baroness, the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, and others, I pay tribute to my honourable friend Stephen O’Brien, the former Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for International Development, for his leadership here, as well as to all the others who played their part in the London declaration. I pay tribute, too, to the various organisations, including those led by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and noble Lord, Lord Crisp, who have worked for a long period in this area.

I can assure noble Lords that DfID now expects to reach more than 140 million people who suffer from NTDs by 2015. Since the London declaration, the UK has launched a programme to complete the global mapping of trachoma; agreed a programme to take an integrated approach to tackling NTDs in Nigeria, one of the highest-burden countries in the world; and helped the World Health Organisation strengthen its NTD staffing and improve its co-ordination of the kala-azar programmes in south Asia and east Africa.

Last year, the UK Government offered to increase and extend their support to guinea-worm eradication, provided that others stepped in to help close the

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financing gap. Noble Lords will be pleased to hear that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Arab Emirates and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation rallied to this call. The programme now has the funds that it needs to achieve eradication. That will be a stunning achievement. I can assure the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, that we continually encourage other donors to contribute.

In 2012, fewer than 600 new cases of guinea-worm disease were reported in just four countries, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan—almost half the number of cases in 2011. This trend is very positive, but it is clear that there is no room for complacency. The endemic countries’ health systems and regional security are fragile—noble Lords have made reference to that. The Mali conflict remains a significant threat to the eradication timeline and the success of the global campaign.

Meanwhile, DfID continues to develop and expand the UK’s support for taking NTDs in three distinct but integrated ways. They are: additional support to control elephantiasis, river blindness and bilharzia, building on a number of existing successful partnerships; driving more research—to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, referred—to increase our knowledge of NTDs and improve delivery and effectiveness in addressing them; working on new programmes to help control kala-azar and trachoma, as well as a programme which takes an integrated approach to tackling a range of NTDs in South Sudan. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Rea, that we will include vector control in the design of our work on kala-azar. The noble Lord, Lord Stone, asked about feedback loops. I can assure him that we realise that good monitoring and evaluation are key to this area and we check that treatments get to those who need them. We check to make sure that we are making progress in controlling and eliminating these diseases and are getting best value for money for the funds committed. I seem to recall the noble Lord raising this matter at an APPG meeting that I spoke at and my putting him in touch with DfID. I hope that that takes things further forward.

Expanding our involvement requires a collaborative international effort and response. We are working closely with colleagues, particularly in USAID, the World Bank, WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to improve mechanisms for tackling these diseases. National Governments are key partners, too, particularly in mass drug administration through schools and communities and in efforts to improve water and sanitation services. We recognise the importance of joining all that up.

In the UK, it has not just been the Government responding to the challenge; there has been a positive response also from organisations, particularly in the private sector. This includes the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and Geneva Global. I particularly appreciate the all-party parliamentary group’s support for the UK Government’s work on NTDs and for the opportunity that it gave me to speak at the launch of its annual report in November.

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Noble Lords will also be pleased to hear that a number of institutions in the UK have formed the UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases as a collaborative partnership in research, implementation and capacity building. It is at the forefront of the push for integration, especially at the country level with national and other developmental partners.

The NTD community is adjusting to the post-London declaration situation. The WHO annual report makes clear how we have all stepped up and the challenges for tackling NTDs globally from 2013. These challenges include the need for increasing ownership by Governments in the affected countries. National Parliaments have an important role to play here in making the case to Health and Finance Ministers to increase domestic resource provision.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and others asked about integration of work on NTDs. The noble Baroness asked in particular about integration with the Global Fund. As she knows, the Global Fund in its support for health systems, which has developed over the years, makes a contribution beyond malaria, AIDS and TB. It is vital that all these approaches are integrated—the right reverend Prelate made this point very strongly—so that each element supports the other.

In this regard, I concur with the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich: mass campaigns need to strengthen and underpin fragile health systems. The right reverend Prelate illustrated that very point. I assure him that drugs for NTDs are delivered by volunteer community health workers, and that that is used to help to strengthen health systems. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and the noble Lords, Lord Crisp and Lord Collins, referred to water and sanitation as connected issues. Indeed they are, and we are well aware of that. I assure noble Lords that the increase in funding for NTDs is additional to DfID’s existing health, water and sanitation commitments. Integrating with the health system is an important tenet for NTD programmes to help to strengthen that effectiveness and improve sustainability. If we maintain that approach, those diseases can be eradicated, as the noble Lord, Lord Trees, said. We are determined to carry that through—just as we are in sight of eradicating polio, and as we did with smallpox, to which the noble Lord, Lord Patel, referred.

We have grasped a fantastic opportunity here to make a real difference to the lives of those affected by these diseases. In 2013, the task is to finalise remaining programmes, monitor the portfolio closely, continue to promote integration and work with others to expand the donor base and endemic country commitment.

Noble Lords have pointed out that these are diseases of poverty and that we must tackle poverty across the board. They are right, and that is how we view this task. This is indeed about tackling poverty, and we welcome noble Lords’ contribution in this key area.

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Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

8.31 pm

Clause 14: Restrictions on right to register land as town or village green

Amendment 64

Moved by Lord Greaves

64: Clause 14, page 16, line 32, leave out “if an” and insert “six months after the”

Lord Greaves: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 65 to 70, which are grouped; there are some interesting Labour amendments in the same group, which we will discuss with interest. I completely misread the draft groupings when they were issued; I thought that the two stand part debates were part of this group. In practice, I think that it would be sensible if we discuss everything within this group; I will certainly do that and, I hope, we will have nothing else to discuss when we come to the stand part debates, but we will see, because it is impossible to talk about the amendments without talking about the overall principles.

Clause 14 makes provision for the right of people to apply to register land as a town or village green to be stopped by certain trigger mechanisms. In discussion on previous amendments, I referred to the nature of town and village greens, which are based on different law and principles from applications for planning permission, which the clause is really about.

There are two separate systems. There is the procedure for registering greens, which is set out in the commons legislation and which is based on an assessment of the facts on the ground. It either is or is not a green, according to the criteria to which I referred previously, which are that it must have been used by people for informal recreation for 20 years or more without permission, without hindrance, without force and without secrecy. If those conditions apply, a person can apply for it to be made into a green.

Planning permission is completely different; it falls under the Planning Acts. That is a request for permission to use land for a particular purpose, or to build on it, to develop on it, and bears no immediate relationship to the previous or existing use. The problem, and the reason for Clauses 13 and 14, is that it is claimed—with some justification, but less than some people are claiming—that people are making vexatious or frivolous applications to register land as village or town greens, applications that are without foundation, to delay or prevent a particular development. Many of the examples that have been cited concern housing. Little evidence for that has been provided. We have been provided with lists of places where it is alleged that that has taken place, but the evidence is, to put it mildly, a bit thin.

Having said that, I am not challenging the view that it is possible, or the fact that it has happened in some places. I am not challenging the view that it ought not to be possible to make vexatious and unfounded

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applications for this purpose. The question is how to find an appropriate solution to this problem. Quite a few of the examples that have been provided have been on land owned by the council or by a local authority. The fact that the situation has got to the stage where a green application has been made is essentially down to incompetence by that local authority. However, that is not necessarily a reason why it should succeed.

If we accept the principle that vexatious applications should not be allowed to get in the way of development, how can the Bill tackle it? The Penfold review of non-planning consentslooked at this issue as one which was perhaps outside the planning system but which was delaying and possibly stopping development. The Penfold review suggested aligning—an important word—the green registration process, which is a non-planning process, with the planning system where active planning proposals on land existed and where people were making greens applications. It should be said that some of those green applications may have been triggered or stimulated by the planning application but were not necessarily wrong—but let us assume that we are dealing with vexatious applications.

At the beginning of consideration of this Bill Ministers stated quite clearly in briefings that it was their wish to align the planning system and the greens system. Unfortunately, this is not what the Bill does. It defines “trigger events” which are related to planning and the planning process, and which then immediately remove—that is to say, abolish—the rights of people under the green registration process. Instead of aligning the two processes and systems, the Bill is solving the problem simply by abolishing the system that is thought to be getting in the way.

Schedule 4 sets out the trigger events that will be involved. They are to do with either applications for planning permission or the publication of documents under the plan-making system. As far as planning permission is concerned, the trigger event is the moment at which the application is first publicised. A second trigger event is the moment that consent is given. This applies to either planning permission in the normal way or applications for development consent under the infrastructure planning system. There is a lack of logic here. If an event has been triggered by the application first being publicised, one wonders why a further triggering is required when planning permission is granted—but never mind. Those are the two stages at which the process is triggered. Under the plan-making system, the event is the publication of a development plan document or a neighbourhood plan; it is either the publication of a draft of those documents or the adoption of the plan.

My amendments to Schedule 4 look fairly complicated, but all they actually do is to put the trigger events on the adoption of a plan or the granting of planning permission or development consent. In other words, it is the final event in that process in which the land is then allocated for that purpose. I am not arguing that the green application process should not stop if land has active planning permission. As far as plans are concerned, I am not arguing that the green application process should stop if there is an adopted plan. It seems absolutely clear that under those circumstances

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that is reasonable. Where it seems unreasonable is where it is an initial stage in the process, where no notice is given of it and where people have no reasonable opportunity to know that it is going to happen—and it immediately stops. That does not align the greens process with the planning process; it simply stops the greens process in its track.

There are various ways, which I have not set out in detail in the amendments, in which the alignment of the process can take place: I think the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, suggest one or two. The green registration process is notoriously lengthy. I might exhibit some of my prejudices here but at the councils which deal with it, particularly county councils, some of the officers who work there—lawyers and bureaucrats, as I would call them, or administrators; I beg their pardon—seem to take an unconscionable length of time. The process of green registration could and should be speeded up.

Where a planning application is made or proposals are made in a plan, there should be a fast-track process and, in particular, a filtering process at the beginning of the stage where quite a few of them could simply be filtered out because they are obviously not going to succeed. I call in evidence an example in my own area where the land belonged to the district council, which was transferring the land to the county council for a new school. The land was a council-owned public recreation ground which clearly failed the tests as to whether it was a green. It was clearly going to fail. It could have been discarded at the first sifting process, if the green registration authority had felt able to do that.

There is a lot to be said for speeding up the green registration process generally, but it is not for this Bill. There is something to be said for changes to the system to deal with the problem of vexatious applications. It is my submission that that can be done very significantly through a change in procedure, process and regulations and does not need primary legislation. If there is to be primary legislation, it should do what the Penfold review proposed and what Ministers initially said the Government wanted to do. The two systems should be aligned rather than taking away people’s rights, which in a minority of cases will result in wrong decisions.

I believe there is a way forward. The amendments I have put forward are mainly to take out the undesirable parts of what is in this clause. I would like to consider this further and come back on Report with amendments that do what the Government want to do, but that do it without abolishing people’s ancient common law and statutory rights on green registration. I beg to move.

8.45 pm

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, we have Amendments 64A, 66A, 69A, 70A, 70B and 70C in this group relating to Clause 14 and Schedule 4. As we have heard, Clause 14 provides that the right to register land as a green ceases on the occurrence of certain trigger events. Partially in response to the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, who was talking more broadly about whether the clause should stand part, I shall start by saying that I think we share the same analysis about

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the claim that there could be frivolous and vexatious use of these provisions to prevent development and that we are concerned about the lack of hard evidence. We agree that we should try to get a solution that limits the opportunity for those vexatious claims without impairing people’s long-standing rights to obtain town and village greens.

Clause 15 gives the Secretary of State the ability to disapply the triggers from a specific piece of land. Amendment 66A would put a requirement on the Secretary of State to set out in published criteria his reasons for choosing to do that. There may be pieces of land that should be exempt, but we need to be clear about what the instances are, not least because without that clarity we may not see any improvement in the current situation. Community groups will simply turn to the Secretary of State to exclude their piece of land from the triggers to lodge an application. This would be an ideal place to introduce consultation whereby local authorities, some of which have clearly had a number of issues with some town and village green applications, could set out examples of where a town or village green was rightly protected. Similarly, aggrieved community groups, which work extremely hard to protect spaces that they believe deserve protection, would have the chance to advise the Secretary of State of the circumstances that should lead to an exception from the triggers set out in Schedule 4.

Amendment 69A would take out of scope from the restrictions on registration circumstances where the green is in an area that is not covered by a local plan or neighbourhood development plan. Where a local or neighbourhood plan has been put in place and the community has been adequately consulted, the community is likely to have placed protections on its most valued green space. We accept that where there is a neighbourhood plan and there has been good consultation, this is likely to be the case. However, where this has not taken place the community will not have been through the process of identifying the areas it deems to be of most value. Without the amendment, communities could find that by the time they have their say on a local or neighbourhood plan, the precious spaces they want to protect have already been snapped up.

We wish to encourage neighbourhoods to put in place a neighbourhood plan, but there simply has not been time for them to do that since the Localism Act 2011 was enacted. When creating previous plans, parish councils may not have considered the issue in enough detail. It is important that local communities have the opportunity and enough time to identify sites they wish to protect. They can then decide which process is most appropriate for them. We want to move to a situation where those pieces of land are designated under a neighbourhood plan process and, in the mean time, we want to make sure that all communities are able to use the registration processes that are in place at the moment. Local plans are intended to ensure that we get development in the right places and with community support. To take the right to protect land away from communities before the plan-making process has even begun is no way to foster their trust. We do not want to stop vexatious applications being identified; however, we want to ensure that communities that have not yet identified those very special open spaces

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are not prevented from being able to protect them simply because they do not know that they are under threat.

Amendments 70A, 70B and 70C deal with the trigger events in Schedule 4. When one of the eight trigger events that are set out in the schedule takes place regarding a piece of land, that land can no longer be registered as a town or village green. The amendments would remove three triggers that we think go too far; I think we have common cause with the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, on that.

Amendment 70A would remove the publication of a draft development plan as one of the triggers. A draft development plan will not necessarily have been through all the processes of consultation. Simply having a draft plan in place should not prevent communities being able to bring forward an application for a village green. The draft plan would simply highlight to communities that the site may be at risk from development and enable community members to put their views forward. It is much too early in the development process to rule out the opportunity to propose a particular piece of land. Amendment 70B would remove the publication of a draft neighbourhood development plan as a trigger for exactly the same reasons. Amendment 70C would remove an application for development consent as a trigger.

All three amendments relate to events that do not have to be public, and to documents that might not have been consulted on. The whole point of consultation over a draft plan or planning application is to ensure that the community is on board, and to see if more suitable changes can be made. As such, consultation is an important stage and should not be bypassed by any trigger event.

We also want to ensure that whatever process we end up with, and whatever trigger prevents are in place to prevent the registration of village greens, there is proper consultation on them through neighbourhood plans, local plans or applications for development consent. We do not want to deprive communities of the right to submit a village green application in the large number of instances outlined in Schedule 4. We know that there is a need to rationalise the process somewhat, but Schedule 4 goes much too far in denigrating the rights of local communities.

The three trigger events covered by the amendments are tantamount to saying that consultation together with development consent through documents is nothing more than due process. Otherwise, we have no idea why they are included in the list of trigger events. In reality, it is hardly unknown that a piece of land indentified for development in a draft plan is removed when the public are able to express their views. Often enough, a replacement piece of land can be indentified instead.

On where we have ended up with our amendments to Schedule 4, we are aligned with the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, except to the extent that his trigger events are the granting of planning permission and ours are the application. Of course, we need to take account of terminating events themselves—that is, the application being withdrawn or a decision to grant that permission.

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In conclusion, whether we have got this all right is a matter of debate. We would be more than happy to work with the noble Lord if he is going to review this further, to see if there is a better way of dealing with it. We all want to stop vexatious claims which prevent development that a community would support, but hold on to those precious rights to establish town and village greens.

Lord Cameron of Dillington: My Lords, the previous two speakers seem to have included the stand part debate in this group of amendments, so if the Committee will permit it, I will do the same. I speak on the stand part Motion from the point of view of a planning applicant.

First, I am a firm believer in the importance of open spaces for the health and happiness of our nation and our communities. Our love of and need for such open land and our access to it is part of what makes us British. It has been proven that the existence of such open land is a considerable factor in promoting good health and well-being. So we must keep our open spaces as much for our heritage as for the social, environmental and even economic benefits that they bring.

Thus, leaving aside existing town and village greens, and referring to currently unclaimed rights, it is absolutely proper that the fact that people have used a piece of land, or claim that they do, for open access or other activities should be taken into consideration during a planning process. However, I also believe that such claims need to be put into context.

In my experience of our planning system—again, I repeat my interests as a farmer and landowner, and someone who is thus usually a planning applicant—I have found that during any proposal for development, or a proposal to try to drive forward an agenda for economic or social change, there is inevitably an inherent fear of change among the locals and, either genuinely or disingenuously, every enthusiast in the neighbourhood turns up to insist that his or her speciality or special interest is given priority over every other matter. Sometimes these specialists can even be part of the Government; it could be a conservation officer who has personal views about the landscape or about the importance of anything from Georgian windows to Victorian chimneys. It could be a badger specialist or a newt expert, or it could be about bats, which are seen as a vital thing that must be preserved at all costs, although we certainly seem to have enough of them now. Alternatively, there was a case recently near me where Natural England caused an important local development, involving the provision of a much needed school as well as much needed housing, to falter because of dormice. I am glad to say that differences were eventually resolved, but only at a cost.

Equally, the all-important priority for some people is energy, either energy saving or even renewable energy. In the latter case, of course, it is less likely to be a desire to include it than a desire to oppose the means of generating it. Then again, it may be the absence of public transport and available access that is the make-or-break factor in some people’s minds. We have all heard of developments being condemned as unsustainable

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because they are not served by public transport or because the social services find them difficult to access. It may be a public footpath, or the loss of good agricultural land that is absolutely crucial in the mind of the person putting the idea forward. Of course, there is always flood defence or, as we discussed on Monday, excessive demands for affordable housing. The list of special interests—they really are special interests in people’s minds—goes on and on. Of course, village greens must be included in this list.

All of the above, and no doubt others, are vital in their place, and when you list them it is a wonder any development ever takes place in this country at all. Noble Lords who listened to the debate yesterday on how to “unbecalm” our national economy will be aware that the delays caused by our planning system tended to crop up, mostly focusing on the complications, demands and delays of getting anything done by both small and big businesses.

With regard to Clause 14, it is important that the developer and the local planners address all these “overriding imperatives”. Furthermore, as the world changes, the priority of these imperatives will inevitably chop and change. Thus personally, and here I come to the nub, I think that we need to think very seriously indeed before we allow any of these imperatives to be compulsory or statutory show-stoppers. I am not talking about our protected areas, or even existing town and village greens. But as regards aspirational greens, surely it is up to the planning committee, or even the Secretary of State, to decide what is important in each and every instance. Maybe the problem can be dealt with in another way; maybe if the open space went somewhere else, we could enlarge or even enhance it. We all have to realise that for any approved greenfield, or even brownfield, site development, somebody’s valuable piece of England will have had to be sacrificed—one hopes for considerable social or economic gain. That is what planning controls are all about. Even heritage is not completely sacrosanct. For example, there is the moving of Abu Simbel to allow the flooding of Lake Aswan; it could be said that it is better now than it was before, although I am not proposing that we move any of our historic heritage gems. I am just saying that sometimes it is necessary to think outside the box and a statutory show-stopper will automatically prevent that happening.

It is vital that aspirational town and village greens should form an important feature of the planning system, and they could indeed continue to remain show-stoppers in certain cases if the planning committee so thinks. However, they should not have overriding statutory priority without taking into account all the other priorities that might pertain to a particular development proposal. It is the balancing of all the democratic wishes and needs, both local and central, that planning should always be about.

9 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, has just said, the stand part debates have suddenly morphed into this other group, which was not small initially and is now even larger.

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I wish to make a few brief comments on the clause stand part debate because it is important to put what we are talking about into context. The process to register land as a town or village green can cut across decisions taken in the democratically accountable planning system. Applications to register land as a green can, and have, delayed or prevented development. We have heard, for example, about the implications of this for the affordable homes needed in our communities. Clause 14 addresses these concerns by aligning the process for registering greens with the planning system. Without this clause and the linked Schedule 4, the greens registration system will remain at odds with planning. This would mean that applications to register land as a green could continue to be made on land where planning permission has been granted or which has been identified for development in an adopted local plan or neighbourhood plan. Additionally, applications to register land as a green could cut across consultation with the local community on draft local and neighbourhood plans and planning applications, including those seeking consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

At Second Reading there was considerable support for these reforms. Indeed, we were urged to look at more radical changes. The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, considered the problem in relation to planning to be small-scale and said that Clause 14 was an overreaction. He has reiterated that today. However, this clause has been widely supported, including by the Local Government Association, whose member councils bear the responsibilities for planning and determining applications for town and village greens. The association said that these reforms are essential to align the greens registration system with the planning system. The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, mentioned Adrian Penfold, who also gave evidence to the Commons Select Committee. He said modestly that what is in the Bill is a better way of dealing with the problem than he himself came up with in the review of non-planning consents that the previous Government commissioned him to lead.

The proposed reforms do not drive a coach and horses through the ability of communities to protect open land which is important to them; rather, the changes are a proportionate response to a serious problem. They strike the right balance and put decisions on the future of land where they should be taken—in the planning system, which provides an opportunity for everyone to have their say and for all relevant considerations to be taken into account.

I shall deal with the amendments as briefly as I can but there are an awful lot of them. In order to align the registration of town and village greens with the planning system, Clause 14 and Schedule 4 to this Bill insert into the Commons Act 2006 a new Section 15C and corresponding Schedule 1A. The new legislation will not affect existing registered greens, which will continue to enjoy the same strong protection as they currently have. Nor is it our intention that the changes will affect applications to register land as a town or village green where there is no proposed development on the land in question. Equally importantly, the reforms have been carefully drafted to ensure that where an application to carry out development has

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been considered and rejected, and any appeal rights have run their course, an application to register the land as a green can be considered in the normal way. Each of Amendments 64 to 70C would significantly weaken the proposed reforms to align the village green legislation with the planning system. The combined effect would negate most of what these reforms are intended to achieve. I will explain the damaging consequences of each amendment in turn.

Amendments 70, 70A, 70B and 70C concern Schedule 4, and I shall deal with them first. Amendment 70 would remove the trigger events in Schedule 4 that exclude greens applications when a planning application, or a draft local or neighbourhood plan, is formally publicised for consultation. Instead, the only trigger events would be later in the planning process, when a decision had been taken to grant planning permission, to adopt a local plan or to make a neighbourhood plan that identified land for potential development.

Amendment 70A would have the same effect as Amendment 70 in relation to local plans because it would mean that applications to register land as a town or village green could be made when a draft local plan was being consulted on. We have the same concern about Amendment 70B, whereby a town or village green application could be made where a draft neighbourhood plan was published for consultation. Amendment 70C would have a similar effect to Amendment 70, by removing the protection from town or village green applications that we intend to give to major infrastructure projects between the time when a proposed infrastructure application is publicised and, if that application is accepted by the Secretary of State, an application is publicised again. The trigger events proposed in the Bill were carefully chosen to occur when formal publicity and consultation is undertaken in relation to both planning applications and draft plans. This is the right approach because it will protect both decision-making by democratically accountable local authorities and the ability of communities to engage in meaningful consultation on whether land should be developed or kept open.