§ As to Local Authority.
§ 1. Medical Officer.
§ Clause 9 (Medical officer of health in Metropolis).
On the Motion of Mr. Secretary CROSS, Amendment made, in page 6, line 26, by leaving out from "when they are desirous," to end of clause, and inserting—
Appoint one or more legally qualified medical practitioner or practitioners, with such remuneration as they think fit, for the purpose of better carrying into effect this Act in the metropolis. Any officer so appointed by the Metropolitan Board of Works shall he deemed to he a medical officer of health of a local authority within the meaning of this Act, and shall perform the duties and he subject to the liabilities which such medical officer is by this Act required to perform and be subject to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ 2. Local Inquiry.
§ Clause 10 (Proceedings on local inquiry); Clause 11 (Notice of inquiry to be publicly given); and Clause 12 (Power to administer oath) agreed to.
§ 3. Acquisition of Land.
§ Clause 13 (Acquisition of Land).
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he had to complain of the very careless manner in which the Bill had been drawn in reference to this subject. It should be sent back to the draftsman in order that it might assume a more intelligible shape. He had expected that the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley) would have moved the Amendments which stood in his name; but as he appeared to have abandoned his intention, he (Mr. Jackson) would himself move them. His object was to provide that the Lands Clauses Act should be incorporated in this Act. The plan of the Schedule appeared to be that a quasi-official arbitrator, appointed by the public authority, was to hold a preliminary and, he supposed, ex parte investigation; he was to issue a provisional award; and then, and not till then, was the owner to have a right to be heard. Under the Lands Clauses Act parties must elect at once between an arbitrator and a jury; but, under the proposed system, he could not help thinking that there would be troublesome and expensive rehearings, as parties affected by the preliminary award would recognize the difficulty of 759 inducing the arbitrator to vary his own decision, and would procure expensive legal assistance, and resort, when possible, to a jury, and the Committee ought to call upon the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to show very clearly why he adopted this new and untried system in preference to that which had been satisfactorily in operation for so long a period. He should move the first of a series of Amendments, the object of which was to substitute the provisions of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act for those of this Bill.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, the procedure, so far from being novel, had been tried with success for 25 years in Ireland, where it was introduced with the object of avoiding the delay and expense of dealing with small holdings under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. There was no doubt it would be equally satisfactory in the present case.
§ MR. CAWLEY
did not think the cases were so far parallel as to justify the adoption of the Irish procedure without modification. He was, however, willing to accept the provision proposed in the Bill, with certain modifications in the direction of a rule that might apply to all kinds of property, which at the proper time he would move.
§ MR. RATHBONE
, in opposing the Amendment, said, that the authorities in Liverpool, owing to the incorporation of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, were obliged—with a view to avoid legal expenses—to pay to proprietors of houses who had neglected to carry out proper sanitary arrangements, 50 per cent above the value of their property. In the opinion of the Town Clerk of Liverpool, the Irish system worked better, and he was glad it was to be adopted; but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether it was not possible still further to lessen the expenses to be incurred in carrying out the Act in connection with the transfer of land.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that the courses provided by the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act—the summoning of a special jury or the appointment of arbitrators to fix the value of property to be acquired—were dilatory and uncertain. The arbitrators were in a certain sense judges; but they seldom agreed, and they generally had interested views. The system adopted under the Irish Act was better and simpler; 760 for if the party interested were not satisfied, he had a right of appeal to the tribunal of a jury. The main provisions of that Act were adopted, and such of the clauses of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act as were necessary to give effect to such main provisions.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
suggested, for the sake of clearness, that such of the clauses of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act as were proposed to be incorporated with the Bill should be stated in the Schedule by number.
§ MR. MARTEN
believed that the clause would work well. With regard to the suggestion as to retaining the action of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, it should be borne in mind that Act had to deal with every description of property.
§ MR. HERSCHELL
thought that the Schedule of the Bill was an improvement in the appointment of a single arbitrator; but it was objectionable that under the Bill there might be a double inquiry and then another appeal to the jury. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not, at all events, devise something which might give the advantage of a single arbitrator dealing with the whole of the cases without the disadvantages which would ensue if the Schedule were carried in its present form. There was a vast waste of time and money in most of these arbitration cases, inasmuch as the evidence given in one case might often be made applicable to others.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, that under the Irish Lands Clauses Act an arbitrator went down to the spot to survey and assess the property. The parties had notice of his intention, and they were heard before him either by or without counsel or attornies. The parties often acquiesced in the arbitrator's draft award; but if they were dissatisfied, they then appeared before him on the final award. Sometimes he was satisfied he had made a mistake, and then he either increased or diminished his award, but always acting in a quasi judicial way. Traverses were not too frequent under this system, and the Home Secretary had been wise in adopting the main provisions of a procedure which he doubted not would work as satisfactorily in England as it had done in Ireland.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.761
On the Motion of Mr. GIBSON, Amendment made in page 7, line 25, after "body thereof," by inserting—
The Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845,'as amended by' The Lands Clauses Consolidation, Act, 1860,' 'The Railways Act (Ireland), 1851,' 'The Railways Act (Ireland), 1860,' 'The Railways Act (Ireland), 1864,' and the Railways Traverse Act, shall, subject to the provisions following, regulate and apply to the purchase and taking of lands in Ireland, and shall for this purpose be deemed to form part of this Act, in the same manner as if they were enacted in the body hereof.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
moved the following Amendment in page 7, line 39, at end, add—Due regard being had to the nature and then condition of the property and the probable duration of the buildings in their existing state, and to the state of repair thereof.The object of the Amendment was to prevent the arbitrator giving an excessive amount of compensation to the owners of the property taken, and also to prevent the owners from permitting their property to go to ruin with the view to its being taken under the provisions of this Act.
§ MR. CAWLEY
, whilst approving of the intention of the Proviso, questioned the utility of introducing it into the Act, as the arbitrator would in any case, if he was a fitting person for his office, have to take these and all other circumstances of the property into consideration. He therefore proposed to move an Amendment to leave out all the words after the word "to" in the first line of Mr. Cross's proposed Amendment, and insert the words, "all the circumstances affecting such value." He did not see any reason why this further Amendment could not be accepted.
§ MR. STANSFELD
judged that the effect of the proposition of the Home Secretary would be that the arbitrator would have to ascertain the market value of the property. He wished to observe that property was often of greater market value, because it was unfit for human habitation. Owners of property who had neglected their duty ought not to be allowed to take any advantage of their own wrong; and the amount necessary to put their property in a fit state for human habitation ought to be deducted from the value of their property.
§ MR. GREGORY
trusted the Bill would be left in the state which was proposed by the Home Secretary, which was calculated to carry out what were really the principles of the Bill.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
expressed his approval of the Amendment, which he considered would be a great improvement to the Bill. He thought that some limit ought to be placed on the calculation of the proposed measure of value, and would suggest that the best course would be to incorporate Torrens's Act with the Bill.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, the words were drawn by a person of great experience. He was willing, however, to assent to the addition of the words "and all other circumstances affecting such value."
§ Amendment (Mr. Cawley), by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment (Mr. Secretary Cross), as amended, agreed to.
§ MR. CAWLEY
moved, as an Amendment, to leave out in line 40 "without any additional allowance in respect of the compulsory purchase of the same." There would be numbers of cases where great hardship would follow to individuals where the property was taken away compulsorily.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 14 (Extinction of rights of way and other easements), agreed to.
§ 4. Expenses.
§ Clause 15 (Formation of improvement fund for purposes of this Act).
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the Amendment he had to propose was of considerable importance, and he should therefore move that Progress be reported.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.