HC Deb 04 June 1896 vol 41 cc469-87

(1.) Where any order under this Act incorporates the Lands Clauses Acts, any matter which under those Acts may be determined by the verdict of a jury, by arbitration, or by two justices, shall for the purposes of the Order be referred to and determined by a single arbitrator appointed by the Board of Trade, and the provisions of this Act shall apply with respect to the determination of any such matter in lieu of those of the Lands Clauses Acts relating thereto. Provided that in determining the amount of disputed compensation, the arbitrator shall not make any additional allowance in respect of the purchase being compulsory.

(2.) The Board of Trade may, with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor, make rules fixing a scale of costs to be applicable on any such arbitration, and may, by such rules, limit the cases in which counsel are to be allowed.

(3.) The Arbitration Act, 1889, shall apply to any arbitration under this Section.

MR. RITCHIE moved to leave out from "thereto" in line 19 to end of line 21. The provision which he proposed to omit, that in determining the amount of compensation, the arbitrators should not add anything to the amount in respect of compulsion was inserted in the clause in the Grand Committee by the casting vote of the Chairman. As this provision involved a considerable departure from practice, the Government considered it necessary to ask the House to decide whether or not it should stand part of the clause. It was well known there was no statutory obligation imposed upon arbitrators to add 10 per cent. for compulsory purchase; but he understood it was the custom of arbitrators generally to add 10 per cent. to the estimated value of land to be purchased compulsorily. He did not know what were the historic reasons which were given for this custom, but he understood that now consideration was given to the fact that when a man was compelled to part with property against his will some allowance was held to be due to him for compulsory severance and also for the difficulty and inconvenience attending reinvestment. For his part he had considerable sympathy with these considerations, and they were much more forcible now than when the compulsory acquisition of land for public purposes was first introduced. In the Grand Committee, in support of the Amendment there were cited many cases of excessive compensation, and it was said there were instances in which land had been bought for hundreds one day and sold for thousands the next or at some early period after the purchase. The question raised by these cases was simply one of excessive valuation, and, whether 10 per cent. was added or withheld, it was quite certain that variations in valuation would continue. There might be cases in which an excessive valuation was given for land compulsorily taken; but clearly the 10 per cent. question was independent of the valuation, and the question which did arise was the machinery of arbitration by which the amount of compensation was fixed. The machinery at present was trial by jury, and the Bill proposed to adopt the totally different commercial mode of valuing the land to be taken by submitting the question to an arbitrator. He believed that this would have the effect of doing away with excessive valuations, which in some cases had amounted to a scandal. By the appointment of an arbitrator these scandals would be got rid of; but the question of the 10 per cent. one way or the other did not meet the grievance. Whether it was added or not, you were always liable to excessive valuation. The precedents that had been quoted were the Housing of the Working Classes Act and the Allotments Act; but in his opinion there was a vast difference in principle between the cases under those Acts and the cases likely to arise under this Bill. Those two Acts were passed for national purposes; the land that was secured under them was taken for improvements which were needed in the public interest. There might be, as he hoped there would be, many similar cases under this Bill. Many railways would be promoted in the public interest; but there were likely to be a large number of cases of pure speculation. Some one would imagine a railway would pay and would project it; and that was a totally different thing from providing land for allotment or dwellings for the working classes. It was not right or fair to say that a man should be debarred from getting the 10 per cent. because the land was wanted for a railway, because he would be compelled to seek for other investments. But if he had other land which would be improved in value the arbitrator would be bound to take that into consideration. ["Why?"] If the other land he possessed be improved, he was certain the arbitrator would take into account the addition to its value. ["No, no!"] He was so informed. Whether it was so or not, what was to become of the small landowner all whose land was taken away from him? The question was constantly argued as if all the proprietors whose land was to be taken were large landowners. There would be a large number of cases in which a man's whole property in land would be taken; and it would be hard to say that in such cases the 10 per cent., should not be added to the compensation. It was because of these considerations, and having regard to the fact that this Amendment was inserted in the Bill by the casting vote of the Chairman of the Grand Committee, he asked the House to reverse that decision and to allow the arbitrators to take into consideration all the circumstances of the case and to give the ordinary additional compensation. He moved the omission of the words from the clause.

MR. H. C. F. LUTTBELL (Devon, Tavistock)

said he had a paternal interest in the Amendment inserted in the Grand Committee which was now sought to get rid of. His object in moving it was to prevent an arbitrator from being hampered by an obsolete and somewhat clogging custom. What was there to justify these extraordinary payments? There was no particular percentage laid down by custom, and certainly not by statute. There had been arbitrators who had given as much as 50 or even 100 per cent., but now it had become the custom to give 10 per cent. He contended that if the 10 per cent. was to be obtainable under this Bill landowners would be encouraged and advised by their lawyers and agents to assume an attitude of hostility and hold out as long as possible in the hope of obtaining the utmost they could, when otherwise they might be willing to part with their land on reasonable terms; and that the making of these railways was as much a national public object as the housing of the working classes and the obtaining of allotments. But he would ask the House whether the Bill had not been brought in for a great national purpose. If not, why had the Measure been introduced at all? The right hon. Gentleman had further said that unless the Amendment were accepted a large number of these railways would be made for the purposes of commercial speculation, and that that House had no right to spend public money in order to facilitate commercial speculation. He differed altogether from the right hon. Gentleman upon the point, because he thought that the Bill was intended to benefit the farmers and not to encourage railway companies to make these light railways for their own profit. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the arbitrators ought to be bound to take into consideration the value of the property to the person who was forced to give it up, and the injury that he would sustain by the severance of his land. He thought that the small landowners need have no fear that they would suffer under the administration of this Bill, because they were amply protected by the provision of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845, under which the damage to the remainder of the land was to be taken into account in estimating the value of the land actually taken. There was no ground, therefore, for the suggestion that land would be taken under the provisions of this Bill without the landowner receiving full compensation. He thought that he was justified in referring to opinions which ought to carry considerable weight with hon. Members opposite, seeing that they were those of the right hon. Gentleman who was now the Secretary for the Colonies. When the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes sat in 1885, it was presided over by H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, and in the course of the examination of the right hon. Gentleman, H.R.H., in connection with the subject of the payment of the extra 10 per cent. in respect of compulsory purchase, asked him this question:— But I understand your suggestion to go further than that, and that you say that wherever local authorities wanted property they should have the power of taking it without paying the 10 per cent. for compulsory sale? To which the right hon. Gentleman replied:— Quite so, and I would carry it further, but the principle is already established, and established without opposition. A few weeks after that the right hon. Gentleman, speaking at Ipswich, said: I would give the local authorities the power of acquiring any land which it may be necessary for them to take to carry out the objects of this proposal or for any other public purposes. He occupied a somewhat peculiar position in having to defend this Bill against its promoters. His idea of the Measure was that it was not brought forward in the interests of the railway companies, but in those of the public, and he thought that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman applied with equal force to land to be taken under this Bill. Fair value was that which a willing purchaser would give to a willing seller in the open market. The arbitrators in ascertaining the value of the land taken ought not to be hampered by any ancient custom which required an additional 10 per cent. to be given for compulsory sale. The words now sought to be omitted by the Government were inserted by their own Committee after full discussion. If the Amendment were accepted it would give encouragement to bad landlords to resist their land being taken for the purposes of these lines, and therefore he hoped that hon. Members would refuse to adopt it.


said that the right hon. Gentleman in proposing this Amendment had treated it as though it merely involved the question of the payment of the extra 10 per cent. for compulsory purchase, but in his opinion it involved a much greater principle, which would become of immense importance in future legislation of this class. He could not help thinking that, although it was legitimate, it was a somewhat strong course for a Government which had had a part in the formation of the Committee to seek to reverse its determination after the full and adequate discussion the subject had received. Parliament had, and he thought rightly, wished that those who had their property taken from them should have full and adequate compensation, but the result had been in practice, that many public undertakings had been very greatly over capitalised, and the railway system had been handicapped to the extent of 30 or 40, or even 50 per cent., and our traders were thus placed under great comparative disadvantages by excessive railway rates. It might be said that 10 per cent. was not a very material item, but it might be the last straw, and he thought that to give 10 per cent., after full compensation, merely for compulsory purchase, was materially to add to the cost of an undertaking. The right hon. Gentleman was under a great misapprehension when he stated to the House that the improvement of the adjoining property of the compensated landlord was taken into account; nothing of the sort could be done under the Lands Clauses Act. The evolution of this matter was very singular. The hon. Member opposite did not put it sufficiently high when he said that originally 100 per cent. was given for compulsory purchase; there had been cases where it had been as high as 150 per cent. The Lords Committee of 1845 was of opinion that as high a percentage as 50 ought to be given for compulsory purchase, and yet, in the Lands Clauses Act of the same year there was no provision at all for that principle, so that Parliament advisedly did not sanction such a suggestion. The reason given by the Lords' Committee of that date was that speculators should be called upon to pay largely for the rights which they acquired over the property of others. He hoped all classes would participate in the benefits of the Bill, which was not of a speculative character. It was a Measure of great public value, which had been shown in many countries to be of great benefit to agriculture and to trade, and it was for that reason that he supported it. The fact that aid was to be given from the public purse showed that it was a Bill of public value. It could not be said, therefore, to come under the class of objections referred to by the Committee of 1845, and if the Bill was not a vehicle for speculation, those objections could not, therefore apply. They had two reasons for retaining this principle in the Bill, first, because the principle of the Bill was, he believed, in the abstract, right, and secondly, because, notwithstanding the recommendation of the Committee he had referred to, Parliament omitted from the Lands Clauses Act any statutory sanction of it. He desired to give full compensation, but he did not desire, at the public expense, to give anything more, and no custom ought to validate such a measure.


could not help joining in the complaint made as to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill in seeking to reverse the decision of a Grand Committee. This was the first occasion which he remembered on which a Minister had so acted. Unfortunately, he himself had been engaged on a public matter of great importance at the time, or, as a Member of the Grand Committee, he should have joined his hon. Friend opposite, in rendering it unnecessary for the Chairman to give his casting vote. The object of the Bill was to improve agricultural and rural industries, but the landlords would be the first almost to reap a benefit from it, and they would undoubtedly be paid a very liberal price for the land taken. Consequently, the House ought to withhold its sanction from increasing the cost by this additional 10 per cent. They desired these light railways to be cheap railways. Was it likely, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest, that it was possible tint any railway scheme would take away the whole of the land of any owner? The probabilities were all in the opposite direction. The owners of the land adjacent would have enormous advantages for the working of the light railway if the railway was successful, which was an additional reason why they should not give them 10 per cent. in addition to the ordinary price for their land which was taken. Railways in the past had been a millstone put round their necks in consequence of the extortionate prices given. He was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should think it consistent with his duty as Minister to take this retrograde step that he was taking. He was striking a blow with his own hand, and the father was going to slaughter the children of his imagination. [A laugh.] He, above all people in the world, should avoid this, and therefore he should resist the proposed change.


said one of the most material motives on which the Bill was based was to be found in Clause 12, which proposed, in the case of purchases of land, to except from the Act that customary allowance which attached when applying the statutory provisions of the Lands Clauses Act. The proviso now sought by the Amendment to be removed from the Bill, had for its object to prevent the additional payment of from 10 per cent., 50 per cent., and 100 per cent. being awarded to the landowner, which by mere custom is now given as an addition to the value and which is now by the words of the statute awarded under the Lands Clauses Act. The words limit the compensation to the value of the land. The addition of this 10 per cent. to 100 per cent. rested on no provision in the statute, but only on the mere allegations and evidence of surveyors and experts. It is an accretion to the value to be awarded as compensation under the Act. That fact was fully established in the Inquiry on Betterment instituted by the other House, over which the present Lord Chancellor presided. As each new public and national want had arisen the old Lands Clauses Consolidation Act was not always applied or necessarily incorporated in every scheme. It was a code drawn up 50 years ago to simplify the drafting of private Acts of Parliament, and to avoid the repetition and setting out in extenso of clauses usually inserted by Parliament in private Bills dealing with railways and such like commercial undertakings. In the case of the establishment of the great national and public system of drainage in London, the Lands Clauses Act was not incorporated, but the great system of drainage was carried through miles of freehold in Kent and Essex as easement users, and without making a single penny of compensation for the value of the land—the statutory words in the Act—or of its accompanying 10 per cent. Or 20per cent. for compulsory sale. Again, only two or three years ago capitalists came to that House and proposed to establish electric railways throughout London, stating, by the mouth of most eminent engineers, that their capitalists' scheme could not be carried out if the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act were incorporated. Accordingly that House joined in appointing a Joint Committee with the other House to investigate the schemes and to consider and report, if they should be allowed, on the grounds of their being of public and national importance without making compensation on the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act basis. The Joint Committee reported to the effect that the scheme should be allowed to proceed without applying the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act provisions, or making any compensation at all, or paying either 10 per cent., or any other percentage to the freeholders. [Cries of "Question, question."] The great electric London railways were now being carried out under Acts which gave no compensation to the freeholders.


The hon. Member, has rather deviated from the question involved in the proviso, which relates only to the 10 per cent. which is awarded irrespective of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act.


said he was endeavouring to show, as each new public want or scheme arose, so equally did the question of whether the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act code should or should not be applied, together with its incidental custom of making an additional present of 10 per cent. to 100 per cent. over and beyond the value of the land to the landowner. The proposed light railways were practically no more than tramways, and there was no reason why the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act should apply in the one case any more than in the other. This Bill was put forward as resting upon a great public and national necessity.


The Amendment does not relate to the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. It is merely a question whether the customary allowance shall be made in the case of light railways.


was proceeding to argue that the customary allowance carried with it the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, when


again interposed, and said: What the hon. Member has said about the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act is not relevant to this Amendment. [Ministerial cheers.]


concluded by observing that it was material for the purposes proposed by this Bill that the liability to pay this extra sum for land taken should not be allowed under any circumstances, because its existence might cause the line to be deviated at great expense to avoid having to take properties of landowners who would otherwise have to be given large compensation over and beyond the value of the land.


said this was a proposal to get rid of a proviso inserted in the Bill by the Grand Committee. [Mr. RITCHIE: "By the casting vote of the Chairman."] He thought that was an unreasonable slur to cast upon the Chairman's vote. If there was any vote that was of value it was that of the Chairman. He was the one person of whom they could be sure that he had heard the whole of the discussion, and his position of impartiality fitted him to appreciate at their true value the arguments used. Having had charge of the Amendment in Committee, he might say that the Division was not on Party lines, the Amendment being supported by a considerable number of Gentlemen opposite. It was a very unusual course for a Minister to move to disagree with a Grand Committee. He did not deny the right; but it was a course only to be justified in very extreme circumstances. If it were often followed it would very much diminish the value and weight of procedure by Grand Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Allotments Bill and the Housing of the Working Classes Bill as the cases in which Parliament had excluded the 10 per cent., and he had endeavoured to distinguish them from this case by saying they were national objects. But light railways were admittedly a national object because the Government had gone further than in the case of the Allotments Bill, and had proposed a grant of public money. Such a grant could only be justified on the ground that this was an object of national importance which it was desirable to encourage. The case really came to this. It had been their belief that light railways would be a benefit to the locality. It had been their hope that landowners would perceive this and would be disposed to give their land upon reasonable terms. ["Hear, hear!"] But the result of continuing the extra 10 per cent. would be that they might have a number of landowners disposed to give their land upon reasonable terms; but one selfish and grasping man might stand out because he knew that if it was taken compulsorily he would get the extra 10 per cent. Therefore a great deal of land which probably would otherwise be taken by agreement upon moderate and reasonable terms would incur the expenses of arbitration and the additional 10 per cent. for compulsory purchase merely because one stiff and selfish man was determined to stand out. They desired to remove from such a landlord the inducement he would have under the existing custom, and that was the reason why the Amendment was adopted by the Grand Committee. It was not a custom which had any Parliamentary sanction. It grew up a long time ago amongst surveyors themselves, and it had, unfortunately, become consolidated, so that now it required a declaration of that House in order to prevent surveyors from following it. It was eminently the time for them to put a check upon the proceeding when they were passing a Bill which was for the benefit of agriculturists and which would confessedly benefit the landowners of the district through which the railway passed and for which they were going to vote public money. They desired to give the true value, the whole of the true value, but no more than the true value of the land. Relying upon the precedents of the Housing of the Working Classes Act and of the allotment provisions of the Local Government Act, 1894, he put it to the House that they would not be taking a new or dangerous step, but a step which was in conformity with the recent tendency of their legislation, if they retained the modification which the Grand Committee introduced.


said many hon. Members, including the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, had stated it was a common practice to award 10 per cent. for damage and severance. Such a thing had never been done for years—he believed never had been done at all—and he spoke with some little experience of these cases. The compulsory allowance was made simply and solely in respect of the value of the land. He did not think the case was very much improved by the kind of language used by the hon. Member for Leicester. This proviso, be it in the Bill or out of it, had nothing in the world to do with the value, extortionate or otherwise, put upon the land. They had for years past been dealing with these cases under a system under which men of moderation, of integrity, and of credit had acted as arbitrators, and it was absurd to suggest that, during the last 30 years at all events, there had been extortionate or extravagant awards made in respect of the value of the land. ["Hear, hear!"] With a full knowledge of his position in this matter, he could say that of the hundreds of cases he had had to conduct both for railway companies and for claimants, he did not remember one award of an arbitrator which could properly be called extravagant or extortionate or justify the language which had been used. It seemed to be assumed, in reference to this 10 per cent., that everybody was a landowner who had a great amount of property, that he was a man who could prevent a railway from being made, and was going to sit down upon his acres and decline to let the railway come unless he received this compulsory allowance. That was not the instance in which this proviso would operate. To a large extent the bulk of the land would be taken, and would require to be taken, for these railways from landowners who would either take shares or would give the land or contribute at a low price the land that was required. The Member for Leicester said it was perfectly ridiculous to suppose that these light railways would require to go through property the whole of which would be taken, or that a cabbage garden would require to be taken. If these railways were to be of any use at all they could not end in the open air. They must get to the villages and the towns and into the roads. If they wanted to make a terminus or station, however limited its area might be, they must be in the neighbourhood of a road, and within that area the frontages of small houses and their gardens would be taken. He would undertake to say that for the last quarter or half mile in many of the villages of the eastern counties, where it was most desirable they should be constructed, these railways, if they were to be of use to the public, must run through the back gardens, and cut off portions of the allotments of small owners. Their land would derive no benefit from the railway, and yet they were asked to say that these men should, under no circumstances, get this 10 per cent. It would not be equitable or in accordance with those principles of compensation recognised by prudent and moderate men as being just if they were to agree to such a proposition. ["Hear, hear!"] This 10 per cent. did no more than justice, and he could give case after case in his own personal experience where the award had not done anything more than give the bare purchase value of the land, without in any way recouping the owner for the fact that it had been taken compulsorily. ["Hear, hear!"] He was satisfied that in a large number of cases the allowance of 10 per cent. would be just and only just, and therefore he was thankful his right hon. Friend had taken the course of asking the House of Commons to reverse the decision which was arrived at by the casting vote of the Chairman of the Grand Committee. ["Hear, hear!"]


had listened with the greatest attention, and he hoped with all imaginable respect, to the Attorney General who, no doubt, had very great experience in that class of cases in particular with which those estimable gentlemen, for whom he had such unbounded respect, appeared, on the one side or the other, to give testimony to the value of land. Apparently his hon. and learned Friend, being so well content with the awards that had been made, was willing to give testimonials of the highest description both to those who swore up the land, and those who swore the land down. [Laughter.]


I referred to the arbitrators.


understood the hon. and learned Member to refer to those highly honourable gentlemen who were surveyors.


I said arbitrators distinctly more than once.


remarked that it did not matter, for, after all, the man who was a witness one day was an arbitrator the next. ["Hear, hear!"] During his short experience of cases of that description he had very often seen a gentleman called into the witness-box one day to give evidence before a member of his own profession, and then the week after the position was reversed—the gentleman who was the witness being arbitrator, and the gentleman who was arbitrator witness, whilst his hon. and learned Friend was generally before them. [Laughter.] He did not agree in the least with what his hon. and learned Friend said with regard to these awards. The witnesses who were called on the one side and the other differed in a most remarkable degree. Those who were called on behalf of the claimant exhausted every possible element in estimating the value of the land. There was not a stick, stone, or brick that had not the full valuation put upon it, and then, when everything had been piled up, this 10 per cent. was added for absolutely nothing. ["Hear, hear!"] Although his practice had not led him so much into those exalted spheres in which his hon. and learned Friend had moved—professionally, he meant—[laughter]—his experience of a more limited description had been that these awards were eminently unsatisfactory. ["Hear, hear!"] There was an amount of exaggeration on the part of the witnesses which was most strongly to be condemned, and when they had done their best and inflated the price of the land till the bubble had almost burst, this wretched 10 per cent. was added for nothing. It seemed to him to be a remarkably strong order for the House to be asked to reverse the decision of the Grand Committee. Why should they not give due weight to the casting vote of the Chairman of that Committee? If no weight was to be attached to it they had better take it away. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the cabbage garden question, if a man parted with his land as a cabbage garden he was paid for it as a cabbage garden, and for his back or front garden, as it happened to be, he got his full price. The 10 per cent. was not in relation to gardens back or front, but was to be applied to agricultural or occupation land. If there was anything in the argument of the Attorney General, the cabbage or back garden proprietor ought to have 20 per cent. The fact was, this was a rule of thumb which had grown up amongst surveyors. ["Hear, hear!"] There was no statutory authority for it. He was glad that the House of Commons had been strong enough before how to put a stop to the practice, and he hoped the House would be strong enough to do so on the present occasion. [Cheers.]


said that an eminent man, Mr. Samuel Laing, who was for some years a Member of the House, and had been for many years chairman of one of the leading southern railways, had stated on the platform and in print that it was an undoubted fact that the landlords of this country had charged the railway companies,£50,000,000 more than the land was worth for the land they had sold, presumably for the benefit of the community. This, in plain English, meant that they were in receipt of an income of over £2,000,000 a year, which they had derived from the excessive value which they had obtained for their land. There was no analogy between the case of England and continental countries. On the Continent the number of landowners was so great that, allowing them to charge 10 per cent. in addition to the fair value of the land, it did not impose any hardship on the community. In France, there were no fewer than 5,000,000 of proprietors of land, and in Prussia there were 800,000 day labourers who owned and cultivated their own land. The Amendment proposed to give the owners of land 10 per cent. more than the land was fairly worth. The free grants under the Bill were charitable doles from the community. [Cries of"Oh!"] These light railways were supposed to be for the benefit of the community. If they were landowners they ought to give the land for nothing; if not, they ought not to expect for it more than its fair market value. If they were paid more, a great injustice would be done to the general community, and particularly to those who lived in large towns. The fair market value they were willing, on the Opposition side of the House, that the landowners should receive; more than that the landlords were not entitled to ask. ["Hear, hear!"]


said it was a question of fair market value or artificial value. In 1884 the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said:— I propose that a local authority should have power in every case to take land compulsorily, at its fair value, for any public purpose. [Opposition cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman went on to give a definition of fair value:— I think the fair value would be the agricultural value of the land to be taken. He asked the right hon. Gentleman how he was going to reconcile his vote tonight with his declarations in 1884, because it would be perfectly monstrous to call upon these poor people to pay an extortionate price to the landlords who had shown them so little consideration. [Opposition cheers.] In 1887, when a similar proposition was before the House, the right hon. Gentleman voted in support of paying a fair price to the landlord as against an artificial value. He also gave evidence before the Committee on the Housing of the Working Classes. In that evidence he said distinctly that a fair market value ought to be paid for cottages. These railways could not be made without subsidies; how could the Secretary for the Colonies vote for the payment of the additional 10 per cent. in these cases? In Section 5 of the Bill it was made a condition that the promoters of a railway should be fairly met by the landowners of the district. The majority might act fairly and be content with the fair value of the land; but a minority might hold out and get the additional 10 per cent.

MR. R. B. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

said before the Closure was moved it was well they should endeavour to realise what was the object with which it was proposed they should go back on what had been established as the opinion of the House on several occasions. In 1893, and again in 1894, upon the Scotch Local Government Bill, the House laid down the principle that it would not assent to the giving of this extraordinary compensation in the case of compulsory purchase. What was the reason for the departure which it was proposed to make now? The Bill proposed to take land for public purposes, for purposes which were strictly in the interests of the public in general, as distinguished from anybody in particular. Therefore the public ought not to be called upon to pay extraordinary prices ranging from 10 to 50 per cent. over market value at the dictation of surveyors and expert witnesses. Why was it asked that they should do so? Because in some Bills the word compulsion was used. On that account they were to pay, not for anything lost by the landowner, but simply for the fact that it was a compulsory purchase. They were now asked to reverse a decision which had been come to by the House on two or three occasions. The obvious explanation appeared to be that this Measure, like the Rating Bill and other Bills, was based upon the principle of putting money into the pockets of the landowners.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS rose, whereupon


claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes, 208; Noes, 81.—(Division List, No. 220.)

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided:— Ayes, 90; Noes, 201.—(Division List, No. 221.)

MR. CALDWELL moved to add at end of the section, the following words:— provided that in determining the amount of compensation the arbitrator shall have regard to the extent to which the remaining and contiguous lands and hereditaments belonging to the same proprietor may be benefited by the proposed light railway.

Amendment agreed to.

MR. CALDWELL moved to insert after "which" in the new sub-section the words "the costs of."

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 15,—