§ (1) A local authority may be authorized to purchase land compulsorily for the purposes of Part III. of the principal Act, by means of an order submitted to the Local Government Board and confirmed by the Board in accordance with the First Schedule to this Act.
§ (2) The procedure under this Section for the compulsory purchase of land shall be substituted for the procedure for the same purpose under Section one hundred and seventy-six of the Public Health Act, 1875, as applied by Sub-section (1) of Section fifty-seven of the principal Act.46
§ (3) A local authority may, with the consent of and subject to any conditions imposed by the Local Government Board, acquire land by agreement for the purposes of Part III. of the principal Act, notwithstanding that the land is not immediately required for those purposes.
§ Mr. GEORGE CAVE
moved to leave out Sub-section (1).
This is the only chance I shall have of calling attention to the provisions of the first schedule of the Bill. Having regard to the rules under which we are working, it is quite hopeless that we shall have a chance of moving our Amendments under that Schedule. I take exception to 47 Schedule one for four reasons. Hon. Members know that the proposal is that on a compulsory taking of land under this Bill, Schedule one shall take the place, practically speaking, of the provisions of the Lands Clauses Act. The effect is this: First, land can be taken, by compulsion without any Provisional Order confirmed by Parliament. Secondly, in ascertaining the amount of compensation to be paid to any owner of property, no person interested will have the right to claim a reference to a jury. For the first time under this Bill, and in an Act of two years ago, the power of claiming the decision of a jury is taken away, and the decision, however large the claim may be, is to be given by an arbitrator. These matters are serious. For myself, I do not take very strong exception to them. I am quite prepared to see the procedure simplified, and to do away with the Provisional Order, and, in certain circumstances, to have a reference to arbitration. But on the next point I am strongly opposed to the provisions of the Schedule. As hon. Members are aware, there is to be a single arbitrator nominated, not by the parties, not by the court, but by the Local Government Board. Practically speaking, the Department is in the position of one of the parties to the reference. It is behind the local authority, and the local authority will have very strong weight with the Board, and that the Department should nominate the arbitrator is, I think, a wrong principle. In many of these cases, under Clause 10, or some other part of the Bill, the whole proceeding may be initiated by the Local Government Board itself. It may have to insist upon the Clause being put into operation, and say that land shall be taken for this purpose. That having happened, an Order is drafted by the authority, and made practically by the Board. Then comes the question of compensation. Under this provision the Board has to appoint the arbitrator, who will determine the amount to be paid to the owner. I think that is wrong. In the Finance Bill a provision was introduced by the Government which had the effect that one of the parties to the litigation nominated the tribunal which was to determine the amount. That was objected to, and the Government gave way and provided that the arbitrator should be appointed by an independent body altogether—the Reference Committee in that case. So here we think that the arbitrator 48 ought to be appointed, not by the Local Government Board, but as provided under the Arbitration Act, that is, when there is no agreement, by the court. The second point is that under the Schedule it is provided that in certain cases, unless the Board otherwise directs, the arbitrator shall not hear counsel or expert witnesses. That is a matter which has been brought before the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Burns) more than once. He received a deputation, who put it before him; and I want to ascertain now, if I can, what is his decision upon it. I can speak perfectly freely on this matter of the employment of counsel, because, in these particular cases, it is impossible that I should ever be retained by either one side or the other. I do think that experience has shown that it is a great mistake to insist that no counsel shall be allowed at these inquiries. It is not the case of a man who employs counsel not paying his own costs: it is quite proper that he should pay his costs except where the arbitrator makes a special order. We had the same point as to counsel upon the Small Holdings Bill, and when that Bill was considered in Committee upstairs I moved to leave out those words in the schedule of the Bill. The answer given was "All we desire is to get control in the matter, and in any case of any real importance sanction will be given readily for counsel to be employed."
We relied upon that answer, and what has happened since under the Act? A number of applications have been made for leave to employ counsel, and every one of them has been refused. Some of the applications were as to matters of great importance, and in every case the answer has been the same, that the sanction could not be given. One case has-been brought before the notice of the Board where the owner of the land at one of the first inquiries held desired to have counsel. That application was refused, and what was the result? The county council in that case were represented by a very expert clerk of their own. The arbitrator himself was a barrister of great experience, and the owner was represented by a man of no experience, who was not able to bring fully before the arbitrator the points he desired to make. The Order was confirmed, and the owner got no redress. That is one case where I think there is a real denial of jus- 49 tice. Let me put a case on the other side that I knew of, a case relating to Northamptonshire. The county council make application for leave to be represented by counsel. In their letter they stated, having regard to the fact that that was the first inquiry as to the confirmation of compulsory orders under the Act, and as certain points of principle and of importance were involved, they thought it desirable the county council should be represented The owner made a similar application, but both were refused. It was a great mistake, I think, that those applications should be refused. It was a breach of the promise given that in all cases of real importance sanction, if asked for, would be given. Having regard to the experience under the Small Holdings Act, I do not think we can rely upon the mere statement that in cases of importance leave will be given. I think, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, this is a serious matter, and that it is very undesirable that the precedent of the Small Holdings should be followed. I do not see the least reason why you could not leave it to the arbitrator either to say whether he will hear counsel, or, which I think better, leave it to him to say whether costs of counsel shall be allowed if they appear. I ask whether he will not himself put down some Amendments to meet the claims of a deputation on the subject, which I thought had been sympathetically considered. I put that point forward, and also press the point as to the appointment of the arbitrator, and without limiting, of course, the objections to the Schedule that may be taken by others I put my opposition to the Schedule mainly on these two grounds, and I beg leave to move the omission of the Subsection.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I have an Amendment on the Paper, and I am sorry the Lord Advocate is not here in order to meet the point I raise. As to what has been said by the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) I quite agree that a reference to arbitration is really necessary for the sake of efficient administration. It will be a cheaper system than the present one, and that is the main reason why I have always supported the Clause. For my part, I should object very much to the introduction of counsel, I do not think they are in the least necessary, and, if I may say so, speaking not as a lawyer but as one interested in local administration, I think there would be very few local authorities that would desire to employ 50 counsel and witnesses, and, speaking as a. landowner, I do not think there is any landowner who would wish to do so either. It might occur in some cases, but I think it is a practice to be discouraged. I think it is most desirable to have a thoroughly independent arbitrator, and I agree with a good deal of what the hon. Member has said about the selection of an arbitrator. From my experience I should say there is very little difficulty as a rule in the local authority and in the individual landowner fixing upon an arbitrator themselves, and I think that is the best solution of the matter. Failing that solution, I should, in my country at any rate, infinitely prefer that the sheriff would have the appointment of arbitrator in the cases where the local authority and the individual fail to agree. I would most strongly urge that as regards Scotland, because whatever may be the worst opinion of the English Local Government Board held by an English Member, it is as nothing compared to the feeling I hold of the Scottish Local Government Board. I would say that not because of the members of the Board, but because the Board, as it is now, is not constituted to deal with these matters, and it is perfectly incompetent, as now constituted, to do so. Very often assurances are given by the Scottish Office that we shall have a reconstituted Board, but there are no signs of it. I, for one, must see the Board reconstituted before I am disposed to submit the destinies either of the local authority or of the individual in Scotland to its fiat. I do not regard the Scottish Local Government Board as a desirable body with which to entrust the appointment of these arbitrators, and I urge that the sheriff should have the appointment, and that his decision shall be final without recourse to court or county councils.
§ Mr. R. D. HOLT
I regard the power under the Schedule with considerable dislike. Under the Bill the position would be that the Local Government Boards without any control of any sort whatever, would be entitled to order the compulsory acquisition of the lands of any person whatsoever in the whole of this country. That, as I understand it, is the proposal actually contained in the Bill. I am connected with a public body and various, public bodies I know have actually acquired lands under compulsory power granted to them by Act of Parliament, and acquired those lands for specific purposes. As far as I understand it, under this Bill 51 the Local Government Board have absolutely no authority to take those lands from those bodies and hand them over to somebody else for any purpose they may decide. It does seem to me to say that land which has been acquired by compulsion can be taken from those bodies is rather a tall order and a stiff proceeding. It makes me think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board delivered some time ago, in which he suggested that the best thing to do was that the Government of the country should be handed over to him, was no joke at all, and that this Bill is a small instalment of the method of governing which he really seriously believes the right and proper one. As regards the particular lands, those acquired under statutory powers, those lands have always been exempted under previous legislation of this sort. They have been exempted under the Small Holdings Act of 1908, and when I spoke of the same subject in connection with the guillotine Resolution my hon. Friend, who is now Under-Secretary for the Home Office, and who was then Under-Secretary for the Local Government Board, said that those lands were treated under this Act in precisely the same way as they were treated under the Small Holdings Act. He is entirely wrong there, and I cannot help thinking he had it in his mind that the provisions of the Small Holdings Act ought to have been made to apply to the lands acquired by statute and belonging to statutory undertakings. I also draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so far from regarding such land as appropriate matter to be treated lightly, regards commercial development as of the very highest importance, and in amendment of the Finance Bill his putting down a special clause treating land held for development and for purposes of commerce in a very much more favourable manner than was originally proposed. Therefore, on that ground I think we are entitled to ask that property of that character should receive favourable treatment from the Local Government Board as regards these powers of compulsory purchase.
Apart from that particular point, I feel very strongly that we ought to have an absolutely independent inquiry by an independent person before anybody's land is compulsorily taken from him. As the 52 hon. Member for Kingston pointed out, the Local Government Board are, in fact, parties to the case. If they have not directly instigated one of the parties to acquire the land, it is their business, and their proper business, to wish to see the land acquired for that particular purpose. That being so, they ought not to be in the position of being judge and jury as well as plaintiff in the case. May I suggest to the Local Government Board that the least they could do is to follow the very proper precedent which was set in the Port of London Act last Session? By that Act they will see that a tribunal was set up for the purpose of obtaining land compulsorily. The substance of the provision is that an impartial person must be appointed to hold the inquiry into the propriety of taking the land by compulsion. In the event of that impartial person reporting against the propriety of doing so, if the Board of Trade or the Port of London Authority wish to proceed any further in the matter, they must proceed by means of a Provisional Order or Bill. If, on the other hand, the impartial person reports in favour of the compulsory acquisition of the land, then, as far as I understand it, the Order of the Board of Trade is sufficient. It seems to me that that would not be at all an unfair or unreasonable way of dealing with this matter. It would not involve any additional expense to that contemplated by the provisions of the Schedule. Under those provisions, if the owner objects to his land being acquired, an inquiry has to be held; therefore, in either case there would be an inquiry; and I cannot suppose that the appointment of an impartial person would be any more expensive than the appointment of a person who is not impartial or who is or may be more or less under the control of the Government. The expense of the inquiry is just the same whether conducted before one inquirer or before another. A further difference is that in the case of an impartial inquiry under the Port of London Act, the Government Department are unable to act contrary to the report of the impartial person; whereas under this Bill, even if the person making the inquiry reports against the propriety of compulsory purchase, the Local Government Board will still have it in their power to proceed. I do not, think that that is treating persons quite fairly, and I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he might give an undertaking so to amend the Schedule as at least to 53 incorporate into it the provisions accepted last year by the Government when dealing with the Port of London.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
This Clause only applies to the purchase of land under Part III., and I should like to ask what reason the Government have for treating land purchased under Part III. differently from neighbouring land purchased under Part I.? The case to which I refer will arise under Clause 6 of the original Act, where improvement schemes may include neighbouring land if the local authority are of opinion that such inclusion is expedient or necessary to make the scheme efficient for sanitary purposes. Where land is required for an improvement scheme no allowance is made for compulsory purchase in the case of insanitary property; but Clause 21 of the original Act makes it clear that this provision as to the allowance for compulsory purchase does not apply to lands which are bought for the convenience of the scheme, and which are not insanitary. It seems to me that if there is a case for refusing this allowance for compulsory purchase in the case of Part III. land, you ought in common fairness, and for the sake of uniformity, to extend that principle to these neighbouring lands in the case of Part I. Personally I do not think there is any case in the majority of instances for compulsory powers in regard to Part III. at all. I have no experience of Part III. except in London, but in the Metropolis there has never been any difficulty in getting any amount of land for Part III. housing without applying for compulsory powers. I am a little uneasy about the justice of this Schedule, because it is laid down that no additional allowance shall be made on account of the purchase being compulsory. I am not a lawyer, but I imagine that that would mean that a man who sells his land will not even get the value of the land to himself. It is quite arguable that he ought not to get the 10 per cent, extra allowed under Land Clauses terms, but I think that he ought at all events to get the value of the land to himself. It may often arise that land has a greater value to the owner than it has in the market. One can easily imagine a case where land has been acquired for the purpose of extending a factory or any other business. That business may have been gradually developed on the assumption that the land would still be available for eventual development, and it may mean a very great loss 54 to the owner if he is to get only the market price on the assumption that he is a willing seller. I should like to know whether this provision as to no additional allowance being made on account of the purchase being compulsory will make it necessary to assume that the owner is a willing seller. If so I think it is very unjust. The owner ought to get not the value as between a willing seller and a willing buyer, but the actual value to himself, in view of his own peculiar position. If this Clause is passed—personally I do not hold a very strong view one way or the other—it certainly ought to be made applicable to neighbouring lands under Part I. I think there is a greater necessity for acquiring land compulsorily under Parts I. and II. of the Housing Act of 1890 than under Part III., because you may house anywhere under Part III., but in the clearance of a slum area it is absolutely necessary to get a particular plot of ground. For that reason, I should like to hear what are the grounds for restricting this provision to Part III.
§ Mr. PHILIP MORRELL
I have a certain amount of sympathy with the desire of the hon. Member to extend the provisions of this Clause to Part I., but I do not understand why he should be unfavourable to the Clause altogether.
§ Mr. W. GUINNESS
I am only in favour of omitting the Clause if the construction of these words is that the owner will not get the value to himself, and about that I am not in a position to form an opinion.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I suggest that the owner will get the full value of the land, which is all that he is entitled to. The objection raised to this Clause is that it simplifies too much the procedure for compulsory purchase where land is required for housing purposes. The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) urged a two-fold objection, first, that the arbitrator is to be appointed by the Local Government Board, and, secondly, that he would not be able to hear counsel or expert witnesses except with the leave of the Local Government Board. What hon. Members feel is that this Clause, by making the procedure under the Small Holdings Act applicable to the Housing Acts, will act unfairly to the parties by a too great simplification of procedure. That is the object of the Clause, and if hon. Members object to the Clause altogether that must be their objection.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I am sorry if I have mistaken the hon. Member, but that is what I understood him to say. If that is so, it seems to me that hon. Members are rather out of date. They have forgotten what we have been lately engaged upon. Under the Finance Bill we are to get a complete valuation of the land in the Kingdom. We shall know then what the site value of all this land is, and so far from the task set the arbitrator being a difficult one, when that Bill is passed, it will be extremely easy. All he will have to do will be to take the site value, and then calculate the value of the improvements, which is a far simpler matter than the task now set before him. If there was ever need for counsel and expert witnesses, which I am inclined to doubt, there certainly will not be the need for them when this valuation is made under the Finance Bill. For that reason I sincerely trust that my right hon. Friend will not think it necessary to give any pledge to elaborate still further the procedure for compulsory purchase for housing purposes. What we want most of all in the matter of housing, especially in rural districts, is a simple and easy method of purchasing land compulsorily at its fair market price.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I hope the President will give us his views upon this matter soon. In my opinion the proposals made by my hon. Friend (Mr. Cave) are most reasonable. Personally, as far as the schedule is concerned, I have no objection at all. In fact, I approve of the provision which takes these matters from the present tribunal, which I think a bad one in this case, and gives them to a single arbitrator. It is not at all desirable to have three arbitrators in these cases, as under the Lands Clauses Act, where experience has shown that very often the two assessing arbitrators become advocates of their respective sides, and the umpire is the only one who really performs judicial functions in the case. With regard to the extraordinary proposal that the Department whose conduct is in question should have the sole right of appointing an arbitrator to decide as to the wisdom and justice of the proceeding, I should have thought that, after the experience of the Government on the Finance Bill and the complete surrender they have most properly made upon the subject there, we should not have had any serious contest upon this occasion. I know, however, that the Government often work in watertight compartments; but I should have thought that any assembly would have re- 56 volted from a proceeding which puts in issue a number of very controversial matters—including the expediency of compulsory purchase and the fixing of value—and then leaves that issue to be decided by one of the parties whose conduct is involved in the matter. I know it was said on a former occasion that the conduct of the Local Government Board was not in question, but that contention will not bear examination. Under the Schedule, the Local Government Board may disregard the report of their own arbitrator, and sanction compulsory purchase. That power really ought not to be granted, and I trust the Government will see their way to adopt the precedent of the Port of London, referred to by one of their own supporters (Mr. Holt), so that an impartial person may be appointed in an impartial manner to decide upon this question. Then, as regards the procedure to take place before the arbitrator. The procedure which the Government have laid down is really not the procedure of an arbitration, and it is misleading to say that the gentleman who presides at these inquiries is an arbitrator. The whole of the procedure is not one of arbitration, but of valuation This does not pretend to be a valuation, but an arbitration under the Lands Clauses Acts, with certain modifications. The difference between a valuer and an arbitrator is that an arbitrator has to make up his mind after hearing arguments and witnesses, whereas the valuer acts from his own knowledge, without having before him either counsel or witnesses. I need hardly say that I have ceased to practice, and I have no personal interest in this matter; but I think it right to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the Government are under a misapprehension if they believe that to employ counsel necessarily extends the time. Very often it does not. Probably if you consulted any experienced arbitrator, he will tell you that he preferred to have the matter laid before him with, at all events, the skill and thoroughness which characterises counsel than having inexperienced people splashing about—if I may use the term—in these matters. If it really be the opinion of the Government that this is a valuation and not an arbitration, it is a pity they do not say so, and not, as I think, mislead the country by calling it an arbitration. There is only one further point: I should not like it to be thought that I personally dissent entirely from the 10 per cent, conventional allowance for compulsory purchase not being imposed 57 upon the arbitrator. On the other hand, I think it quite wrong that a person who is compulsorily deprived of his land should not have what is often a much smaller allowance, but still an allowance, which he has lost by reason of the transfer. It may be only two or three per cent., but still it ought to be his. The President of the Local Government Board ought not to disentitle the arbitrator to allow that allowance if the arbitrator thinks it ought to be made.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The President of the Local Government Board not having answered my right hon. Friend's appeal, perhaps the Committee will allow me to have a word or two on this point. First of all, in regard to what fell from the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Morrell). He said that my hon. and learned Friend was against simplification. That is a most misleading way to put the contention of my hon. and learned Friend, who wants an impartial arbitrator instead of a Government arbitrator. There is no reason why an impartial arbitrator should be more complicated than a Government arbitator. Then my hon. and learned Friend wants liberty for the parties who care to do so to employ counsel. That seems to be a matter of common justice. They pay for it themselves. Why should they not employ counsel? Only in that way can they get their case submitted properly to the arbitrator. Why except counsel? Why not prohibit the employment of solicitors too? I think I may say that to the hon. Member for Oxfordshire with some point.
§ Lord R. CECIL
That may be a very good reason. But it really is ridiculous that a man whose land is going to be taken may employ a solicitor and not counsel. What possible reason is there for that? Does counsel waste any more time? I venture to say that the Solicitor-General—and I think he is experienced in both branches—will not tell the President of the Local Government Board that counsel are less competent to take an arbitration than solicitors. When you go to this arbitration you will have against you the local authority—it may be a large authority—and you will have a highly paid and highly trained official conducting their case. He may be, and very often is, a first-rate advocate. He may be a barrister. But in any case he may be a solicitor of great competence. The local authority have their case presented in the best possible way by this 58 most skilled advocate. The landowner is prohibited from having anybody in the shape of counsel representing him. What justice is there in that? There was the case to which my hon. and learned Friend referred to in Wales, where, in point of fact, the landowner, living in a somewhat isolated district, was not able to get anyone competent at all to represent him, and in his own opinion he suffered a very grave injustice. I cannot understand why the Government need hesitate to grant this alteration. They have a kind of view that the moment you employ counsel you add very greatly to the expense. [Several Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, but then the parties themselves are going to pay for it. What does it matter, except to the parties engaged? Under these circumstances what becomes of the argument of expense? The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had an exceedingly ingenious argument. He said, "Oh, this becomes unimportant, because of the Finance Bill; the valuation of the Finance Bill will make the whole thing simple." I shall be very much surprised if the President of the Local Government Board avails himself of that interesting argument. I respectfully put it that he will be hardly so foolish as to do anything of the kind. I may, at any rate, point out to the hon. Member for Oxfordshire that the valuation is to be as on 30th April, 1909. What guide will that be ten years hence as to the value? Does the hon. Member say that the site value on 30th April, 1909, will be so obviously a guide to the value of the land, which may repeatedly change its character in the ten years, that he will not require any skilled advice? I must say that this does appear to me to be a most unfortunate provision.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I hope that the President of the Local Government Board will give his favourable consideration to the arguments just put forward. May I point out to the hon. Member for Oxfordshire that if the site value on 30th April, 1909, is always to be a guide to the site value, where on earth is the increment to come from? I think the hon. Member will regret that he ever made that point as an argument against the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend. I really think, Mr. Caldwell, that the demand to employ counsel is extremely reasonable. My Noble Friend has set forth what is the opinion of anyone who has ever had any dealings with local authorities. The local authority will probably be represented by the town clerk, who is, in many cases, an 59 able solicitor, and, in some cases, a barrister. The landowner in many cases knows nothing whatever about the law or Parliamentary procedure. He has no knowledge of how to put his case before the arbitrator or valuer, whichever it may be. Consequently he will suffer a very great disadvantage. No doubt a landowner, belonging to a county council or to the London County Council, knowing thoroughly the Act, may be able to put his views before the arbitrator just as well as any gentleman learned in the law. But a vast number of landowners have not had that advantage. They are quite at sea, and it would be impossible for them to put their case in the manner in which it ought to be put if they are to have reasonable and fair justice. It is very extraordinary this sudden desire to economise that has spread over the opposite side of the House. A few moments ago they voted in overwhelming numbers for the compulsory adoption of Part III. of the Act of 1890 over the whole of England, Scotland, and Ireland. That must cause a very large amount of expenditure to the ratepayer if the Act is adopted and worked. In this particular case the ratepayer would not pay a single farthing. It will be the misguided landowner who will employ counsel, and he will pay out of his own pocket for the advantage which he thinks he is going to get. Have we really come to this: that the Radical party opposite, not content with legislating for every conceivable ill in the universe, are now coming down to say that the wicked class of landowners are not fit to be trusted to say whether or not they may employ counsel? Are the Radical party going to hold that no one may employ counsel unless they have got their permission first? That is legislation run mad! I sincerely trust that on that point, which will not in any way interfere in any way with the objects of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman will give way. There are many important points besides to be considered. I must say I do not quite hold the view which my hon. and learned Friend below me has expressed, that the 10 per cent. should not be given for compulsory purchase.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Oh, well, not necessarily. If the arbitrator has the option of giving the 10 per cent., I should not have so much to say on that point; but the Clause prevents him giving 60 it under any circumstances at all. It takes away from the arbitrator the power that always existed under the Lands Clauses Act. So far as I know the Lands Clauses Act, there is nothing in it which renders the giving of this compulsory. It is entirely optional, but so manifestly just that in many cases it has always been done. Now the right hon. Gentleman comes down and wants to abolish it. I think the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord R. Cecil) and myself have demolished the argument of the hon. Member for Oxford between us, that the Finance Bill was going to afford a basis of valuation which would be unquestioned. Therefore, the fact remains that there would be different occasions. In some cases, no doubt, the ordinary price which a seller could have obtained might have meant a fair, simple award; in other cases it would be nothing of the kind. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board contemplates land being taken which is near a residence, and which would destroy the amenities of that residence. In the case of land being taken for the purposes of a house or a cottage which is close to a residence or near a garden, or something of that kind, the effect would be to destroy the amenities, and if it is taken something ought to be paid for the destruction of these amenities. That is not covered in this Schedule. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to bring in some Amendment to meet this matter on Report stage. This really only shows the great difficulty we are in in considering this Bill now, practically on 1st September. Here are things that arise when one begins to consider the different Clauses of the Bill. We have never been able to consider it before, and the fact that a few Members upstairs in Committee did consider it in no way assists other Members of the House. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will afford us some satisfaction upon this point. I have no doubt he will, and if he does he will mitigate in some way the hostility which is felt on this side of the House to this particular Clause. I propose later to move an Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman will see is on the Paper, which would put in the provisions of the Lands Clauses Act as a much more simple way of carrying out the objects of this Bill.
§ Mr. JOHN BURNS
It was not out of any disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover-square (Mr. Lyttelton), that I did not 61 rise when he sat down, but it was because there was a generally expressed desire that we should take this Bill upon its merits in a businesslike way, and I thought it advisable that we should hear the Opposition case before I made any reply. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London has told the House that he intends to move an Amendment with the object of reinserting Lands Clauses Act terms as the method and process of securing land for houses under this scheme. That statement reveals, I think, to the Committee the fact that the hon. Member himself does not want to give to housing the new facilities and improved procedure that all quarters of the House desire it should get, and I venture to say if he moves that Amendment the hon. Baronet will have very little support, even from his own side of the House.
Coming to the merits of the subject before us, I may say generally, and it is within the knowledge of the House, that this matter has been discussed at considerable length on this Bill in the House itself and in the Grand Committee upstairs, and by a Special Committee that sat for 36 days in 1907, and beyond these facts the elements of this issue have been submitted very clearly by hon. Gentlemen opposite from their point of view to-day. But, greater than all the experience of Select or Grand Committees on this subject, there is now over a year's solid, useful, practical experience of the method of acquiring land under the Small Holdings Act by which many thousands of acres have been secured, and therefore, as Englishmen dearly love a precedent, I ask the House to adopt the Small Holdings Act method which we incorporate in this Bill, because it is a precedent of practice which has determined the justice of that course, and until I hear evidence of confiscation under the Small Holdings Act, of arbitrary action on the part of arbitrators, and of injustice being done to some parties concerned, I claim, and have every justification for claiming, that a similar process in the Housing of the Working Classes Act will meet with precisely the same reception and will pursue the line of least resistance in this Act as it does in the Small Holdings Act. I hope to justify that optimism by the speeches which have been made. Take the case of the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave). He puts his objection to this Clause under four heads. He says his chief objection is not that there should be a single arbitrator, but that that single arbitrator should 62 be nominated by the Local Government Board. It would, perhaps, better and more clearly express our view on this Bill if I were to give in a few short sentences what this Bill does in its method of acquiring land. It enables not the Local Government Board to acquire land—in that sense we are not a party—it enables the local authority by means of a Local Government Board Order to acquire land. We select that process because it dispenses with confirmation by Parliament, and we can apply the Order at any time without waiting for Parliament to assemble, and therefore it makes for promptitude in meeting the demands of the local authority.
§ Mr. BURNS
Parliament is not intended for such extra parochial matters as this. We are all Imperialists now, and Parliament ought to consider Imperial questions. It enables the local authority by means of a Local Government Board Order to acquire land. That process avoids delay, makes for economy, and generally for this class of administrative work, for such it is, it is the best plan. The next point that engaged the attention of the House was that of the arbitrator dispensing with the jury. But here I have the support of the right hon. and learned Member opposite, who said he was not enamoured on a question of this kind going before a jury. Neither are the Government, and we have substituted for a jury a single arbitrator. The third point made was that the single arbitrator appointed by the Local Government Board is necessarily a prejudiced person. He might be if he was going to buy the land, or if he was a party in the ordinary accepted sense, but he is not. He is an arbitrator appointed by the Board to see that equal justice is done as between the local authority who want the land and the owner who is unwilling to sell the land.
I may as well point out that the Local Government Board is in the habit of dealing with questions like this, and hon. Members can rely upon it that the arbitrator appointed will most probably be a counsel or an ex-counsel who will be thoroughly able to handle questions of this kind. I think their point of view as to any injustice arising or as to the fairness of price, the owner will be just as content with a single arbitrator appointed by the Board as he would have been in similar circumstances with arbitrators from that particular Board. The fourth point, and the 63 one which seems to me to be the strongest, was that it was unjust that counsel or expert witnesses should be denied to one of the parties. I think hon. Members who brought that plea forward had better complete the statement of the fact, which is that counsel and witnesses will be denied to both parties. We think it is in the interests of the local authority that instead of spending so much money, as some local authorities are inclined to do, on counsel and expert witnesses, the money should go to buy more land and better land, and to build better cottages and more cottages. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover-square (Mr. Lyttelton), rather agreed, though he qualified it afterwards, under the influence of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), with our proposal in regard to compulsory purchase. He was not altogether enamoured, he said, of the additional allowance for compulsory purchase being granted in every case.
§ Mr. BURNS
Yes, the 10 per cent. I leave the hon. Baronet and the right hon. Gentleman to settle that point between them, but I think under our scheme the ratepayers will have the benefits. There is a great deal of difference between a local authority using the medium of the Local Government Board for acquiring land for housing, very often in remote districts, where land would be relatively cheap, and the acquisition of land by a local authority under the Port of London Clauses, where trade interests and land of all classes are in dispute. We see no relation between the two cases. The Small Holdings Act has given us a guide and a precedent and experience that were required, and they were inserted in our Bill. We have lifted the small holdings practice and experience into our first Schedule. Nothing as to the terms and conditions of purchase as embodied in our Schedule will defeat the object of this Bill, which we have at heart, namely, to acquire land fairly, honourably, and generously, but as promptly and as cheaply as we can, and for these reasons we ask the House to adopt this Clause.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I entirely support the reasons which the President of the Local Government Board has put forward in support of the Schedule. Outside the requirements of Scotland, I am a warm supporter of this Bill, but in Scot- 64 land we have been in the habit of appointing a single valuer, and the practice has generally been for either side to put a case in writing. When we have had so long in Scotland a system which is generally approved of, I would like to know why we should be asked to change it? I think the Lord Advocate will agree will me when I say that if we had been having a Bill for Scotland alone, it is very un likely that we should have departed from the ordinary practice in Scotland, where failing an agreement, the arbiter would be nominated by the sheriff. Why should we depart from that practice in favour of a proposal that the appointment of arbiter should rest not with the Local Government Board in London but with the Local Government Board for Scotland which has not been constituted to do anything of the kind? If the Government do not like to answer this point now, I would urge them to take it into their serious consideration before this Bill goes to an other place.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Ure)
I do not think I can give an undertaking that the Government will seriously consider the point which has been raised by my hon. Friend. This is a single simple duty which it is proposed to throw upon the Local Government Board for Scotland. That Board is already in the habit of nominating experts for a variety of different purposes, including this very purpose. I think the Local Government Board for Scotland is just as competent as the sheriff to nominate a valuer to value a bit of ground. I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Munro Ferguson) will find that frequently probably the very same individual will be named by the Local Government Board for Scotland as would be named by the sheriff to value in a particular locality With regard to what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns) said as to the probability of counsel or ex-counsel being appointed so far as I know the procedure and practice in Scotland, it is highly unlikely that counsel or ex-counsel will be nominated I do not quite understand the phrase "ex-counsel." In Scotland we usually nominate a valuer, and my hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs is wrong in supposing that we are making any change in the practice of the law in Scotland. For these reasons I think we must allow the Schedule to stand in its present shape as far as Scotland is concerned. My hon. Friend will see that there are a number of other items in the Schedule which invoke 65 the aid of the Local Government Board for Scotland, and when discharging those duties that Board might as well be allowed to perform the simple and harmless duty of appointing the person who will have to fix the price of the ground.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
As the Government apparently did not understand what I said about 10 per cent., perhaps I had better state what I meant to convey. I agree that the conventional allowance of 10 per cent. is too much. There are cases in which the allowance ought to be more and others in which it ought to be less. What I object to is the provision which disentitles the arbitrator giving any allowance at all. I agree with the Lord Advocate that the functions to be performed by an arbitrator, who I prefer to call a valuer, will be better performed by valuers than counsel.
§ Mr. CAVE
May I state why I ask the Committee to divide on this Amendment? Except under the peculiar circumstances in which we are discussing this Amendment, I am sure that the Government could not maintain for a moment the provision that the arbitrator should be appointed by the Local Government Board. The proposal that that Board should nominate the person to fix the price is such a gross injustice that if we had time for a full discussion I feel sure it could not be maintained. I hope we shall protest against this proposal by dividing, and, if we are unsuccessful, I hope the matter will be set right at another stage.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 146; Noes, 32.67
|Division No. 546.]||AYES.||[5 55 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Malley, William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hart-Davies, T.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Paul, Herbert|
|Barnard, E. B.||Hazleton, Richard||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Henderson, J. Mc D. (Aberdeen, W.)||Radford, G. H.|
|Berridge, T.H. D.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Brodie, H. C.||Hodge, John||Reddy, M.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hogan, Michael||Rees, J. D.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Holland, Sir William Henry||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Robert, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hudson, Walter||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Idris, T. H. W.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Cleland, J. W.||Jackson, R.S.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Clough, William||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rowlands, J.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jowett, F. W.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Keating, M.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Laidlaw, Robert||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Lehmann, R. C.||Seely, Colonel|
|Crean, Eugene||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Crooks, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Sheehy, David|
|Crosfield, A.H.||Lundon, T.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Cullinan, J.||Macdonald, J.R. (Leicester)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Mac Veigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||M' Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Duckworth, Sir James||M' Micking, Major G.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Duffy, William J.||Massie, J.||Verney, F. W.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Vivian, Henry|
|Elibank, Master of||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Evans, Sir S. T||Micklem, Nathaniel||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wardle, George J.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morrell, Philip||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Muldoon, John||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Ginnell, L.||Myer, Horatio||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Winfrey, R.|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Nolan, Joseph||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Glover, Thomas||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Young, Samuel|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Grayson, Albert Victor||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (York)||O'Doherty, Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Gulland, John W.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George.D|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harrison-Broadley, H B.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Holt, Richard Durning||Stanier, Beville|
|Carille, E. Hildred||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A.R.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Arthur, Charles||Valentia, Viscount|
|Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount||Younger, George|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, Win. G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Foster, P. S.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Cave and Hon. Walter Guinness.|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
§ Mr. H. C BRODIE
moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "compulsorily" ["a local authority may be authorised to purchase land compulsorily"] to insert the words "and hold the same."
The Amendment is not a very great one, but it is one which will considerably strengthen the powers of purchase under this Bill, and I hope it will be accepted by the Government. I do not think it is an Amendment which is likely to be objected to by the Committee as a whole, or by the Government. The Committee upstairs, and, I take it, the Government, approved in principle of the holding of land by a local authority. It will be noticed in Subsection (3) of this Clause that the local authority may, with the consent of the Local Government Board, hold land which it has purchased by agreement, notwithstanding the fact that the land is not immediately required for the purposes of the Act. Then, again, in the 1900 Bill, it will, no doubt, be in the recollection of several Members of the Committee that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green moved an Amendment extending the powers of the local authority, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. H. Chaplin), who was in charge of that Bill, agreed that some such power should be given. He said there would be no limitation to the powers of purchase so long as the land was used for the purposes within the provisions of the Act, and that neither would there be any obligation to sell unless the land was not required for the purpose for which it was purchased, and that even then the Local Government Board would have a dispensing power and be able to say the land should not be sold. In face of that promise the hon. Member for Bethnal Green withdrew his Amendment. I refer to that to show that in the late Parliament there must have been no objection to the principle of the extension of powers of this sort. I venture to think the Local Government Board should not under any circumstances insist upon the 68 sale of land by a local authority who wishes to keep it for the purposes of the Act. I should, on the contrary, like it to be an instruction to the Local Government Board to refuse permission to any local authority to sell land which it has acquired for public purposes. I trust the Government will see their way to accept this proposal, and that the Committee will approve of it. Surely, it is only wise to encourage local authorities to acquire land several years in advance, and it would, in my opinion, be very unwise, simply because land, or portions of it, was acquired compulsorily, to insist upon a local authority selling it when they are not able to use it.
§ Mr. BURNS
My hon. Friend has moved his Amendment owing to a misconception as to what the Clause is really going to carry out. I think his Amendment is totally unnecessary.
Judging from his speech, anyone would think that land acquired even compulsorily under this Bill could not be used for any other purpose. That is not so. Land purchased for one purpose can, owing to the 1907 Public Health Act, Section 95, now be used for another purpose. That disposes of that particular point. Secondly, he asked: Can a local authority hold land if purchased under this Bill? Certainly it can. That is our interpretation. I am sure the hon. Member will listen to my answer to his third point with equal pleasure. A local authority can now hold land purchased by agreement if not immediately required. The hon. Member could not have had those three facts in his mind when he put his Amendment down, and certainly not when he made his speech. The only thing the Clause would not allow to be done is this: It is presumed a local authority would have the intention within some reasonable time of housing people on land to be acquired. A local authority at Kingston, for instance, ought not to be able to schedule land say at Aldershot, or half-way between, 69 because it anticipates what might turn out to be purely imaginary requirements for houses. The object is to give local authorities genuine opportunities of acquiring land, both voluntarily and compulsorily, when that land comes within the perview of reasonably expected housing requirements. I sincerely trust the hon. Member will not press his Amendment. If he does, we cannot in the light of what we have said, see our way to accept it
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I am afraid I shall be obliged to ask the right hon. Gentlemen for some explanation. If we are to understand from his answer that authorities may hold land which is acquired compulsorily for the purpose of housing under Part III., even although they are not going to use it immediately for that purpose, how comes it that it should be distinctly stated in Sub-section (3) that the authority, providing they acquire the land by agreement, may hold it, even although there is no immediate requirement? Does not that pre-suppose they cannot hold it where it is compulsorily acquired? It seems to me that is the natural interpretation of the Clause. Where the land is compulsorily acquired it must be used immediately. There must be some immediate prospect of using it, or it cannot be held. It is only in cases where it is acquired by agreement that it can be held, even although it is not used immediately for that purpose. That is how it appears to me, and I should like some explanation.
§ Mr. BURNS
I trust my hon. Friend will see there is a difference between a local authority holding land acquired by agreement and holding land purchased by compulsion. If you dispossess a man of land of which he is already in profitable exploitation, it stands to reason that, that land is likely to be more near to towns, or to housing centres, than land not similarly used, and the Local Government Board and the Government take the view that local authorities should not be encouraged in land speculation as distinct from the acquisition of land for bonâ fide housing purposes, especially at the beginning of this Housing and Town Planning experiment. We think we are right in giving the interpretation to the Clause which I have previously intimated. Where a local authority purchases land by compulsion, it will be able to hold that land; where they have acquired it by agreement, they will be able 70 to hold it; and even under this Clause, by Section 95 of the Public Health Act of 1907, land acquired either by compulsion or by agreement could, in the event of it not being used for the purposes of this Bill, be otherwise used. We think that for the moment, and in order to safeguard local authorities from too ambitious enterprises in the direction of land speculation, it is advisable for us to be reasonably cautious in the methods that we place within the powers of the local authorities. I believe this Bill, wisely carried out, will be of very great good to the community, but it may be a source of great peril if land speculation, instead of the acquisition of land for bonâ fide housing purposes, were embarked upon. I trust, upon that explanation, the hon. Member will accept the Government's view and let the Clause go as it is.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
I quite agree that it would be entirely undesirable to encourage local authorities in land speculation, but I think the point of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ward) is important. I should like to be corrected if my construction is wrong. It is this: If a local authority compulsorily acquires land for the purpose of Part III., it must use that land for that purpose only, and use it with reasonable despatch for that purpose. I think a greater latitude is naturally and legitimately permitted in the case of land acquired by agreement. It is important that local authorities should understand that, if they use the compulsory powers of this Act to acquire land for the purposes of housing, they must not only use it for that purpose, but use it with all reasonable despatch.
§ Mr. T. HART-DAVIES
I do not quite understand whether, where a local authority acquires land by compulsion, it can hold it for any amount of time. The Bill is rather vague, but, if that is so, I do not know why, in Sub-section (3), the words by agreement" are inserted at all. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain whether, if a local authority acquires land by compulsion, it can hold it, and whether it can use it for any other purpose?
§ Mr. BURNS
The Sub-section reads: "A local authority may, with the consent of and subject to any conditions imposed by the Local Government Board, acquire land by agreement for the purposes of Part III. of the principal Act, notwithstanding that the land is not immediately required for those purposes." Let me take a concrete case. The London 71 County Council bought 200 acres of land at Tottenham. Only a certain portion was immediately needed for houses, and, with the sanction of the Local Government Board, the remainder of the land was let for ultimate housing purposes. A similar thing would happen with regard to land acquired by compulsion. It is important at this stage to make it clear that, under the provisions of this Bill, the authorities must be given these wide powers to hold land taken by agreement; and I venture to say that the local authorities could no have wider or more reasonable powers conferred upon them than by this provision.
§ Viscount MORPETH
If one word were added to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Reigate, we should arrive at the very same state of affairs which we have been denouncing for weeks past, namely, the holding up of land. If it is wrong for a private owner to hold up land, it must be equally wrong for a municipality or for a county council to speculate in land in the same way. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has made the matter quite clear to the Committee. He said that under Sub-section (3) the local authorities might acquire land by agreement, although it is not immediately required. I should like to see municipalities looking ahead and buying land in the outskirts of a town in view of the future, but I quite understand the land ought not to be applied to other purposes than that for which it was bought. As the Clause stands it is very ambiguous. It is necessary to make it clear to what extent they can buy land under compulsory powers and then withhold it.
§ Mr. JAMES PARKER
The right hon. Gentleman has dilated on the ambitions of local authorities, but why should not municipalities be allowed to acquire compulsorily and hold land, notwithstanding the fact that it is not immediately required for housing purposes? What are the dangers which the right hon. Gentleman seems to fear?
§ Mr. PARKER
I do not see how you are helping municipalities by limiting this Clause. I would prefer to wait until our land valuation proposals are in active operation. I want to see them working, because I am convinced that when those proposals are put into operation the municipality will be able to acquire land more quickly and at fairly legitimate prices. I do not see why some provision should not be laid down with regard to compulsion as applied in Sub-section (3) of this Clause with regard to land which is acquired by agreement. I do not think there is any danger of our municipalities going too fast in the matter of acquiring land. Hitherto they have gone much too slowly, because of the prices which have had to be paid for it.
§ Mr. BRODIE
I very much regret the right hon. Gentleman has not seen his way to accept my Amendment, and, under the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw. The right hon. Gentleman may not be aware that the Public Health Act, 1907, leaves a loophole which enables local authorities to hold land, even when acquired compulsorily.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
moved to leave out from Sub-section (1), the words "Part III. of the principal Act ["compulsorily for the purposes of Part III. of the principal Act"], and to substitute the words "the Housing Acts."
I have put this Amendment down because a number of Scottish Members hold the view that the Clause as it stands unduly restricts their powers of acquisition. It might confine the operation to the purchase of land for lodging-houses; it may be desirous to acquire it for other purposes.
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Member has given good reasons for wishing to apply the Amendment of the Housing Bill to Scotland. I am sorry the Lord Advocate is not present to deal with the particular Scotch aspect of the question, but I must say at once I cannot accept this Amendment, which would impose a disability upon England, and I hope my hon. Friend will not press it at this stage.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I think it is very unsatisfactory that when presumably an important Amendment is moved by a Scotch Member we are unable to consider it because the Lord Advocate is not present. Surely, as this Bill is only down for 73 two days, the hon. and learned Gentleman might be present in order to discuss the Government proposals from the point of view of their Scotch peculiarity. I must say I should think it extremely undesirable that under the guise of buying land for the purpose of housing the working classes the municipal authorities should speculate in minerals. I do suggest that the further consideration of this matter should be postponed.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I raised this point because the other day sandstone was declared to be a mineral.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I think it is most unsatisfactory that an attempt should be made to inveigle us into a discussion on the question of minerals.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I made a few remarks earlier in the evening in regard to a, comparatively, few of the evil results which would follow if this measure became law, and the right hon. Gentleman said that it was a very simple measure, and that this Clause would provide against any of the evils which I thought might arise. Am I right in understanding that the effect of this Clause will be to allow local authorities to speculate in coal and minerals? I understand from my hon. Friends near me that that is only the effect of the Amendment, and if that is so, I hope it will not be passed, and in that case I shall probably find myself in the same Lobby with the right hon. Gentleman, though I did not quite gather from his remarks whether he is in favour of it or not. I am told he said he would consider the Amendment, and I hope he will withdraw that remark, and will not allow local authorities to speculate in coal and minerals.
§ Mr. BURNS
My hon. Friend is entirely mistaken, and attributes to me views which I do not hold. I appealed to the hon. Member not to press his Amendment at the present stage, so far as England was concerned, as it was not acceptable, and on the Scotch question, I have said, I did not intend to give any particular view in. the absence of the Lord Advocate. I only claim in regard to the Scotch matter to be the means of communication between the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Munro Ferguson) and the Lord Advocate, who has been here this afternoon. I am merely the means of communication as to whether the hon. Member's Amendment is applicable to the Scottish conditions, but my own view is that we ought not to accept it so far as England is concerned, 74 partly for the reasons given by the Noble Lord the Member for Birmingham (Viscount Morpeth).
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation, but I should very much like to know why we should not have the advantage of the presence of the Lord Advocate. We have only got one Cabinet Minister here, and we might at least, I think, have one Law Officer. I think that, considering the difficulties under which we are working, we should be given every facility for obtaining explanations. We are not allowed to discuss much, but I think we ought to have the presence of a Law Officer to advise us in regard to what we do discuss, especially as he is paid for it.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do think the position in which we are placed illustrates with striking vividness the position in which the House of Commons is put by the guillotine. We are asked to discuss this Amendment under great difficulties, one being that an Amendment moved by a Scottish Member cannot be dealt with properly because there is nobody here who knows what the law of Scotland is. Surely that is the acme of degradation to which even this Government has reduced the House of Commons. If the Lord Advocate cannot be here perhaps the Solicitor-General for Scotland can, but we ought to have some answer on this point.
§ Mr. HERBERT LEWIS (Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board)
This is the first, occasion on which I have addressed the House for a good many Sessions, although I used to take an active part in the Debates of the House in years gone by. I feel sure, however, that the Committee will extend to me the indulgence which is usually extended to a Member who addresses the House for the first time, and I am more in need of the indulgence because an appeal has been made for a Law Officer, and the Amendment of my hon. Friend raises certain questions which present aspects of difficulty. I would like, however, to ask the Committee to consider what the effect of accepting this Amendment would be. The effect of accepting it would be to extend the procedure of Clause 2 in regard to Part III. to Part I. and Part II. of the Act of 1890, and it would, in fact, extend these compulsory powers that are now applied in the case of Part III. to Parts I. and II. For myself, I confess when I approached 75 the Amendment of my hon. Friend I was under the impression that that might be a good thing to do; but, on going into it more carefully, it appeared to me that the disadvantages enormously outweighed the advantages of that proposal. If the Amendment of my hon. Friend were inserted in the Bill it would have the effect of introducing duplication of procedure and confusion into our housing schemes. Indeed, in the future, it would be necessary for a scheme under Part I. or Part II. of the Act of 1890 to go through two processes, neither of which would be complete and neither of which would be brought to fruition without the other. The machinery would have to be duplicated at almost every point, and I cannot see any way out of it. There would have to be two inquiries, one made with counsel and witnesses, and the other without: two sets of notices would have to be issued; and the Order would have to be submitted to the Board and confirmed in one case, and in the other case a different procedure would have to be adopted. One could illustrate this duplication of procedure to an almost infinite extent. It would imply additional cost, trouble, and responsibility to the local authority, and under those circumstances it would, I think, be a very great mistake to accept my hon. Friend's Amendment. But there is a further disadvantage attaching to the acceptance of his Amendment. May I draw his attention to a fact, to which my right hon. Friend has already referred, that under Section 21 of the Act of 1890 the arbitrator has received certain directions with regard to the litigation and the amount of compensation to be given, and if this Amendment were adopted it would abolish the power of the arbitrator to receive evidence that the rental had been enhanced by the property being used for illegal purposes; he would not be able to take into account the fact that the house was overcrowded, or dangerous, or injurious to the health of the inmates, and that it was a nuisance or in a state of defective sanitation, or was not in good repair. The arbitrator may, under the Act of 1890, base the amount of compensation upon the valuation of the house after the nuisance had been abated or after it had been put into a, sanitary condition, or reasonably good repair, after deducting the estimated expense of abating the nuisance, or putting the house into reasonable repair, and if the house is not fit for human habitation the arbitrator has to 76 award compensation simply on the value of the land. Under these circumstances, by his Amendment, we should lose the benefit of what we consider to be a substantial advantage under this Bill, but I am not quite sure whether it entirely commends itself to hon. Gentlemen opposite. It does, however, commend itself to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, and I therefore venture to hope that my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Parker), as to the first part, turns upon a point we have already dealt with, and the latter part is not in the right place. Then, I think the discussion this afternoon, although I did not hear the whole of it, the discussion on the omission of the Subsection, was really more on the omission of the Schedule than on the omission of the Sub-section. That being so, I think we must take it that the words as to the Schedule are left in, and therefore the Amendment of the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) will not be in order.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On the point of order, Sir. May I submit that it is not quite correct to say that the discussion was to a large extent on the omission of the Schedule, but that the Debate was confined to other points? I do not seek to amend the Schedule, but to omit it altogether, and may I point out that under the rules under which we are now working the question of the Schedule will probably never be put, but it will be put with several other clauses. Therefore I hope that we shall have some little latitude given to us on this point as to whether or not my Amendment should be discussed, which involves the point of whether the Schedule should stand part of the Bill. The effect would be to substitute the old provisions of the Land Clauses Act, and it would be necessary then to leave out the Schedule when we get to it, and under these circumstances may I submit that I may be allowed to move my Amendment? I should not speak very long, but I think we ought to have some discussion upon it.
The hon. Baronet is quite correct in saying that there was a good deal of detailed examination of the schedule, and as I do not know that the hon. Baronet's point was specifically raised. I shall allow him to move his Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
moved, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "by means of an Order submitted to the Local Government Board and confirmed by the Board in accordance with the First Schedule of this Act."
The effect of this will be, followed as it is by a consequential Amendment in the next sub-section, to leave out the words "substituted for," to make the Clause read: "A local authority may be authorised to purchase land compulsorily for the purposes of Part III. of the principal Act. (2) The procedure under this Section for the compulsory purchase of land shall be the procedure for the same purpose under Section one hundred and seventy-six of the Public Health Act, 1875, as applied by Sub-section (1) of Section fifty-seven of the principal Act." The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board said that the reason he had adopted this particular procedure was because it had been so successful under the Small Holdings Act, and he informed us that there had been no dispute or question of injustice arising under that Act. May I ask if he read in to-day's "Times" a letter from the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Anson), which shows that, according to his view, at any rate, injustice has arisen, under that particular Act. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the advantages of this procedure were that the purchase was quick and there was no delay, as if Parliament was not sitting you got the whole case through, and you had not to go before Parliament, and you had much better go to the Local Government Board. I intervened, and I asked why have any Parliament at all, and I ventured to ask what was the use of Parliament if all these cases in which the property of people was dealt with were not submitted to Parliament, but submitted to a Star Chamber presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. It was always held part of the rights and privileges of the citizens of this country that their property should not be taken away without Parliament investigated the matter and adjudged that the property might be taken. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not appeal if he wishes to influence me to anything that the present Government have done. I consider everything they have done is wrong. I do not remember them 78 ever having done one right thing, and I shall not be converted by the fact that this procedure was inaugurated under the Small Holdings Act of 1907. With the exception of the Light Railways Act I do not believe there has ever been a case until the Act of 1907 where property has been acquired in the way that the right hon. Gentleman proposes unless the owner has had an opportunity of showing that a price should be fixed according to some regard to what he considers to be the value of the property. Further, it should not be taken away from him by four people who have an appeal to one person, because that is the effect unless my Amendment is carried. I admit the one person is the right hon. Gentleman, but he is not always right. These five together may practically settle the price and take the property of some honest person who does not desire to part with it. The right hon. Gentleman himself is to name the arbitrator. That is a point which ought to be very carefully considered by the Committee before they allow the Clause to become part of the Bill. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman, if he will not meet me, will at least show some real argument why he cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Baronet says he views with suspicion the procedure to acquire land set up by this Bill, and he is not at all mitigated in his opposition to the Bill and its method of acquiring land by the fact that this procedure, or worse, had been applied in three particular instances, namely, the Port of London Act, the Small Holdings Act, and the Light Railways Act. The hon. Baronet cannot get pure and undefiled what he interprets as the Lands Clauses method of acquiring land, therefore he hopes to secure as an alternative between the Lands Clauses method and the method in this Bill—the small holdings conditions—the method of acquiring land set up by the Public Health Act, 1875. We object to the alternative suggested by the hon. Baronet, because we think only one degree less objectionable than the Lands Clauses themselves for this purpose are the Public Health Act, 1875, terms. The procedure of the Public Health Act is that the land shall be acquired by a Provisional Order confirmed by Parliament. That we object to for reasons that I have frequently stated to-day. The procedure has to be done at a particular time of the year, which in itself makes for delay, which would be frequently incon- 79 venient and which would delay some housing schemes certainly for nine months at least, and in some cases probably a year or 15 months. It also embodies the Lands Clauses 10 per cent., which we cannot accept, and which is not universally approved of for this purpose by hon. Members on the other side of the House. Instead of a single arbitrator it asks for two arbitrators, and, if necessary, an umpire, a cumbrous method that we object to. It is because we think it is as slow and cumbrous as the Lands Clauses and equally extravagant that we cannot accept the views put forward by the hon. Baronet.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I will not put the House to the trouble of a Division, but I am not at all satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. He apparently founds his objection on the ground that it is cumbrous and causes delay. The right hon. Gentleman would like to go back to the days of Louis XVI., and he would like to be on the throne, and to have everything done that he, with the best of intentions, decided. There would be no delay, and everything would be done at once. But that is not in accordance with the ideas of free Englishmen. I am surprised at hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway being so anxious that the head of a Department should control their destinies. I should have thought they would prefer the old-fashioned arrangements, whereby a little freedom was secured to a man, even if he happened to be so unfortunate as to own a little property.
§ Mr. BURNS
I do not think it ought to go forth that the suggested method of acquiring land for housing under this Bill is quite as summary and as drastic as the hon. Member suggested. There has to be a public inquiry. Notices have to be given. The ordinary forms for these inquiries take a considerable time, and if the hon. Baronet thinks I am coming down in a motor car from the Local Government Board one day, with only 24 hours' notice, to dispossess him of his rural property on purpose to house his more humble neighbours, and to complete that operation within 24 hours, that is an imaginative description of what is not to take place that I cannot accept. When he suggests that the Local Government Board is a modern Star Chamber, and that I am Judge Jeffreys, it is a ridiculous interpretation of my office, especially in the light of criticisms which frequently come to me that we are not so quick as we might be, and that we are 80 more considerate of other people's rights than we ought to be, and that generally we go about our work decently and in order. The hon. Baronet can rely upon it that we are going to work this Bill fairly and reasonably with a considerable degree of common-sense, and the hon. Baronet may rest assured that the authors of this Bill would not have framed it unless that was their intention.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. CAVE
moved, at the end of Subsection (1), to insert the words, "but this provision shall not apply to any common land within the meaning of the Inclosure Acts, 1845 to 1899, or to any open space used by the public for purposes of recreation."
I move this Amendment only for the purpose of putting one point. The Government have met us fairly, I think, in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman has put down a new Clause which gives a great deal of protection to common land. It provides that common land cannot be taken unless land is given in exchange equally advantageous to the commoners. That is to be ascertained by certificate. The new Clause provides that the certificate is to be given by the Local Government Board. It has always been the practice, I think, to confide the care of common land to the Board of Agriculture, and I should like to see the Clause modified in this respect: that, instead of that certificate being given by the Local Government Board, it shall be given by the Board of Agriculture, which has regard to the interest of the commoners, and is accustomed to deal with common land.
§ Mr. BURNS
The Clause which I have put down, I believe, gives general satisfaction to everyone who has interested himself in the preservation of parks, commons, and open spaces, as no objection or criticism from any Commons Protection Association has appeared up to now in any form whatsoever; the House can take it from me that the Clause generally meets with their approval. We have no prejudice against the Board of Agriculture, but, on the contrary, we work especially in the matter of parks, commons, and open spaces most harmoniously with them. But we think for the purpose of this Bill the authority responsible for the granting of the certificate, which may deal with the making up of roads, 81 the gradient of roads, the exchange of land, and with town planning—a number of very important matters which can only be within the purview of the inspectors who hold the Local Government Board inquiry—should be granted by the Local Government Board. In no case will that certificate be granted by the Local Government Board until after they have consulted with the Board of Agriculture.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I rather hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his answer about the Board of Agriculture. There are very numerous precedents of this kind in private Acts of Parliament where the taking of commons has been authorised. In every case, I think, the Board of Agriculture is the Department which is entrusted with the duty. Under these circumstances it will be very inconvenient that where land is taken under this particular Bill those who are interested in commons have to go to a different Department from that which they would have to go to in any other case. I should have thought that it would have been better to make this legislation conformable to all previous legislation. I trust the President of the Local Government Board will consider that particular point.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I wish to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, if he is going to reframe this Amendment, or suggest a Clause dealing with commons and open spaces, he will make it as irksome for private individuals to enclose commons as for public authorities to do so when land is required for the purpose of housing schemes. I should like also to ask whether the Board of Agriculture has any power to interfere in these matters. On several occasions, in connection with a matter in which I was concerned, I have been told, in answer to questions, that the Board of Agriculture had no power to interfere.
§ Mr. CAVE
I may inform the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. Ward) that no common can be enclosed without the consent of the Board of Agriculture. I am not satisfied with the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman, but as he has been very reasonable I do not wish to press the Amendment. I still hope that he will consider my point before the Report stage. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.82
§ Mr. CHARLES M'ARTHUR
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), after the word "Act" ["First Schedule to this Act"] to insert the words "but this provision shall not apply to any land which, at the date of the order, has been acquired by the owners thereof for the purposes of a railway, dock, canal, water, or other public undertaking." The object of this Amendment is to exempt any land held by a railway, dock, canal, water, or other public undertaking, under Parliamentary powers for specific purposes, from the operation of the Bill. Public bodies of this kind stand in a different position from private owners of land. They have had certain powers given to them by Parliament, and for their execution they are responsible. Under these powers they purchase land for the purposes of their undertakings. Some of it is purchased for present and some for future purposes, and it is a very serious thing that the head of a public Department should have power to interfere with the operation of the Acts under which the land is acquired. The title by which public bodies hold land is a higher title than the President of the Local Government Board seems to imagine. It is a monstrous thing that the Local Government Board or a local authority should have power to interfere with the intention of Parliament, and take away from these public bodies land which they hold for public purposes—land which they cannot sell, but which they are bound to devote to the purposes for which they have bought it. That is evidenced by the fact of the method by which the Local Government Board are to proceed. The arbitrator to which the dispute is to be referred is to be the nominee of the Local Government Board. His fees are to be, fixed by the Board, and paid by them, and I say it is an unusual and, indeed, unprecedented proceeding for a Department to be judge in its cause, and to appoint the officer who is to decide the matter in which it is involved. Take the case of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, of Liverpool. There you have a body which does not work for profit at all. It only works pro bono publico. It has entrusted to it the great responsibility of the trade of the Mersey. It has taken a far-sighted view with respect to the future. The Mersey Board has seen that the size of ships is increasing year by year. It has to provide for the increased size of ships and for the extension of the port. It has purchased land adjacent to its docks which it does not require at the present time, and which 83 it intends to hold—it may be for ten years or more—until the purposes of the port have reached a point when docks of the kind which they foresee will be actually required. It is most unprecedented that the local authority, backed up by the Local Government Board, should have power to go to the Mersey Board and say, "We want this land for housing. We want it now, and therefore you must surrender it to us." If it did not go so far as that, it might say, "Give us a strip at all events," and by taking a strip of that land it might make the rest of it impracticable for the purpose for which it is intended. The President of the Local Government Board thinks the Government in this matter is acting according to precedent. The precedents in this case are all on one side. If we look at the principal Act, the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890, we find that before you can acquire land there has to be a Provisional Order passed through Parliament. Therefore, Parliament has an opportunity of deciding on the matter. Then in the case of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, railway, dock, and other companies of that kind, which hold their land under statutory powers, have their land specially exempted from the land which can be purchased without consent. There is a special privilege given to those bodies over private owners.
I do not know that the President of the Local Government Board can point to a single precedent in previous legislation where the position of canal, dock and railway companies has not in one way or another been specially safeguarded. We want to know why the right hon. Gentleman has deviated from those precedents in this case. Why should the Bill be so framed that land belonging to these companies can be appropriated by local authorities when the land is held under Act of Parliament? The lands have been acquired for the purposes referred to, and why should the local authority get power to acquire them because they are needed for some other purpose which may not be so important? My hon. Friend referred to the Port of London Bill, and he was reminded that in that case the Government proposed to do what they propose to do here. They proposed to empower the Board of Trade to take land for dock development by compulsory purchase; but that was altered by Parliament, and it was decided that there should be an independent inquiry and an independent 84 arbitrator. Why should that not be done here? It seems to me that the reply of the President of the Local Government Board was a very singular one. He said that there were important interests involved in the case of the Port of London which did not exist in any other port. Are the interests there different from the interests in the Ports of Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, and Bristol? I venture to say that the interests in these ports are quite as valuable as the interests connected with the Port of London. It is quite as important that special provision ought to be made in respect of the cases I have mentioned, as in the case of the Pont of London. I conclude by saying that hon. Members on this side of the House view with great apprehension the disposition of the present Government to push the bureaucratic system of government in this country. I can quite understand that disposition from the altruistic point of view, but not from the Liberal point of view. It appears to me to be even a dangerous tendency, which has appeared in very much of its legislation, and which, I am glad to say, has been withdrawn when pointed out to it. I do hope that on this occasion, also, where it is proposed to invest the Local Government Board and local authorities with powers which we view with great apprehension, the Local Government Board will think a second time before it refuses to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Member, in moving the Amendment, asks practically and absolutely that all land owned by railway, dock, canal, water, and other public companies shall be exempted from the conditions that apply to other land to be secured by local authorities for building houses. We see no reason why land owned by railway, dock, harbour, or canal companies should be differentially placed as compared with any other land, and particularly as those corporations may happen to have, as sometimes occurs, a great deal of surplus land that might be advantageously used for the housing of their own employés, and, incidentally, not to the detriment of the dock or railway company itself, but generally for the public convenience. I waited in the hope that the hon. Gentleman, in moving the Amendment, would give some reasons why railway companies should be differentially treated as compared with private owners, or other holders of land in this country; and he did not give a single reason. May I put this to him? In giving these com- 85 panies power to acquire land, it was the intention of Parliament that it was to be used for public purposes and public benefit, and to subserve through them the interests of the common weal. It was only for that purpose that compulsory powers of purchase were given to them; but if another public purpose supervenes, which in any degree of necessity is greater than the original one, in my judgment the most recent, and, as happens in this case, the most decent ought to prevail. We think that a railway company ought not, when it has land in excess of its requirements, be allowed to hold that land in perpetuity as against the community, or probably a town planning scheme, to the detriment of adjoining owners; but that by mutual interchange of land reasonable give and take, and a reasonable price being given to the private owner, the local authority, the general public, and the railway itself, should be benefited by such a process. The hon. Member's speech was based on this supposition that we were likely to schedule land owned by the London and North-Western Railway Company, and the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Company, near towns, docks, and harbours, where the land is dear. That is very improbable—I believe almost impossible—because the mere cost of buying under the Lands Clauses, or under Small Holdings terms, such lands for housing purposes, and especially cottages, would be so prohibitive in price that there would be no inducement, either for a local authority, or for the Local Government inspector, to schedule the land on the mere ground of cost. This will rarely occur. Another reason why it is likely not to occur is that the noise, the smoke and the inconvenience that arise necessarily from railways, docks, harbours, canals and similar works, are in a general way also prohibitive of their land being earmarked and scheduled for ordinary housing purposes, so that to any extent this is not likely to occur. It would be a great advantage for railway companies, and for the big towns and cities if the conditions which will prevail in the future with regard to town planning schemes under this Bill, had applied in London and its suburbs years ago. If they had applied we would not have seen the aesthetical and physical and sanitary abomination that are to be witnessed in places like Clapham Junction, Liverpool Street, Fenchurch Street, and many other places where railway companies through lack of the provisions in this Bill were compelled to pay through the nose for land at 86 an excessive price, and were in many cases subject to gross exactions by some of the local authorities. What we ask under this Clause, both under housing and town planning, is, first, with regard to housing, that it will only take the shape of an interchange in land; in very, very rare cases it will only mean the appropriation of surplus land held by railway companies on proper terms, and after inquiry; and with regard to town planning, instead of the railway companies having anything to lose they will have much to gain by an impartial inspector and an arbitrator coming from a distance, who take a hill-top and disinterested view of the differences between local authorities and railways, and bring recalcitrant railway authorities into line with what are the broad public interests, both of the railway and pf the community; and it is because railway companies have in some cases secured and improperly held up land which might be used to advantage for housing, and because we believe that they ought to stand in the same position as an ordinary owner of land that we cannot accept the Amendment of the hon. Member.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
I am surprised at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the hon. Member behind me (Mr. M'Arthur) has given no reason for this Amendment. The reason was very clearly stated by my hon. Friend. Take the case of a, railway or a dock company. They come to Parliament; they come before a very expensive tribunal; they have to spend day after day there, fighting their case and provising it. That proceeding has to go on at immense cost. It takes place before a Committee of this House and before a Committee of the House of Lords, and in modern times it is quite common to point to the labours of those Committees and to test them again by divisions on the Third Reading. Therefore, if the railway company have the possession, of land, they have proved to the satisfaction of two Houses of Parliament that they ought to have possession of that land, and that it is in the public interest that they should have possession of it. Surely that title having been so conferred, and been granted after this great expenditure and after onerous proof that such land so acquired in the public interest, railway companies, dock companies, and water companies ought not to be deprived of it unless by an authority of equal weight and dignity. The proposal here is that the ipse dixit of the Local Government Board 87 shall be sufficient to override the powers which have been conferred for the public interest by Parliament itself. Surely that argument, which was perfectly clearly put by my hon. Friend, has not been dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman at all. What reason is there that the Local Government should have power to undo the work of Parliament, and to dispossess people of property which Parliament in the public interest decided that they should possess? The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to me to appreciate the force of the Amendment which he has put down at the end of page 47: "Provided that where the scheme contains provisions suspending any enactment contained in a public general Act the scheme shall not come into force unless a draft thereof has been laid before each House of Parliament for a period of not less than 40 days during the session of Parliament," and so on. Does not the right hon. Gentleman see that it is just and. right with regard to the suspension of any public Act it is necessary to go very little further, and to say that when there is a question of compulsory acquisition of the land obtained under a private Act a similar provision should apply? The attitude of the right hon. Gentleman seems to me to be based on the principle that, notwithstanding anything that Parliament has done, notwithstanding any title, however granted for any public purpose, the local Government Board is a sufficient authority to override it without compensation. I dissent from that, and I shall certainly support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend.
§ Colonel A. R. LOCKWOOD
In reference to this Amendment, railway companies, or water companies, or canal companies, simply ask an ordinary act of what they believe to be justice. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Lyttelton) has pointed out with great force that these companies should not have taken from them, for the purposes of this Measure, land which they obtained under the authority of Parliament. The President of the Local Government Board complains that we hold up land which ought to be applied for these purposes. Even he, who knows a great deal, cannot know as much as the railway companies, is dealing with their own private affairs. His knowledge is wonderful; his activity is increasing, but even he cannot say he knows what land will be required by particular railway companies or particular water companies, or 88 what land purchased by them that is now lying derelict may be extremely useful and absolutely vital for the purposes of the line contiguous which might not be wanted now but which will be in the future, and which certainly would not have been bought unless there was some object in getting it, that object being to provide for future requirements. This question is even more important to water companies, perhaps, than to railway companies, because if we take great storage reservoirs like those which have been built for the East London Water Works, the land on which they are was bought in the old days by the companies, and more land would have been bought if it could have been obtained, and it was not brought into use for many years, but eventually it proved absolutely necessary. In a similar way, land bought for railways, though it may not be required at present, may later on be absolutely necessary either for goods traffic or for different purposes from those for which it was originally bought. Railway companies are always anxious to build cottages for men on the line, so that they shall be handy for their own purposes. I think that the right hon. Gentleman should hesitate before overriding statutory powers obtained at enormous expense by companies which, after all, have been brought into existence for the public use and for the public convenience. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to give way on this point. If not, I shall be obliged to vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. R. D. HOLT
I should like to dissent from the attitude taken up by the President of the Local Government Board. It really is ridiculous that a Government Department should take upon themselves to hold that land which Parliament declares should be acquired for A should be summarily transferred to B. That is the reason why I think land belonging to the railway companies, dock authorities, canals, etc., should be treated differently. It is not because it belongs to certain persons, but because the people who own that land have received it as a result of the direct authority of Parliament, which puts them in a totally different position from other people. The only reason for taking this land from them is, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that it should be acquired for public purposes, because the Local Government Board think that some other public purposes are more important than the public purposes for which Parliament sanctioned the requisition. That is the proposition clearly advanced by the 89 President of the Local Government Board. According to the Bill before the House, the judge of the more important purposes is the President of the Local Government Board. I would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the Small Holdings Act, which was put forward as the precedent of this particular measure of obtaining land compulsorily. Clause 41 of the Small Holdings Act says that no land is to be acquired which has been acquired by a corporation or company for the purposes of a railway, dock, canal, or is the site of an ancient monument, and so on. If he relies so largely on precedent in one case, let him stick to the same precedent to the bitter end. I observe that he has under some sort of pressure protected archæological remains and ancient monuments. Why not then go to the very end and give the same protection to the statutory company?
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not give way to the pressure of the directors of railway companies and water companies that they should have the right to get large portions of land in certain localities for their purposes, and then that the State should not have any power whatever to compel them, to house their people decently. If they will not do it themselves, then the local authority or Local Government Board should have power to do it for them, and even take surplus lands for that purpose. I think that the position of the right hon. Gentleman is the correct one in the public interest, and I shall support it on a Division.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 39; Noes, 164.91
|Division No. 547.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Forster, Henry William||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Foster, P. S.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barnard, E. B.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury St. Ed.)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Smith, Abel H (Hertford, E.)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Stanier, Beville|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Holt, Richard Durning||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Younger, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Fell, Arthur||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||C. M'Arthur and Col. Lockwood.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Duckworth, Sir James||Hodge, John|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Duffy, William J.||Hogan, Michael|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Holden, Sir E. Hopkinson|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Evans, Sir S. T.||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Everett, R. Lacey||Hudson, Walter|
|Barnes, G. N.||Farrell, James Patrick||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Jackson, R. S.|
|Beale, W. P.||Ffrench, Peter||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Flynn, James Christopher||Jowett, F.W.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Fullerton, Hugh||Kavanagh, Walter M.|
|Brooke, Stopford||Furness, Sir Christopher||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Ginnell, L.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Glendinning, R. G.||Lamont, Norman|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Glover, Thomas||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R.R.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Grayson, Abert Victor||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Clough, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lundon, T.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Gulland, John W.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Cox, Harold||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Crean, Eugene||Hart-Davies, T.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Crooks, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Cullinan, J.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Hemmerde, Edward George||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fuham)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Massie, J.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Henderson, J. Mc D. (Aberdeen, W.)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Rainy, A. Rolland||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Reddy, M.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Rees, J. D.||Tomkinson, James|
|Morrell, Philip||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Morse, L. L.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Robertson Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Muldoon, John||Robinson, S.||Vivian, Henry|
|Myer, Horatio||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Waring, Walter|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Rowlands, J.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Nussey, Sir Willans||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Waterlow, D. S.|
|O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Seely, Colonel||Wilson, W.T. (Westhoughton)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Winfrey, R.|
|Paul, Herbert||Sheehy, David||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Young, Samuel|
|Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Radford, G. H.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
§ And, it being after Half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman proceeded, in pursuance of the Order of the House of 15th June, successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the Clauses to be concluded at Half-past Seven of the clock this day, and on any92
§ Amendment thereto, moved by the Government, of which notice had been given.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 167; Noes, 33.93
|Division No. 548.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Furness, Sir Christopher||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Glendinning, R. G.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Baker, Joseph A.(Finsbury, E.)||Glover, Thomas||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Grayson, Albert Victor||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Massie, J.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Beale, W. P.||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Gulland, John W.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Berridge, T.H.D.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Brodie, H. C.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrell, Philip|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hart-Davies, T.||Morse, L. L.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harvey, A. G. C. Rochdale)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Muldoon, John|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hayden, John Patrick||Myer, Horatio|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cleland, J. W.||Henderson, J. Mc D. (Aberdeen, W.)||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Clough, William||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Nussey, Sir Willans|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hodge, John||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Corbett, C.H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Hogan, Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Holden, Sir E. Hopkinson||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cox, Harold||Holt, Richard Durning||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Crean, Eugene||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Paul, Herbert|
|Crooks, William||Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Crosfield, A.H.||Idris, T. H. W.||Pearson, W.H. M.(Suffolk, Eye)|
|Cullinan, J.||Jackson, R. S.||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pickers gill, Edward Hare|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Jowett, F. W.||Pollard, Dr. G. H|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Kekewich, Sir George||Radford, G. H.|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Laidlaw, Robert||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Duffy, William J.||Lamont, Norman||Reddy, M.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rees, J. D.|
|Evans, Sir S.T.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Richards, T. F.(Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lewis, John Herbert||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lundon, T.||Robinson, S.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Rowlands, J.||Tennant; Sir Edward (Salisbury)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Tomkinson, James||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Tuke, Sir John Batty||Winfrey, R.|
|Seely, Colonel||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Vivian, Henry||Young, Samuel|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wardle, George J.|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Waring, Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edm'ds.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Cave, George||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William||Stanier, Beville|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Arthur, Charles||Valentia, Viscount|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Foster, P. S.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||F. Banbury and Mr. A. Fell.|
§ Clause 3, dealing with "Loans by Public Works Loans Commissioners to local Authorities," agreed to.