HC Deb 01 November 1909 vol 12 cc1450-68

Sub-section (1).—A local authority may be authorised 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.

Lords Amendment: Leave out "and confirmed by the Board."


I move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."


Will the President of the Local Government Board state why he proposes to disagree with this Amendment, the object of which, as I understand, is to substitute for the Local Government Board some extra Governmental tribunal to decide on the questions arising under this Clause. I do not quite follow why the Government object to the proposal of the Lords introducing a form of procedure sanctioned by the Government and by the President of the Board of Trade in the Port of London Act last year. All that the Lords Amendment does is to provide that, where there is objection taken to land being acquired for the purpose of this Clause, there shall be an impartial inquiry. It does not even propose that that impartial inquiry shall be conclusive. If objection is made to land being taken, surely it does not seem an unreasonable proposal that there should be an impartial inquiry by some tribunal which is not administratively concerned as to whether the land should be acquired. The Government considered a similar matter in connection with the Development Bill, and, in the discussion upstairs, they themselves recognised that the proposal submitted was not reasonable, and they agreed to an impartial inquiry. If there is some objection to the actual form of the impartial inquiry, that is a different matter; but, if it is the principle of the thing on which the Government are moving to disagree with the Amendment, I think the House is entitled to some explanation of what it is the Government regard as so very objectionable in this principle of an impartial inquiry.

Viscount MORPETH

The President of the Local Government Board told us over and over again in previous Debates that he preferred to adopt the Small Holdings procedure, and I remember very clearly that in one of the discussions he challenged Members of this House to produce any one occasion in which a complaint had been made about the operation of that procedure. Since that challenge, I understand from what I have seen in the newspapers and from the Debates in the House of Lords that various cases of complaint have been received. I am not, and I do not know that the House is, in a position at the present moment to say whether there is any real ground for those complaints. I believe complaints are being made, and I think it is for the Government to see whether they are in any way reasonable. The Government themselves have receded from the position they took up in regard to the acquisition of land under the Small Holdings Act, in connection with the Port of London Bill, and, what is much more important, in the Development Bill. Under pressure in the Grand Committee upstairs the Government, in the Development Bill, remodelled the whole of the procedure for acquiring land under that measure, and proposed a system which met with very general acceptance on both sides of the House. But under this important Bill, where very large interests are at stake, they stand up for the older and less reasonable form of procedure, which does not meet with general approval, and is actively opposed on this side of the House. This Bill is very different from the Small Holdings Act. The latter measure, after all, deals with rural land, which is less valuable, and it deals with land probably not in very large quantities. This Bill deals with land of the very utmost value—urban land, which is extremely valuable, worth so much per foot—and it deals with schemes which may be of the greatest importance and the greatest cost. A large housing scheme or a large building scheme on urban land cannot be described as an acquisition of small holdings in a sparsely inhabited district. We have opposed and we still oppose the procedure under the Bill, because under the Government scheme the Local Government Board is left absolute master of all the land of the country. They are able to say whether land shall be taken and what price shall be given for it, and they are not only parties, but they are the absolute judges. We think it is desirable that there should be some check and some limit on the power of the Local Government Board, and that the land of the country should not be in their absolute control, but that some powers should be reserved to Parliament, and that this House should not be deposed from its position. Parliament should be able to say whether a scheme is or is not unreasonable. I am sure no one on this side of the House desires to make the acquisition of land unduly cumbersome or unduly expensive, but we make this protest against the unlimited depotism set up in this matter for the Local Government Board.


The Noble Lord wants to know why it is the Government do not accept the procedure which is in the Port of London Act. The reason is this: We have had experience now for over a year of the Small Holdings Act procedure. It is a method of compulsorily acquiring land for small holdings and allotments. In that connection, it will be understood that the amount of land for small holdings and allotments in reference to the number of users thereof is enormously disproportionate to the amount of land that will be secured under this or any other measure. Under Part 1 or Part 2, it would be insignificant, while under Part 3 it would not be very large. Having had that experience of the Small Holdings Act, if there had been the gross injustice that has been suggested we should have heard of it in the way of facts and figures this afternoon. In the absence of evidence, which I think cannot be produced, hon. Members have conjured up what really does not exist. We prefer the Small Holdings terms, because an Order when made by the local authority is confirmed by the Local Government Board. If objection is taken, there is a local inquiry by the Local Government Board inspector, at which all interests will be heard, and then the matter will be confirmed by the Department. Under the Small Holdings method, our object can be effected without going through a costly and dilatory procedure such as the procedure under the Port of London Act would possibly mean. On account of its simplicity and its economy, we think the time has arrived when the process of acquiring land for building new cottages in rural districts should be adopted and nothing has arisen from the point of view of small holdings experience to warrant us in saying that it will not do otherwise than work better with regard to the provisions of land for cottages than even it has done with regard to the provision of land for small holdings. We cannot accept the procedure of the Port of London Act, because it was passed for an entirely different matter. It has little bearing on this Bill. The Port Authority is not analogous to a local authority. It is a trading corporation. If it wants land, which possibly may be land owned by its rival commercial competitors, it does seem to me that it ought to be treated rather differently than the local authorities acquiring properties for the people within its jurisdiction, and that there is no comparison between the two cases. We prefer to follow the small holdings method as against the Port of London terms, and it is because of that we ask the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment.


I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit not to accept what I must say is, in my opinion, a most reasonable Amendment. The only defence that the right hon. Gentleman has given us is that the small holdings' experience, which has not been quite a year, has satisfied him that no injustice will be done. I do not think that the Small Holdings Act is analagous to the present Bill. The Small Holdings Act only deals with small parcels of agricultural land, while, if this Bill has anything like the scope and range which the right hon. Gentleman has foreshadowed in the course of the many speeches which he has made on it, there may be occasions on which very large amounts of very important and very expensive land may become the subject of compulsory purchase. Under those conditions I would ask the House to put aside altogether consideration of the Small Holdings Act. I should like to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, if it has not already been brought to his notice, comments that have been made from the judicial bench with regard to an appeal brought by a Norfolk farmer on the subject of small holdings. That was a case in which the man's land was severed, and the light land which was necessary to work the stiff land separated from that stiff land by an order which the man considered harsh. The learned judge, before whom the appeal came, said in dismissing the appeal:— Here there was a public Department put in a position of absolute supremacy, and whatever the opinion of the farmer of Norfolk, who came to the Court asking for relief, might be about the matter they could only say that Parliament had enacted only last year that the Board of Agriculture in acting as they had should be no more impeachable than Parliament itself. I venture to say that this is fundamentally a vicious principle. The question of the compulsory taking of land, which may be worth very large sums of money round towns, with the questions whether the land should be taken compulsorily, and whether the object is sufficiently good to justify such compulsory purchase, is not an administrative question, but is a judicial question. It is contrary to all precedent, except that of the Small Holdings Act, that in important cases such matters should be treated by the Local Government Board administratively instead of by courts of justice. Surely if the House will not agree with that they may fairly be asked to regard the terms made in another place as reasonable terms. I agree that in small cases it would be disastrous to go to the expense of a Provisional Order. The objection of the right hon. Gentleman is, it seems to me, a most astonishing objection, and is to leave the matter to any impartial person. If the matter is small, and is not worth expense, why is he afraid of submitting the issue to an impartial person instead of to his own Department? I should be content to leave the matter to the right hon. Gentleman if we could always secure his services, as he is a just-minded man, but in the future we might get people not so much to be trusted. This is a question, high or low, on which Parliament ought to be consulted. Why should it not be left to an impartial person? No reason has been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman except that of costs. I think myself that an impartial person, who would be appointed for the purpose by the Board, would not incur the cost of a Provisional Order unless there was good reason that he should do so. That cost, as I shall show on a subsequent Amendment, is somewhat exaggerated. I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether this is one of the vital Amendments which he has pledged himself at all costs to resist. I should certainly be surprised if he should regard a matter of this kind in that light. It can only, as I submit, show that upon this question he is afraid of an impartial person.


With regard to what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyttelton), I do not believe that the President of the Local Government Board is afraid of an impartial person, but that he is afraid of the delay and expense necessitated by the Amendment which we are now considering, and which I hope the House will reject. During the last 20 years I have watched with care and attention the various attempts to house the people in various parts of the country. Every Act of Parliament which has hitherto been passed has failed, and failed entirely, on account of its cumbrous nature, and the difficulty of acquiring land. In this Bill, as it left the House of Commons, there were principles of a simpler and more expeditious character. It provided that when there was a local want of houses a Local Government Board inspector should hold an inquiry, that the Local Government Board might issue an Order and take the land—procedure similar to that which has been adopted by this House and followed in connection with the Small Holdings Act. I believe that that procedure is simple, is quick, and is also comparatively inexpensive. I believe that the procedure as suggested in this Amendment will take a considerable amount of time. Take a case where land is wanted especially in the rural districts, where the need is as great as it is in town districts. Five or ten acres of land might be wanted on which to put decent houses in which people might live as Christian people, which they cannot do now in many places in the country. Under the suggested Amendment the procedure would be that there would first have to be an application to the Local Government Board, and if the Local Government Board thought fit or gave any decision they would have to call in this impartial person, who would then go down and hold a public inquiry. The inspector of the Local Government Board would, I believe, be an equally impartial person, and would hold an equally good inquiry. After that comes in the subtle method by which delay is caused. This Amendment suggests that before the Order can be issued, enabling the proposed houses to be erected, that a period of thirty days is to elapse, during which anybody interested in the land may oppose, and possibly may obtain a vote in opposition to the Order in either House of Parliament. If the impartial person does not approve of the Order, then you have to go to the expense and incur the trouble and delay of a Provisional Order in order to obtain the land. The effect would be to go back to the old and disastrous method which has produced delay for so many years. Because I believe that the acceptance of this Amendment would interfere with what is urgently necessary for the health and moral welfare of the people I hope that it will be rejected.

4.0 P.M.


The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Walter Foster) has informed us that he is quite certain that the President of the Local Government Board does not object to an impartial person, but that what he really does object to is a lengthened and expensive inquiry. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to show what would occur provided this Amendment of the Lords was carried. I think the right hon. Gentleman can hardly have read the Amendment, because there must be an inquiry under any circumstances. Why should an inquiry by an impartial person be longer than an inquiry by an official of the Local Government Board? I see no reason why an impartial person—that is, a person who has no interest in the subject before him—should not be able to hold an inquiry just as quickly as an inspector who has an interest in the question. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not suggest that if he has a grievance and he desires to go to arbitration, the arbitrator should be a person who has an interest in his opponent's case? That is what this Amendment seeks to avoid. All the Amendment does is to say that the person holding the inquiry is not to have an interest in the case of one of the parties to it. I do not believe the inquiry would take any longer; and even if it did, I think in the interests of justice it would be worth while, rather than to run the risk of an unjust decision. What foundation has the right hon. Gentleman for saying that the Local Government Board would be so quick? My impression is that the Local Government Board is very dilatory, and I have heard many complaints in this House about delay on the part of that Department. The right hon. Gentleman also complained that after the inquiry had been made the Order would have to lay on the Table for 30 days. That is not a very long time when you are dealing with a man's property. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that it is a very good thing to dispossess one man in order to put another man into his place; but before you do that you ought to be perfectly certain if you are doing the right thing. Why has the right hon. Gentleman such a want of confidence in this House or in another place? I do not share that want of confidence in another place, but I may agree with the right hon. Gentleman in not having much confidence in this House. But even in this House, why should there be a vote given without due inquiry or due care being taken? It is extremely difficult to get an Address to the Crown carried after 11 o'clock at night. The matter is practically in the hands of the Government; if they can make anything of a case against it, the Motion is not carried.

The President of the Local Government Board has made an extremely bad defence of his Motion to disagree with this Amendment. He says it is much simpler to trust the Local Government Board. I daresay it is. It would be much simpler to do away with this House and with another place, to enthrone the Local Government Board in those palatial buildings which have just been completed across the road, and to leave everything to the right hon. Gentleman. We could then go away and enjoy ourselves; we should not sit here all through the summer and the autumn; and, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman would do exceedingly well. But he is not going to live for ever; and when some other person takes that exalted office, what guarantee have we that the new President of the Local Government Board will be equipped with all the mental powers, impartiality, and accomplishments of the right hon. Gentleman? I do not believe you could find another person who would do so well; and for that reason I would prefer a procedure a little more complicated, which would stand the test of time, instead of the 20 or 30 years during which we may have the pleasure of the right hon. Gentleman's society. The President of the Local Government Board says that no injustices have arisen under the Small Holdings Act. I was going to cite the case referred to by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lyttelton), which seemed to me to be a case of great injustice. In that case a farmer bought with his own capital a certain quality of land in order to work it with land which he already had, and I think it is very unjust that he should be dispossessed of the light land in order that some other person might be put in possession of it. Reference has also been made to the case where the Berkshire County Council purchased certain land, dispossessing a considerable number of labourers, in order that somebody else might come in. I am told that there are many other cases; but there, at any rate, are two within 18 months. I do not know how many cases of injustice the right hon. Gentleman thinks that Radical legislation should bring about, but I think that two in 18 months are sufficient. What it would be in 10 years I do not know. The next argument of the right hon. Gentleman was that not much land would be required. That reminds one of the woman's plea that the baby was only a little one. Does the fact that only a small quantity of land is required make the case any better? Are you to do something in which injustices may occur because there will be only a small number of them? The argument is not worthy of the mental qualifications of the right hon. Gentleman. I think he knows that he has a bad case, and that is why his arguments have been so weak.

The Amendment merely proposes that you should have an inquiry by an impartial person. Who objects to that? Surely not hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Provisional Order only comes in in large cases. In small cases the Order has to lie on the Table for 30 days. That is a very moderate request when you are dealing with the property of other people. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the Small Holdings Act, but there have not been many cases of compulsory purchase under that Act, and the value of small holdings' purchases is not very great. I am informed that the London County Council have spent over £2,500,000 in housing schemes. When dealing with such large sums of money, it is only right that there should be some proper inquiry in which people can have confidence. As I cannot induce the right hon. Gentleman to abandon the attitude which he has taken up I can only express the hope that another place will disagree with the action he is now taking.


The President of the Local Government Board seems to forget that all this kind of legislation depends on the way in which public opinion deals with it. If there is any suspicion of partiality or injustice in these inquiries you will lose much more than you would gain by saving a little extra cost or delay. The right hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division (Sir W. Foster) suggested that Local Government Board officials could not in any way be suspected of partiality. I do not think it is a reproach to a Government official that he should take a great interest in his own work and prefer it to any other interest. When an official goes down day after day to look at houses he is likely to be obsessed with the importance of the matter, and to take rather less account of private interests than an impartial person in the habit of looking on all sides of the case would be. A Local Government Board inspector has no training in these other matters. I think it is essential that you should have men who are in the habit of arbitrating on these complicated questions of fact. The President of the Local Government Board stated that having an inquiry of this kind was really not necessary because the amount of land involved would be so small. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) has pointed out that that is really no argument at all, and I might also say that it is hardly accurate as a matter of fact. There have been no cases under the Small Holdings Act which can compare in importance and magnitude with certain estates which have been bought for Part III.—Housing. The London County Council bought one estate of 225 acres at a cost of over £90,000. Is that such a small transaction that it is not necessary to have a proper judicial procedure in regard to it?


Was that bought compulsorily or by agreement?


I do not think that affects the argument. There is nothing whatever in the Bill limiting it to small cases. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman's argument is that you would never want to buy large estates. But if a local authority buy a large estate by agreement, what on earth is there to prevent them buying it compulsorily? They are more likely to buy a large estate compulsorily, because they would think it better worth while to incur the expense which might be entailed. There have been considerable injustices under the Small Holdings Act procedure. The right hon. Member for St. George's (Mr. Lyttelton) mentioned the case of a farmer in Norfolk, but I am not sure that he made it clear that there was in dispute, not only a matter of fact, but also a matter of law, the farmer stating that the Board of Agriculture official disregarded some of the provisions of the Act. It might be right not to have an appeal on questions of fact; but there is certainly no justification for setting up a Government Department above the courts of the land on matters of law. There was another hard case in Wales, where a lady had to sell some land for small holdings. She was most anxious to employ a barrister, but was unable to do so; and she was very much prejudiced by the fact that the clerk to the county council was a lawyer, had all the procedure at his finger-ends, and was able to get far harder terms than probably would have been the case if she had had her own representative. Surely you cannot argue that because it is right to have this procedure for small holdings, that, therefore, it is right for housing. It appears that the two cases are absolutely different. There is always any amount of land available for housing around a town, where owners are most anxious to sell if they can get a reasonable price. As everybody knows, there may have been cases where it has been difficult to get agricultural land in a position suitable for small holdings. That land has to be close to a market, and may in some cases be in few hands. You do not get a monopoly of that kind in the case of housing land. For that reason it seems to me that the procedure of the Port of London Bill is far more applicable to the case than the procedure of the Small Holdings Act. Then the right hon. Gentleman made out that it was going to cause less delay if you left the matter with the Local Government Board. My experience of that Department is that nothing could be slower. If you write a letter to them once a week, you will be lucky if you get an answer at the end of the year. I have no doubt that it is a good thing that they should not hurry their work, but I do think in these matters that it is absurd to argue that you are going to gain time by leaving the thing in the hands of the Local Government Board, who already cannot get through their work in a reasonable time. When they have the enormous amount of work to be placed upon them by this Bill, the planning out of every town in the country, and the work of the law courts, then they surely will be more incapable of a speedy decision than at present? The cost has surely been very much exaggerated. The only way in which you can reduce the cost in these matters is by cutting down proper and legitimate inquiries. But if you are to avoid injustice you must have an inquiry. It must be fairly costly where you get a complicated case. I think the Government are in such a position as to suggest that they either want to avoid cases being sifted or alternatively they will have to admit that reasonable expenses must be allowed. I believe that if this Amendment of another place is refused and the Bill becomes law as it is a very great grievance will he created. It will do much to prejudice the cause of housing and destroy its popularity amongst those classes upon whom much depends to carry it through.


I am exceedingly sorry that the right hon. Gentleman opposite has lent the great weight of his authority to this particular Amendment. Local authorities have been waiting for the important procedure proposed by the present Bill for a considerable length of time. The Select Committee which sat to consider this question informed us that one of the chief obstacles in the way of local authorities who desire to put Housing Acts into operation was the complicated nature of the machinery by which land can be compulsorily acquired. Not only did they say that this tended to make the local authorities reluctant to take any action at all—and one cannot be surprised at the reluctance of local authorities under the circumstances—but in cases where action has been decided upon it almost necessarily increases the expense of their schemes, since a local authority will often be prepared to pay more than the market value of the land acquired than undergo the uncertainty and delay which the action of putting into force compulsory powers now involves. The Report proceeds to say there can be no doubt whatever that the price of land acquired under such circumstances has often been far beyond its real value. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken in support of this Amendment fail to consider the power that the Local Government Board already has. Have they forgotten the Local Government Act of 1894, which authorises parish councils to compulsorily acquire land, and allows the Board to confirm the Order without variation, that Order having the force and validity of an Act of Parliament?


Not without a public inquiry.


A public inquiry certainly, but without any Provisional Order. We are told that the Board has received some new, exceptional, extraordinary and despotic powers which they have not exercised before. As a matter of fact, this power was granted to them by the Local Government Act of 1894. It has been exercised in a large number of cases and nobody, so far as I am aware, has made any complaint whatever as to the impartiality of the Local Government Board in regard to the numerous cases which have arisen under the Act. Reference has been made to the Small Holdings Act. We have been told that certain cases of injustice have arisen under the Small Holdings Act. In the Burkshire case, to which reference was made, the land was not compulsorily acquired at all. That was land which was acquired by voluntary agreement. With reference to the other case, I would only ask hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House to read the report of the Debate that took place upon this particular case in the House of Lords, and I believe every impartial person will come to the conclusion that in that case Mr. Ringer suffered no injustice whatever. If this Amendment be adopted let us consider what a local authority will have to face. It will, in the first place, supposing it wants to acquire some piece of land compulsorily, have to face the negotiations between the local authority and the owner, which will take some time. Then, if the parties fail to agree, they will attempt to agree upon an arbitration. If an obstructive owner refuses to agree, then the impartial person to whom allusion has been made will have to be appointed. However impartial that person may be he will be a man, I have no doubt, of experience and authority, but he will have no partiality for low fees. I am perfectly certain that that will add very considerably indeed to the expense, not to say the delay, of a transaction. There is one point which has not been alluded to in the course of the Debate. This impartial person is alluded to—"and such other persons as the person holding the inquiry in his discretion thinks fit to allow, shall be permitted to appear and be heard at the inquiry." That means that counsel, witnesses, and experts will have to be heard at the inquiry. Take the case of the acquisition of a small piece of land. Imagine for a moment what the expense will be. The local authority, knowing beforehand what that expense will be, will naturally be tempted to give for the land a very much higher price than it otherwise ought to come to. Then, after the inquiry, the Order may become of a provisional character. The question thereafter may be fought before the Committee of the House of Commons; it may be fought before the Committee of the House of Lords. A local authority, face to face with a prospect of that kind, will be so appalled that it will feel that it could not possibly proceed with its scheme. I venture to go so far as to say that if this Amendment were accepted that it will make this portion of the Bill practically a dead letter. That is the reason why the right hon. Gentleman has stated that this Amendment is absolutely fatal to the Bill. I cannot forget that in the course of 12 years in the matter of acquiring land compulsorily for the erection of working-class dwellings that only seven Provisional Orders were applied for. To accept this Amendment would be to destroy the beneficent purpose of this portion of the Bill; to defeat and disappoint the hopes that local authorities entertain that by means of paying a fair price for property they will be able to acquire equitably land for the great purpose which the Bill is designed to fulfil.


I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that we are not dealing with the very wide question that he discussed in his speech, namely, the question of the price of land. We are dealing with the preliminary step which the local authority has to take before they can proceed with an Order. The right hon. Gentleman has reminded us of the fact that as the Bill left the House of Commons there was some provision that there should be an inquiry by the local authority on the spot, but that there is no such provision here. He is entirely dealing with the Schedule of the Bill. Under that there is no need for the Local Government Board to send down anybody to make inquiries. The Board can confirm or alter an Order as they like from Whitehall without holding any inquiry at all. Therefore the object of this Amendment is that there should be required to be held a local inquiry on the spot, at which people may appear and state their grievances. I venture to submit there is nobody more likely to know what is good for the welfare of a district than those who live there. The only way to arrive at a proper conclusion is that a local inquiry should be held and that the parties interested should attend. It was also said that no word has ever been urged against the impartiality of the Local Government inspectors. In my younger days I had considerable experience in connection with the acquisition of land for sewage schemes, etc. You must remember that the reports of the gentlemen who are sent down by the Local government Board are never published, and time after time you find out that the representative of the Local Government Board has reported strongly in one way, and that directly after that pressure is brought to bear—I am not referring to the present Government—by the Parliamentary representative of the place concerned, and the Local Government Board has gone dead in the teeth of their report. The Swansea case is a case in point. Here, though the report of the Commissioner was published, it was overruled by the Department. When the hon. Gentleman said that for a large number of years no one had ever heard anything against the impartiality of the Local Government Board inspectors, it must be remembered that their reports are not published, and that they are frequently overruled, and he must have heard frequent dissatisfaction either on the part of the landowner or on the part of the Local Government Board. And again even in cases where this would not occur it frequently occurs that some pressure had been brought to bear. One cannot go about the country without hearing remarks of that kind. Surely it is better to avoid a possibility of any such remark occurring in the future, and, therefore, I support this part of the Amendment that makes for an independent authority to try the case. The ordinary precedure differs fundamentally from that which is set up under this Bill. Under this Bill no inquiry is necessary. The President of the Local Government Board stated that no complaint has come to his ears in connection with the working of the Small Holdings Act which contains this machinery, but surely he must have known that under this and similar Acts case after case has been brought to his notice. I will only mention two cases especially, those which occurred in Wales, and that which occurred in Northamptonshire, where great injustice has been done by the working of the Act. I am not sure whether that injustice arose under the Bill of last year or under Bills of previous years containing the same machinery, but I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me when I say that deputations put such instances of injustice under these Acts before him, and that similar instances have been multiplied here to-day—I venture to hope he may see his way to reconsider the position which he has taken up upon this Amendment, and having regard to the fact that his Bill as it stood offered no security at all of any local inquiry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, it did."]


If the hon. Member will look at pages 37 and 38 of the Schedule he will see that it is there prescribed that if within the prescribed period no objection to the Order has been presented to the Board by a person interested in the land, or if any such objection has been withdrawn, the Boards shall, without further inquiry, confirm the Order, but if such an objection has been presented and has not been withdrawn the Board shall forthwith cause a public inquiry to be held in the locality.


May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that there are two Orders, the first, as I understand it, under Schedule 1, is an Order as to the acquisition of land. The other is as to the price to be paid. As to the Order for the acquisition of land, I do not find any provision for an inquiry. That seems to be governed by the second paragraph, but as to the price, it is perfectly true that there

is a provision for an inquiry. We are now on the question of whether there should be an inquiry before the acquisition of land. We are not on the question of price at all, which is a different matter. I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that he is mistaken.


I guarded myself in the beginning by saying we were not discussing the question of the price, but the preliminary inquiry, and so far as that is concerned my remarks are quite accurate. I think that so far as the probability of injustice occurring, enough has been said to cause the Government to pause before they insert in this measure anything which will cause injustice of the character which has been brought into their notice.

Question put: "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 163; Noes, 47.

Division No. 875.] AYES. [4.53 p.m.
Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.) Dobson, Thomas W. Lupton, Arnold
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Essex, R. W. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.
Armitage, R. Esslemont, George Birnie MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Everett, R. Lacey M'Callum, John M.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Faber, G. H. (Boston) M'Micking, Major G.
Astbury, John Meir Ferguson, R. C. Munro Mallet, Charles E.
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Marnham, F. J.
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Fullerton, Hugh Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Gibb, James (Harrow) Massie, J.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Ginnell, L. Masterman, C. F. G.
Barnard, E. B. Glendinning, R. G. Micklem, Nathaniel
Barnes, G. N. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Molteno, Percy Alport
Beck, A. Cecil Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Mond, A.
Bell, Richard Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Mooney, J. J.
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Gwynn, Stephen Lucius Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Bertram, Julius Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale) Morrell, Philip
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford) Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Myer, Horatio
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester) Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)
Black, Arthur W. Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Nolan, Joseph
Boulton, A. C. F. Hart-Davies, T. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Bowerman, C. W. Hedges, A. Paget O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Branch, James Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Brodie, H. C. Henry, Charles S. O'Malley, William
Brooke, Stopford Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Parker, James (Halifax)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Higham, John Sharp Paulton, James Mellor
Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire) Hobart, Sir Robert Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hodge, John Pirie, Duncan V.
Byles, William Pollard Hooper, A. G. Pointer, J.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Horniman, Emslie John Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Radford, G. H.
Cheetham, John Frederick Hudson, Walter Raphael, Herbert H.
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)
Cleland, J. W. Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Rees, J. D.
Clough, William Jones, Leif (Appleby) Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Jowett, F. W. Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Kekewich, Sir George Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Rogers, F. E. Newman
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Laidlaw, Robert Rose, Sir Charles Day
Crosfield, A. H. Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Rowlands, J.
Cross, Alexander Lamont, Norman Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Crossley, William J. Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington) Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Lehmann, R. C. Sears, J. E.
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral) Sherwell, Arthur James
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Sutherland, J. E. Walker, H. De R. (Leicester) Wilkie, Alexander
Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Thorne, William (West Ham) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Tuke, Sir John Batty Waterlow, D. S.
Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander Weir, James Galloway TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Mr. Herbert Lewis.
Vivian, Henry White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Wadsworth, J. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Fell, Arthur Morrison-Bell, Captain
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Forster, Henry William Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Bellairs, Carlyon Goulding, Edward Alfred Percy, Earl
Bignold, Sir Arthur Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunds) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Bowles, G. Stewart Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Bull, Sir William James Hay, Hon. Claude George Sloan, Thomas Henry
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Heaton, John Henniker Stanier, Beville
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Joynson-Hicks, William Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Clyde, J. Avon Kerry, Earl of Valentia, Viscount
Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Kimber, Sir Henry Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham) Winterton, Earl
Courthope, G. Loyd Lonsdale, John Brownlee Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Craik, Sir Henry Lowe, Sir Francis William Younger, George
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred
Dumphreys, John M'Arthur, Charles TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Rawlinson and Viscount Morpeth.
Faber, George Denison (York) Magnus, Sir Philip
Fardell, Sir George T.

Lords Amendment agreed to.

Mr. BURNS moved that the House disagree with the Lords in the Amendment to insert, after the word "Act," at the end of Sub-section (1),

(2) If within the period prescribed by the Board no objection to an Order under this Section has been presented to the Board by a person interested in the land, or if every such objection has been withdrawn, the Board shall, without further inquiry, confirm the Order either without modification or subject to such modifications as they think fit, but if such an objection has been presented and has not been withdrawn the Board shall appoint an impartial person not in the employment of any Government Department to hold a public inquiry on their behalf in the locality in which the land is proposed to be acquired, and the local authority and all persons interested in the land, and such other persons, as the person holding the inquiry in his discretion thinks fit to allow, shall be permitted to appear and be heard at the inquiry.

(3) If the person who held the inquiry reports, or if on considering his report, it appears to the Board that by reason of the extent or situation of any land proposed to be acquired compulsorily, or the purposes for which such land is used, or any other circumstances, the land ought not to be acquired compulsorily without the sanction of Parliament, the Order of the Board shall be provisional only, and shall not have effect unless confirmed by Parliament.

(4) An order, other than a Provisional Order, made by the Board under this Section shall come into force after it has lain for thirty days during the Session of Parliament on the Table of both Houses of Parliament, unless either House during those thirty days presents an Address to His Majesty against the order, in which case no further proceedings shall be taken thereon, but without prejudice to the making of a new order.

House disagreed with Lords Amendment.