HC Deb 01 November 1909 vol 12 cc1620-4

(Provisions as to the Compulsory Acquisition of Land by a Local Authority for the Purposes of Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890.)

Paragraph (4).—The order [Putting in force the Lands Clauses Act] shall be in the prescribed form, and shall contain such provisions as the Board may prescribe for the purpose of carrying the order into effect, and of protecting the local authority and the persons interested in the land, and shall incorporate, subject to the necessary adaptations, the Lands Clauses Acts (except Section one hundred and twenty-seven of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845) and Sections seventy-seven to eighty-five of the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, but subject to this modification, that any question of disputed compensation shall be determined by a single arbitrator appointed by the Board, who shall be deemed to be an arbitrator within the meaning of the Lands Clauses Acts, and the provisions of those Acts with respect to arbitration shall, subject to the provisions of this Schedule, apply accordingly.

Lords Amendment: After "appointed" ["single arbitrator appointed by the Board"], insert "by the parties, or in default of agreement."

Mr. BURNS moved to disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.


Why do the Government want to disagree with this Amendment? Surely it is reasonable to give the parties an opportunity of agreeing as to an arbitrator. It is to be hoped the Government will insert this.


May we not be allowed to have some answer? The point is a very simple one, and unless there is some occult reason to the contrary, I think the Government ought to accept it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Consequential."] It cannot be consequential on anything that has been agreed to. Why should you not allow the parties to come to an agreement?


When there is a large number of small properties to be dealt with it would be desirable that one arbitrator should be appointed.


That has nothing to do with this matter. That applies merely to the payment of an arbitrator. This has nothing to do with the fixing of the fee. This is merely a question whether you shall not give to the parties an opportunity of agreeing about an arbitrator.

Lords Amendment: At the end of the Sub-section, after "accordingly," insert, "provided that where the Board has declared a local authority to be in default, and in pursuance thereof an order has been made and confirmed authorising the compulsory acquisition of land, the arbitrator shall be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice of England instead of by the Board."


I beg leave to move to disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment. The Amendment provides that where the Board has declared a local authority to be in default an arbitrator shall be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice. We think there is no need to call in the Lord Chief Justice or a judicial tribunal. We think the Local Government Board is the best authority to deal with the matter.


It surely must be obvious to the right hon. Gentleman that when parties are sharply at variance with the Local Government Board it is in no sense in keeping with the ordinary ideas of justice or with the dictates of human nature that the Local Government Board should deal with this matter. The right hon. Gentleman should tell us something more to justify the course he proposes if he wants to persuade us that it is right. As the matter stands the right hon. Gentleman has indicated absolutely nothing except that he is right and we are wrong.


The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. We considered the point in a previous part of the Bill. We considered that the arbitrator in the matter of the land ought not to be any different to the person appointed in Clause 2 and in various other clauses. The right hon. Gentleman twitted me with having given an opinion that the Local Government Board is the best authority to deal with the matter. My short reply to him is that "modesty was never made for those who have no beauty."


This proposal has nothing to do with an application to the High Court. The question is whether the Local Government Board or the Lord Chief Justice shall select the arbitrator in particular cases where the Board are themselves parties to the dispute.




I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that it is only in cases where the Board are concerned that the difficulty would arise?


But the Local Government Board are not an interested party in the same way as the Board of Agriculture. The Board of Agriculture can hold land, but the Local Government Board cannot do so and do not want to.


I cannot understand why the Government cannot accept the Amendment except that they desire to adhere rigidly to the Small Holdings Act. But this is to acquire land for building purposes; for an entirely different purpose. It has nothing whatever to do with the precedent of the Small Holdings Act.

Paragraph (6).—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 every such objection has been withdrawn, the Board 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 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.

Paragraph (7).—Before confirming the order the Board shall consider the report of the person who held the inquiry, and all objections made thereat.

Paragraph (8).—The arbitrator shall, so far as practicable, in assessing compensation, act on his own knowledge and experience, but, subject as aforesaid, at any inquiry or arbitration held under this Schedule the person holding the inquiry or arbitration shall hear by themselves or their agents, any authorities or parties authorised to appear, and shall hear witnesses, but shall not, except in such cases as the Board otherwise direct, hear counsel or expert witnesses.

Lords Amendment: Leave out Paragraphs 6, 7 and 8.


We disagree with the Lords Amendment and I move accordingly.


I agree as to paragraphs 6 and 7 but not to paragraph 8. There is no doubt in my judgment that the provisions of Section 8 are exceedingly unjust and have already worked out badly in the Small Holdings Act. In this matter they are likely to cause the very greatest injustice.

Lords Amendment: At end of Sub-section (7) insert "Except with the leave of the arbitrator not more than one expert witness shall be called by any party appearing on an arbitration under this schedule."

Lords Amendment: Paragraph (14), after paragraph (b) insert "(c) for the reference to the Lord Chief Justice there shall be substituted a reference to the Lord President of the Court of Session;"

Lords Amendment: At end of paragraph (d) insert "Provided that for the words 'where the Board has declared a local authority to be in default' there shall be substituted the words 'where the Board has made an application to the Court of Session.'"