§ As amended, considered.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
On the Second Reading of this Bill, I urged that iii fairness to those who had already been dispossessed of their farms or portions of them for small holdings, or who might be dispose sessed before the Bill became operative, 899 the measure ought to be made retrospective. I should like to express my appreciation of the fact that the Government have inserted a clause making the Bill retrospective in all cases in which, in the opinion of the Board of Agriculture, justice would be done by such a course. I have no doubt whatever that the discretion vested in the Board in this respect will be wisely and equitably exercised. I also stated that it seemed to me. unfair that, as the Bill originally stood, a written request to a landlord should be necessary on the part of a county council to entitle a tenant to compensation under the Bill. I am glad to see that the Government have excised the word "written." It would have been most unfair that a tenant should have been deprived of compensation which he would otherwise have received in consequence of an irregularity committed by persons over whom he had no control, and I wish to thank the Government for the concession they have made in this respect. We all know that there has been on the part of farmers some reluctance to accelerate the acquisition of their farms for the purpose of small holdings. It is human nature that it should be so; but I cannot help thinking that there will be a greater tendency on the part of the farming community, now that they see under this Bill that justice is likely to be done to them in this respect, to do what they can to facilitate the acquisition of land for this purpose in all reasonable cases.
§ Mr. MOUNT
At the end of the new Clause which was inserted in Committee a time limit is set out after which compensation in retrospective cases cannot be made. I understood from the Parliamentary Secretary that the time referred to when notice was given. I am not clear whether that is so; but perhaps before the Bill goes to another place the First Commissioners of Works will consider whether words are necessary to make it quite clear that the date 1st September, 1910 shall be the date by which notice of a claim for compensation shall be given, and not the whole claim with details and so forth.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Harcourt)
I have taken advice on this point, and the nature of that advice is that the word "claim" in this Clause does not mean the full details of the claim, but simply the making of a claim; therefore it covers the point 900 raised by the hon. Member. But before the Bill becomes law I will make further inquiry, and if necessary have some such words as "notice of the claim" inserted.