HC Deb 21 August 1916 vol 85 cc2426-8

Any person interested in land or buildings in the occupation of a Government Department under the provisions of this Act shall be entitled, in default of agreement, to submit for the decision and award of the Commission any question arising out of the occupation of the land or buildings by the Government Department.—[Colonel Gretton.]

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The object of this Clause is to ensure that persons who are indirectly interested, either in land or buildings, shall have an opportunity of being heard, of stating their case, and of making their claim, if they have a substantial one. So far as I know, there is nothing in the Bill to enable, for instance, a mortgagee of land or buildings to appear before the Commission to state his case and to have an award made where compensation is payable. That course would be obviously convenient and save cost. It would enable the Commission, when adjudicating upon these cases, to have the whole of the facts before them and to arrive at a more just decision than they would be able to do upon a partial statement of the facts by one party. I understand this arises more frequently in the case of buildings, machinery and plant than in the case of land. In many cases money has been advanced on plant which ought to be recovered. I am very anxious that persons who have interests in buildings also should have an opportunity of being heard before they are- finally taken over by the Government and the case is closed. It is obviously in the interest of justice and in the interest of the Government itself. Possibly the Government may not consider that this form of words is best adapted for the purpose. My object is that any persons who conceive themselves to be interested in the plant or buildings to be transferred to the Government should have a right to appear before the Commission either personally or by counsel, so that the case may be heard and may not be ignored in the proceedings before the Commissioners.


I have read the Clause carefully and I think it is too wide. It will enable anyone with any interest in the land to bring up before the Commission any question arising out of the occupation of the land. My hon. and gallant Friend wants to secure that no Order shall be made without the parties interested being heard. That, quite clearly, could not be done. I cannot see how they could make an order against a mortgagee or affecting land in which a mortgagee had an interest without hearing what he had to say. The ground my hon. and gallant Friend desires to cover is really covered already, and I am afraid the introduction of this new Clause would only cause confusion.


I quite agree that it is intended to be covered, but there are no words in the Bill which indicate any such intention. The whole course of legislation shows that some indication is given in the Act itself of what Parliament intends. I drew the Clause widely in the anticipation that if the Government objected they would suggest limitations. My right hon. Friend admits the principle. The question is how far the limitations should be there. I think there should be some indication in the Act that persons indirectly interested should have an opportunity of being heard. The Commissioners are men of experience. The Government think so or they would not appoint them for this purpose. I would suggest that some indication should be given that persons other than owners, lessors, and so on, who are specifically mentioned earlier in the Bill, should have the right, if they have a real, substantial interest, to appear before the Commissioners and state their case. These gentlemen are appointed to act judicially, and the important matter in all these cases is that justice should be done, and where justice requires that time and attention should be given, then we ought to see that time and trouble are not spared. I venture to press for a little further consideration of this principle. I admit the words are very wide, and I frankly acknowledge that I drew them wide so that if the Government thought them too wide they could suggest a limitation.

New Clause negatived.


The next new Clause (Supply of Electric Energy)—which stood on the Paper in the name of the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Healy)—is outside the scope of the Bill.

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