HC Deb 21 August 1916 vol 85 cc2417-8

In any case where a claim is made for (Compensation in respect of any matter arising under this Act, the Fame shall if the claimant so requests be determined by a single arbitrator who in default of agreement between the parties shall be appointed by the President of the Surveyors' Institution, and the arbitrator so appointed shall have the same powers for the determination of questions of compensation as are conferred by this Act on the Commission, and shall so far as practicable in assessing compensation act on his own knowledge and experience.—[Mr. P. Harris.]

Clause brought up, and read the first time.

Mr. PERCY HARRIS (Paddington, S.)

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

This Clause provides that claims for compensation may be determined, if the claimant so requests, by a single arbitrator, and the arbitrator, in assessing compensation, may act, as far as practicable, on his own knowledge and experience. The object of the Clause is to enable claims for compensation to be settled in a more expeditious and inexpensive manner than if they had to go before the Railway and Canal Commission. A similar Clause appears in the Military Lands Acts, in the Housing and Town Planning Act, and in the Small Holdings Act. It is obvious, if all claims, including even comparatively small claims, have to go before a legal tribunal like the Railway and Canal Commission, and if expert witnesses have to be called, that it is going to be a very expensive and cumbersome matter, and as there are distinct precedents for this proposal, and as it will be much more inexpensive, I hope that the Government will see their way to accept it.


There may be cases in which the Occupying Department or the Purchasing Department would agree to arbitration, but I should not like in every case to give the claimant, as he is called here, the option. It seems to me to be rather a one-sided proposal, and I really could not bind the Government Department in every case by that option, I therefore hope that the Clause will not be pressed. There is a little difficulty in having arbitration in these Government cases.


Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept it if the words were made to read "may by mutual consent"?


Certainly, if that is necessary, but I do not think it needs an Act of Parliament to say that a thing may be done by mutual agreement.


But I understand the Bill to say that the Railway and Canal Commission are to be the only authority.


If you like to put down a Clause for the Report stage, I will consider it.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.