§ (1) It shall be lawful to acquire by agreement or compulsorily on behalf of His Majesty—
- (a) any land in the possession of an occupying department or any interest in such land;
- (b) any land on, over, or under which any buildings, works, or improvements have, for purposes connected with the present War, been erected, constructed, or made wholly at the expense of the State, or any interest in such land;
- (c) with the consent of the Commission, any land on, over, or under which any buildings, works, or improvements have, for purposes connected with the present War, been erected, constructed, or made partly at the expense of the State, or any interest in such land.
§ (2) Where any land or any interest in land is or has been so acquired any adjoining or neighbouring land (whether belonging to the same owner or not), or 1989 any right of access, or other easement or right which appears to the Commission to be required for the proper enjoyment of the land or interest so acquired, or any interest therein, may, with the consent of the Commission, also be acquired.
§ (3) The power to acquire land, or an interest therein, under this Section shall include power to acquire the land or interest either with or without all or any of the mines or minerals lying thereunder as the purchasing department may determine, and if the surface is acquired apart from the mines and minerals either without any right of support or with such right of support as the department may require.
§ (4) The power of acquisition conferred by this Section shall be exercisable—
- (a) in the case of land in the possession of an occupying department or of land and rights required for the proper enjoyment thereof, by the occupying department at any time whilst the department is in possession;
- (b) in the case of other land or rights, by any Government Department at any time during the present War or within twelve months after the termination thereof.
§ (5) For the purposes of the acquisition of land and interests therein under this Section, the provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts, subject to the modifications set out in the Schedule to this Act, shall be incorporated with this Act.
§ (6) Where any buildings, works, or improvements have, for purposes connected with the present War, been erected, constructed, or made wholly or partly at the expense of the State, on, over, or under any land, no person shall without the consent of a Government Department remove, destroy, alter, or dispose of the buildings, works, or improvements whilst the right of acquiring the land conferred by this Section remains in force.
§ (7) This Section shall not authorise the acquisition otherwise than by agreement of any land subject to any right of common, or of any public park or any public recreation ground.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "lawful," to insert the words "for a Government Department by Provisional Order confirmed by Parliament."
1990 The effect of these words would be to substitute for the system which is proposed by the Bill, namely, the taking of the land by agreement or compulsion by Government Departments, simply by their own action, the present practice, which has been adopted for many years, by which land can only be taken under the authority of Parliament, either by private Bill or by Provisional Order. The proposal of Clause 3 is a very novel one, and one which I believe is unknown except with regard to certain provisions in times of peace which entitle the military authorities to take land for national purposes of defence. Here we are proposing that any Department, the Munitions Department or the War Office, shall, after the War is over, have the right to take any land that they are at the present moment in possession of and appropriate for purposes which I have no doubt in their opinion are necessary for the advantage of the nation. All that will be done, as I read the Bill, in absolute privacy, and no one will know what is going on. I am not concerned at the present moment with the position of the landowner whose land is going to be taken without any reference to Parliament. He at any rate will know that his land is going to be taken, and will be able to make what protest he likes before that is done. But other people are interested in the Government's obtaining possession of land. The neighbourhood is interested. The public who, perhaps, have been in the enjoyment of the land are interested. People who are quite prepared to have a munition factory established on a certain spot in the crisis of the War are at any rate interested in the question whether that factory shall be left standing. It is essential that the public should have some right of representing their views to some authority before the land is taken. The House of Commons has a right to know what is going to be done by the Government after the War. Are we going to contemplate the War Office taking possession of great tracts of land for purposes which they may think necessary, but which the House of Commons may think are not necessary at all t I cannot help thinking that all these proposals for various Departments to become owners of the land of which they are now in possession, and as to which no question has been raised by reason of the 1991 War, should come before the House of Commons before they are definitely decided.
I urge upon the Committee that it should not hand over this enormous power to the various Departments. The right hon. Baronet opposite said he was astonished to find that we on this side of the House were objecting to the Departments having these powers. Personally, I have always objected to Government Departments having undue powers. I am in favour of the House of Commons having power to take what land is necessary for the nation, but for Government Departments to have that power is a totally wrong system. This House ought to know what the Government Departments are going to do. The present system ensures that, and ensures it without much expense or lose of time. At one time it—was necessary in every case to go through the expensive process of carrying a private Bill through both House of Parliament. Of late years the system of Provisional Orders has much cheapened, and simplified the procedure. The Government Departments prepare the Provisional Orders. They are bound to hear various persons interested. The Provisional Orders are then laid before this House in the form of a Bill. With such preparation the great majority of the proposals go through without much comment, but when there is opposition a Committee of this House has to consider it and deal with it in the ordinary way. It is a great protection to the public and to this House. I cannot help thinking that if the Government will accept my suggestion it will get rid of a great deal of the opposition to this Bill, because everybody would know that, at any rate, these far—reaching proposals of the Government would, when they come into concrete shape, be submitted to Parliament and be open to public criticism.
I notice that in the interval since the Second Reading of the Bill, and since the tabling of Amendments, the Government have been considering the question, and that the Solicitor-General in a long savings Clause which is to be moved subsequently has made some proposals to meet this objection. He proposes that no land shall be taken compulsorily unless it is permitted by the Railway Commissioners. I have put down an Amendment to that effect later on in case my present Amendment should fail to obtain the support of the Committee. But I would point 1992 out that that does not really meet the case. It does not meet the case of the House of Commons. The inquiry before the Railway Commissioners may be a protection to the public or to the landowner, but it does not give any power to this House to settle whether the Government is to possess this or that large tract of land, or this or that factory, of which at present it is in possession. What I want to do is to ensure that when the War is over and the Government is considering what land it requires to take permanently for future industrial or war purposes it should be done in the open and come before Parliament in order that we may know what the proposals of the Government are.
§ Mr. FIELD
I think the observations of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Dickinson) deserve the attention of the Government. After all, we are too much in the hands of Departments in this country. The House of Commons is almost deprived of its natural functions, and it is impossible to say what the Departments will require after the War is over. There is no reason that I can see why this House should not have the opportunity of examining these proposals before the land is handed over to the Departments.
§ Mr. BARNES
I join in the appeal to the Government to accept this Amendment. I understand that the Solicitor-General is going, later on, to make an alteration in the definition, so that public parks will be included in the Clause we have just passed. Therefore, when the War is over we shall be in this position: The occupying Department will be in possession of land upon which buildings have been erected, land which in many cases has been given by a public authority. The occupying Department has effected improvements or erected buildings on The land, and it is to have the power of compulsorily acquiring the land. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Then I should like an explanation on that point. It seems to me that, as the Bill stands, it would give the occupying Department that power. I want to avoid that. I join my right hon. Friend in his plea that the House of Commons has the right to be considered in the matter, and should be protected against the occupying Departments doing things which might not be approved by this House.
§ Sir G. CAVE
A public park comes within the definition of an open space, and 1993 we expressly provide that no open space shall be acquired under the Act. Therefore, I think that answers the objection of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Barnes). The Amendment means that if the Munitions Department or the War Office desire to acquire even a small piece of land upon which they have put expensive buildings, they have to go through this process: First, they must hold a public inquiry on the spot, then they must get their Provisional Order framed and passed, then a Bill must be introduced in this House to confirm the Provisional Order, then you must have the First and Second Readings and the Bill must go upstairs, where if anybody objects there is an inquiry, with counsel and the other assistance; then if it gets through the one House, it has to go through much the same process in the other. Even then you have only got a Provisional Order to which the procedure under the Lands Clauses Acts will apply. All this long, elaborate process you have to undergo in every case in which the Department desire to acquire land on which they have put expensive buildings which they desire to retain for public purposes. If it were desired to make this Bill impossible, I know no better way to do it than by carrying this Amendment. The effect would be in many cases that the State would have to spend in the costs incurred in this way very much more than the value of the land. I am sure that that is not what the Committee will desire.
I do not wonder at all at the right hon. Gentleman moving this Amendment if, as I gather from some of the arguments put forward, he objects to the Bill on principle. But I want to state just once more—I cannot argue it out; it would not be proper now—what it is we desire to do by this Clause and by the other parts of the Bill. There are hundreds of cases which have happened in this War where very costly buildings have been erected upon land, buildings which are not only very costly, but which for public reasons—chiefly for reasons of defence—it is desirable that the State should retain. In these cases, unless we have a Clause of this kind, the State must lose not only its money, but the site. The consequences, rightly or wrongly, I believe would be very serious. I am convinced that in many cases this land ought to be acquired for public purposes, and at a fair price. If anybody can show me a better way of doing it than the one we propose, I 1994 shall only be too glad to listen. But, as I said, having thought it over a good deal, I think the best way is to give the State, which in these cases has become the leading partner, the power to acquire the land at a fair price. Once you come to that conclusion, it is a matter of machinery. The Committee has a choice between the machinery proposed by the Amendment which I have described, which I really think will not commend itself as applicable to the cases, and the machinery which I propose to insert in a new Clause. I quite accept the view that the Department ought not to have unlimited power to acquire any land, and that there ought to be some tribunal, wholly independent of the Department—and, of course, the owner—to which these matters shall be referred. We are proposing a Commission presided over by a High Court Judge, with two gentlemen of very great experience as assessors, and this Commission will say whether or not the land needs to be acquired. If they do not think the public Department ought to acquire the land, they will have the power and the strength of mind, I have little doubt, to say so.
Oh, no; but reference has been made to this matter. I shall provide for it by a new Clause, except, of course, in regard to cases where we have the power to acquire to-day without any consent at all, namely, under the Defence of the Realm and other Acts. We cannot give up the powers that we have, but in the Amendment which I am putting forward I shall ensure that in no case shall we have new powers to acquire land except as I have stated. I think that is a fair proposal, and one that should meet the very reasonable objections put forward on the Second Reading of the Bill. On "the whole, I think it is a better proposal than that which is now made. It gives protection to the owner, who will not have his land taken away except after inquiry by a responsible tribunal. No doubt with all the publicity given to the proceedings those concerned will be protected, at the same time the State will not suffer from the very great cost, in many cases a terrible cost, that it may be put to by the proposed Amendment. I hope the Amendment will not be pressed, and that the Committee will consider the proposal the Government is going to make as preferable.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I must say that I have not been convinced by the arguments of my right hon. and learned Friend. What is the actual position? What is it that the right hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment desires to do? He desires to retain the control of this House over the expenditure of the nation's money!
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is really what it comes to. My right hon. and learned Friend, with all that gift of eloquence which he has at his command, has, if he will excuse me for saying so, drawn a red herring over the point at issue. It is not whether or not there shall be power given to the State to do certain things, because already in Clause 1 we have given the State power to remain in possession for a period not exceeding two years; then there is a further Amendment which will allow the occupying Departments, with the consent of the Commission, to remain in possession for another five years—seven years altogether. Therefore there is plenty of time during those seven years for the Government Department to consider whether or not the House of Commons should be consulted upon an expenditure of public money. We have already passed a Resolution giving power to the Government to take any money that they may consider necessary—because there was no limit to the money in the Resolution—for any purposes connected with this Bill. The result of that is that the Government Department can buy any land under certain conditions without coming to this House at all. That is rather a strong order for any Government to put before the House of Commons. Surely we ought not to have such trust in these various Government Departments that we should confer upon them such power? There is—or there ought to be—very great supervision exercised over the expenditure of the nation's money. We have already expended, and I am afraid in the future we shall expend, very large sums of the country's money. Surely we ought not to take from this House of Commons that which was the original duty of the House of Commons—namely, the supervision of finance?
If the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is carried, I do not think it is going to do any harm to the Government. I think all the pictures of delay and expense which have been conjured up by my right hon. and learned Friend are imaginary. I do not think there is any great expense over a Provisional Order, and I do not 1996 think, to begin with, the vast majority of Members of this House know whether Provisional Orders are in existence or not. As the right hon. Gentleman says, they would only know if there were certain people in the neighbourhood interested who had managed to get hold of a particular Member of Parliament and asked him to look up the Provisional Order. Therefore, I do not think there is any great likelihood of there being any opposition, or any great opposition, to these Provisional Orders. What would happen is this: If there were a proposal by the Government to acquire land for the purpose suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, namely, to continue large works that would be a nuisance to the neighbourhood, to which people gladly submitted during the War, but the continuance of which during peace time they might object to, I think it should be right that this House should be consulted as to whether those works should be continued. I do not know whether I take quite te same view as the right hon. Gentleman as to whether the War Office should continue to provide munitions in case of another war. Probably we should disagree about that, but we are united in this, that whatever is done should be done with the full knowledge and consent of the House of Commons, and I sincerely trust the Committee will support the right hon. Gentleman in the Amendment he has moved.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
I hope the Government will adhere to the proposal that they have made. The argument which has been addressed by the Mover of this Amendment gains its whole force because he calls private individuals the public, and sets up persons, who desire to object to the public exercising these rights, and calls them the public. Private individuals are to be given powers to block the public use of this land. Now, private individuals can either buy or sell, and the other private individuals, whom my right hon. Friend calls the public, cannot object and cannot insist upon having the obstacles which he wants to have put in the way of the public Departments. But, according to his Amendment, the public Department must not buy without these private individuals being able to hinder or to stop the transaction. They must either hold, or sell, or do anything they like with their own private land, without reference to the public, and must also be able to obstruct the public. His argument separates the Department which is acting for, and on 1997 behalf of, the public, and the public itself, and he would give powers to private individuals against the public which they have not against other private individuals.
In my opinion, the House ought to give the Government power to defend the immense sums which they have had to expend upon private property during the course of this War, and not to set up a dilatory, costly, and complicated procedure which always acts against the public, and is used as a means for extorting large sums from the public purse. I am really rather astonished at some of the arguments which are used in this House in reference to the conduct of public Departments. The public Departments are responsible to this House, and it really is a rather doleful confession of failure on the part of Members of this House to speak as if they were unable to control public Departments. [HON. MEMBERS: "So we are! "] An hon. Friend says they are trying to do it now. They are not trying to control any policy which public Departments come and lay before them. What they are trying to do is to set up a machinery which will obstruct and hinder Departments doing those things which the House itself may desire they should do. It is putting powers into private hands against the proper exercise, in my opinion, of their powers by the Departments.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken apparently has greater trust in the public Departments under all circumstances than is felt by the great majority of Members of this House. Our experience—and some Members, perhaps, have longer experience in this House than he has the advantage of—find the great difficulty of this House is to control public Departments. The real principle of this Amendment, which may not perhaps contain the best machinery to carry it out, is that there should be on occasion the power of this House to intervene, and, not only on the merits of the case, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London has pointed out, on financial grounds. One of the greatest defects of this Bill is that, by the Resolution which has been passed, and by the Clauses in the Bill, this House in effect surrenders all financial control, and vast sums may be expended without any control by this House until the money has been spent. Of course, it is always possible to bring these matters up on the 1998 salary of the Minister, but the Minister is responsible for so many things that very often these matters are lost sight of.
I do not think the machinery of provisional Orders is very effective. As a matter of fact, provisional Orders are more often than not a mere form in which certain officials and professional gentlemen take part, and formal matters are gone through, no one is interested and nothing happens. But occasionally there are matters which have to be dealt with, and I should like to assure the hon. Gentleman who spoke last that private individuals find it very difficult indeed to oppose Government Departments on those occasions. It is very expensive, and the Public Department has at its back the whole resources of the Treasury and all the legal acumen which the Government commands. It is seldom, I think, that frivolous cases are brought before the authority who have to deal with those provisional Orders, but the main merit, in my opinion, of this Amendment is that it would secure to the House financial control over the expenditure of very large sums of money. I did not gather that the right hon and learned Gentleman offered any objection to this House having financial control before the money is spent.
§ Colonel GRETTON
He says "It has that." I am afraid, in my ignorance, I did not realise in what way the House has financial control. Of course, the Government, by the Resolution, can spend sums which are not limited, and I would rather press upon the Committee that some effort should be made, if not in this form, then in another so that the financial control should be restored and the House would be able to look into these matters and decide whether public money should be spent, if the House wishes to investigate it.
§ Sir E. CORNWALL
I think the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) is one which the Committee ought to seriously consider before it decides to reject it. It raises one of the main principles of the Bill. I am not concerned about the private owner, and I do not think my right hon. Friend has been, pleading for the private owner. The private owner is perfectly safe with the Railway and Canal Commission. He is not going to have his land taken away at a price below what he would be entitled to 1999 so I do not think it is quite to the point for my hon. Friend to take up that objection. It seems to me that this Bill proposes to set up the Railway and Canal Commission and put it in the place of this House. The Solicitor-General said we were all right, because the Government Department could not take the land without going to the Railway and Canal Commissioners. Does anyone imagine that those Commissioners are going to settle any question of policy as to whether the Government of this country should take over this land or not? All the Railway and Canal Commission will consider is not whether a primâ-facie case is made out for taking the land, but the main point they will consider is whether, after a Government Department had said it wants the land, on what terms the land should be acquired.
Under this Bill, the Government have seven years to consider these questions. They have the two years, and then they have the five years to occupy the land temporarily under the Defence of the Realm (Acquisition of Land) Bill. Does anybody in this Committee imagine that seven years after the War is not long enough for the Government to hold whatever land they require for munitions or the Army or anything else, after having put up these expensive buildings? I recognise that no one wants the public to be mulcted in regard to these transactions, but does anyone imagine that during seven long years that if the Government want this land permanently there is not time in that seven years for the Government to come to Parliament and give the particular Government Department whatever power they may want to permanently occupy that land. Why should we who have rightly given carte blanche to the Government to acquire any land they may require for the prosecution of the War, and given them seven years to occupy this land temporarily after the War, pass this Clause in this form, and say that instead of the seven years temporary power they have, they should take power to acquire this land compulsorily over the House of Commons by merely going to the Railway and Canal Commission? I do not think that is the function of that Commission. The function of this House is to safeguard the expenditure. We are spending several millions a day now, but immediately the War is over we shall want to get on to the bedrock of saving the taxpayers' money, 2000 and we ought not to give away any opportunity of doing that. If we give a permanent power to a Government Department to take this land over the heads of the House of Commons, I believe we shall be making a great mistake. Whether we adopt the Provisional Order method or any other, it ought to be some system which does retain the power of the House of Commons with regard to expenditure after the War. So far as I am concerned, if this Amendment goes to a Division I shall have to support it, and I hope it will be carried.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I think it is recognised that this matter does not stand quite as it ought to do, and there is not really any control by the House of Commons over this expenditure. I suggest that there might possibly be a way out of the difficulty by adopting some other policy than that suggested by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I do not think the Provisional Order system is really suitable for this purpose, because it will introduce very great inconvenience. Everything the right hon. Gentleman opposite said about it is very well justified. Before this War we had every year a Post Office Sites Bill brought in which used to include in it power to buy all the various sites required for the erection of new post offices in connection with that Department. Is it not possible during the long period granted by this Bill to introduce periodically a measure of that kind, asking the House for confirmation of those particular proposals to buy the land, taking into consideration the price of the land and the building and getting the sanction of Parliament in that way, and thus enabling this House to have some control. I think some system of that kind would avoid the rather clumsy system of Provisional Orders, and it would surely give us the control which we distinctly ought to have.
§ Sir W. BYLES
I support the Amendment because I do not want Parliament to lose its control over these transactions. We are the highest Court of the nation, and we ought to have a say in transactions of this kind. The system suggested presents no serious difficulty, and unless there is good reason for opposing any particular scheme, it goes through like greased lightning. I do not mind how much land His Majesty gets into his possession, as long as he is holding it in trust for the nation. I understand that public departments and common land are all exempted, so that the vast area of Regent's Park now 2001 covered by these buildings could not possibly be taken under the Clause we are now considering. Is that so?
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I think this Amendment raises a matter of very great importance, and I hope it will be adopted. There is a time ahead when this House should keep control over the transactions of this Department. During this period, when people's minds are so much occupied by the War, this Department may go into huge transactions by way of land purchase and when the War is over they may say, " Here we have these great areas of land and buildings, and the only thing to do is to carry them on in the shape of national factories." All the officials in this Department will have something of the kind in view. I notice that recently there was a speech made by a gentleman in Leeds which was reported in all the papers, and therefore I presume he was of some importance. I do not know whether he was speaking the views of the Government or not, but he said that after the War he hoped the Ministry of Munitions would be carried on for some trade purpose or other.
If we allow a Department to purchase land and establish themselves permanently, we shall be doing something which is detrimental to the national interest. Every transaction which is likely to lead to something permanent, such as the acquisition of land, ought to come before this House. There is no reason why, when you come to the question of the acquisition of land, why it should not be done in the open and before this House. There have been no questions of corruption or jobbery in this country in the past largely because these transactions have had to be done in the light of day. In other countries it is not so. There is no more fruitful source of corruption than the acquisition of land by Departments when it is done behind the backs of the people. The intention of my right hon. Friend's Amendment certainly ought to be adopted.
§ Mr. HARDY
I am glad that this discussion has taken place, and I believe hon. Members on all sides of the House feel that we are departing a very long way from our old custom. I confess I am not very much in love with the Provisional Order system, but it has raised the matter definitely, and perhaps we should be obliged to go into the Lobby in 2002 favour of it if the Amendment were carried to a Division. I rather welcome the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Sir G. Younger) that we should have some such Bill as he named. We used year after year to have a Military Works Bill brought before this House, and I think something of the same nature might be devised which would definitely bring before us the purchases which the Government might desire to make in connection with these lands of which they have come into possession. This is the first discussion we have had on the actual acquisition of land, and I should like to ask definitely whether the Government can tell the House the extent to which these Departments have now occupied land. Can they give us any figures as to the acreage which is occupied by the three great Departments? It is very desirable, in considering this Bill, for us to know the extent of land affected by it, and I would ask the Government to give us some figures on the subject in order to guide us in the discussion which is to follow. I think we are justified in asking for that information, and we ought to know. It would help us in deciding whether the House itself or a Commission should determine whether in future this land should be occupied by the Government or not.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir TUDOR WALTERS
The House ought not to lose sight of the fact that there are very large areas of land, and that a considerable amount of money has been spent upon the buildings erected on them. It is part of my duty to inspect a number of these areas which the Government are now temporarily occupying, and I am amazed at the permanent nature of the works that have been erected thereon. I have no doubt that the Minister of Munitions and the War Office have been well advised, but one would think that some of the temporary huts were meant to come into the possession of our great—greatgrandchildren. It is therefore only right that the Government should have considerable powers for the acquisition of land. Factories have even been built, and certainly very large extensions of factories have taken place on land belonging to private owners. The Provisional Order is not at all a convenient method, and I should have thought that the proper way would be for the particular Department affected to take stock of the land which will actually be required. I 2003 should imagine that they could put almost their proposals in one Bill. They could look round all the land which they are now occupying—it would not take them a very long time; they could certainly do it in the next Session of Parliament—and they could present to the House a complete scheme indicating the extent of the area and the kind of land to be purchased, and giving an estimate of the cost. Then the House would see precisely the sum of money to which it was being committed, and it might also examine the policy which would follow from those commitments. Certain of these areas might be found to contain factories suitable for the carrying on of some kind of Government work. Other kinds might be suitable for houses for the working clases. If the Government came forward with some comprehensive scheme, including commercial and housing enterprises, the House would have an opportunity of seeing precisely what the policy was and of understanding the nature of the commitments. I hope that the Solicitor-General will reconsider this Clause. I do not consider any suggestion that has been made to-night—I do not think my own suggestion—entirely meets the case. There are three different suggestions before us. They indicate what is the mind of the House. The House wants to have control, to understand what are its commitments, and to have the power to veto any expenditure which seems to it extravagant. Perhaps the Minister in charge of the Bill will consider this matter, with the help of his advisers, and present some better scheme than that contained in this Clause before the Bill is finally passed into law.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
The proposal of the last speaker is a very dangerous one. I do not see how any Government Department can possibly know now what its necessities are going to be in six months or a year's time. Surely the amount of land and the buildings we shall want, and in fact all the natural requirements, must depend upon the European situation after the War, upon whether we have national service or not, and upon a thousand of things of which we cannot possibly know anything at the present time. It would, therefore, be impossible to embody everything in one Bill and bring it forward. I would, however, press upon the Government the proposal of my hon. 2004 Friend (Sir G. Younger). It seems to me that we ought to maintain control as far as possible over Government Departments. We ought to insist that these transactions should be embodied in a Bill which should come before the House for revision. We all know, except in cases of outrageous conduct on the part of the Government, that sort of Bill always goes through automatically. Ninety-nine per cent of the Members do not even know that any such Bill exists. It would only be in case of some transaction which obviously ought not to be carried through that any obstruction or even criticism would take place, but there would be in the ultimate resort the power of the House of Commons maintained. I am sure that everybody to whatever party he belongs is determined that the House of Commons shall be the ruling authority in this matter. We know that during the War we have practically handed over all our powers to Government Departments and the Cabinet. There is no doubt about it. We see it every day; but directly the War is over I think this House ought to be given its full powers, and it is only by carrying out the suggestion of my hon. Friend, which I am very glad to see put forward, that such powers will be retained.
§ Mr. MORTON
I should like to say that, whatever you do, do not have anything to do with Provisional Orders. I am quite in favour of applying some other method of carrying out the object, if possible, and we have been looking for that for many years. Curiously enough—I do not know whether many Members here know of it—it was adopted, so far as improvements in London are concerned, as long ago as 1817, when a very wise Home Secretary, of the name of Michael Angelo Taylor, induced the House of Commons and the House of Lords to allow local authorities in London to widen, lengthen, and improve streets without coming to Parliament. When a local authority wishes to make improvements it gives notice in the ordinary way; it then comes before a recorder and jury of twelve men, who settle at once the price to be paid, from which there is no appeal except on points of law; and it is all settled. In the City of London we have put that Act of Parliament in operation about a thousand times; we have spent a great many millions of money under it; and but for having that Act we never should have improved the City as we have 2005 done if you had compelled us to come to Parliament for a Provisional Order in order to buy up all the property required. That has worked well. Curiously enough, Parliament would not give that power to the Metropolitan Board of Works nor to the London County Council. They gave it to the Corporation of the City of London and the vestries and the district boards, now called boroughs. Curiously, also, the county council now goes to the local authorities to get them to carry out improvements, they finding the money, because they find it much better and less costly than getting an Act of Parliament. If you can find some methods, and there ought to be some found, for dealing with land wanted for public improvements or business, and if you can find something that will act as what is commonly called the Michael Angelo Taylor Act, 1817, you will save a great deal of money, and, what is more, a great deal of time and trouble. I think it would be better if the Government adopted the proposed scheme for the present, and gave it to the Railway Commissioners to settle. It is a much better system than that of Provisional Orders, or Acts of Parliament, because in many cases having to get those has actually prohibited improvements altogether.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I think that as my suggestion has been received with a certain amount of favour I should like to get an expression of opinion on it by moving an Amendment to the Amendment. I therefore beg to move as an Amendment to the Amendment, after the word "by" ["Government Department by Provisional Order"], to insert the words "Act of Parliament or by"; so that the Amendment would read, "For a Government Department by Act of Parliament or by Provisional Order confirmed by Parliament." I have not taken out the other words, as I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman will agree to their being removed. I put those words in so that we can have an expression of opinion upon it.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I think there appears to be some misapprehension on the part of some hon. Members as to what the action of the Government is in bringing in this Bill at all. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green (Sir E. Cornwall) said he was anxious to save the taxpayers' money, and for this reason he advocated that we should only acquire this land, however small the amount of it, by bringing in a Provisional Order Bill and 2006 getting it passed through the House. I will give the House two or three cases. I will not, of course, mention where they are. Here is a case where a factory has been built at a cost of £478,000. It has been fitted with the most elaborate machinery at considerable cost, and in answer to my hon. Friend below the Gangway (Sir T. Walters), who knows the place I am speaking of very well, I may say that it had to be of a very durable character, otherwise it would not have carried the machinery. We had to put in concrete foundations, overhead cranes, and all the rest of the paraphernalia of a big engineering shop, otherwise we could not have made 8—inch shells in it—and that was what we wanted it for. We have spent £478,000 on 9½ acres of land. I would like to assure the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Ashley) that it is not to exalt the powers of some of these tyrannical Departments, which it is very convenient to abuse, but which somehow or other we have to use, but that the Departments have had in the discharge of the duties which Parliament has put upon them to spend in this particular case, as well as we could, £478,000 in order to enable us to make 8—inch shells. In order to secure to the State the full value of this expenditure we want to be able to buy at a fair price, and unless we can acquire the land com—pulsorily under the Land Act we can only buy it with the consent of the Commissioners, the 9 ½ acres on which we have spent about £500,000.
§ Dr. ADDISON
In this particular case it is very likely that if this were opposed we should spend more in getting that Bill through Parliament than the land would cost. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] All I have to say is that that does not strike me as a very efficient device for saving the taxpayers' money.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The hon. Baronet knows, and none better, that these Bills, when opposed, lead to very considerable public expenditure. I shall be glad if he likes to put forward some alternative.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am not referring to the hon. Baronet's Amendment, but to the Amendment on the Order Paper moved by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Dickinson). I will come to the hon. Baronet's Amendment later on. Under "the proposals of my right hon. Friend there is not a doubt about it that if a large number of these schemes was opposed we should spend more in getting Provisional Orders through this House than the land is worth; and all I have to say is that that is not a very efficient method of saving the taxpayers' money. The whole object of the acquirement of this land is to save the taxpayers' money. Unless you acquire the land, which belongs to somebody else, the £478,000 we have spent will not belong to the State but to the other man. The Committee recognises that that is a position we are not justified in perpetuating. We shall only be able to acquire a patch of land which could not be otherwise acquired under the Military Lands Act with the consent of the tribunal. I have a list here, a considerable selection, some of them occupying patches of ground of one and a half acres on which we have put expensive machinery of a very technical kind which does not occupy a great deal of ground. It is going rather a long way, if the object is to save public money, to expect the Department to ask for an Act of Parliament for each individual transaction. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. When we have already spent considerable sums of money, we are to come to the House for an Act of Parliament to buy the patch of land on which the machinery stands! I could understand that provided we had to get a Provisional Order for every executive act of the Department 2008 which involved public expenditure, but I cannot understand it on any other ground. It seems that the Committee is very anxious that the Departments should not engage in reckless expenditure. With that everyone cordially agrees. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir G. Younger) suggests an expedient which he thinks might, perhaps, meet the case. I am not a lawyer myself, and do not know what the Act which is associated with the Post Office Railway really does. I am informed it does not deal with land compulsorily acquired. It recites an agreed price, which presupposes that it has been arbitrated upon beforehand. I am not quite sure whether that will be a very efficient way of meeting what the hon. Baronet has in view. However, I will say this: If there is an expedient which carries with it the feeling of the Committee generally which is practicable, my right hon. Friend will consider it and will put down something on the Report stage. I would not like to go further than that. It must be something which is practicable. The House of Commons has control over expenditure. It is true that some hon. Members think that that control is rather visionary. I feel inclined to agree with them, because we have Votes for large sums of money coming before us en bloc. It is quite true that the House has no power over individual transactions. I do not know that the House has ever claimed to have power over individual transactions, because Parliament has entrusted a Department to carry out certain duties, and those duties cost money. If the Department does its work extremely badly, Parliament calls it to account, but it does not go through the individual items of the expenditure of the Department. There are thousands of items on every Vote. That is not the practice the House of Commons has adopted.
§ Dr. ADDISON
You get the total of the items in the Vote, but it does not give you all the items which make up the total.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Salaries are a mere bagatelle compared with the expenditure of the Departments. These expenditures 2009 that I am speaking of run into millions. It is not a question of clerks but of large expenditure for the purpose of defence against aircraft, munition factories, and all the rest of it. Do hon. Members suggest' that the War Office should submit every individual item of this expenditure?
§ Dr. ADDISON
Oh, yes, certainly. The War Office can buy land under the Acts mentioned without consent of the House. In other cases it is suggested here that a convenient procedure would be to require the consent of the Commission. That is what we suggest and that was the suggestion made on the Second Reading of the Bill. If there is any other way of meeting the criticism of hon. Members opposite we will consider it and see if we can adopt it on the Report stage. I hope they will not ask for more than that. So far as the Amendment before the House is concerned it is hopelessly impracticable, and it would be a gross waste of public money.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I have listened to the right hon Gentleman's speech, and I am not sure whether he is in favour of the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet or not.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I do not want to accept either of them now, but will look into it and see if there is a practical way.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
If the Amendment is accepted the Clause will read in this way, "It shall be lawful to acquire by Act of Parliament compulsorily on behalf of His Majesty any land," and so on. I think we all know that. But the inseirtion of this method of procedure by Act of Parliament means at best nothing, because you can already acquire by Act of Parliament compulsorily any land that you like, and therefore this addition to the present Amendment really adds nothing at all. The analogy that is drawn as to the Military Lands Act does not, I think, hold good. There is at present, as expressed in Sub-section (5) of the Solicitor-General's Clause, a power under the Acts from 1842 to 1873, or the Military Lands Acts, 1892 to 1903, to acquire land, and for that purpose from time to time money is provided. You cannot take away under this Bill the powers this Department at present has of acquiring the land. 2010 It is now suggested we should have a system of Provisional Orders, which comes to this: That where it is desirable to take land, which is not public land or a public park, and which land cannot be obtained, as a great deal of land can be obtained, under the Military Lands Act, and so on, in these particular cases, which probably are not very many, it is suggested that you are to have the cumbersome method of proceeding by Provisional Order. Let us come to real life. Does any Member of the Committee really think that we are going to have greater power of control by this House if we acquire land by means of Provisional Order? I remember some years ago there was a very important Provisional Order which went through this House, an Order of wide application, which contained a number of provisions of great importance to traders, both in London and in the Midlands. A great number of us were very anxious to stop the passage of it in order that we might have reconsideration, and it was only with the assistance of the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) and by his vigilance for a considerable number of days, that we were able to intercept that Provisional Order and get a debate in this House. It was found almost impossible under the procedure of the House to get it into Committee or to deal with it in any way at all. My experience, and the learning that I obtained from the right hon. Baronet at that time, taught me that if we want to get control in this House we should not have anything to do with Provisional Orders. If you want to spend public money, and if you want to have prolonged debates in Committee upstairs, and so on, then a Provisional Order is an admirable institution, and, I have no doubt, provides great opportunities for those who are concerned in that procedure. We are asked now to choose, on the Amendment originally introduced by the right hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson), whether we prefer the Provisional Order system, or whether we should prefer to proceed by a system under which you have got to obtain the consent of the Commission; which means that you would have to go before the Railway and Canal Commission, which gives a public hearing, and you have the opportunity on both sides of being fully heard, not merely before lawyers but by persons who are experts in other matters, and who have the opportunity of giving their expert advice to the Court. Then the decision would be given as to whether or not the Department 2011 should have the right to proceed. That is the method which is at present proposed, and is incorporated in Section 5. That, the hon. Baronet said, is good for the lawyer, but not half so good, if he will accept the assurance from me, as the method of procedure by Provisional Order. The hon Baronet is anxious to secure about ten times the expense by going by means of Provisional Order.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
At any rate, the hon. Baronet wants to help the lawyers. I am trying to keep them out.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I will convey the expression of the hon. Member to the hon. Baronet. In considering this question we should bear in mind that there are not many cases in which very valuable land will be taken, because in most cases it will be not of very large quantity and probably in the country districts. The amount of land that will nave to be taken will be land to which the Military Lands Act does not apply> and in these casesit is suggested that you ought to proceed by the very expensive method of Provisional Order, which seems to me a wasteful procedure, without securing any sort of control at all. I think that if the consent of the Commission is inserted in this Clause, that control will have been acquired for the purpose for which control is required, and that the amount of land that should be taken will have to be considered by the Commission, that that will be adequate to safeguard the rights involved, whether they are the rights of the public or the rights of the individual owners of the land which may be threatened by taking their land from them.
§ Sir W. BEALE
I think the Ministers in charge of this Bill ought to see their way to get over the difficulties that have been raised. As to the actual Amendment, the words are put in such a way that they apply to the control of the acquisition of land by agreement, and I do not see why the acquisition of land by agreement should be fettered by the necessity of having to obtain a Provisional Order. The 2012 only objection to taking land by agreement is that it would be spending public money, and I look upon this as a Bill to save public money. But when you come to the taking of land compulsorily, then I do agree that some safeguard ought to be provided. The method which the hon. and learned Member for Leamington suggests amounts to this, that the Railway and Canal Commission should be the safeguard of the landowners. They are not an attractive body. I agree that a Provisional Order is expensive and cumbrous, but not when it is directed to the acquisition of specific land. In those cases in which gas and waterworks are enabled to acquire land a Provisional Order does not require all the reference to particular Departments and the expenses that are sometimes necessary. I cannot say that I think much of the proposed Amendment of the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs. To enact that a person may do a thing by Act of Parliament is rather a novelty for which there is no precedent. To come to the point. We want some safeguard for the landowner where land is to be taken compulsorily. As on a Provisional Order a local inquiry can be directed, so I think that a local inquiry could be directed by the Commission, and I would suggest that the Government would be well advised to modify the provision in some form or other, so as to have an inquiry for the protection of the landowner and of the whole neighbourhood, which would define what land should be taken, and for what purpose, and would ascertain that there was no public right which was going to be violated.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The fears of my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General as to the difficulties which would result from a Provisional Order would not be realised. My hon. and learned Friend says that an Act of Parliament is superfluous. It is not superfluous. The object of the hon. Baronet's Amendment is to give the Government an option that they may either do certain things by Act of Parliament, or, if they prefer it, by Provisional Order. The Committee does not think that the functions of Parliament should be delegated to the Railway Commission. However great a body they are we do not think that the power of this House over finance ought to be delegated to them. There can be no difficulty and no expense about an Act of Parliament. There are seven years in 2013 which the Government can make up their minds as to what they require, and there might be an Act in the first, second, or third year in which they might include all the sites which they desire to acquire in that given year. There might be required in any one year any quantity of sites, and you could have one Act of Parliament, and in cases like that you might have a Provisional Order I think we have done a great deal to meet the Government, and the Amendment of my hon. Friend is an exceedingly reasonable and extremely good one. Whether the remaining words as to a Provisional Order should remain in is another matter. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has gone far enough, because he said, "If it is practicable to do something." We know, from the speeches of the Solicitor-General and of the right hon Gentleman (Dr. Addison) that they do not think it practicable, and therefore I suggest that the latter should divide on these words if the Government cannot accept them, it being understood that on the Report stage, if the Government brought forward an Amendment, we would not oppose it if it met our view; but we must get something in the Bill to compel the Government to bring something forward.
§ Sir CLIFFORD CORY
I really cannot understand the attitude of the Government on this Amendment. Surely it is very desirable that this House should have control. We have made no complaint during the War in regard to these matters, but after the War I should certainly object very much, for at present I hardly know whether I am managing my own business or whether the Government are managing it. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke just now from the Front Bench said very expensive buildings might be put upon 9 ½ acres, and the Government might desire to make a compulsory purchase of the land; but, at the same time, that would mean that you would have the right of interfering with a person's property, notwithstanding the large amount of expenditure on buildings that he might have made upon it. There might be spent £500,000 or £1,000,000 on a colliery property, and you might cut off the whole of the coal area on the other side. Surely some consideration should be given to people, so that they should not be mulcted to that extent through the action of the Government. I 2014 shall certainly vote for this Amendment, of which I hope the Government will see the reasonableness.
§ Sir JOHN HARMOOD-BANNER
I rather think that the Committee has run away with the idea that there are no compulsory powers, but, from the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions, the position which he put was that we spend £480,000, and the Government have got to buy a piece of land of 91 acres at £500 an acre, and that only comes to £5,000 or £6,000. Surely it is ridiculous that we should go in for Provisional Orders or Acts of Parliament, each of which costs £500 or £1,000.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
An Act of Parliament costs a good deal of money. [An HON. MEMBER,: " It is a public Bill!'' J Even a public Bill may go upstairs. A Provisional Order would undoubtedly cost a great deal of money. The major part of the money has already been spent. The great point is to find a ready, easy and cheap method of paying the small sums for the bits of land which are to be taken. I do not say anything about the prudence of the Government or Departments concerned in spending £480,000 on 9½ acres of land which they ought to have acquired before they spent the money. In one case I understand they spent £750,000 on land which is not worth £100,000. Those things have been committed and this is virtually a Bill to condone them, and what I ask is that in doing so we should take the course which is least injurious to the general welfare of the community. I think the Railway and Canals Commission will find difficulty enough in disposing of the amount of work before them. As far as the Bill ought to go we ought to try and look for true economy.
§ Mr. SALTER
I am glad the Solicitor-General has come back, as we are approaching a Division and I am in some little confusion of mind on this matter. I take the view which is, I think, shared by a good many Members. I think we ought to keep control of these proposed transactions and not to hand over the control to the Railway Commission. I do not think we ought to keep control by Provisional Order, which is a clumsy and expensive method. I think we ought to keep control by the method of a periodical Provisional Bill. That being my view, I 2015 find myself in some difficulty as to what course to adopt. I cannot support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dickinson) because he is in favour of a Provisional Order and I am against that. I cannot support the Amendment to the proposed Amendment because it gives the Government choice of a Provisional Order or an Act of Parliament. I do not think they should have the choice. If the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Younger) will forgive me for saying so, it is nothing else than absurd to enact that somebody may do something by an Act of Parliament. It really is impossible. I shall be obliged if the Solicitor-General or somebody else will tell me what I ought to do. It appears to me that those who share the view which I have just expressed have only one logical course, which is to vote against the question that Clause 3 stands part of the Bill; for we are striking out Clause 3; we are putting aside the whole of the Government proposal and the whole of the alternative proposal to proceed by Provisional Order, and saying that the matter shall stand where it stands at this moment, when Parliament can authorise the Government Department to buy a piece of land.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I do not think sufficient regard has been had to the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary that he was prepared on behalf of the Government to consider some practicable proposal before the Report stage. It seems to me that that meets the dilemma put by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I am entirely opposed to the Amendment as it stands. A land Amendment supported by the right hon. Baronet (Sir P. Banbury), on the one hand, and the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite), on the other, does not excite any great confidence in my mind. I hope that either the Amendment will be withdrawn so that the Government may propose what they suggest or that we shall have a Division and vote against it.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I do not see anything more astonishing in this Amendment being supported" by the hon. Baronet opposite and the hon. Member for Hanley, than in the Government's proposal being put forward by the two right hon. Gentlemen sitting side by side on the Treasury Bench. I am not necessarily wedded to the particular proposal that I make.
2016 I put it down because it seemed to me the most practicable way of raising the question: Whether, in these transactions, the House of Commons should have the ultimate voice, or whether it should be done by the Government Departments without reference to this House? I cannot help thinking that the opinion of the Committee has shown that whatever may be the views of the Government with regard to Government Departments, the House does not want to hand over fully and entirely its power to those—Departments'. I understand that that is somewhat in the minds of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. I am quite prepared to accept the Amendment to my Amendment, because it is just as well that we should put as broad a proposal as possible for the consideration of the Government. I cannot say that I am satisfied with the words used by the Parliamentary Secretary. He says he is willing to consider any scheme which is practicable. Will the Government themselves undertake to try to devise some scheme to meet the difficulty, so that the House of Commons will have the last word in the question of the purchase of land? I disclaim any idea of having put forward this Amendment for the purpose of protecting landowners. Under the provisions of the Bill, with the Amendments of the Solicitor-General, the landowner is perfectly well protected. The only thing I want to protect is the right of the House of Commons. I hope hon. Members will agree to the words which have been suggested, and carry my Amendment as amended, so that the Government may know what is the feeling of the House on the general principle.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
I do not wish it to be understood that I objected to the control of this House. The control of this House, in my opinion, is absolutely secured by Clause 9. The Department will have to come here and ask for a Vote for these things. [HON. MEMBERS: " No, no!"]
§ Mr. FLAVIN
As I understand this Bill it applies to Ireland. To Irish Nationalists it seems rather peculiar to see very wealthy English landlords and millionaire mine-owners coming here and appealing for their own protection against the acquisition of land either by agreement or compulsion, the intention of which is to give some little remuneration or pleasure to our wounded soldiers. [Laughter.] I 2017 was under the impression that the Bill had to do with that?
§ Sir C. HENRY
Will the Government Departments have to come to Parliament to obtain sanction for the money to be spent—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—because after the War there will not be a Vote of Credit by which they can find the money.
§ Sir G. CAVE
The money cannot be spent without Treasury sanction. The financial control of this House is not exercised by Provisional Order Bills, but in quite a different way.
§ Amendments made:
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ In Sub-section (1), paragraph (b), after the word "wholly," insert the words "or partly."
§ Leave out paragraph (c).—[Sir George Cave.]2018
§ Sir C. HENRY
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not quite answered my point. Will this House have control before the purchase is completed? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, NO!"]
Words "Act of Parliament, or by" inserted in the proposed Amendment.
§ Question put, "That after the word 'lawful' ['It shall be lawful'], the words 'for a Government Department by Act of Parliament or by Provisional Order confirmed by Parliament,' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 37; Noes, 81.2017
|Division No. 46.]||AYES.||[10.54 p.m.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Gretton, John||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. sir Frederick G.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Reddy, Michael|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Horne, Edgar||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Bryce, J. Annan||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Meagher, Michael||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Ffrench, Peter||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Field, William||Nolan, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Gilbert, J. D.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Dickinson and Sir George Younger.|
|Grant, J. A.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Radford, Sir George Heynes|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Haslam, Lewis||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Henry, Sir Charles||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
|Armitage, Robert||Hill, James||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Hinds, John||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rowlands, James|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Jones, W. s. Glyn- (Stepney)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Brace, William||Kellaway, Frederick George||Shortt, Edward|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||King, J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Tootill, Robert|
|Butcher, John George||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Middlebrook, Sir William||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Morgan, George Hay||Watt, Henry A.|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Whiteley, Herbert James|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wiles, Thomas|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Parry, Thomas H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Finney, Samuel||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Perkins, Walter Frank||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Prothero, Rowland Edmund||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Gulland and Lord E. Talbot.|
§ (2) Where any land or any interest in land is or has been so acquired any adjoining or neighbouring land (whether belonging to the same owner or not), or any right of access, or other easement or right which appears to the Commission to be required for the proper enjoyment of the land or interest so acquired, or any interest 2019 therein, may, with the consent of the Commission, also be acquired.
§ That seems to be an enormous power to give to the Government Departments concerned, because, after all, what does it amount to? That where a Government Department has acquired a large portion of land and erected a large and expensive building upon it the Department may compulsorily acquire, without coming to this House for permission, any adjoining or neighbouring land, whether belonging to the same owner or not, which appears to the Commission to be required for the proper enjoyment of the land. The result of that might be that the Department might say, " We have acquired this land, erected a large factory on it, and we require to extend it, and to do so we require to take the adjoining land," and they can do that without coming to this House for any authority or informing this House that they are going to do so. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because the original function of this House was to exercise control over finance, but that function has been abandoned of late years to a considerable extent; and I hope it will be resumed. We were told some few years ago that the only people who should have any authority and power over finance should be this House, and the House of Lords were deprived of any power over finance not in order that the Government might spend the money, but in order that this House might have control. Therefore, the interruption of the hon. Gentleman in support of the Government is very inopportune, and I do not think it carries much weight even with his own friends.
§ There must be a limit to the power which this House gives to the Government Department concerned to acquire land all over the place. The land need not even belong to the same owner. What is the definition of "adjoining or neighbouring?" I presume there will not be very much difficulty in deciding what is adjoining——it must be land which touches—but is land half a mile or a mile away neighbouring? Who is to decide? The Commission? It is for the House to decide whether the Government are to go wandering all over the country acquiring land which they may think necessary in the interests of certain factories which they have already set up. Perhaps the Government will see a little reason, and will not desire to obtain these enormous powers. What are the arguments which have been advanced in favour 2020 of this Bill and this particular Clause? What did the right hon Gentleman say? He said that we had spent £475,000 on a factory on a given site. That is a very large sum, and if it is necessary in order to preserve it that they should acquire the land nobody will object; but it is quite a different thing allowing them to go two or three miles to acquire more land.
Sir G. OAVE
My right hon. Friend is a little extravagant in his language against this Sub-section. The Government Department is to have power to acquire land for Government purposes, and all this Subsection provides is, if it is necessary for the use of the land, that they should have the right of access or the enjoyment of some adjoining or neighbouring land—words which are well understood in the Law Courts—then the Commissioners may say whether they can have the land also. At present, of course, that is done. The Government Departments using land have all the easements they require by the same right by which they have the land. The only object of the Sub-section is to continue for the future the arrangement so far as the Commission think it reasonable. I am quite satisfied that the right of access must remain, but with regard to the words "adjoining or neighbouring" I have listened to what my right hon. Friend has said, and, though I do not give any promise to-day, I will consider whether we require those words as they stand.
§ Mr. HORNE
My only anxiety is as to whether this Sub-section can operate further than the Solicitor-General has stated. If he can tell me that my fears are groundless, I do not wish to speak any further.
Imagine that a hall or building has been put up for the purpose of some works. When the time comes for disposing of the hall it is found that the buildings are not wanted for works, but if the adjoining works can be obtained these buildings might form a suitable nucleus for, say, the public hall of a model village. If they could then buy the adjoining ground they would be able to sell the hall at a much higher price than if it was only a case of the material. Would it be possible to purchase land in order that they should be able to sell the hall they had built on the land at a larger price than would otherwise be obtained?
§ Mr. FLAVIN
I congratulate the hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) on being a new acquisition in opposition to control over finance by the House of Lords. I have always recognised in him a very able exponent of the monied landlord interest in this country. I should like to point out that under the Defence of the Realm Act there is power to acquire land for the purpose of erecting factories for munitions and other works necessary to carry on the War. I should also like to say that I understand a lot of this land at the present time is acquired by the Munitions Department on very short leases. Take five acres of land required by the Munitions Department for building on a short lease of five, ten, or fifteen years. As we know the land, as it exists in Ireland, on the expiration of the short building lease the whole of the buildings erected on that building land, whether by the State or by the tenant, is acquired in the usual course at the expiration of the lease, and is confiscated by the ground landlord.
The ground landlord, I imagine, in this case would be the average English landlord who owns the bulk of the land in this country, and who, if he showed any patriotism, instead of attempting to oppose a Bill of this sort and putting in an Amendment, would in the interest of the State, the War, and the Empire, not charge the State a rent for this land or endeavouring at the expiration of the short building lease to confiscate the buildings. Say, we have buildings worth three, five, or ten thousand pounds erected on the fee simple of five acres of land, even at an average acre rental of one pound, it would represent five pounds a year, and taking that at twenty years' purchase the fee simple of that land would represent £100. If we expended on that £100 worth of building land property worth £5,000, or £10,000, in order to make munitions, I cannot see where the nobility and patriotism of the landlord comes in when at the end of the lease he is entitled to confiscate.the whole of it from the State whereas the State are the trustees of the nation. I wish we could get more munition factories in Ireland. We welcome trie intrusion of the Government who have certainly taken their fair share of taxation out of Ireland, and have given very little in return.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I should not have risen if it had not been for the speech to which we have just listened, and the attack of the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury). The hon. Gentleman seems to have misconceived altogether the action of the hon. Baronet. At the present moment I have the honour of being able to support him in his action, because I believe it is in opposition to these land speculations, and the possibilities we are proposing in this of giving powers to this Department to go in at this time for large land speculations. I think at this moment the landowner would be able to get higher prices for his land than he would probably be able to get during the course of the seven years within which the Department would have the opportunity of purchasing. I think the purchase now would be bad business for the State, and to enable the Department with great State funds and without the control and knowledge of this House to go in for these speculations would be entirely detrimental to the public interest, and in the interests of the landowners. That is why I support this Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I propose to withdraw my Amendment on the understanding that the Solicitor-General will look into the question whether or not he cannot find some other words which will give what I understand is desired by the words "adjoining or neighbouring land." I quite agree that the right of access must be left in. That, after all, is only a small part. My hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Home) is right in thinking that under these words there is some possibility of a Department saying, " We think we can get a better price if we use the land or buildings for some other.purpose, and in order to do that we shall acquire some adjoining or neighbouring land, then, having acquired the adjoining or neighbouring land, we shall be able to sell the land we have for another purpose at a better price." I do not think that ought to be done. I am under the disadvantage that, not being a lawyer, I am not quite sure what interpretation a Court would put upon the words which the Solicitor-General says are well known in the Courts. I can only exercise my lay mind upon them. They are wider than is necessary. I understand from the Solicitor-General that he does not desire the words to do what was suggested by the hon. Member for Guildford, and on his assurance that he will endeavour to alter the Clause to 2023 meet me in that respect on the Report stage, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "acquired" ["is or has been so acquired"], to insert the words "and is to be used for the same purpose as when originally acquired."
This power should be limited to the land which is to be used for the same purposes as when it was originally acquired. My hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Home) raised the question in regard to the public hall. I notice that there is an Amendment in the name of the Solicitor-General to Clause 4 which seems to meet the point, and which says that the land is to be used for the purpose for which it was used during the War. There is no reason why those words should not also apply to this Sub-section. No one desires to extend the sense of Clause 2 so as to enable any Department to alter the purpose and then acquire additional land which had not been touched during the War.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I do not think these words serve my right hon. Friend's purpose. It cannot be said at the moment for what purpose the land is to be used for ever afterwards. It might well be that land is used for one military purpose and might be required to be used for another military purpose. You cannot limit its use in this way. This is a matter which really arises not on this Clause but on the next, where we propose to define the purposes to which the purchased land may be put. If the right hon. Gentlemen agrees with me, I propose that we should postpone the discussion till we reach that Clause, where I have to propose words to limit the uses.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I quite see the point, but "another military purpose" might open a very wide scope unless there is some serious limitations put upon the powers of the Department. Supposing land has been acquired for a horse camp and the Department in their wisdom think they would like to have a large training camp added to it. It seems to me a very large draft upon our good nature to give the Department power not only to take land for extending the scope of the remount camp but as far as I can make out any amount of land. I understand there is 2024 no limit to the amount of land they can take for another military purpose. The Warx Office under this Clause can have gone to a part of the country and taken 200 acres for the purpose of a remount; camp. They may after the War quite legitimately want to take another few acres in order to have some neighbouring fields where the horses can be let out and to enable them to carry on the purpose for which they originally went there, namely, a remount camp. When the right hon. Gentleman says it may be for some other military purpose I join issue entirely that this Clause should give them power not only to take land for the purpose of extending the remount camp but any amount of land for a training camp as well.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
I beg to move, at end of Sub-section (3) to add a new Sub-section:
"(4) All mines of coal, iron-stone, slate, and other minerals under any lands acquired under this Act shall be deemed to be excluded out of the conveyance of such lands, unless they shall have been expressly named therein and conveyed thereby."
Under Sub-section (3) land may be acquired with or without mines or minerals and either with or without any right of support for such mines, and as the word land includes minerals it ought to be expressly provided that mines and coal shall not be included in any conveyance unless they are expressly contained in it and intended to be conveyed. In the absence of such a provision, if no reference was made to mines it might be held that the conveyance of the land included also a conveyance of the minerals.
§ Sir G. CAVE
This Amendment will not make any substantial difference to the Bill, but it is simply a question as to whether you are or are not putting in the conveyance of the land such additional words conveying the mines. I do not think there is very much in it, but in the Schedule of the Bill he will find that there is provision which does exactly what he wants to do by this Amendment. Therefore I suggest that he might leave the matter until we get to that point, and when we come to that we 2025 can consider whether to leave the provision as it stands or whether he desires this to go in in any case.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. HARDY
I beg to move, in Subsection (4), paragraph (a), to leave out the words "whilst the Department is in possession," and to insert instead thereof the words "within two years after the termination of the present War."
This Amendment relates to that part of the Clause where we are dealing with the time the Department has for deciding when it will purchase. In regard to other lands or rights which they have the power to acquire, they are to decide during the present War, or within twelve months after the termination thereof. It is clear that so far as these extra rights are concerned they will be able to decide within twelve months of the termination of the War; but with regard to the general land of which they are in possession they ask to have the whole seven years to decide whether they require it or not. I suggest that the two years in which they have absolute power of possession is sufficient for them. It is very hard in a great number of cases that owners of land should be kept on tenterhooks for seven years as to whether this land is going to be taken away from them or not. I think that if we allow the Department two years in which they have absolute possession, that ought to be time enough for them to make up their minds whether they are going to acquire the land or not It is a considerable hardship to have the thing hanging over for seven years, because it may bring great difficulties where a death occurs, or in case of a forced sale, and so on, it may stop the sale of land very considerably. I think we ought to give these landlords—who after all are not sinners, but have tried to be patriotic—relief from this prolonged suspension of decision, and to provide that two years should be the time limit, especially as that is the time fixed in the Bill for absolute possession of the land.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I quite recognise that the conditions applicable to decisions in connection with Clause I do not necessarily apply with the same force to land which it is proposed or which it may be proposed to acquire. The point of the hon. Mem- 2026 ber's Amendment is that in the case of land which it is proposed or which it may be proposed to acquire the Government shall make up its mind at some period earlier than seven years', and he suggests two. There is considerable force in his contention that the Department should not require seven years to make up its mind on this particular point, but I cannot accept two years as being adequate, for the same reasons which I outlined when we were discussing Clause 1. We all hope that some of the factories and buildings which have been erected by the War Office and the Admiralty may be devoted to some permanent purpose of a useful kind, not necessarily of the same sort as at present; but during the process of demobilisation and reconstruction it will not be possible in many of these cases, for a considerable time, to decide whether it will be the wisest thing to let the land revert to other purposes or whether the State shall acquire it. Certain factories which manufacture chemicals would be applicable, I understand, to other industries of a kindred nature. In the case of several of them it would be undesirable for national reasons to divert them very rapidly from their present purpose, and two years would be too short a period. I think that I can promise to consult the officers of the Departments and see if we can put in a period which will be shorter than the seven years, but I am quite clear that the two years mentioned is too short. Perhaps the matter would be left over on this understanding to the Report stage.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman says that the two years suggested by my right hon. Friend is too short a period, but he does not suggest any moderate alternative.
§ Dr. ADDISON
One has to consult the Departments involved. The only promise that I can give now is to try to put some period.
This is a very important matter, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will not be induced either to modify or withdraw his proposal. It is said that the Government want seven years, or at any rate a great deal more than two after the end of the War, to make 2027 up their minds as to whether they are going to acquire out-and-out certain properties of which they shall be in possession at the end of the War. My right hon. Friend has moved a very serviceable Amendment. When you consider the circumstances in which large numbers of these properties have been taken it is reasonable to ask the Government to say within two years whether they are going to acquire this property. There may be some other Government Department which could make some use of this property and seek to acquire it in these circumstances upon very reasonable terms. Is a man to have his property taken away for another object altogether, simply because the Government just happens to be a tenant on it? Is he to be obliged to part with it under the oppressive conditions of this Bill, from one end or the other? I really think the Government are trying the patience of Members of this House. We meant to help the Government in this War, but we are not prepared to agree to their exercising further arbitrary powers after the War. Two years is ample time in which to make up their minds whether they are going to give the property back or not. Under the Bill they have got seven years, and during that time a man may be left entirely in the dark as to whether he is going to continue to own his property or not. A more unreasonable suggestion I never heard, and I hope my right hon. Friend will stick to his Amendment.
§ Mr. FIELD
I support the Amendment. It appears to me to be an extraordinary position for the Government to say that they cannot make up their minds or explain what they want within the period proposed. Anyone who owns land to which the Bill refers wants to know what is to be done with it, and he should not be left in suspense as to whether or not the Government is to retain it at the last minute. The case is so plain and obvious that I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree to the Amendment. After all it does not interfere with the Government keeping the land for seven years. We only ask them to make up their minds in two years whether the tenancy will be terminated or not.
§ Sir G. CAVE
It may well be that in most cases the Government may go out of possession in six or twelve months, but the Amendment keeps them for two years after the War, though it might be that a 2028 year after the War they want to exercise the right of purchase. The matter really wants consideration as to its wording. My right hon. Friend has promised to put it before the Department to consider whether they cannot meet the wishes of hon. Members in a perfectly bonâ fide way.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I would like an explanation as to why, in paragraph (a), the Government can remain seven years, and under paragraph (b) they can exercise their right twelve months after the War. Why should there be this differentiation between the periods in the two paragraphs 2 If they can exercise their power under (b) twelve months after the War, why the longer period in the case of (a)?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (4) (b), leave out the words "any Government Department" and insert instead thereof the words "the Admiralty, or Army Council, or the Minister of Munitions."—[Sir G. Cave.]
§ Mr. HARDY
I beg to move in Subsection (5) to leave out the words "subject to the modifications set out in the Schedule to this Act."
I think we ought to be given some information why there is to be a new Code in this case of a far more stringent character and why the Land Clauses Act has been departed from. The last Government, which was not very favourable to landlords, in the Small Holdings Act did not amend the Land Clauses Act to anything like the extent of this Bill, and except in one or two points did not establish a new Code. There is considerable reference in the Military Lands Act and the Defence Acts under which some land can be taken, but in none of those has there been this whittling down of the Land Clauses Act. When we come to the Schedule we can discuss the various Amendments desired. I move this Amendment to obtain a statement as to the 2029 drastic treatment adopted in reference to the Land Clauses Act, and whether this is to be a special occasion or a precedent.
§ Sir G. CAVE
It would not be right for us on this Amendment to discuss the terms of the Schedule. The only point is whether we can import the Land Clauses Act without any alteration or whether some modification should be introduced into the working of that Act. From that point of view I do not think anybody would say we could import the Land Clauses Act without any modification. One reason is that if you did that it means that the Government will have to pay the full value of the land and the value of the Government improvements upon it. That would be the effect of this Amendment.
§ Sir G. CAVE
No. I think not. If these words are carried we shall have to have a jury in every case instead of having some other tribunal much less expensive and less troublesome. There are parts of the Schedule which I am prepared to give up. I am not adhering to the whole of the Schedule, but I cannot discuss that now. I think I have said enough to show that there must be some modification, and therefore that these words must be retained.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The Solicitor-General has given as one reason why he should depart from the Lands Clauses Act, the fact that otherwise the buildings on the land would become the property of the landlord, and therefore would be subject-matter of compensation. That I have met by an Amendment which has been on the Paper for some time. The point can be met perfectly well without the Clause in the Schedule. In fact the Clause in the Schedule goes a great deal too far because under the last Amendment the Government can exercise the option referred to, and they will simply pay the value which the land had before the occupation took place. The present Amendment is of vital importance. This habit of departing from the Lands Clauses Act in Bill after Bill has been the subject of many discussions in this House, and this is certainly not a case in which you should depart very far from the Act. These departures are wider than any before made. You have betterment in its strongest form, and various other matters into which I will not go in detail. The Solicitor-General said he 2030 was proposing to deal with the tribunal in the Schedule. The Railway Commissioners are to have the right to appoint a surveyor to act as arbitrator.
We cannot discuss this matter twice over. On this Amendment we must surely deal only with the question, whether the Lands Clauses Act ought to apply in its entirety. "When we come to the Schedule we shall be able to discuss in detail the various proposals contemplated.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I thought I was in order in following the Solicitor-General who stated that he was making a particular alteration. I will not deal with it in detail. The point which he made is a specious point, and really has no substance at all. What he proposes to do is to have an arbitrator appointed by the Railway Commissioners instead of, as in the Lands Clauses Act, an arbitrator appointed by each party with power to choose an umpire. That is a very important matter. The Solicitor-General struck accidentally upon one of the main arguments against giving the latitude for which he asks. I read only two nights ago a most powerful speech upon that very point in which it was stated that the appointment of an arbitrator by a Government Department was—I forget the exact epithets, but they were very strong—I think it was unjust, and contrary to the principles of natural justice, or words to that effect. That speech was made by the present Solicitor-General when dealing with the Housing and Town Planning Bill.
The arguments advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman apply to the Schedule; would it not be better to wait till we get to that point?
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I cannot deal in detail with the example which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave, but I respectfully differ from the interpolation that he made a moment or two ago. The only two reasons that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given why we should depart from the Lands Clauses Act are to me unconvincing arguments. I venture to submit that it is certainly unsound policy to depart at all from the Lands Clauses Act. I must not go into detail in the way these alterations have been made in the Schedule, but the latter does depart from the Lands Clauses 2031 Act in many ways which are highly undesirable. We are on dangerous ground. It is a very easy matter to depart from the Lands Clauses Act. Doubtless some hon. Members approve it. They are strongly against the Act. But it really does matter, in cases of this kind, whether or not there is a pretence of giving justice. We have here a class of landowner who is having his land taken from him after he has, in the first instance, given it up from patriotic motives. He is having it taken away compulsorily, and it does seem right that he should have some protection—that he should, at the present time, be entitled to the whole protection of the Lands Clauses Act.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I want to support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend behind me. I do not profess, not being a lawyer, to understand all the intricacies of the Lands Clauses Act, but I see in a paragraph, which I will read in a moment, that in 1907, after the Liberal party, flushed with victory, and with a great majority, had returned to this House, they adopted, with one very small modification, regarding the Arbitrator, the Lands Clauses Act in its entirety in the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1907. I do not, therefore, see why, in the present circumstances, when we have a Coalition Government in office, we should be asked to consent to very considerable modifications of the Lands Clauses Act. What, in 1907, was good enough for the Liberal party, who were enthusiastic for reform, and could do anything they liked, is surely good enough for us. If they left the Lands Clauses Act in the Allotments Act, why should we now have all these proposed modifications? I find the Clause of the 1907 Act says:
"The Order shall be in the prescribed form … and shall incorporate, subject to the necessary adaptations——
"the Lands Clauses Act other than Sections 77–85 of the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845. Subject to this modification any question of compensation shall be determined by a single arbitrator appointed by the Board …
The right hon. Gentleman has not given, in my opinion, a single reason why we should go a step further than what was considered to be good enough by the Liberal party in 1907, and some of us feel a little hurt that these modifications should now be suggested.
If this Clause applied simply to the present tenancies for the War I do not think there would have been the slightest objection. Nobody wants to insist upon the Government paying any extra money to anybody in connection with the War, but I hope the Committee will clearly understand that that is not the suggestion. The Post Office has to come here at intervals for a Bill to increase post offices, in Chester, Nottingham, and so on. Those properties are scheduled, and they have got to be bought under the provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts, with the trivial exceptions to be found in the provisions of the Post Office Act itself. Now the Government propose when this War is over that they should be relieved from the restrictive provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts. The main provision of the Lands Clauses Acts is that the man whose property is being taken away is entitled to the verdict of a jury. That is the principle of the law as embodied in the Consolidation Acts, which it has been the practice of this House to insist upon being incorporated in every Bill for more than half a century when land is being taken for public purposes, and now we are asked here to give exceptional facilities to some Government Departments to buy properties that have been used for purposes of parks, and the buildings may be taken down and the land used for some Government Department for the purposes of allotments. There is no restriction whatever in the Bill as to the purposes for which the land may be used. If this were a Bill for the purpose of allotments we would know the land could only be taken for allotments, but the hon. Member in charge of the Bill has very frankly told the Committee some other Department, for some other purpose, may find before the tenancy ends that it wants that property. I venture very respectfully to urge the Committee to insist that when this land is being bought after the end of the War, possibly for other purposes, the ordinary law of the land should apply. I think that every man is entitled to have his personal liberty dealt with by a jury, and it was the law of the land, as laid down in the Lands Clauses Acts, that he should have the value of his property assessed by a jury. The learned Solicitor-General has just told the Committee that he intends when the Schedule is reached to suggest some different kind of tribunal from that mentioned in the Schedule.
Then I misunderstood the words, because the words which the right hon. and learned Gentleman used were that when the Schedule came along a different tribunal would be suggested. I understood that was so, and so did my hon. Friends.
It is not unnatural under the circumstances that some misapprehension should arise. It has always been the practice to put in a separate Clause dealing with this question, and there is no reason why an elaborate Schedule should be prepared. If the Gov-
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Sir G. Cave.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read and postponed.2034
§ ernment insist upon the attitude disclosed in this Bill, and if when the Report stage is reached there is not some very substantial modifications, and if we are going to have all these alterations from the Land Clauses forced down our throats, I can predict a very stormy career for this Bill before it finds its way to the Statute Book, and it will take a very considerable time to analyse the Amendments which will be put down to the Schedule. I am against any Schedule being provided, and I am opposed to any provisions of the Lands Clauses Act being departed from.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 55; Noes, 22.2033
|Division No. 47.]||AYES.||[12.4 a.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Gulland, John William||Rowlands, James|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Armitage, Robert||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Shortt, Edward|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Haslam, Lewis||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Hill, James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Brace, William||King, Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Whiteley, Herbert James|
|Buxton, Noel||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Pratt, J. W.||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Finney, Samuel||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Bridgeman and Mr. Geoffrey Howard.|
|Gilbert, J. D.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Keating, Matthew||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Younger, Sir George|
|Field, William||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Laurence Hardy and Mr. Rawlinson.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Whereupon, it being after Half-past Eleven of the clock upon Thursday evening, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Twelve minutes after Midnight, Friday, 28th July, till Monday next, 31st July, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd February last.