HC Deb 25 October 1916 vol 86 cc1243-9

1. The Department acquiring the land or interest therein shall be deemed to be the promoters of the undertaking, and this Act shall be deemed to be the special Act.

2. The provisions as to the sale of superfluous land and as to access to the special Act shall not apply.

3. All questions of disputed compensation shall be settled by the Commission.

4. No allowance shall be made on account of the acquisition being compulsory.

5. Where a portion only of any factory or other building is required the owners and other persons interested in such building may, notwithstanding anything in the Lands Clauses Acts, be required to sell and convey the portions only of the building so required, if the Commission are of opinion that such portions can be severed from the remainder of the properties without material detriment thereto, and in such case compensation shall be paid for the portions required, and for any damage suffered by the owners or other parties interested in the building by severance or otherwise.

6. In determining the amount of compensation, the value of the land acquired shall be taken to be the value which the land would have had at the date of the notice to treat if it had remained in the condition in which it was at the commencement of the present War, without regard to any enhancement or depreciation in the value which may be attributable directly or indirectly to any buildings, works, or improvements, erected, constructed, or made on, over or under the land, or any adjoining or neighbouring land for purposes connected with the present War wholly or partly at the expense of the State, or, with the consent of the occupying Department, at the expense of any person not being a person interested in the land:

Provided that—

  1. (a) where any such building, work, or improvement was erected, constructed, or made in pursuance of an agreement with any person interested in the land, the consideration given by such person shall be taken into account in assessing the compensation payable in respect of such interest;
  2. (b) where by virtue of an agreement with any Government Department 1244 any person interested in the land is entitled as between himself and that Department to the benefit of any such building, work, or improvement, the value attributable to such building, work, or improvement shall be taken into account in assessing the compensation payable in respect of such interest;
  3. (c) where, since the commencement of the present War, any person interested in the land has himself erected, constructed, or made any building, work, or improvement, or has contributed to the expense thereof, or has committed any act depreciating the value of the land, the value attributable to his expenditure or the depreciation in value attributable to such act shall be taken into account in assessing the compensation payable in respect of such interest.

7. In determining the amount of compensation the Commission shall also take into account the amount (if any) of any compensation paid or other payment received in respect of the previous occupation of the land so far as such compensation or payment was payable in respect of matters other than the mesne profits of the land.

8. Where the surface of the land is acquired without the mines and minerals lying thereunder, the provisions of Sections seventy-seven to eighty-five of the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, with such adaptations and modifications as the Commission think fit shall apply.

9. Where by reason of the erection, construction, or making of any such buildings, works, or improvements as aforesaid or the maintenance thereof, or by reason of the user of the land, any interest in the land has become or might become forfeited or liable to forfeiture, the compensation shall be determined as if no such forfeiture or liability to forfeiture had arisen or might arise.

10. The Lord Chancellor may make rules fixing the scale of costs to be applicable on an arbitration under this Act, and the Commission may, notwithstanding anything in the Lands Clauses Acts, determine the amount of costs, and shall have power to disallow as costs in the arbitration the cost of any witness whom they consider to have been called unnecessarily, and any other costs which they consider to have been caused or incurred unnecessarily, and, if they think the circumstances such as to justify them in so doing, to order that each of the parties shall bear their own costs.

11. There may be contained in the award of the Commission a finding that the claimant, after having been requested in writing by the Department by whom the land or interest therein is to be acquired so to do, has failed to deliver to such Department a statement in writing of the amount claimed, giving sufficient particulars and in sufficient time to enable such Department to make a proper offer, and, where such a finding is contained in the award, the provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts as to costs of arbitrations shall apply as if such Department had offered the same sum or a greater sum than that found to be due by the award:

Provided that this provision shall not apply unless the written request for particulars contained a notice of the effect of this provision.

Amendment made: In Sub-section (8), after 1845, insert the words "shall apply."—[Sir G. Cave.]


I beg to move, to leave out the words "with such adaptations and modifications as the Commission think fit shall apply," and to insert instead thereof the words "the Government Department shall not acquire or enjoy a natural right of support under other lands belonging to the vendor outside the distance of forty yards or other the prescribed distance unless in the judgment of the Commission such further lateral support is necessary for the protection of the land."

This is quite a simple Amendment. In the Committee stage strong objection was taken to the concluding words in this Subsection on the ground that they gave permission to the Commission to legislate. It was urged on behalf of the Government that in certain cases, particularly dealing with one particular judgment, some modification was required. My hon. Friend (Mr. Turton) has put down an Amendment which states exactly what modification in the Railway Lands Clauses (Consolidation) Act are required in consequence of this judgment. The words I propose to insert give power for modification in the direction which is desired, but do not give a general power for modification of the Lands Clauses Act in all manner of directions, as do the somewhat vague words which I propose to leave out. If this Amendment is accepted and the words are not entirely satisfactory to the Government, they can be altered in another place, so as to carry out the intention of my hon. Friend. I believe that is what the Government really desires.


I think that the next two Amendments of the hon. and gallant Member would be covered by this question.


Yes, I am satisfied.


I do not want to criticise the details of this Amendment, but clearly it would not work in its present form. Apart from that, I have thought the matter over a good deal since the Committee stage and I think the House had better adhere to the words of the Bill. The words of this Amendment will not cover the whole ground. It must be remembered that the Sections which were incorporated are adapted to a railway line, and a railway line only, and they are not adapted to a factory or anything of that kind, or to land with no buildings upon it. Therefore you must, to begin with, have power to adapt the Sections to the particular subject matter. Apart from that, you ought to have power to vary the Sections according to the subject matter. There is one instance to which my hon. and gallant Friend referred, namely, the case of a building which requires more than forty yards for support. In that case the Commissioners have power to extend the forty yards. That is what this Amendment does, I quite agree, but, on the other hand, you may have a place with no buildings at all on it, or with no buildings upon the greater part of it—an aerodrome or something of that kind. In that case we do not need even forty yards. Then again you may want to give power to a mine owner to pursue the work of his mine without any obligation on the part of the Government to buy. In that case you want to modify the provision the other way. There may be an infinity of circumstances in different cases, where the Sections of the Railways Clauses Act, which are drawn with reference to railway lines only, may not be applicable. For that reason I think it is wise, and I see no objection to it, to give to a body like the Commission the power, when these matters are brought before them, to vary the provisions one way or another. That is adapting the Act to particular cases, and making certain provisions suitable to individual cases. I submit with great respect to my hon. and gallant Friend that it is better to keep to the words of the Bill, and not to limit the powers of the Commissioners to the one instance specified in this Amendment.


Though I do not agree with my right hon. and learned Friend, I do not in the circumstances propose to proceed further with my hon. Friend's Amendment, and I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Further Amendments made: In paragraph (8) leave out the words "shall apply" ["as the Commission think fit shall apply"]. In paragraph (11), after the word "Department" ["deliver to such Department"], insert the words "within a reasonable time."—[Sir G. Cave.]


I beg to move the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. Home)—in paragraph (11) to leave out the words "of the amount claimed" ["a statement in writing of the amount claimed"].

It is an Amendment which I think the Government will accept. The point is to omit the amount claimed. The way my hon. Friend puts it is that there can be no necessity for the claimant to put in the amount claimed, and he suggests that if the claimant is forced to do so it is liable to lead to injustice. What the defendants want to know, and what the Government want to know, is the exact interest the man has in the land, and any further particulars of that kind, so that they can frame an offer upon that statement. My hon. Friend suggests that asking a man to state the amount claimed is liable to lead to a great deal of trouble, expense, and injustice, and that the company, as the case may be, or the Government can make an offer if they receive full and proper information from the plaintiff as to the nature of his interest in the holding, and any other matters.


Objection was taken in Committee to asking for particulars of the amount. I thought the objection was reasonable and I said I would consider the matter. With a view to meeting that objection I have put down two Amendments, which follow, and which provide that the Government are no longer empowered to ask for particulars. The question is whether we should ask for the amount claimed. It may not be of much value, but it is no hardship to a man whose land has been or is to be taken to say how much he claims. Therefore I hope that the Amendment will not be pressed.


I hope that on further consideration the Solicitor-General will give way on this Amendment. It is a question of a certain penalty that is involved. It is not necessary that the man should make a claim in order that the purchasers should be able to make a proper offer. I do not agree that he ought not to give full particulars of his interest in the property. It is a very essential thing that he should give all the particulars, and those, I think, ought to be insisted upon in order that a proper offer can be made. It is not at all necessary to have the amount of the claim put in, and there ought to be no penalty for the man because of failure to put in the claim. I think that under this paragraph there is a certain penalty imposed for failure to give certain figures. That is a very proper penalty to be imposed if he does not give the particulars and figures that are necessary in order that a proper offer can be made, but it is not necessary that he should put in the amount of his claim, because an offer can be made entirely independent of any figure of claim that he might put in.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: Leave out the words "Giving sufficient particulars and in sufficient time," and insert instead thereof the words "together with any information in his possession which may be reasonably required."

Leave out the word "particulars" ["unless the written request for particulars"], and insert instead thereof the word "information."—[Sir G. Cave.]


I beg to move to leave out paragraph (d) of Sub-section (12).

The reason for this Amendment is that the two words which are defined in this paragraph have both now disappeared from the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


I do not think that we should have the Third Reading of a Bill for which Government Amendments, affecting private interests, were only put down to-day. Some of the Government Amendments which have been adopted alter what was done in the Committee stage. There has rarely been a Bill in which such important alterations of Government concessions in the Committee stage have been made on the Report stage. I trust that the Government will not take the Third Reading to-night, so that an opportunity may be given to go into some of these concessions and ask the Government what will be done in another place. Time should be given to enable the effect of the alterations which have been made to be considered on the Third Reading. Unless there is some such point, I give a guarantee that I shall say nothing of the Third Reading, but if there are any specific cases of this kind brought up, private individuals who are affected should have the opportunity of bringing them forward. There are one or two matters which require very careful consideration, and it can do the Government no harm to postpone the Third Reading.


If my hon. and learned Friend would rather not have the Bill read the third time to-night, I would desire to meet him in the matter and I will not press it.


I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."


I beg to second the Motion for Adjournment.

Debate to be resumed upon Tuesday next, 31st October.

Bill, as amneded, on consideration, to be printed. [Bill 115.]

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.