§ Order for Third Heading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House declines to give a Third Reading to a Bill which set up an unnecessary and expensive staff of valuers and fails to establish the principle that the value on which land is taxed should also be the value at which it may be acquired for public purposes.It shows the remarkable catholicy of the range of subjects of this House that we are able to discuss at one moment the all-absorbing topic of pats of butter, and then to turn to a subject which will be of equal interest, but perhaps not of such a vivid personal kind, namely, the price at which land is to be acquired for public purposes. The Bill sets up a new body for the purpose of valuing the compensation to be paid where land is acquired compulsorily for public purposes. I do not propose to goat any length into what has been accomplished by the existing land valuation staff set up by the Act of 1910 and its immediate applicability if it had been thought desirable for using that machinery instead of the new authority which is to be set up. I may just say quite shortly that substantially the whole of the land in Great Britain at any rate which would be available for the purposes which are immediately contemplated by the Government, although the Bill does not specify anything of that kind, namely, housing —I rather imagine forestry has a separate authority of its own —these three great and important matters could be easily dealt with by the old and existing authority, and substantially the whole of the land which may be required within the next five or six years for these three great purposes has been provisionally valued already. The total number of separate hereditaments thereby valued is 10,585,586, of no less an area than 56,144,399 acres, of a total value of £5,267,784,055. That work, which has been already accomplished, has been by common admission efficiently and fairly 2156 done, and is now in active daily use by the public either by lay persons who seek their assistance or by their trained and professional agents who desire to have access to these Departments either when death happens or upon the multifarious occasions upon which the complex nature of our commercial position to-day is-brought into intimate association with land. The first point, therefore, that I desire to submit is that 90 per cent. of the land which is at all likely to be required during the next five or six years for these three great purposes has been provisionally valued already by a staff which is fully competent to do the work which it is proposed that the new authority to be set up by this Bill should do.
Passing from that, I say here and now that I do not launch —I never have done, and I do not intend to do —any attack upon great landlords, or anything of that kind. If I were a business man and had to deal with the acquisition of land for any of my purposes and I had a" real choice, I would rather deal with the big man than the small man. I frankly admit that, and therefore I am not launching any attack at all; I am dealing with the matter purely on business and public grounds, and on no other. I have already indicated the purposes for which the Bill will be required in the next four or five years, but we are intimately connected with the ghastly War from which we are only slowly and painfully emerging, and therefore any considerations which, indicate that unfair and unjust preference by way of value is being given to individuals who happen to own land at this time should have more weight attached to them than at any time in the social history of this country. Let us not forget that this Bill has nothing of a temporary character about it. It is a permanent Bill, to be placed on the Statute Book with the definite and obvious intention of the Government as their last word—and I have not heard anything to suggest that it is not their last word —as to how land should be obtained and the price that should be paid for land for public purposes. It is clear to me from all the Debates to which I have listened —I am-entitled to draw my own deductions, although my right hon. and learned Friend may differ from me —that there emerges the definite intention of the Government to do away, as a great instrument of land reform, with that great machinery which 2157 has been set up. We fought hard and long for the establishment in this Bill, not only for the polite recognition of the fact, but for the establishment of the principle that the results of that valuation and of other valuations and assessments made by great public authorities should be the basis —that is all we ask —upon which these valuations should proceed.
I want to be perfectly fair to my right hon. and learned Friend and the Government. They felt the force of the arguments from this side of the House backed up by hon. Gentlemen on the other side, and, finally, after very considerable pressure, they did grudgingly —I want to emphasise that —admit that the valuers should have regard to the work of this great Department. What a difference in the position taken up by the Prime Minister and those who fought and worked with him that in 1919, eight or nine years after the battles that were fought, we should have to come down here and wring from a reluctant Government the admission that these valuers should have regard to that expensive and very costly work —it cost over £4,000,000 —in the great schemes that lie before us! I pass to the value at which the land is going to be acquired. In the course of the proceedings on this Bill I missed one of the points which, clearly, I ought to have taken. My excuse, if it is to be taken as an excuse, is the pressure of work. I cannot, with my limited capacity, possibly hope to take every important point that should be taken. I refer to the question of severance. I frankly admit that I ought to have moved an Amendment on the Report stage. What are the other points for which these valuations are to be made? They are not only compensation for the value of the land, but also for injurious affection and severance. There was a valuable report by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mr. Leslie Scott) dealing with this question of injurious affection. I at once admit that, as far as that Report is concerned, it is in favour of this doctrine of injurious affection being included in the compensation to be given. Let us for one moment see what this really means. It is a rather difficult point to explain, but, as I take it, injurious affection means that compensation shall be paid either to the owner of the land whose land is taken —that would be under Section 63 of the Act —or to the owner of the land which is near and which is not taken, but which might be in- 2158 juriously affected by the taking of the land for public purposes. Under the first heading the land taken from the owner, and the injurious affection to his other land, we know that, in the past, utterly ridiculous sums have been given. It really amounted to plunder of the authority— be it a railway company or any public authority which was taking land under the- operation of the Lands Clauses Act, and it was really a deterrent to the development by the public authority, or by private corporations, of the development of schemes for which powers had been obtained by them from Parliament.
In the computations made of the value of the land —and as far as I am concerned I have no objection to adequate compensation being given for other factors than the bare value of the land, when there are circumstances which arise which ought to be fairly compensated —under the Land Clauses Act there has grown up a great amount of case law, and when you are going to assess the injurious affection of the land the valuers who have to deal with it must have regard to the law as it stands. Therefore this case law —I may be wrong, but that is my view after a study of the Bill —is brought in, and the valuers must have regard to it, and it means that considerable sums have to be given for injurious affection. I may perhaps have overstated this point a little, but I am quite sure that substantially I am correct. Then take another point: the question of the severance of land, and the effect on the land which is left. An illustration of that was given in the course of the Debate by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker). This is the point I ought to have brought to the notice of the House during the earlier stages of the Bill. In the first place, as I read the Bill, severance was ruled out.
Let me take two instances. Suppose a local authority has a building scheme, and proposes to take a bit of land on which two houses stand. The freehold of both houses belongs to the same landlord. One of these houses stands perfectly clear on its own freehold foundation, and there are no complications about it by way of lease. It is easy to ascertain what the value of that house may be. But the second house has been dealt with by way of long leases, and has charges on it. It is all right for the per- 2159 son who owns the house, but as far as the public outlook is concerned it is otherwise. The value of the two houses is absolutely identical, but in the one case other people have come in and secured interests. As the Bill originally stood you would have given, say, £l,000 for the first house. One would imagine that for the second House, although there are distinctive interests attached to it, there would be the same amount of compensation paid, and that the money would have been split up over the whole hereditament. That would be right and proper. But there was an Amendment carried in Committee, against, I rather gather, the desire of the Government, which really eliminated that provision, and the position now under the Bill is now perfectly clear. I am certain that that kind of compensation was not contemplated by the Government, either by way of sentimental value or for injurious affection. Although, however, it was not contemplated by the Government, they gave way upon it, and unfortunately I did not take the proper opportunity to raise the question at an earlier stage. I have nearly come to the end of my remarks in regard to this. Bill. Here we are facing a very different future. That is beyond all doubt. I am quite certain steadiness and fairness, if we can command a sufficient quantity of it in all classes of the community, will carry us through. But I consider very strongly that it is the duty of the Government not to give unnecessary provocation. They have, in my judgment, in this Bill lent themselves, willingly or unwillingly, wittingly or unwittingly, to a charge which can be fairly made against them that, in this measure, which goes to the root of all our great social schemes, they have injuriously given an undue advantage to landholders of all classes. It is too late now, of course, to ask for any further instalment of betterment. There is not much hope from the Lords on that. We may have to support the Government in another place, and on that certainly they will command our most hearty support. This is the last word of the Government to the country in the future stretching immediately before us as to how land should be dealt with. It is utterly inadequate, and I say it is unfair. It cannot remain on the Statute Book without causing long and serious agitation, directed, certainly so far as I am concerned, to securing the first opportunity of altering this measure in accord with 2160 promises and principles of the past and bringing it somewhat into line with what we consider to be justice to the public and fairness to the individual owner.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
In associating myself with this Amendment, I do not challenge the necessity for the introduction of a Bill for the purpose of making it easier for access to the land of this country to be secured both by muncipalities and by others who require it. The need for such a measure is abundantly evident. In all directions there is the call for reconstruction following upon the period of the War. It cannot be disputed that in every direction satisfactory reconstruction can only be accomplished if access to the land can be secured more easily than is possible at the present time. My objection to this measure is not that an attempt has been made to deal with that problem. For that the Government are to be commended. My criticism of the measure is that it does nothing effective to secure the objects the Government profess to have in view, that it does not even advance us a satisfactory stage upon the journey, and, in my view therefore, it would be infinitely preferable that this Bill should be rejected and that another Bill on more satisfactory lines should be introduced. I ought to say that, as I have been a critic of this Bill from the Second Heading, the Committee stage and on the Report stage up till now, in any criticism I make I do not desire to say a single word which would reflect upon the conduct of the Bill by the Attorney-General who has been in charge of it. His courtesy has been unfailing and his patience has been inexhaustible. If he has not succeeded in his task, it is because he has been called upon to carry through a duty which it is impossible for any man to perform satisfactorily. I gather the desire of the Government has been to meet the public need without attacking the vested interest in the land of the country. That, in my view, is an utterly impossible task. It has not been accomplished in this Bill. With all his ability and desire to meet reasonable objections, the right hon. Gentleman has been unable to accomplish it.
For two particular reasons this question is pressing. First, because of the need of housing accommodation for our people, and, secondly, because of the necessity of giving an opportunity to the soldiers who have been fighting so gallantly for us to settle upon the land where they desire to 2161 do so. With regard to both those objects, the Bill will advance us only a very short way indeed. On the housing question I venture to lay down three brief propositions which, I imagine, will not be challenged in any quarter of the House. In the first place, the housing question is more acute at the present moment than it has been in the memory of the oldest man mow living; secondly, never has the public conscience of this country been so thoroughly aroused with regard to it; and, thirdly, never in the memory of the oldest man now living have so few houses been in course of erection or so little work been actually in progress for the purpose of solving the housing question. If that be no, it raises very serious issues indeed. We are not able to go to the roots of the matter. We ask whether the Bill will really provide an adequate remedy. With regard to the soldiers who have been fighting for us, they were told in the famous poster issued for recruiting purposes that they should rally to the Colours because they were askedIs this land not worth fighting for?They have answered that call. They were promised there would be opportunities given to them which had been refused them in the past for securing a foothold on the land of their country. Not only this Government, but also preceding Governments have made tentative efforts to deal with this question. It is no satisfaction to stand here and say that as those Bills have passed in procession through this House and been placed upon the Statute Book I pointed out with regard to them, one after the other, that they would lamentably fail to accomplish the object they had in view. What is the position to-day? I understand that some considerable time ago the Commander-in-Chief issued orders that the men who desired to settle down upon the land when they returned should be asked to enrol themselves. I am relying upon a newspaper report which may not be" wholly accurate, but the information given was that between 250,000 and 500,000 men answered that invitation and said they would like to have an opportunity of securing a small holding when they returned. The applications became so numerous that it was reasonably thought it was time to close the register until something was done for those who had already registered. Putting it at the smallest number, assuming that 260,000 of the men 2162 who have been fighting for us desire, now they have returned to settle down on the land of their birth and engage in food production on a small holding of their own, what has been achieved by the Small Holdings Colonies Bills— the succession of Bills which have been passed through this House? In an. answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture last week or the previous week, we were informed that there are now 250 men on these colonies, but of these not more than twenty or twenty-five are in posseseion of small holdings. The remainder are on what is called probation, which means that they are simply engaged as agricultural labourers and paid wages. In the dim and distant future they may perhaps be given small holdings. That is to say, of the 250,000 who want to settle down, you have been able to make even this unsatisfactory provision for just one out of every 1,000, and the other 999 have returned here to swell the ranks of the unemployed, to draw unemployed benefit and to congest the labour market. There is no opening for them upon the soil of their native land unless they return to the task of being-mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, acting as agricultural labourers earning what is at the present day prices for commodities the meagre wage which the agricultural labourer receives.
Every Member of the House has applications from returned soldiers who desire to act in this way. I will give one case which was brought to my own notice. Two soldiers who enlisted in my Constituency and lost their sight as the result of the War, were being treated at St. Dunstan's Hospital, where part of the training is in poultry-farming. These men had been trained so that they could earn a livelihood at that task, which was very congenial to them. They informed me that there was a register at the hospital of land which was available and opportunity was given to the men. in rotation to take advantage of it. They have been waiting for weary months to get land through this, register. They were fully trained and equipped and they had a little capital, but there was no prospect of getting land in that way. They came to see me at the House accompanied by a nurse who evidently took a great and very highly commendable interest in them. She informed me that she had written to every estate of which she could get the address of the agent within fifty miles of London, to ask if a tiny holding of 5 or 2163 10 acres could be secured for them, and in every case it was not merely a matter of terms, but the answer came that no small holdings were available.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I fail to see the relevance of what the hon. Member is saying. If he will look at the first Clause, he will see that this is a Bill which deals with the cost of land which is authorised to be acquired compulsorily by any Government Department —not by private individuals —or local or public authority. The cases the hon. Member cites will not come within this Bill at all, and have no relevance whatever to it.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I submit that the Bill proposes to give facilities for acquiring land for small holdings.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It must be through a public Department or a local authority. The case the hon. Member was quoting was the case of a private individual who wrote round to estates to ask for a holding. That is a wholly different question.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I presume I may put the argument in this way. I am sure you will agree that I am entitled to show that the Bill does not satisfactorily deal with the question with which it professes to deal, and does not meet the need which arises for land, which is of course the sole purpose for which it is intended. It does not give local and public authorities the opportunities of acquiring land which it professes to do, and there is great and urgent necessity for that being done. In my view the Bill fails because it omits to deal with the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), who put his finger on the weak point of the measure, and of every measure which has so far been introduced for the purpose of securing land for the people on equitable terms. The right hon. Gentleman, in language which does not differ in any material way from this Amendment, said that in his view this matter could never be satisfactorily settled until you cease to have two varying values for land. He said he had found from his long experience that invariably, when land was acquired for any public purpose, the value which the community had to pay was higher than that which the owner returned for purpose of rating and taxation. He had never been able to understand how there could be these two values. The value of the land ought, in his 2164 view, to be the same when a public authority desired to purchase it as the value for rating and taxation. The reason the Bill fails is that it has not courageously adopted that method of dealing with the question, which in my view is the only satisfactory method by which it could be done.
We have given illustrations over and over again in these Debates of what these varying values are. I quoted, on the Report stage, a case in Monmouthshire where the owner of the land asked for five hundred years' purchase of the value which he himself had returned as being a fair value for purposes of assessment. Cases of that kind might occur even under this Bill, but at any rate in the majority of cases where you acquire land on the borders of expanding towns there will be no equilibrium whatever between these two values, but, on the contrary, you will constantly be paying at least from ten to twenty times as high as the value which the owner has returned for purpose of assessment. It will be the ordinary and common case that land which is entered for purposes of assessment at about £l an acre will sell for £250 to £500, and land of a capital value of £50, assessed at £2 an acre, will sell at from £500 to £1,000. I do not submit the proposition —it would be foolish to do so —that the real value of land on the border of an expanding town is just the same as the bare value of agricultural land in the heart of the country. I do not doubt that the real value is considerably higher. But if the present-valuation is not completed it should immediately be brought up to date, if necessary by asking the owner himself to make a valuation, and, having ascertained the value, it ought to be the same for the purposes of rating and taxation as when the community desires to acquire it. Until you do that, you will not be able to ascertain the true value of the land. By that method only will you be able to ascertain the true value. How does that affect the question of housing? We have made experiments in some of our great Colonies in regard to this matter. In New South Wales, at any rate in all the large towns, the whole of the rates have been taken off the houses and buildings and put upon land value. In Sydney a rate of 4d. in the £ on the capital value has been found sufficient to meet all the needs of the community, and there are now no rates in Sydney except the one land value rate 2165 of 4d. in the £ on capital value. If we were able to adopt that system in this country, how different would be our prospect with regard to the housing question. Rates at the present time run from 7s. 6d. to 15s. 6d. in the £, and the average in our municipalities at about 10s. in the £. No private builder is erecting houses today even under the promised Government subsidy. No private builder will erect houses under the present system knowing, in the first instance, that he will have to pay a monopoly price for the land, and, in the second place, that he would have to pay the enormous burden of the rates, running from 7s. 6d. to 15s. 6d. in the £. If the method I suggest were carried out, and the burden of the rates were removed, it is quite evident that the position would be quickly relieved.
What is the extent of the subsidy which the Government propose to give to the municipal authorities? The Minister of Health has said again and again that his idea is that it should be something like 3⅓ per cent. A much greater relief would be obtained by the simple reform which I advocate, if it were adopted, municipal building would not be retarded, but, on the contrary, it would be encouraged. You would have a tremendous boom in the building trade, because the private builder, who hitherto has erected 55 per cent. of the houses, the great building societies, who have accumulated funds of £8,000,000 ready for investment in building, the cooperative societies which have done so much for housing their own members, and the public utility societies would all be building, and we should be in a fair way to a solution of the housing problem before twelve months are over. Under the Government scheme the local authorities alone will build, and it will require an enormous subsidy to enable houses to be erected. What applies in regard to houses generally applies equally to the settling of soldiers on the land. The difficulty of the county councils who have endeavoured to deal with this matter has always been that when the county councils have entered the market for the purchase of land they have immediately raised the price of the land, not only for themselves, but against every purchaser of agricultural land in the country. Coming into the market with public funds behind them, they stiffen the market and the price is raised. It is obvious that the improved value of a small holding is proportionately very much greater than the improved 2166 value of a large farm, and it is on the improved value that these heavy rates inevitably fall, so that a smallholder has to pay rent twice as high, and sometimes three times as high, as that of a large farmer proportionately, while the rates which fall upon him are five, six, and seven or eight times as high. Except on the lines I have indicated it will be utterly impossible for the Government to redeem the promises which they have given to the gallant men who have fought for us and to give them an opportunity of having a home in the land of their birth.
I would not ask the House to reject the Bill merely because it docs not carry out these purposes in its entirety. I am old enough a Parliamentarian to know that if you want a reform you must be willing to advance step by step, and if this Bill went any way in that direction I would gladly and whole-heartedly support it. But the Bill does not proceed upon those lines at all. It proceeds upon the old bad lines of setting up old cumbrous machinery, the hearing of evidence, the employment of solicitors and of counsel, the hearing of expert witnesses, and all those things which enormously increase the difficulty of acquiring land, and enormously increase the cost before it can be secured. It is that method which has got the Government into all their difficulties. The Bill was very materially worsened in Committee. I do not criticise the Attorney-General, because I do not think he could help it. He started out on the Second Reading by saying that he was going to have a very simple procedure, and that no members of his profession were to be engaged at costly fees; that no solicitors or counsel were to be heard. Pressure was brought to bear upon him in Committee, and the argument was used that the person who would appear for the local authority would be the clerk, and as he would generally be a solicitor he ought not to be prohibited from appearing and the local authority be compelled to send their surveyor, who was not accustomed to appearing.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir G. Hewart)
I am sure the hon. Member desires to found his criticism upon facts. He says that it was not until the Committee stage that the provision was inserted as to the employment of solicitor and counsel. He is quite wrong. It was in the Bill as it was brought in, subject to a limitation which was removed in 2167 Committee. It was by no means in Committee alone that the provision was made permitting the employment of solicitor and counsel.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, and I think the case against the Bill is so strong that it could only be weakened by making any statement not in accordance with fact. At any rate, in Committee the provision which was intended to reduce the expense of procedure by limiting the power to employ solicitor and counsel was removed. On that point there can be no doubt, and I think you are bound to do that for this reason, that if you are to have the procedure now set up in the Bill, you cannot refuse to the people who are agreed the opportunity of having skilled assistance. However, that renders it impossible to secure the comparatively inexpensive and expeditious process which the Government desires. The right hon. Gentleman —I have no doubt, with an earnest desire to assist the local authority —has inserted a provision which says that the local authority can make an offer for the land, and if it is found on arbitration that the value of the ground is not greater than the amount of the offer, the local authority can recover their own costs, and the other party has to pay his own costs also.
I have no doubt that it is intended to be a measure for the assistance of the local authorities. I have a great deal of experience as a member of local authorities, and if this measure passes in this form every authority who have as their advisor a competent person will offer more than they think the land is worth, so that they may be able to recover their costs. Therefore the local authority start out handicapped from the post with an inducement to offer, not merely the market price of the land, but a higher price in order that the burden of costs may not fall upon them. So one might go on. This measure cannot stand as the final word of this House on the subject, and if this Parliament runs its course it cannot stand as the final word even of this Parliament. Many of the great local authorities are protesting against dealing with this matter in this way. The great city of Glasgow has sent a great body of Conservative Members to this House. Never before hag it pent here such an overwhelming majority of Conservative Mem- 2168 bers. The city of Manchester has sent an almost solid body of Conservative and Unionist Members here. Both the Manchester and Glasgow Corporations have passed the strongest possible resolutions in which they say that this Bill is not a satisfactory method of dealing with this question, and ask that it should be dealt with on the lines laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dun-cairn (Sir E. Carson).
§ Mr. HAILWOOD
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Members of Parliament are called upon to deal with national affairs, and municipal councils are called on to deal with local affairs?
§ Mr. RAFFAN
Yes. Here is the great Corporation of Glasgow, which has been trying for half a century to get rid of the most horrible slums that exist in this country. It has tried every conceivable method of dealing with the matter. It has seen Bills go through this House and get the Royal Assent, and it has never been able to get a step nearer a solution of the question, and now that the question is more acute than ever, when the citizens of Glasgow who have been out fighting for the land of their birth want to get homes to live in instead of slums, the hon. Member says that that is no concern of the local authority of Glasgow, who ought to be ashamed of passing a resolution on the subject. If we are not getting near a General Election we are getting near the November election of municipal councils, and if this Bill goes on the Statute Book the test question at every municipal election in the country will be whether this is going to stand as the last word of this House on the question or whether the Government shall be asked, and if possible compelled, to pass a measure on the lines suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn, and you will have such an expression of public opinion in all the great industrial centres that this Bill will be found to be only one addition to the long list of useless measures on the land question which have been passed through Parliament, and that we shall be compelled to deal with the question on lines which will give an opportunity of restoring the land of the country to the people of the country.
I rise merely to welcome the Bill most whole heartedly, as a genuine and honest attempt to deal with one of the most difficult questions which we have to face at the present time.
2169 The two Members who have spoken have spoken often before with the object of discrediting the Government. That is their one object in life —to strike at the Government and let the people go anywhere they like. I am perfectly prepared to meet them any time they like as regards the scheme laid down in the Amendment which they wish to put in the Bill. Their one desire is to hold up the whole position. They do not care so long as they get in their blow against the Government. I say nothing more on that point, except that it is just as well that they should realise that some of us know their game and that we can let it be known in other places. The Amendment is notable for the extremely skilful way in which those who put it forward seek to mix up the two points they have made. They have laid down that this Bill sets up an expensive and unnecessary staff. Some of us have very strong feelings against unnecessary and expensive staffs, and might be apt to fall into the trap that is laid here. But I happen to represent rather a large agricultural community that at the present time is gravely dissatisfied with one aspect of the Government programme. I am not referring to the landed interest. I am referring to the men who are actually farming land at the present time. Their position is quite clear. They are perfectly willing that the Government should take up any land which is needed, either for the purposes of housing or for increasing the small holdings of the country. But on the other hand they say that if they are dispossessed of their land, or part of it, it is only right that they should have fair compensation. Some of those men are quite small; they are earning very much less in profit and in wages together than would content the average artisan, and they say that if they are to be disturbed they should have full and adequate compensation. They welcome the proposal of the Government to provide these additional officials, so that those who consider that their case has been severely dealt with can appeal to that body with confidence that they are a body who are not known to have their minds wrapped up in any particular system of taxation, assessment or anything of that sort. but have merely the idea of seeking to have justice done both to the State and to the person who is turned out of his holding.
2170 There is another point. As a general rule, though not always, the present assessors of land are assessing on the whole farm, and the assessment of a whole farm is quite a different thing from the assessment of part of a farm and cutting it off from the remainder, and we feel very strongly in agricultural districts that we should have men sent to us specially qualified to settle what is a fair price, and give fair compensation to the man who is disturbed and has to reorganise the whole of his business. For that reason I very strongly welcome the Bill as it stands, because I believe it is a measure honestly intended to give fair compensation. It is also a measure which lays it down very clearly indeed that unfair prices shall not be paid for land, but that the price to be paid shall be that which the land will fetch in the open market. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raffan) will perhaps say that that is not the right price to demand; he may say that everything should be controlled and kept down. Possibly that is so, but as English law stands and is likely to stand, when you are assessing compensation it should be based on what is a fair and adequate value, what could be got if you sold in the market. It docs not matter whether you are selling your farm or the result of your labour in an industry which you have built up —as many farmers have over a period of years —you should get a fair compensation. I have never yet met any collection of ordinary people, English people, who do not consider that a fair principle of assessing compensation. I welcome this Bill because it will do a great deal to make it very much easier to deal with the housing question and the placing of soldiers on the land.
§ Mr. ROYCE
Without according such blessings to the Bill as have been extended by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I desire to say that I shall vote for the Third Reading on the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread. An hon. Member has described the urgent necessity of providing returned Service men with the land they have been promised. How does he hope to obtain that land unless he does something in the direction of affording legislation that will admittedly do something? I cannot quite understand the attitude of mind which would reject this Bill. The suggestion is made that other legislation should be-brought in to take the place of this Bill. 2171 Surely it is somewhat late in the day! The hon. Gentleman described the reception which Members would have in the industrial centres when it becomes known that they have supported this Bill. I do not know yet what reception they will get in industrial centres, but I know what they will get in agricultural districts if they do not support the Bill. The urgency of the question is great. There is a great cry for the land. Men are at home in hundreds and thousands. One hon. Member said there were 250,000, yet he hopes to advance their interests by moving the rejection of this Bill !
§ Mr. ROYCE
It is not a Bill for getting land for them; I presume that the operations for getting the land will be taken under the Land Settlement Bill, but the question of assessing compensation for the land that is taken is provided for under this Bill, and to that extent it forwards the object in view. I am not altogether in favour of the Bill; on the contrary. But I do regard it as something in the direction even of land nationalisation, because I hope that the land which is now acquired will be retained for the nation. In the case of land required for Service men the right and direct course would have been to have appointed local authorities to select and schedule the land that was required, having in view local requirements —schedule the land and value it, and apportion it to the men who ought to have it. I would have done that for more reasons than the obtaining of land at a cheap rate. I would have done it for the purpose of selecting land in suitable localities, and with the view of affording suitable transport facilities. Under this system the land is selected in a promiscuous manner; the man who wants to sell offers it. But it may not be the most suitable land or land in the most suitable localities, or the facilities for transport may not be the best. To that extent I am not in favour of the Bill. To the extent that it will do something in that direction I am perfectly satisfied. Some criticism has been made about official valuers. It has been said that this is a costly method of obtaining the valuation of the land. I am of opinion that it is a cheap method and the very best method that could possibly be adopted. I am entirely in favour of an official valuer, be- 2172 cause I know of no single instance where local valuers are not more or less influenced by local associations. It would be wonderful if it were otherwise. During the War, as a member of a war executive, I had some experience of local valuers, and it was felt, and felt rightly, that a local man could not do adequate justice under the circumstances that then existed. Though there may be something in the argument that the official valuer will not be quite a competent person, that he will not have the local knowledge, still, with some eight official valuers appointed, it will not be difficult to apportion them in such a manner that very soon they can acquire the intimate local knowledge which is necessary.
Something has been said, and said rightly, with regard to the competition that will be started immediately the State comes into the open market, and with regard to file raising of the price of land that will result. I quite agree there is something to be said as to that. It is, however, an argument in favour of the suggestion I have already made as to the acquisition of land, namely, that it should have been scheduled. But it is not beyond the power of any council or of the Department of Agriculture, which will have something to say in this matter, to provide, with regard to land they intend to acquire or with regard to land of the intention to acquire which they have given notice, that nothing in the nature of an increase in the price of the land is made to the detriment of the State. I know quite well that there is some danger in that direction, and I should like to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman who has charge of this measure that it is something he should take into consideration, that be should see that sales, and especially spurious sales, are not effected, and that the market price which this Act indicates is not unduly raised by sales which are not genuine. Then there is a further difficulty which has been alluded to by the Mover of the rejection of the Bill —the difficulty of coming to what is known as the pre-war price of land. The valuation of land in pre-war days would not toe satisfactory, because there are others besides large landowners who are concerned in this matter. There are many men whose land will be taken who are deserving of as much consideration as any of His Majesty's subjects. They are poor men. Then there is the case of the tenant 2173 to be taken into consideration. In connection with the assessment of valuation the tenant ought to be, at any rate, an important factor. This Bill does provide adequate protection for the tenant. I spoke on this subject to a farmer, and he said that there was a good deal of substance in the argument that if you take the pre-war value of the land you should take into consideration the purchasing value of money at the present time. He pointed out that before the War he could buy by selling five or six acres of his land an engine for cultivating purposes, but now it would take ten acres of land to do so. The purchasing power of money has declined to such an extent that it is worthy of some consideration. I would reject the proposal that acceptance should be had of the pre-war value of the land. In these views perhaps I am not expressing the views wholly held by the members of my party, but I am expressing them when I say that we desire that the Third Reading of this Bill should take place. The opinion and desire of the party is that they want to see the Bill passed because we believe it does something. I am not so intimately acquainted with the urban interests, but so far as agricultural land is concerned it is of the utmost importance and absolutely imperative that the Government should take the earliest possible opportunity of getting people on the land. The rejection of this Bill would delay that getting of people on to the land. On those grounds I have great pleasure not only in supporting the Bill, but in urging on the Government as far as I possibly can the necessity of proceeding with the other stages of the Bill, and of getting the machinery at work so as to get the men on the land as soon as they possibly can, and they will thereby remove serious discontent, and will do something by way of redeeming the promises made to the men who have done so much for us.
§ Mr. J. JOHNSTONE
We expected something better from the Government than this Bill. I desire to refer to the Bill from the Scottish point of view. The Housing conditions of Scotland are almost ten times worse than here, and the Housing Commission Report shows that. There are two points which bulk very largely in the housing question in Scotland. One is the compulsory acquisition of land for the erection of houses, and the other is the acquisition of that land at a fair price. I think we all very heartily 2174 welcome the compulsory powers which are now being given to the local authorities. As to the price of land, in Scotland we have the system known as the Scottish feuing system, whereby land is feud from all time or on leases of 999 years.
Those feuing charters acquire great value. My own experience on a county council has been that in small villages and towns draining and cleansing and lighting schemes have had to be undertaken and those schemes have immediately increased the value of the land. If under this Bill the feuing value is to be taken, it will be a great scandal. We have done our best to get land and could only do so at highly inflated prices even in the small villages. If the local landowner is approached for land on which to build houses he wants probably £50 an acre, and the result of that highly inflated feuing value has prevented building and the extension of works. I have known cases of people working with congested factories rather than, be penalised by paying the high prices asked for land. When I stated that the feuing value was £40 or £50 I was referring to purely agricultural land in purely country districts, and when you come near the large town the price soars up at once. I rather feel that under this Bill the valuer will be bound to recognise the highly inflated artificial value. I should have liked to have seen instructions to the valuer to take into account the agricultural value of the land. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) in what he said in regard to the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson), that when an owner of land puts a certain value on his land for rating and taxation purposes it is not inequitable that that value which he himself has put on the land should be taken as the basis of the price when the land is to be acquired. I am bound to say I fear that the Government in this great emergency, when there is such urgent need for houses for the working classes and for the acquisition of land at a fair price, have not risen to that emergency. There will be intense disappointment throughout the country that they have not brought forward an adequate Bill and dealt thoroughly and radically with the subject and put an end to the long injustice experienced by the community and the present intolerable system by grappling with the subject in a more thoroughgoing manner than they have done.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
I desire to support the Amendment. My hon. Friend who has just spoken is, like myself, a Liberal supporter of the Government. I desire to emphasise very strongly everything he has said in regard to Scotland. It had been my intention to deal with that very aspect of the case, but in view of what he has said I will not do so now. In framing my judgment in regard to this Bill I ask myself two very simple questions. I say, "Is the method under which the compensation is to be assessed under this Bill simple and inexpensive?" No, it is not. The Government, instead of availing themselves of the services of the Inland Revenue Department, or even of the Valuation Department set up under the Finance Act of 1909-10, propose to set up yet another body, which, as was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division of Belfast (Sir E. Carson), will unquestionably grow from day to day and from month to month. That is my answer to the first question. The next question I ask myself is this, "Is the basis for compensation an equitable one from the point of view of the State and of public authorities?" No, again it is not. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) has dealt very admirably with the basis for compensation as he conceives it ought to be, and I agree with every word he says, that the value at which land is assessed for rating or taxation should be the sole basis for compensation. There was an hon. Gentleman, who has now left the House, the Member for Tavistock (Lieut.-Commander Williams), who would have strengthened his case had he opened his remarks in a somewhat different way. He attacked the Member for Peebles for moving this Amendment, and said that the right hon. Gentleman only did so with a view to discrediting the Government and in order to hold up all the measures of social reform upon which the Government was embarking. I hold no brief for the right Ron. Gentleman. I do not belong to his party, but I hope the hon. Member for Tavistock, who is a new Member, will, after he has been a Member a short time longer, be willing to give a little credit for honesty of purpose to those who differ from his opinions.
There can be no question whatsoever that this Bill has been met with consider- 2176 able disappointment by vast masses of people throughout the country. Those of us who were in this House in the year 1909 remember the battles we had in those days to secure drastic measures of land reform. We were led to expect at the time of the election that the Government intended to grasp the nettle in the matter and to deal with it in an effective manner. I do not wish to refer at any length to Coalition manifestoes, but I will just extract one sentence from the Coalition manifesto issued by the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal on 22nd November, 1918, in which, referring to the acquisition of land, they said that it was proposed to acquire land on a simple and economical basis. I submit to the House that this Bill does not do that. The Government held out promises which they have not fulfilled. They held out hopes to-the country that in the matter of the acquisition of land they were going to give birth to a lion, but all that their combined efforts have been able to do is to produce a sickly little mouse. The hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Labour Benches (Mr. Royce) suggested that this Bill should be passed because from one point of view it was necessary to agricultural constituencies, and from another point of view that it was a step in the right direction; it was half a loaf, and unless the Bill was passed we should get nothing at all. I differ entirely from the hon. Gentleman. Had this Bill been taken in this House instead of being taken upstairs, there is no question but that the Government would have had to amend it in a very radical manner.
As far as I can see, one of the results of the new Government procedure of sending big Bills upstairs has been to produce reactionary measures. Members of this House are really unaware of what is going on in Committees of which they are not members. The Committees are officially reported in the Yellow Books, but they are very briefly reported in the Press, and I venture to say that the country generally has had no conception of what has been going on in the Committee on the Land Acquisition Bill, and had it been aware that a Bill of this weak nature was going to pass through the House, it would have brought such pressure to bear upon the Government that the Government must inevitably have put strengthening Amendments into the Bill. I differ entirely from the hon. Gentleman and from others who 2177 have said that this Bill ought not to be rejected. What would be the result if this House rejected the measure which is before it to-day? The Government has passed an English Housing Bill, and we have a Scottish Housing Bill which will shortly be going through another place. The land that is to be acquired for proceeding with the operations under these Bills must be acquired under a Land Acquisition Act. If this Bill be rejected, it must necessarily be the first obligation upon the Government to introduce another Bill and to pass it through Parliament with all possible speed, and I venture to say that if this Bill were rejected in this House to-day the pressure brought to bear upon the Government from the country at large, who are now aware of the weakness of this Bill, would be such that they would inevitably be compelled to introduce a Bill containing some of the provisions which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles has moved in his Amendment to-day. It is for these reasons that if the right hon. Gentleman goes to a Division he will have my most hearty support.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
I wish to add a word of protest against the passing of this Bill in its present form. we have been told that by taking such an action we are hampering the social reform programme of the Government, but I entirely dissent from that view. The only object of the Amendment is to cheapen the land which is necessary for the purpose of this housing scheme, and how it can foe said that the object of the action taken by the right hon. Gentleman is to hamper the social reform of the Government, when its only object is to facilitate it, passes my comprehension. Then we are told that half a loaf is better than no loaf, and that, owing to the small purchasing value of money at the present time, more ought to be paid for this land. When that is used as an argument for raising wages in this country, we are constantly told of that vicious circle, and it is quite true, unless we are prepared to sit down under permanent high prices such as now rule in this country, and we are to give up any hope in the future of bringing these prices down, then we cannot listen to such an argument as that. Because what does it come to? —the purchasing value of money. That, surely, is a fluctuating thing. We do not anticipate that the price of money will remain at its present high level. If we 2178 did, it would be a hopeless prospect for this country. If it does go down, and land is paid for at its present inflated value, that money which is received by the owner of the land will in future be worth a great deal more, when the price of money comes down. So that, in fact, we are, by giving the present value, giving a great advantage to the owner who happens to sell at the moment, when, owing to the exceptional conditions, the land bears an inflated price.
I think this Bill, in its present form, is the worst thing that the Government could allow to go on the Statute Book. I agree with what has been said that the country does not yet appreciate what this Bill amounts to, and that when it is properly advised of its actual nature there will be a huge reaction and revulsion against the Government. The cry now is profiteering, and the Government have determined to take most drastic steps against it. Yet hero we have in this Bill no possible check on the price at which land can be obtained. What is the check? The price that a willing buyer will pay a willing seller. That is the price which is obtained by any person profiteering under present conditions. There is no possible check in a definition of that kind. What do we see? I was looking through a list of prices at which land was obtained. I saw that in Manchester a price has been paid of £3,000 per acre. I am not quite sure how many houses per acre are provided for in the Manchester housing schemes. I am informed it is about eighteen. Let us take it at twenty. Twenty houses to an acre of land, at £3,000 per acre, comes out at £150 per house for the land alone. I do not say that is going to be a common thing, but it is an example of the present inflated value of land against which no proper provision is made in this Bill. But it is said, again, why should land be treated differently from other articles or other commodities? Why should you put a handicap on it? Why should you treat peculiarly this one item of land? I do not think I need argue to the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General as to why land stands on a different basis. I think he has on numerous occasions in his past career argued very eloquently why land stands on a different basis from other things. I would like to deal with that again in a minute or two.
2179 But what is the actual position? Is land being treated worse than other undertakings or other commodities? We find that the Government has introduced, and this House has passed, a Bent Restriction Bill. Under that Rent Restriction Bill, the amount of increase permitted is limited to 10 per cent. Everyone knows that houses have gone up in value just as much as, if not more than, land. It has been considered necessary by the Government to restrict the amount of rent, and what is the result? We find that the owners of houses are getting a very small return on their money. Why did the Government take such a step as that? Why was it considered in the interest of the community that that Bill should be passed? The reason is obvious. The reason is that the owners of these houses are not the large landed proprietors of this country, but are small people who have no organisation, who have no power to look after themselves, and, therefore, the Government considered that it was quite safe in this case to pander to the popular interest. It was quite safe in that case, whereas in the case of land, owing to the large organisation and the strength, you could not attempt it. But we need not go far to find any number of instances. The Electricity Bill has been brought in. What is the basis of the purchase of the undertakings which is provided in the Bill? With regard to municipal authorities, it is an annuity representing the amount of interest on the charges. With regard to power companies, it is the cost of the undertakings, less depreciation. There is no question there of the value of the land or of a willing seller and a willing buyer. If it is right for the Government to put in that basis in regard to the Electricity Bill, and another basis with regard to the Rent Restriction Bill, why should they treat land in this preferential manner? There can be —there must be —only one possible explanation, and that is, because of the strength and the organisation of the landed interest. At this time, when there is much said about profiteering, when there are so many causes of unrest, I think it is a very dangerous innovation of the Government to show to a special class a preferential treatment, merely because of their strength and organisation. It is not only that land is getting preferential treatment. So far from the landowner only being given what other people have, he is being given 2180 a preference, but in the case of land a very strong case can be made out why it should be treated worse, if necessary, than other undertakings. We know the reason. Personally, of course, I can frankly state my views on the land question. I look upon it from the point of view that, being a monopoly, and being a prime factor in production, it should be treated differently from other things. Those are my views, and the reasons are plain. I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General can put forth much more powerful arguments than I can as to why, on economic grounds, land should be treated separately and differently —that it is the ultimate reservoir of all wealth in this country. I think the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said, in a rather pregnant sentence, that, if you tax land, you send down the price; if you tax goods, you send up the price. And I remember the roar of laughter with which that statement was greeted. But it is a simple fact of economics. It is an absolutely true thing. The only hope of this country, I think everyone of all parties, of all shades of opinion, is agreed, is increased production. The private ownership of land, and the present system which allows of this monopoly power of the landowner to be exercised to the full, is the one thing which hampers production more than anything else.
Yet with all these schemes which are put forward, after all we have heard of the improvements we want, and of the coming better world, in the one thing which is really fundamental and goes to the root of matters —which is the one vital essential of production —we find, not only is nothing done in the way of dealing with it, but preferential treatment is given to the organisation. All the promises we have had in the past by the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman, and others as to this question —everything is scrapped ! Land taxes have been reviewed —and probably dropped ! In view of the present state of affairs, such a situation is one calling for the strongest protest by this House.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
Those of us who support the Amendment have been reproached that we are not prepared to take half a loaf; that we are prepared to wreck a Bill which admittedly contains some improvements on the present state of the law. That is open to a very complete 2181 answer. It is this, that against great forces small remedies do not produce small effects; they produce no effects at all. We in this country have been ever since I can remember tinkering at the housing question and the land question, and all that we have done, year in and year out, for the last forty years or more, is to produce practically no effect. The evils have been getting greater and greater all the time. What is the use, therefore, of the Government bringing in a measure now which continues the tinkering process and gives us some small remedies, which might have been of great use had they been given forty years ago, but are totally inadequate to deal with the position in which we are at the present day? What is that position? In this House of Commons we look at all questions from an entirely different standpoint from that of any previous House of Commons. We are here face to face with the great fact that there is a powerful movement in this country for upsetting altogether the present order of society — sweeping it away and putting an entirely new order in its place. We have to ask ourselves whether we are going to admit our impotence to cure the great evils which exist in the present order of society. If we admit that we are incapable of curing those evils, are we, then, prepared to take the consequences of seeing the present order and basis of society swept away in some great revolution and an entirely new-order put in its place?
For my part, I have no desire whatever to see revolutionary change. On that account I consider it absolutely vital for the Government to bring forward, not tinkering measures, but great, fundamental, and far-reaching measures which will really put an end to the great evils which exist in the present state of society. Nobody who seeks to defend the present state of society can honestly deny that these great evils exist. It is totally useless for any man to get up and try to proceed on those lines —on the old lines that all is fairly well in this world, and that, on the whole, people got their deserts, and those that will work will do fairly well. It is totally impossible for any man who really looks at the facts of our society as they really are to take up an optimistic position of that sort. With that background we come to deal with this Bill to facilitate the acquisition of land. Land is needed for all sorts of purposes, some 2182 within the scope of this measure, some unfortunately not within the scope of this measure —housing, small holdings, allotments, parks, open spaces, and other improvements of every sort. We are asked to accept this Bill. This. Bill will give us no doubt some advantages. It sweeps away the old 10 per cent. for compulsory purchase which had grown up under the practice of the Courts. It sweeps away those iniquities which were connoted by the phrase, "Adaptability of site,'' and some other existing things of the sort. It does not go to the root of the matter ! It still makes it certain that the cost of assessing the value of land when it is needed for public purposes will be prohibitive, and if it is prohibitive it is a danger to our society. It tends to breed discontent and revolutionary feeling. For that very reason —apart from the mere aspect of the justice of the case —it ought to be dealt with. Not only does this Bill leave it certain that heavy costs will be incurred still, but it leaves it certain that excessive prices will require to be paid. Why? Because you are going to a valuation. If a corporation or the public authority wants land and offers one penny less than the valuer eventually gives, then I think I am right in saying that under this Bill the public authority will have to pay the cost of that valuation, and those costs will be heavy costs. Therefore, every public authority will be advised —and rightly advised —from the point of view of prudence, to offer a sum distinctly more than the value of the land, in order to make it quite certain that they shall not be mulcted in cost. Any unscrupulous owner —I do not mean to say that all are —there are some, who will play upon that, and insist upon having distinctly more because they know that the local authority will be afraid of having the costs given against them.
There is only one sound principle on which we can get out of this vicious circle in regard to land. That is to establish the true value of the land, and let that be the value, whether it be for purposes of taxation or whether it be for purposes of acquisition by a public authority. I do not for one minute say that I desire to treat the owners of vested interests in land in any worse way than the owners of properly of other kinds. I do not. Personally, I regard almost all property, after all the buying and selling that has gone on over several generations, as standing morally on the same footing. I 2183 am prepared to treat the owners of land just as fairly as I desire to treat the owners of all other vested interests. But I also desire to treat the public fairly ! I am not going to bleed the public for the benefit of any vested interests whatever, if I can help it. Let me say in all solemnity that I believe the time has gone by when the public can safely be bled. The process which has gone on in this country for a hundred years of steadily bleeding the public whenever the public needed a bit of land, or the acquisition of any vested interest, for some public purpose, cannot be gone on with any longer without grave danger of revolution in this country.
So far as land is concerned —and we arc only dealing with land now —I say that the only possible way of getting rid of that danger is to establish one value, and let that value be the value which the land shall contribute to local and Imperial taxation, and also the same value on which it shall be purchased, if it is required for public purposes. At the present time you have land contributing practically nothing to local and Imperial taxation, yet if it is wanted for public purposes an enormous number of years purchase is demanded, and obtained. I believe there was one case where the Government wanted land for a gun range and they had to pay, I think it was 4,700 years' purchase. I dare say this Bill will do away with some of these gross cases. But it will not meet the matter adequately. It will not go down to the roots. It will not do away with excessive costs of valuation. It will not do away with excessive prices. That, I am certain, can only be done by having one known value on which all land shall contribute substantial sums to the public purposes in taxation, so long as it is held up at that value, and on which it will be bought when a public authority wants it. There may be cases where severance has to be paid for. Nobody wishes to do injustice to the owners. Besides the actual value of the land, if the owners or the adjoining owners suffer real damage from severance, then, of course, that ought to be paid for, and any other special form of damage must be paid for. But these are exceptional and comparatively small matters. I have an open mind on the subject as to whether the pre-war valuation is in itself adequate at the present time. I only say that we must have a valuation and it is a matter for argument whether the landlord should have the power to 2184 bring his valuation up to date from time to time. There, is a great deal to be said for the landlord valuing his own land if the same basis is to be taken for taxation and purchase.
We have all heard of the story of the boys dividing an apple —one divides and the other chooses, and, of course, the boy who divides takes care that it is equally divided. If you say to the landlord, "We shall tax the land and buy it on the valuation you place upon it," he will see that it is constantly brought up to date at the fair value of the land. In the great evils of dear land in our towns, crowded houses because land is dear, the great dearth of houses, and of outlets on the land for our returned soldiers and others, as well as the great need for open spaces and playgrounds for our children to make our towns decently habitable, you are up against an immense danger to society, and mere tinkering measures and small improvements are not going to answer your purpose, and in this way you are not going even to subserve the interests of those who happen to be in a more comfortable position in life.
We are needing 75,000 houses every year, not to make good the existing deficiency, but to prevent things going steadily to the bad. With all that has been said about housing we have not reached the point where we have overtaken the increment of the evil, much less have we begun to put matters right. One thing is absolutely necessary and that is to have cheap land, so that the houses can be built in open order with gardens, and you cannot do that upon land that costs a big price. Even at £200 an acre a garden is a large sum on to the cost of a cottage. If you divide that £200 by eight or ten to the acre, that is a big addition to the cost. You cannot build your houses in open order if land is to be held up at the high prices which the present system allows in the environs of towns.
I implore the Government to consider this point both in this and other matters of reconstruction that they have in hand. I have been desirous of seeing the Government take up these great questions of reconstruction with a bold and a strong hand. I do not look at the matter from any party point of view, and it is much too big a question for that. From a party point of view the more ineffective the action of the Government might be the 2185 better other parties might be pleased. We are not small-minded enough for that. We are living in a time of great national crisis, and if the Government come forward with small, ineffective, half, or quarter measures, then the prospect before the country is black indeed. I implore the Government with regard to this and other Bills to take their courage in both hands and to place the interests of the nation and the mass of the people above vested interests. Let them be just to vested interests, but they must be just to the nation as well, and give us such drastic and great reforms as will enable us to weather this great national crisis without disaster.
§ Mr. WALLACE
I am one of those who on the First Reading voted in favour of this Bill in the hope that it would be so amended in Committee and on Report that it would command general acceptance in the House. That hope, however, has not been realised, and in my judgment the Government, in dealing with the acquisition of land, have missed a great opportunity. I am sure that this Bill as it stands will satisfy neither the conscience of the House of Commons nor the aspirations of the country, who at this time expect this question to be dealt with in a wholly different way. We are at the beginning of a great scheme of national reconstruction, and the housing question is the very foundation of that scheme. Consider how urgent the question is, and the agony through which the country has passed during the last five years. There is acute and growing unrest in the ranks of labour, and we had a right to except that the Government would have dealt with this subject in a courageous way. The land question lies at the very root of the housing problem and the whole of our future industrial prosperity.
What had we a right to expect from His Majesty's Government in a matter of this kind? We expected two things. First in the acquisition of land the Government considerations ought to have been that the land should be bought at a reasonable cost; and secondly, in its purchase that the least expensive machinery should have been employed. What is a reasonable cost? I am one of those who have held for many years that an the acquiring of land for public purposes the same valuation should hold good for purchase as for rating and assessment purposes. Of course, on 2186 this subject I only possess a lay mind, and L am not an expert on the land question. I look at the question from the business side, and that is the conclusion I have arrived at. I have listened closely to the Debate, and I was more than pleased when, about two weeks ago, we had a most distinguished legal opinion given to the House in support of the view we now advance, I was gratified when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) stated in this House that he took the very view advocated in this Amendment. He said:The proper tribunal is the taxing tribunal, for very obvious reasons. The owner has no right to have a less market value assessed for the purpose of taxation than for the purpose of sale, and what we really want to get is the same standard.I was greatly gratified to hear that from my right hon. and learned Friend. I prefer to render his quotation in these words: "The owner of land has no right to have a higher market value assessed for the sale of land for public purposes than the value at which it has been assessed for the purposes of taxation." That is our whole case, and had this principle been embodied in the Bill, or had it been recognised by Governments in past years, the acceptance of this Bill would have been a very simple matter to-day. It may be contended that to acquire land upon that basis would be an arbitrary interference with the rights of private property. I wonder if the Government realise that this transition period during which we are now passing is almost as serious, if not more serious, than the time of actual war itself. What did the Government do during the War on this very housing question? It has been pointed out already by an hon. Member who spoke not long ago that they did not recognise the right of an owner of house property to fix his own rental. The owner of that property might have contended that he was entitled to the market value or rental value of his property, but that right was put on one side, and rightly put on one side, for the time being. He might have contended that in the letting of his property he was entitled to the market value as between a willing lessor and a willing lessee, but the Government declined to admit that right.
When it comes to a question of dealing with land, however, these old figures of a willing seller and a willing buyer still 2187 lurk in the background, and the willing seller in this case will get the full inflated value which has come about as the result of the War. It is unfortunate that the Government have not taken a wider view of this very important subject, especially in the circumstances in which we find ourselves to-day. I suggest that the Government also should have made it their business to have employed a less expensive form of machinery, but that subject has been dealt with so well by my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) that I shall leave it where it is. I regret the introduction of the new valuers, because I think the existing machinery is quite competent to deal with this whole question on a fair and equitable basis. It is a matter of great regret to me that the machinery which was brought into existence by the 1909–10 Budget is not to be used for the new valuation. I never admired the Prime Minister more than when he entered upon that great land campaign, and it is a matter of great regret to us that the work that he did then is simply to be thrown to the winds. The promised land of which he spoke, and to which the people were looking forward at that time, is still for all practical purposes the "promised" land. We have got no further than the promise.
It has been contended from one or two parts of this House that in compensating soldiers who have been broken and disabled in the War and the relatives of those who have fallen, the earnings of 1913–14 should be taken as the basis. I only wish that the same method had been introduced in valuing the land. Having regard to the state of the country at the present time and the gigantic interests involved, the Government then would not only have introduced a measure more acceptable to this House, but also one which would have satisfied the country. This is one of the most important matters which could possibly come before the House, and in a matter which so closely concerns the well-being, the health, and the future prosperity of the country, the Government have not shown either that courage or vision which we had a right to expect from them.
§ Major HAYWARD
I wish to add my voice to the almost unanimous chorus of approval of the Amendment which has been moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean). 2188 As a matter of fact, there have been only two speeches made in favour of the Bill up to the present in this Debate. The hon. Member for Tavistock (Lieut.-Commander Williams), who made the first speech in favour of the Bill, rather depreciated the whole of the subsequent testimony in favour of it by an entirely unwarranted attack upon the hon. Members who are supporting this Amendment. He told us that we were merely opposing this Bill because we were opposing everything that the Government did, and that we wished to prevent the Government from carrying out their great work of reconstruction. I noticed that that observation was received with a great deal of approval by some hon. Gentlemen. I wonder if those hon. Gentlemen remember the history of the Bill of which we passed the Third Reading yesterday. If they do, they will know that the Government was not only supported all the way through by Members of the Labour party, and by members of the party with which I am associated, but that we were whipped up constantly to come to the aid of the Government to protect them from attacks made by hon. Members like the hon. Member for Tavistock, and those who have expressed their approval of his sentiments. A very remarkable speech was made, as I understand, on behalf of the Labour party, by the hon. Member for the Holland and Boston Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Royce). If the sentiments expressed by him did, as a matter of fact, represent the views of the Labour party on this matter, then they will have to look to their laurels if they wish to be considered the proper exponents of progressive opinion in this country. They are being overrun and overtaken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division of Belfast (Sir E. Carson) and his followers. He at least has appreciated and properly sensed the genius and spirit of the new age.
If this Bill is to be considered as an Amendment to the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, then I readily admit that it is a considerable advance upon the old law and procedure relating to the acquisition of land. That admission is not at all inconsistent with the attitude which we take up in supporting this Amendment. Our attitude is to show out disappointment that the Government are dealing with this whole land question in this very emasculated and 2189 ansæmic fashion. We had, as has been said again and again, every reason to hope that the Government was going very much further. Immediately the Government outlined their first great schemes of social reform and reconstruction we all recognised that the value of that reconstruction work was going to depend almost entirely upon their attitude towards the land question, and upon how they were going to deal with that question. That opinion was shared by other hon. Members, in this House, who are by no means tainted with that spirit of opposition to the Government which it is suggested taints us. Take the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mr. Leslie Scott). He speaks with very great authority on, this matter, and, in addition to having a very judicial view, I think every Member in this House will agree that upon this question he has endeavoured to express a very fair view. On the Second Reading of this Bill he put down an Amendment. I do not know whether hon. Members will accuse him of wishing to upset the reconstruction work of the Government, but on the Second Reading he proposed that this Bill should not be gone on with, and I will give his reason. His reason was that it falsified the hopes held out by the present Government at the General Election of a great scheme of land reform. That is the opinion of the hon. and learned Member, and that is our real attitude towards this Bill and our real objection to it. It has been given out —I believe it was by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) —that this is part of the Government's great scheme of reconstruction. All I can say is that it is but a very poor edifice which can be built upon a foundation of this kind. At the General Election we were promised a new heaven and a new earth. The Prime Minister afterwards qualified that by saying he did not promise it by, I think it was, the 15th March; but if this is intended as a first instalment, all I can say it that as a contribution to Paradise it is a very poor thing indeed. In addition to the other reasons put forward by other hon. Members, I have one very great and real objection to this Bill, and it is that it perpetuates the land system which gives to landowners increment in land values created by the community. The hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool —who, let it be remembered, has again and again expressed 2190 opinions against confiscation —nevertheless, on the Second Reading of this Bill did say this:Where the property is improved in value by the construction of public works of one sort or another in a district, as very often happens, under the present law a large present of value is made to the owner of the land so benefited. The country, the local authority, the railway company, or whoever it may be who has constructed the undertaking which gives the benefit, at present gets nothing out of the improved value. It is a windfall, a present, to those who are so benefited. I ask why should that present be made? Why should not the community or why should not the promoters have the benefit of some of that pecuniary advantage they are bringing in their train?That is the doctrine of betterment as laid down by the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division, and it is a doctrine which has his full approval. The whole doctrine of increment in value in land is practically summed up in those observations of the hon. and learned Member. What is all increment in value in the case of land, with a few exceptions, but increment which has been created by the community, and which, therefore, according to the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division, ought to belong to the community? And it is because this Bill does nothing whatever to obtain that increment for the community that I object to it. Of course I quite understand that what I have said is open to the reply that this Bill does not deal with the question of increment at all, but deals with the question of land acquisition. I should like to ask the learned Attorney-General —I do not know whether I shall get any answer —but I should like to ask him, because it makes a great deal of difference, Does this Bill, or does it not, represent the whole of the land policy of the Government 2 Are they, in addition to this, going to deal with these questions of increment? If so, hon. Members will appreciate that it makes all the difference in the world. If it is to be dealt with merely as a Land Acquisition Bill, and the Government intend later on to bring in a measure which will really secure for the community the increment created by it, then a very great deal of my opposition will be gone. If they are not going to do that, my objection will remain much as it is. My last word is this. The nation is undoubtedly ripe for reform. The common sacrifices engendered in the War have-made people of all classes quite ready and willing to make any sacrifices in order to carry out this work of reconstruction on 2191 perfectly sound lines. But the deplorable tiling about such a Bill as this, if it does represent the whole of the Government policy upon land, is that it is mortgaging that asset of immeasuraable value without getting anything like the value out of it that we should have.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I think that without many words I can conclude, as far as the Government is concerned, the discussion upon this stage of this Bill. Whatver may be thought of the merits or demerits of the Bill, one thing, at any rate, is plain. It has been discussed at great length and in the most minute detail not only in this House, but on the various days during which it occupied the attention of the Committee upstairs. So far as I know, no new point has been introduced in the Debate upon the Third Reading that is different from the points which have already been discussed, either upon the Second Reading or in Committee, or on Report, or, as is the case with many of them, at all three of those stages. I, therefore, desire, as far as I can, to address myself to the main points which have been not so much raised as reiterated in the course of this afternoon's discussion. If misunderstanding there be as to the scope and purpose of this Bill, that misunderstanding is by no means due to those who have had the task of explaining it on behalf of the Government. Even at this eleventh hour, if I may judge from the speech of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Raffan), there is an incurable desire to represent this Bill as being something totally different from what it is, and as aiming at a goal totally different from its real goal. He said, and he said with indignation, that this Bill professed to give, and did not really give, public authorities opportunities of acquiring land. It does not, and that was one of the very earliest things I explained in introducing this Bill. Let us see what the simple scheme and purpose of the Bill really are. It gives nobody power, where power docs not already exist or is not in the future otherwise given, to acquire land. What it does is to provide, where compulsory power to acquire land exists or is hereafter given, the machinery by which the price is to be determined.
Observe also it is not in every case that this Bill provides that machinery. It provides the machinery only in cases of dispute. We believe that no small result 2192 of this Bill will be to reduce the number of disputes. Certainly the Bill will take away from the vendor whatever expectation he may hitherto have been able to indulge of fighting for a price which he knows to be excessive in circumstances in which he is assured that he will not have to pay the costs. All that has gone. We have got rid of the 10 per cent. and of any per cent. for compulsory purchase. We have got rid of the cumbrous and costly machinery of an umpire and two arbitrators. What we propose in, I should hope, the comparatively few cases in which a dispute will nevertheless survive is to bring to those disputes the services of whole-time official valuers. But let me add this further observation: not only does the Bill deal only with disputes which remain; it deliberately contemplates that, in certain of the disputes, if the parties agree to arbitration, that the arbitration, if they so desire, shall be at the hands of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. What were the two points upon which my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles based his speech and has, indeed, framed his Amendment? He says two things which are not quite the same. He says, first of all, if I may refer to the words of the Amendment, that the Billsets up an unnecessary and expensive staff of valuers.It sets up a small staff of valuers, at maximum salaries of which the House is aware. Can they be said to be excessive, and is it to be said that they are unnecessary? My submission to the House is that for the disputes that will remain when negotiation has failed, when attempts which are made to refer the matter to arbitration have not succeeded, some tribunal is necessary. It is quite unreal to conduct the discussion, as my right hon. Friend and some of his supporters have shown a disposition to do, upon the assumption that if it were not for this Bill you could arrive at the value of the land to be acquired even in a case of dispute without any tribunal at all. The hon. Member for the Leigh Division seems to be shocked at the notion that in a case of dispute we were maintaining the right to hear evidence. He seemed to be honestly appalled at the notion that in determining the value of a man's land which was to be taken by the State or by a local authority we should retain such a process as the taking of evidence.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
What I pointed out was that if you adopt the principle laid down by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson) it would be unnecessary in ninety-nine cases out of 100.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I am coming to that point in a moment. If dispute there really be, I do not think the hon. Member will find many Members of this House who support the view that it is repugnant to natural justice to hear evidence on the one side and the other.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Then I must have misunderstood. What is the second and, J cannot help thinking, the real object of this Amendment and of this argument? It is that the Bill fails, because it does not say that the value at which the land is taxed must also be the value at which its price on purchase shall be assessed. If I may refer to the two speeches which were mainly directed to that end, my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles said that the sole basis for the ascertainment of the purchase price in these disputed cases ought to be the amount at which the land is assessed for rating or taxation. That proposition in those terms was supported by an hon. and gallant Member from below the Gangway, and the hon. Member for the Leigh Division said he agreed with what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles. He went on to say in the later part of his speech that what we ought to do, that the great function of the Government and the House in this matter, was to ascertain the true value, and then, having ascertained it, to employ it indifferently, both for purposes of taxation and for purposes of purchase. It must be quite obvious to my right hon. Friend that what he proposes, whatever else may be said of it, is something which is to be accomplished in the future. Nobody suggests that upon the materials we now have you can say you have a value which can be used indifferently for the one purpose or for the other. Reference has been made to the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson). What he desiderated was a process to be carried out and accomplished in the future. It is part of the complaint today, of the hon. Member for Leigh, that there is one figure for certain purposes of taxation, and then, if it comes to pur- 2194 chase, a quite different figure is put forward. Does he really suggest that in all cases the figure for taxation is the true figure? Does he then desire that in any case of purchase, although the figure for taxation or for rating does not represent the true capital value, that nevertheless shall be deemed to be the true value where the land is being acquired? See how unfairly it would work. My right hon. Friend speaks as if the matter were quite simple and as if we could speak in one moment of assessment for rating and in another moment of assessment for taxation and that you have the same precise quantity in the one case and the other, and you are to say, as things stand now — not as they may stand under a different system of rating and a different system of taxation —that is the true figure at which the land may be compulsorily acquired.
Surely the right hon. Gentleman is well aware that for those purposes there are different figures and different methods of computation. Take, for example, rating. What is the problem in rating? It is not to ascertain the capital value of the hereditament; it is to ascertain the rent which the hypothetical tenant from year to year would pay. What is the problem in regard to Income Tax? It is to find the actual annual value —that is, the yield of the land for whatever purpose it may in fact be employed. It may well be that neither of those two figures, accurate though they were for the purpose for which they were tendered and accepted, would be the slightest index to the true capital value of the land. It does not end there. There is also a valuation for Death Duties. Is it to be said that that is the figure? In that case there is a controversy, as my right hon. Friend knows, between the executors on the one hand and the taxing authority on the other. The executors say it ought to be the price at a forced sale. The taxing authorities say it ought to be the true value. What remains is the land valuation return —a figure which is not constant. If that is the figure upon which my right hon. Friend relies, it is, or ought to be, arrived at in precisely the same way as the figure which is prescribed by this Bill. In other words, the function of those who make that calculation, if it is accurately carried out, is precisely to ascertain the amount which the land, if sold in the open market by a willing seller, might be expected to realise. The proposition I put before the House, therefore, is that in saying that 2195 this figure ought to be the basis of the purchase price —nay, ought to be the very purchase price itself —my hon. Friends are falling into at least two errors. They are first of all assuming gratuitously that there is one such figure when there are many; and secondly, they are assuming that that figure would be the true figure representing the capital value.
We may well agree with the argument adduced by my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson) that it would be well if by some machinery you could ascertain, in the case of every piece of land, what is the true value, and having ascertained it, employ it for the one purpose and the other. But that elaborate inquiry remains still to be undertaken, and it would be quite improper, as things now stand, to take figures arrived at upon a different system for a different purpose and say those figures are conclusive for the capital value. Under the Bill there is no difficulty about making those figures evidence. It may be that in a particular case those figures and the figure of the true value will coincide; in others it will not. It was said that was a grudging admission. I do not think my right hon. Friend really meant it. He knows very well that in the early stages of this Bill it was part of the argument that I put forward that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue might have the matter referred to a valuer. I agreed that it should be made more plain, and more plain it has been made. What is left? If my right hon. Friend had his way, according to the Paper, if not according to his mind, this Bill would now be rejected. What is to follow? One hon. Member said, "It would be our first duty to bring in another Bill," but exactly the same argument might be employed in regard to that Bill, and the task would be relegated ad infinitum, and in the meantime those persons who have their land taken by a Government Department or a public authority under compulsory powers would be relegated to the cumbrous machinery of the Lands Clauses Act, 1845. The hon. Member (Mr. Raffan) thought it right to say that we had found our task impossible because the task to which we had addressed ourselves was that of endeavouring to supply the public need without attacking vested interests. No travesty could be more complete. The task which we had in fact addressed ourselves to is the simpler, the more attractive, the more honest task of doing justice 2196 to the public all round, whether they be purchasers on the one hand or vendors. I have listened in vain for any contention which will destroy or in the smallest degree subtract from my view, to which I adhere, that if you are taking a man's land the fair price to pay is the market price. This Debate has continued for a considerable time. We have had a reiteration of every main point which was raised on every one of the preceding stages, and I hope without further delay the House may think it right to bring the matter to a conclusion.
Mr. T. THOMSON
I wish on behalf of the industrial constituency which I represent, and which feels that it is exceedingly handicapped in this work of social reform, to voice the protest that I know it wishes to be made, irrespective of political parties, against what it considers the inadequacy of this Bill. I hold in my hand a letter from the Town Clerk of the borough and the council, the majority of whose members are on opposite political platforms to myself, and they have passed this resolution:That in our opinion the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Bill now before Parliament are inadequate for local authorities to acquire land for public purposes, and it therefore urges upon Parliament the introduction of legislation to enable local authorities to acquire land for public purposes at a price based on the assessment for rating purposes.The practical experience of urban authorities throughout the length and breadth of the country is that the price paid is not a just price —not just to the municipality, and not just to the people, who, have to have houses built on smaller space, cramped and confined, because of the unearned increment value which has to go to the landlord. I appeal most earnestly to the Government that this should not be their last word on this question and that there is throughout the length and breadth of the country, irrespective of political opinion, very strong feeling in urban centres that the land question must be dealt with on drastic lines, and that just in the same way as they have prevented the small landowner, by the Restriction of Rent Act, making profits out of the needs of the country, in the same way in their Housing Bill, in the same drastic terms, they should deal with the landlord who, on the outskirts of a town, whether he be a small tradesman holding up land for a rise or a big landlord, so that the needs of the community have not to suffer because of the unearned increment paid to the indi- 2197 vidual which retards the development of the social well-being of the country. If fifty years ago we had only been able to take the land on the outskirts of towns and plan our houses, gardens, playgrounds and all the amenities of life, we should not have had an infantile mortality of 148 per 1,000 births, and a death rate of 27 or 28 per 1,000, on account of the slums in our large towns. It is because we feel that we have this land question against us as an incubus on every effort at social reform that we plead with the Government, for the sake of the generations to come, that for the next fifty years people shall have a chance of growing up in something better than the small squalid surroundings that we have now. I appeal to the Government that this should not be their last word on the land question, but that they should see that the cities of the future may be homes worthy of the name.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I am reluctantly going to vote against the Third Reading. I am profoundly disappointed with the Attorney-General's speech. He distinctly told us on the Second Reading that he would take into favourable consideration certain Amendments which would improve the Bill. He has not done that. I suppose he has had his orders, and has had to stick to his brief. Whether we get a better Bill or not, at any rate this Bill is not much better than we have on the Statute Book already. I am interested, naturally, in land settlement for soldiers. The Small Holdings Act provides that when a county council cannot obtain land by voluntary means a single arbitrator shall be appointed. That is all that this Bill does. Nothing more. The only difference so far as I can see between this Bill and the Small Holdings Act which we passed in 1908 is that in one case the valuer is a part-time man who is appointed for that particular job by the Board of Agriculture, and in this case he will be a servant of the State. That may make a slight difference, but it is so slight that the argument which the Attorney-General used this afternoon convinced me that he has not grasped the fundamental position. Public authorities are now going to go into the market in our agricultural districts and are going to give war prices for land. There is no doubt about that. If the conditions in this country were normal there would not be so much to say against this Bill, but the 2198 conditions are not normal. What has mad them abnormal? Very largely the action of the Government. The Government are responsible for the large increase in the selling value of agricultural land to-day. Take the question of potatoes. They guaranteed £7 a ton to the farmers for potatoes, and said," We will take your potatoes whatever they are, even if they are bad, at £7 a ton. The result has been that many farmers have been making £70 to £80 an acre for their potatoes. The Government decided the other day that they would decontrol fruit. I am interested in fruit-growing, and I went down to my farm the other day and found that I was getting a shilling a pound on the spot for raspberries, or £112 per ton. I was glad to sell them last year at £60 a ton.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Has this anything to do with the Bill? The Bill does not deal with raspberries, but with the question of the machinery by which you can purchase land.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
It does a great deal more than that. It is not a question of machinery only; it is the price we are to give. We are to give the present market price, and I say the present market price is a war price. There was a land sale in my district last week. It was the fourth sale in connection with the Trafford Estate. This estate is a very large estate in the Eastern Counties and they have had four sales, one in 1916, one in 1917, one last year, and another this year. They put their best land into the market first. Last Thursday 877 acres of land was sold, and although it was not up to the standard of quality of the land at the other sales bidding was keen, and the price averaged £90 an acre. That is for agricultural land. In 1916 the Trafford trustees made an average price of £43 per acre for their best land. In 1917 they secured £75 an acre,. and this year they have obtained £90 an acre. Here you have land which is being sold in the open market, and which owing to the action of the Government has doubled in value in three years. Yet the Attorney-General asks the local authorities to go into the market and buy land at these war prices You are going to have a gigantic system of profiteering under this Bill. This is a bad Bill. It will cost the country millions of money, which will be thrown away, and there was no necessity for it. I do not believe we should 2199 have been asked to pass such a Bill if the Prime Minister had been present with us, but when the cat is away the mice play, and that it what has happened in this case.
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ The House divided: Ayes. 166; Noes, 18.2199
|Division No. 68.]||AYES.||[3.0 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gilmour, Lieut. Colonel John||Parry, Major Thomas Henry|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Glyn, Major R.||Pearce, Sir William|
|Ainsworth, Capt. C.||Grant, James Augustus||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. L. C. M. S.||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Perring, William George|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Greig, Col. James William||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic, Loughboro')||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Guinness, Capt. Hon. R. (Southend)||Pratt, John William|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Guinness, Lt-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hailwood, A.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hanson, Sir Charles||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Henderson, Major V. L.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peckham)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Robinson. T. (Stretford, Lancs.)|
|Bowles, Col. H. F.||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Rogers, Sir Hallewell|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. W. E.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)||Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Howard, Major S. G.||Rowlands, James|
|Briggs, Harold||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hurd, P. A.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Brotherton, Col. Sir E. A.||Hurst, Major G. B.||Simm, Colonel M. T.|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Inskip, T. W. H.||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Bruton, Sir J.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Smithers, Alfred W.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir W. J.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||King, Commander Douglas||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Larmor, Sir J.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Clough, R.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Colvin, Brig.- Gen. R. B.||Lloyd, George Butler||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Townley, Maximilan G.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Lorden, John William||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Univ.)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Craig, Col, Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Lowther, Col. C. (Lonsdale, Lancs.)||Vickers, D.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Donald, Dr. B. F. P. (Wallasey)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Mackinder, Halford J.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Manville, Edward||Weigall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Mason, Robert||Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.|
|Dockrell, Sir M.||Mitchell, William Lane-||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Whitla, Sir William|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Morison, T. B. (Inverness)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Mosley, Oswald||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Nall, Major Joseph||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Neal, Arthur||Younger, Sir George|
|Foxcroft, Captain C.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)|
|Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Oman, C. W. C.||F. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Cambridge)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wallace, J.|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Holmes, J. S.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Johnstone, J.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Mr. Hogge and Mr. G. Thorne.|
Bill read the third time, and passed