§ In assessing compensation, an official valuer shall act in accordance with the following rules:
- (1) No allowance shall be made on account of the acquisition being compulsory:
- (2) The value of land shall, subject as here in after provided, be taken to be the amount which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller might be expected to realise:
- (3) The special suitability or adaptability of the land for any purpose shall not be taken into account if that purpose is a purpose to which it could be applied only in pursuance of statutory powers, or for which there is no market apart from the special needs of a particular purchaser:
- (4) Where the value of the land is increased by reason of the use thereof or of any premises thereon in a manner which could be restrained by any Court, or is contrary to law, or is detrimental to the health of
237 the inmates of the premises or to the public health, the amount of that increase shall not be taken into account:
- (5) Where land is, and but for the compulsory acquisition would continue to be, devoted to a purpose of such a nature that there is no general demand or market for land for that purpose, the compensation may, if the official valuer is satisfied that reinstatement in some other place is bonâ fide intended, be assessed on the basis of the reasonable cost of equivalent reinstatement.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (2).
It is quite evident that this Sub-section means that these valuers are to give what I may call the war-time price for land, and to that I very strongly object. I have watched the agricultural land market very closely, and there has been an upward tendency during the whole of the War, and in those parts where we want land for settlement the value, owing to the War, has gone up from 50 to 70 or 80 per cent. It would be disastrous to put in black and white in the Bill that the official valuers are to give the present market price for land. I am certain that when things settle down after the War the price of agricultural land will not be maintained. It has been created purely artificially by the Corn Production Act, which we wisely put upon the Statute Book to meet a war emergency. The county councils are already buying land by agreement up and down the country.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I have gone carefully into that. My memory goes back to 1868, when I was ten years of age, and I remember my father buying land, and right away on to 1874. I have looked up the old sale prices of those days and we have now gone far beyond any price that was paid in 1874 in my particular district. It is a very large and important district, and one in which the county councils are buying land. It is the same in Lincolnshire and parts of Norfolk. The land is being bought under voluntary arrangement, with which this House cannot interfere, and it is going to be a very great loss to the State. I have figures, which cannot be disputed, that in one case there is going to be a loss of £500 a year, and the council will only be able to settle six or eight men upon it. That means that the £20,000,000 which the Government has voted for this purpose will not go any 238 way at all. Therefore I do not want to see it in black and white in this Bill that these official valuers are to give the present market price. I would rather leave it open to them altogether as business men, and they will, no doubt, be extremely competent men. I would very much rather leave myself in their hands—I am now talking on behalf of the State—than tie them down to give the present war price for land.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. C. WHITE
I have had some experience of local authorities for the past twenty-five years, and I can support all that has been said by the hon. Member who has just sat down. With regard to the price of land in the market that is being sold to-day, I have particulars of a rather striking instance of the way in which the land gets to the inflated price that it is now fetching in the market. In the Bill there is reference made to "a willing seller and a willing buyer." I will give one instance of what this means. In my county of Derbyshire one of the largest landowners sent out to a tenant some time ago a letter stating that the land held by the tenant would be re-valued with a view to increasing the rent. The land was revalued and a letter was sent out subsequently by the landowner's agent saying that the rent which was formerly £90 a year would now be £130. In this particular instance the tenant did not agree to pay the rent. I have a copy of the letter here, and I will give names if it is required. I have the whole of the correspondence. This procedure was followed by this landowner in regard to practically all his estate, and the tenants thinking that they would make certain of remaining on the holding which they had done so much to improve in many cases agreed to pay the increased rent, which amounted to 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. Immediately afterwards this land was put up at auction, and it was sold on the basis of the rent which the tenant in order to keep his home together had agreed to pay. As a consequence this land, when it was put up at auction, fetched an amount which will necessitate the raising of the rent by another 50 per cent., even to pay 5 per cent. interest on the money. That is because we have in Derbyshire a speculator. That is not altogether new or altogether confined to Derbyshire. He is now going through Derbyshire giving very inflated prices for land which is badly needed for housing purposes You have not all the slums in 239 the large towns. There are many cottages in the villages that certainly are not fit to live in. I want to know whether this case would be looked upon in the terms of the Clause in the Bill as to a willing buyer and a willing seller. I suppose it would. If so I want to know whether the price of this land is likely to be maintained in the years to come, or is it likely to be lowered in value. I suppose it is in consequence of the high price of agricultural produce during the past two or three years. We hear a great deal in this House about the stability of agriculture; yet it has been thought necessary by these landowners who are so solicitous for the welfare of their tenants to raise their rents 50 per cent., and then put the land in the open market and sell it to speculators who come along.
I heard the hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) say recently that the landowners of this country were not holding up land at all. I can speak for the rural districts to some extent, because I have not been out of office of some sort or other for some twenty-five years, except for a very short time. It may be true that they have not held up any land. Shall I tell him why? Because the rural district councils are largely composed of landowners. Therefore, owning villages, as they do in many cases, they do not want any interference by any authorities who represent, or should represent, the public. I want to know what has brought about these inflated prices which are now being obtained for land in my own county, as in many others. I think it is characteristic of the whole country. I am supporting this Amendment because surely the selling value should be determined to some extent by the taxable value or the rateable value. In this respect I wish to substantiate the statements that have been made to-day with respect to the bias that there will be on the part of the valuers towards the landowner. The valuers have had very little to do with anyone else but landowners. It has been their business, and they have been biassed in their favour, as I can prove by my experience on the county council. Not long ago the Derbyshire County Council, of which I am a member, purchased some land from another member of the county council. I forget the price, but it was such a price that it was impossible to let the smallholders get on the land unless he paid double the rent paid by a man on the 240 other side of the road for land from a private owner. Here was one member of the county council selling land to his fellow members of the county council. What happened? These restrictions were put on the land: that he must reserve to himself the right to fish, to hunt, to course, and to preserve game. At last I asked what was there left but a bit of grass for the smallholder. The chairman said he thought it was very wrong of Mr. White to refuse to the Baronet—the right hon. Baronet I suppose he would be called here—to enjoy his pleasure. I said, "I am thinking something about the smallholder, and not only about the smallholder but about the State which has to find the balance of this money so that we can obtain land for the heroes who are to come back to live upon it." I support this Amendment because I am certain that if you leave this Sub-section in with the inflated market values which have been brought about by no effort of the owner, but very largely by the public bringing houses and munition works into closer proximity to the land, we shall have to pay very heavily.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The hon. Member who has just spoken has wandered very far from this particular section. He has given us a dissertation on the whole land question. but that is not the subject on which we are engaged at present. The sole question is what is to be the standard you are to pay for compensation. I have thought this over myself very often, and I never can find out what other standard we can set up than the market standard. If we leave the market standard what standard are we to set up? What are your values going to be if you depart from the market standard. The hon. Member opposite (Sir R. Winfrey) says, "Leave it to the valuer." Could anything be more unfair or more absurd? The valuer is to come in and the valuer will be what the hon. Member who has just spoken describes as biassed in favour of the landowner. You are to leave it to him.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The only alternative which the Mover of the Amendment has is to leave it to the valuers; leave it to the man who is biassed in favour of the landlord. Why leave it to a man who is biassed in favour of anybody You must set up a standard. The moment you get away from the market standard you may have a man coming in and saying, "I will give £100 an acre," or you may have a man coming and saying, "I will give £5 an acre." That is what the hon. Member would call justice and fair play. That is what he would call the whim of the valuer. If he will think it out he will see that you must have some standard. If he would move an Amendment that the standard be 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. below the present market value, I could follow his argument, or if he said that it should be according to the market value in 1914, before the War, I could understand that. That is the way in which the Government have dealt with the railways in guaranteeing their revenue. The moment you get away from market standard you are in chaos; you have nothing else to go on. A judge once said to me, when I was arguing an Act of Parliament before him, "You may be right upon the Act, but I put it to you now as a matter of common sense.'' I said, "Now, my lord, you have put me in a great difficulty, because I have to set up a standard. Is it to be your lordship's or is to be mine"? There is no answer to that. When you get away from the market value you really do not know where you are. You have the whim of a particular man, and nothing could be worse and nothing could be more opposite to our ideas of justice. Before the Government make any concessions—and I hope they will not do on this matter—I trust they will be able to suggest what I have never been able to suggest, and that is some way of valuing property in which you leave out the market value, whether it be land or anything else. I think you will always find yourselves in a difficulty. If there is inflated value at the present moment, this is not the way to deal with it. If the market value tumbles down, as the hon. Member (Sir R. Winfrey) says, when the War is out of the arena, well, then, the landowner will have to bear that, and he will only get the reduced value. The hon. Member who has just spoken said that he would have value for this purpose as he would for taxation.
242 Does he know that for taxation the value is market value? That is what happens in Death Duties.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I am quite willing that that should be so, but I am only pointing out that when you say you should have the same rule under the Act of Parliament as for taxation, that is exactly what this Bill does. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend will not accept this.
§ Sir G. HEWART
This is an Amendment which we cannot accept, and after the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson) there remains very little for me to add. Once you depart from market value you find yourself on a sea which has no shore. Those who support this Amendment seem to assume that this is a temporary measure, and that because for temporary reasons the market price of land has gone up, this Bill ought to provide for some subtraction or diminution of the market price. But this Bill is not for a short or for a particular period, and if the market price of land falls the Government or the local authority making the purchase will have the advantage, and it cannot be right that there should be an advantage derived from the fall of price if the purchaser of land, like the purchaser of other commodities, is not also to suffer from a rise.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I hope that my right hon. Friend who moved this Amendment will not press it to a Division, because I agree entirely with my right hon. and learned Friend. I do not see how you can have a valuation without some basis of valuation, and the House is rather in a difficulty in this discussion because there are three other Amendments, including one standing in my name, all of which are raised in this general discussion, and at the same time some of us feel that it would hardly be practicable to come to a decision on this Amendment, and I would suggest to those who support it that they might be satisfied with the discussion which they have already had and allow us to proceed to the more practicable Amendments which are on the Paper.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Captain BAGLEY
I beg to move, to leave out the wordsthe amount which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller might be expected to realise243 and to insert instead thereof the words,the sum of—I rise with a certain amount of trepidation, because I have not ventured to address the House before, and, therefore, I ask for the indulgence which is usually accorded to Members in my position. I rejoice, however, to have heard within the last few minutes that the Amendment down in my name is one which, at any rate, raises some practical considerations, which according to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn, can be discussed, in contrast to the Amendment which we have been discussing and which to me, as a new Member, seemed to be very much in the air. It has been said in the discussion this afternoon that this Bill deals only with land that is acquired compulsorily, and, therefore, that the greater number of transactions in land which is acquired by public or local authorities will not be affected by this Bill, since it is only brought into play when the two parties cannot come to an agreement. That argument seems to me a trifle disingenuous, because, broadly speaking, every voluntary agreement as to the purchase of land will be regulated by the provisions of this Bill. The price which a public authority or a local authority will offer to a landowner and the price which a prospective seller of land will agree to receive will always be regulated by a calculation at the back of their minds, as to the price which on a last resort to appeal, on compulsion being employed, would be awarded in that particular transaction. Therefore, the Bill in its terms will govern, will set a limit to what the Deputy-Minister of Munitions yesterday described as the natural human rapacity of either side. Therefore, since this Bill will regulate the general price to be paid for the whole of the land to be acquired by pubic authorities, whether voluntarily or by compulsion, Members of this House to-day are taking a decision 244 which will involve the expenditure of hundreds of millions of the taxpayers' money.
- (a) the amount which the land might have been expected to realise during the month of June, nineteen hundred and fourteen, if it had been sold in the open market by a willing seller; and
- (b) the amount which, if the land were sold in the open market, a buyer might be expected to pay solely on account of any improvement directly attributable to work or expenditure upon that land since June, nineteen hundred and fourteen, the cost of which has been borne by claimant; and
- (c) any excess of duty or taxation already paid by the claimant on account of the land having been assessed or valued at a higher amount than the sum of (a) and (b)."
It is quite evident to those who have been present at this Debate that the question of the price which we are going to pay for this land for public purposes is the one great question exercising the minds of Members on all sides of the House. Land is wanted for public purposes, and the success or failure of many reconstruction schemes already before the country, and many which are contemplated, will depend upon the price which we have got to pay for the land which is required in connection with those schemes. That is a question which is uppermost in the minds of Members, and I have heard on all sides of the House appeals to the Government to grasp the nettle and deal with this question so as to make it possible to acquire land at what is called a reasonable price. This Bill does define a basis of value to be charged for land required for public purposes. That basis of value is the full market value. It is very clear that it is the desire of the Government to preserve in this Bill the right to every seller of land to get the full current market value for the land which is compulsorily acquired by the public authorities. I should be the last person to criticise or want to interfere with the operation of such a principle if we had not just had five years of war and of action and regulations by the Government which have interfered completely with the ordinary working of economic laws, and have introduced into this country three different standards of value, each of which is recognised by the Government. You have got at the present time post-war value, which is applicable to all industrial commodities and services, and to the labour of all those who are strong Enough either by their position in the ordinary economic arrangements of the country or by their organisations to demand values for their services or force the Government to concede those values out of the taxpayers' pockets, and you have the profits of those who by their economic position can get for themselves post-war values.
Another scale of values in existence is Government fixed values. The Government have found it necessary to say in regard to many of the commodities at present on the market that the value shall not be the value which a willing seller can obtain 245 for those commodities in the open market. They found that since the market as restricted it has been necessary, in the interests of the community, to step in and control the price of those commodities. What would have happened had the Government, when the demand for such commodities as beef, bread, boots, and clothing became increased in comparison with the supply, had asked this House to pass a law not to control the price of those commodities, but to say that it shall be the right of the sellers of those commodities to receive the full market value for them? We can easily see that the price would have been ever so much more than it actually was when it was controlled. This is not the time to advocate the control of land, but it does seem remarkable that in the case of land, of all other commodities, a commodity which is restricted in quantity and for which there has been a tremendous increase in the demand, the Government should not have seen it necessary to introduce a measure of control of that particular commodity. Then there is the third case, in which pre-war values are recognised by the Government. They apply to a great many members of the middle class. They apply, also, to thousands of disabled soldiers, to Members of Parliament Ministers, and other helpless people. All these classes have to carry on on the pre-war value of their services. We have these three categories of value. This Bill lays down which particular category land shall be placed in when we wish to acquire it for public purposes, and it is very important for us to make up our minds as to the particular category in which land shall be placed.
The whole problem is wrapped up in the little phrase in the Bill—the amount which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller might be expected to realise.That phrase is calculated to give the very greatest delight to all gentlemen of the legal profession, because it is so very indefinite. To me, as an ordinary layman, it raises misgivings in the mind as to what its actual application would be in regard to the purchase of land for public purposes. Translating it into ordinary English, it means that the price we shall pay for all the land which we require for all those schemes which we have in view shall be the highest price obtainable for the seller in the most favourable conditions which can be imagined. That seems to me to be the ordinary English layman's translation 246 of the words inserted in this particular Clause. You have to assume a willing seller, and in the ordinary workings of business a man never becomes a willing seller until he is satisfied that he has got the highest possible price. You have to assume an open market. It seems to me that we are now passing a Bill which is going to stereotype the payment for the land we require at the highest possible price that can be fairly and reasonably imagined in the open market, and this is at a time when by the expenditure of scores of millions of pounds from the pockets of the taxpayer we have violently inflated the demand for this commodity whose supply is fixed. It does seem remarkable to me that we should pass this Bill at this time in regard to this particular commodity when the Government have found it necessary to take exactly the reverse step in regard to all other commodities which come from the land.
My Amendment, I hope, explains itself. Its object is this: that the State shall purchase pre-war Land at the pre-war price, which is the same basis as that on which the State values the lives and the limbs that have been sacrificed in the defence of that land. That seems to me to be a reasonable proposition. I put it forward on the ground of principle, because the Government have already applied that principle of pre-war values to those men to whom we owe the possession of this land. The highest compensation paid by the Government to a man who has fought and has been disabled, and to dependants of a man who has died, is an alternative pension based on the pre-war earnings of that man. Therefore I put it forward that when it comes to the conscription of land —and it will be only a comparatively small amount which is conscribed for Government purposes—you have no right to ask the taxpayer to pay a higher value for it than is paid for the lives that have been sacrificed. I put the Amendment forward also on the ground of expediency. Up to now this Bill has not attracted a great deal of attention in the columns of the popular Press, simply because of its highly technical appearance. The public have not realised the enormous expenditure that is bound up directly and indirectly under this Bill, or the way in which its effects will reach many classes of the public; but by and by, if we pass this Clause unamended, the effects of it will be felt. We shall have disabled people who will be asked to pay 247 extra prices for land required for houses built under the housing scheme, and in the case of land settlement to pay an enhanced price for land in order to compensate the seller at a value which is twice or three times the pre-war value. I do not think it is expedient to introduce legislation of that sort, which will cause grave dissatisfaction and give rise to agitation and distrust of the Government. On the ground of expediency it is necessary to avoid all causes for any sense of unfair treatment among the poorer classes of the community. I do not believe the better class of landowner will be affected by the Amendment. We have received the assurance, and I have heard it stated several times in this House, that the better class of landowner does not wish to get war-inflated prices for his land. I do not believe that any patriotic man who owns land, realising that he as a member of the community and as a taxpayer has paid on the pre-war value to the men who defended that land, will be unfair enough to ask from the community, when he sells the land to them, a post-war value two or three times as large. The Amendment will affect land speculators and sharks, and people who have bought for a rise and who must take the chance of legislation and of fluctuations of the markets.
I put this Amendment forward, in conclusion, on the ground of necessity. The amount we can afford to pay must of necessity be governed by our financial responsibilities in other directions. Before a woman, a working man's wife, can go shopping and buy this thing or that, she has to remember what other commodities the wishes to purchase. We have, therefore, to remember what our other expenditures are. There again the soldier comes in. We must also remember the pockets of the taxpayer, from whom we are to take the money. If you look round at the taxpayers you will find there is a very large section of them still having to be content with pre-war values for their services—a very large section of them. There are some, such as pensioners, superannuated employés, and men receiving compensation under the Compensation Act, who are living on the verge of starvation and suffering great hardships. Are we going still further to tap these people whom the Government, in answer to a question of mine, professed themselves unable to assist in any way? Are we going still more to tax these people on their 248 pre-war income in order to give a postwar price for land? I say we ought not to ask them to do it. We cannot, on the one hand, tell the disabled soldier, the widow, the orphan, and the aged mother that the most we can afford to pay for the lives and the earning power given up for the sake of the country, is the prewar value, while, on the other hand, we ask the nation to give to the man who yields his land to the country a price which may be twice or thrice as much as its value before the War. Such an attitude is indefensible. If we can afford to pay post-war value for anything, our first duty is to pay it to those to whom we owe all.
§ Mr. CAIRNS
I beg to second the Amendment.
I have a letter in my hand sent to me by one of my Constituents. He refers there to land which has been sold for £500 an acre. If sold in 1914, that land would have fetched £45 an acre. That is a difference of £455 an acre. Sitting here in this quiet, staid, conservative House, I have listened all the time with sympathy. I happen to be the only Labour man on these Benches. My friends are away at dinner, and many are at Southport, where there is a different atmosphere altogether. It has been said that we cannot control land. Only this week we have had an award from Mr. Justice Sankey whereby we are going to control the coal underneath the land. It will not be long before the land is controlled. Hon. Members, surely, have short memories! There have been no willing sellers and no willing buyers during the War. The consumers grumbled and complained of exorbitant prices charged for food stuff. The sellers, too, have complained. When we have the Housing Bill passed, landlords and capitalists of all kinds blame us for being Bolsheviks, and for causing strikes; but my class, the miners alone sent 400,000 men away to fight—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that he rose to second the Amendment on the Paper, and not to start a general discussion. These are matters which it is not proper now to debate.
§ Mr. CAIRNS
I wanted to get back to the 1914 prices to strengthen my position. Here are details of a building scheme: there is land being charged at the rate of £1,200 an acre now, just because the owner can get it. Another case refers to 249 179 acres once sold at £45 an acre, but when a particular council wanted to build on it they were asked to pay £500 an acre —£5,000 for ten acres. That sort of thing is going to mean a heavy charge for working people. This House by its attitude to-day in rejecting Amendments, this unrepresentative House—I hold that it does not represent the people; it was got here by a false issue and by a stunt—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must really confine himself to the terms of the Amendment. He is dealing with all sorts of things which are utterly irrelevant.
§ Sir G. HEWART
This is an Amendment which it is not possible to accept. The object which the hon. and gallant Member who moved, in a maiden speech on which I desire to congratulate him, is to prevent too high a price being paid, and in order that what he conceives to be a fair price may be secured. I am not at all sure that the words of this Amendment are words which would bring about that result. Let me give one example from the first of these amounts which are to be added together in order to ascertain the value. The official valuer, if this Amendment were carried, would have to begin by taking the value which the land might have been expected to realise during the month of June, 1914, if sold in an open market by a willing seller. That might produce in some instances less than the market price to-day, but on the other hand, it might in other circumstances produce a very much larger sum. Suppose for example that in June, 1914, there was upon that land a building; worth £6,000, and that that building had in the meantime been destroyed by fire.
§ Sir G. HEWART
In that case the vendor would receive a larger sum than the market price of that piece of land at the present time. I only mention that as showing the kind of difficulty which might arise, and I hope the House will not accept this Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I congratulate most heartily the Mover, who is, I understand, Conservative Member for Farn-worth, on the courage with which he has brought forward this Amendment. I think 250 it will be necessary for him to take a Division, and I hope he will be one of the Tellers. This Amendment really goes to the root of the whole question, and that question is, whether land should any longer be treated as a specially favoured product. We know perfectly well that there have been restrictions and control on all necessities of life except land, which hitherto has escaped. This is a bold attempt to include among those controls land values, and I think the House ought to consider very seriously whether this prime necessity ought not to be put in the same category as other necessities when we are living under conditions which are not normal. I am quite certain not only ought this House to consider that question, but that the country will consider it very closely indeed. I think those of us who listened to his speech and to the indignation of the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Cairns) must realise that when once this question is put before the country they will appreciate that while the pensions of the dependants of those who died in the War and of those who fought are on a pre-war basis, it is proposed that the landowner should acquire post-war value for his property. I do not think some hon. Members quite appreciate that there are large numbers of persons besides pensioners who are suffering in this respect. You have the ordinary middle class man or woman who has managed to live on £200 or £300 a year, and they have been hit by Income Tax and by reduction in their Consols or debentures or preference shares, while the landlord is protesting against merely receiving the pre-war price for his land.
Why has the value of land gone up, and why will that be the case in practically every instance under this Bill? If we are content to accept this Amendment, I do not think the Attorney-General need be very much afraid that there will be excessive prices paid under this Amendment to landlords. The value of land has been pushed up because the Government is going into the market on a large scale as a purchaser. There is a restricted market and only a certain amount of land, and directly the Government go into that market to acquire land for housing or small holdings or railways, or anything of that sort, up, naturally, goes the value of the land, and not only of the land that is bought, but also of land which any other purchaser might desire to buy. Besides that, there has been all over the country a 251 large number of small munition factories, started very often on the outskirts of large towns, and where these Government workshops have been erected the value of what was purely agricultural land has risen not by 100 or 200 per cent., but by thousands per cent. by reason of the expenditure of Government money. Under this Bill we are asked to pay not the agricultural value of that land before the War, or not even the building value of that land before the War, but sometimes to pay 2,000 or 3,000 per cent. more than that land was worth before the War. That means not only a drain on the British taxpayers, but that everyone who lives in the houses to be erected will have to pay 2d. or 3d. per week because we passed this Bill without this Amendment. Not only is that so, but those who live in the old houses will have to pay this additional rent, because we will not control the price of land as we control the price of food or clothes or wool or cotton. I do hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division, and that in any case I can assure him there are a great many of us who will. This Amendment will be understood perhaps better outside than it is here, and, believe me, before the next election it will be understood, particularly outside this House. Those who consider that the landlords of this country deserve to get the post-war price out of the people who live in these new houses will run a poor chance of explaining their position satisfactorily to an electorate who will not understand their point of view.
§ Mr. L. SCOTT
I wonder whether the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken, if he happened to be a shopkeeper, would like to have his goods requisitioned from him by the Government to-day at the price they were in 1914?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
No; but I would not mind if I had preference shares and debentures and Consols taken.
§ Mr. SCOTT
The hon. and gallant Member knows quite well that the price of shares is affected by other considerations than the one to which he is referring. He knows that what I was referring to was the rise in the number of pounds you have got to give for any article whatever to-day as compared with before the War, because the value of money as a whole has fallen. It appears from the Board of Trade Index articles that there are very few which have not gone up over 100 per cent. If the 252 value of money to-day is half or, let us say, two-thirds what it was before 'the War, then the proposal to give for land to-day the price measured in the number of pounds it was worth before the War is a proposal to give half its value or two-thirds of its value, as the case may be. The Attorney-General said in a recent speech that he understood what confiscation was, but he did not understand what semi-confiscation was. If we take the analogy of a circle and remember that a semi-circle is half, the proposal to give the 1914 price for land in 1919 is semi-confiscation of the land. We cannot get over that. The proof of the matter is that the fall in the purchasing value of money is one of the most disturbing factors in any civilised community that you can possibly conceive. We all agree that those who are to-day living on fixed incomes which obtained before the War are suffering hard, but because that hardship and evil exists that is no reason why we should take from others-their property at half its value. It is no more right to take from landowners land at half its value than to take from any shopkeeper any of his goods at half their value. The first proposal of this Amendment is a proposal which, in effect, is to give for land something which must necessarily be much less than its true value. We all appreciate the difficulty that has resulted and the great disturbance caused by reason of the fact that the value of money has generally gone down and that incomes and property have not been adjusted at the same rate or in the same measure of distribution amongst the different members of the community. But because one-hardship exists, that is no reason why another should be created.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Captain W. BENN
I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member has evaded the-whole point of this Amendment. Our difficulty is this: Land is necessary on which to build houses which are required as an urgent social need. The houses cannot be let at present at an economic rent, and somebody has got to find the money to buy the houses. For seven years I understand the Government is going to make up the deficit, and in the end I suppose they intend that the tenants shall make up the deficit. The cost at which you buy the land is going to be an integral factor in the charge you have to make for houses, and therefore it is important that we should see that in the housing schemes all the material is bought at the lowest possible prices.
§ Captain BENN
That is exactly where the hon. Member allows his interest in the Bill to overcome his judgment, because there is a point which he has entirely overlooked, and that is the communally created value of the land. The Government plant a munition factory in an agricultural district, and the result is that an agricultural field becomes a suitable building site, and the owner of the field, instead of merely having a field of an agricultural value, becomes the proprietor of a building site. The Government then comes along, having created the value for the owner, and proposes to pay him that value in order to acquire that land for a building scheme, and we think that that is not right. It is not only a question of the munition areas, but there is the question also of land taxes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that there was going to be a Committee, and he practically held out the hope that the land tax was going to be abolished. That must be very cheerful news to the owners of land, and must make them more anxious to hold their land, but all that is not going to be taken into account in assessing the price which we have got to pay for land on which to build houses. The Government, in the cleft stick in which they find themselves, being a Coalition, and being compelled to please their Tory friends as well as to pretend to carry out a social programme, have been compelled to make an absolutely unsound bargain, and they have let into the whole root of their housing scheme a canker which will corrupt the whole body. This Amendment is a very drastic Amendment, but it does deal with a very real difficulty, and we want to know, not about the value of money, which everyone has brought home to him every day, but how the Government propose to reassume for the public the values which the expenditure of public money has created in building sites.
§ Mr. INSKIP
This is obviously a question on which there is a great deal of anxiety in the minds of some hon. Members. A right hon. Gentleman said it was a question which had caused him much reflection, and I may adopt his language, but it certainly does not reduce the difficulties of the question that hon. Members should have to listen to the sort of language which we have heard this afternoon from some hon. Members opposite. It 254 really does not assist us to be told that we are the slaves of masters who can control our votes and fetter our decisions. I dare say the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken did not intend to be offensive, but he certainly succeeds sometimes in being offensive when he suggests that we none of us have an independent mind on these matters and that the country will understand some day better than we do the importance of these questions. Obviously it is a difficult question, as the Mover of the Amendment himself has shown. I only rise on this Amendment for the purpose of saying one thing, and that is that, although I am not prepared to vote for this Amendment, I hope it may be got out of the way in order that we may come to other Amendments which appear to me to offer a solution of this difficult question. I cannot see why we should go back to the pre-war prices. I think it would be a very difficult matter either for valuers or witnesses to throw their minds back to June, 1914, and try to arrive at what would have been the market value of the land at that time. It might very well amount to confiscation or semi-confiscation, but it appears to me that the later Amendments do offer a basis of valuation which should be acceptable to all people except the speculators and the land sharks, whom none of us wish to protect or assist, and that is that the value of the land should be base upon the agricultural value of the land, upon the agricultural rent, and in nearly all cases the land which is to be taken will be agricultural land. If a landlord has been content to accept an agricultural rent for his land and to enjoy the produce of the land based upon the agricultural rent, I do not see how he can complain if the value of that land is to be capitalised upon the produce which he has been content to receive, and if he has been holding it up in the hope that the Government will pay a larger value for the land, so much the worse for him, and I have no sympathy for his fate. That proposal will arise on subsequent Amendments, and I have only risen in order to resist and resent the suggestions that have been made that we are not free agents in these matters because we are not content to accept a particular proposal. We are just as free as hon. Members opposite, and we shall form our opinions and give our votes with exactly the same amount of 255 freedom as the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who spoke on this subject with so much heat exercised.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
While I have every sympathy with what has fallen from the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment, I doubt whether it would be a practicable Amendment. I have one objection to it, and that is this. I go somewhat further even than the hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke below me (Colonel Wedgwood). I think if we were to adopt the June, 1914, as a standard price we might in certain instances be paying too much for the land, and that is one objection that I have to the Amendment as it stands. In any event, I do not think it is practicable. This Bill, as the learned Attorney-General has told us, is not a temporary measure. It is a measure under which for many years the value of public land is to be assessed, and I think it would be very difficult if for instance some four or five years hence a very large tract of country in Scotland were to be acquired for afforestation purposes to value that land on the particular standard proposed by this Amendment. I think in that particular case it might well be that too much would be paid for the land. I agree with what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman who last spoke. The real basis upon which land should be valued is contained in the later Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles, and I would suggest to the Mover of the Amendment that he might ask leave to withdraw in order that we might come to the real point of substance in the whole Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel DALRYMPLE WHITE
I am in cordial agreement with the principle of the Mover of the Amendment, but I agree also with what has been said by the last speaker that if you put in a fixed date of this sort it may defeat the very object which the Mover has in view. The matter can be met far better by the subsequent Amendment on the Paper with regard to the value of agricultural land, and therefore I also hope the hon. Gentleman may see fit to withdraw the Amendment.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The Attorney-General, in speaking on the Amendment, spoke of the danger of interfering with the market value. That is 256 no doubt an excellent theory, but when you remember that the Government has spent the greater part of its time in the last four or five years in interfering with every other kind of market value, one rather wonders why the land in itself should be exempt from this special war treatment. We are told that we do not wish anyone to make a profit out of the necessities of the War. Unfortunately we have not had much success in achieving that desirable end, but because we cannot get perfection, that is surely no reason why we should not get as large a measure as possible, and in the same way as the Government have fixed by the control of prices that which a shopkeeper may sell, and further than that has fixed the amount of market value which the cottage landlord may get for his property, if it is right for the Government to fix what one class of landlord may receive in return for his property, surely it is equally right that they may deal with the larger landlords and the larger question on the same lines. You may say possibly that you have only fixed the rent which may be taken for a cottage, but you have also fixed and limited its selling value, because while you have given possession to the sitting tenant, by restricting the rent you have also restricted the selling price. Where the Government have thought it right to interfere in the one case, it is surely a poor defence to say we must not interfere with the market value of land. We have heard of the speculator and the land shark in regard to agricultural land and how that land is being forced up in value and the present tenants are being compelled to pay enhanced rents, and all that is a most undesirable practice, which no one would defend, but if we reject every possibility of coping with it, it is no good expressing pious opinions and giving lip service to general principles if you refuse to carry them out in practice. I hope the Government will further consider this measure. I submit that the proposers would willingly Take the risks of the few cases where they might lose by this proposal if there was a certainty that in the great majority of cases land would be acquired for the municipalities and others who require the land on the average at an infinitely less price than under the Bill as it stands.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'might,' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 41.225
|Division No. 41.]||AYES.||[6.6 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Bigland, Alfred||Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)|
|Agg-Gardner Sir James Tynte||Bird, Alfred||Carr, W. T.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Casey, T. W.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Borwick, Major G. O.||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Barker, Major R.||Brassey, H. L. C.||Cheyne, Sir William Watson|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender|
|Beasley, P.||Buckley, Lt.-Col. A.||Clough, R.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Clyde, James Avon|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Burn, Col. C. R. (Torquay)||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Butcher, Sir J. G.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Campbell, J. G. D.||Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Campion, Col. W. R.||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)|
|Craig, Lt.-Com. N. (Isle of Thanet)||Inskip, T. W. H||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F S. (York)||Reid, D. D.|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Jesson, C.||Remer, J. B.|
|Dalziel, Sir Davison (Brixton)||Jodrell, N. P.||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Rogers, Sir Hallewell|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||King, Com. Douglas||Roundell, Lieutenant-Colonel R. F.|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Royds, Lt.-Col. Edmund|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Dean, Com. P. T.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Samuels, Rt. Hon. A. W. (Dublin Univ.)|
|Dennis, J. W.||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H||Lorden, John William||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Donald, T.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lowe, Sir F. W.||Simm, Col. M. T.|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Mackinder, Halford J.||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath)||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Macquisten, F. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Manville, Edward||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Martin, A. E.||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mason, Robert||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Foxcroft, Capt. Charles Talbot||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Townley, Maximilan G.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Middlebrook, Sir William||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Gardner, E. (Berks., Windsor)||Mitchell, William Lane-||Waddington, R.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Walton, J. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Ward, Colonel L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Glyn, Major R.||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Green, A. (Derby)||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, Mddx.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Greer, Harry||Newton, Major Harry Kottingham||Weston, Col. John W.|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Nicholl, Com. Sir Edward||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Gretton, Col. John||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Griggs, Sir Peter||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughboro')||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Parker, James||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred. (Dulwich)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.)||Parry, Major Thomas Henry||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Haslam, Lewis||Pearce, Sir William||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Henderson, Major V. L.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Hennessy, Major G.||Perring, William George||Wilson, Col M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Henry, Sir Charles S. (Salop)||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Winterton Major Earl|
|Hewart, Right Hon. Sir Gordon||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.||Pratt, John William||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Prescott, Major W. H.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Purchase, H. G.||Younger, Sir George|
|Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Hurd, P. A.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler||Guest and Colonel Sanders|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Johnstone, J.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Bentinck, Lt.-Col. Lord H. Cavendish-||Kenyon, Barnet||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Bramsdon, Sir T.||Kiley, James Daniel||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Briant, F.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Bromfield, W.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling)||Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O- (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Tootill, Robert|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Moles, Thomas||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wedgwood, Col. Josiah C.|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Neal, Arthur||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Gange, E. S.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Glanville, Harold James||Rendall, Atheistan||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hancock, John George||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Hay ward, Major Evan||Rodger, A. K.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Rowlands, James||G. Thorne and Mr. Hogge,|
|Holmes, J. S.|
|Division No. 42.]||AYES.||[8.16 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Parker, James|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Perring, William George|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Pinkham, Lieut.-Col. Charles|
|Barker, Major R.||Green, A. (Derby)||Pratt, John William|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Gretton, Col. John||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Griggs, Sir Peter||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred. (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Reid, D. D.|
|Blane, T.A.||Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.)||Remer, J. B.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Haslam, Lewis||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Borwick, Major G. D.||Henderson, Major V. L.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hewart, Right Hon. Sir Gordon||Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Britton, G. B.||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Home, Sir Robert (Hillhead)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Bruton, Sir J.||Hume-Williams, Sir Wm. Ellis||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Hunter Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonel A.||Hurd, P. A.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Inskip, T. W. H.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Josson, C.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.|
|Casey, T. W.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||King, Com. Douglas||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Waddington, R.|
|Clough, R.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lorden, John William||Walton, J. (York, Don Valley)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Craig, Lt.-Com. N. (Isle of Thanet)||Maddocks, Henry||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Manville, Edward||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Martin, A. E.||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Dean, Com. P. T.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Edgar, Clifford||Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath)||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Eyres Monsell, Commander||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Guest and colonel Sanders.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Arnold, Sydney||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Kiley, James Daniel||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Bonn, Capt. W. (Leith)||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Tootill, Robert|
|Bowerman, Right Hon. C. W.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling)||Wallace, J.|
|Bramsdon, Sir T.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lanes.)|
|Bromfield, W.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cairns, John||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Neal, Arthur||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Glanville, Harold James||Rowlands, James||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hancock, John George||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Hay ward, Major Evan||Sturrock, J. Leng-||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Capt.|
|Hogge, J. M.||Swan, J. E. C.||Bagley and Colonel Wedgwood|
|Holmes, J. S.||Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to add the wordsand such valuation shall be based upon any returns and assessments for taxation made or acquiesced in by the claimant during the preceding three years.This Amendment is marked by even more moderation and reasonableness than the previous Amendment, which led to so prolonged and useful a debate. I have not any particular affection for the term 258 of three years. I do not mind any reasonable term—three or five years. I accept the open market and the willing seller, and all that is proposed by the Amendment is to add that the basis upon which the valuation must now proceed shall be upon any returns—it may be the latest return made for the purposes of probate. It means that they are to take all the returns as the basis upon which the valuation for the purpose of this Bill is to be made.
259 I just want, before going into other parts relevant to my Amendment, to urge upon my right hon. and learned Friend the importance of the position which I am now taking up. It would have been quite easy to say "shall primâ facie be the valuation," but I am just saying you shall start from here. I want to make it perfectly clear what is the essential moderation of the thing. I am staggered by my own moderation in this matter. I have been rather ashamed of my Amendment that it is not more stringent. All I am asking is that these new valuers shall, instead of exercising their imagination in the way suggested by an hon. Member earlier as to the amenities and differences between a house which has a tramline in front of it and a house which has a garden in front need not bother about that to begin with. They can exercise their flights of imagination later so far as my Amendment is concerned. The first thing they have to do is to see what experience has already said as to the value of the hereditament it is proposed to assess. What does that experience amount to? It amounts to the experience, first of all, of the local rating which has been levied on the place. What does local rating mean? It means that the local assessment committee has been at work on this particular hereditament which we may have in our minds for the purposes of valuation. That local committee is composed, as we know, or ought to remember, of men who compose the local rating authority, and know the premises. First of all the assessment is made by the local overseers, subject to appeal, and it is acquiesced in by the owner of the object of the valuation. What is the purposes of the local rating? It is to exact from the owner of the particular object the fair annual rateable value. Everything has been done in connection with this local process; then the valuers, appointed from London in the case of England, or Edinburgh in the case of Scotland, have to find out on the spot what is the value of the object of the assessment. What better can they do than to go, first of all at any rate, by direction of this House to what the local people say about this—because this basis is only used for local purposes? The new valuers would be directed by my Amendment to base their valuation upon that of the district valuer. In a previous Amendment I dealt in some detail of the work that the district valuers have already accomplished. I was 260 very glad to find that an hon. Member opposite corroborated the statement that I put forward, rather tentatively, that it was not unfair to say that so far, at any rate, as England and Wales were concerned the provisional valuation was not far short of completion.
How do these district valuers go to work? Much criticism has been incurred of the valuation set up by the Act of 1910. That was a measure which was born in controversy and nurtured in suspicion and distrust, and its early days were subject to the most violent controversies in the Law Courts. In spite of this distrust and opposition the district valuers have done very excellent work. It was admitted— again by some hon. Member opposite, who, I believe, subsequently voted against the Amendment—he was frank enough to admit it—that while in the early stages of the valuation under the Act of 1910 some valuers were rather inexperienced, the later work had undoubtedly been of a very excellent character. Further, these district valuers have been of rather extensive use to Government Departments in the acquisition of land during the War. At an earlier stage to-day I read the testimony from one of the Reports of the Committee on National Expenditure, giving an unqualified testimony to the efficiency of the work of the district valuers. Complaint was made that some of the Government Departments did not utilise them as they might do. One of the most difficult parts of the valuation is where there is the separation of the hereditament and all the incidence of compensation therein arises. It is perfectly true—I admit it at once—in war-time things were done in a rough and ready fashion. Still there was the experience. These district valuers have attained a large measure of public confidence in the localities in which they work. You see, therefore, you have two local bodies at work on the same hereditament providing a guide as to what the. valuation should be for local purposes. What other valuation can there be at the service of the new body which is to be set up than the result of the valuation of the Inland Revenue Department?
What happens there? Those of us acquainted with the law and who have had dealings with this Department know what a large amount of responsible and efficient work they do and the extraordinary system under which they work. Nobody denies that those officials have worked with a great sense of fairness, and almost 261 the whole of the land of Great Britain and Ireland from one cause or another must have some time have come within the ambit of this great Department. The valuations they have made in London have been based upon information placed at their disposal by the local authorities, and they have applied the highest scientific knowledge to this question. There may be others, but these are the three great sources upon which the Valuation Department can base their estimate of the value to be paid by a public authority and private individual where land is taken for urgent public needs. Could there be anything more reasonable than this Amendment?
I turn now to another point. I should like to ask the Home Secretary whether I am right in the assumption that it is open to the new body of valuers to take into their assessment what is known as injurious affection, and the whole range of claims which have come up under separation of a hereditament or the injury done by the taking away for public purposes of one bit of land to another piece of land which is not taken over. I proceed upon the assumption that that is so.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I want to clear this point up, because the hon. Member for Liverpool moved an Amendment to make the point clear, but it was not pressed, and it left us in doubt. It is well worth while that the House should understand what injurious affection means. There is a very able summary of this point in the Report which has been placed in the hands of hon. Members, and it is the second Report of the Committee dealing with the lay and practice relating to the acquisition of land for public purposes, and it lays down the principle upon which compensation is given for injuriously affected land under the provisions of the Lands Clauses Act of 1845. It says:According to whether the lands affected are held with other lands acquired by the promoters by the same owner or are held by an owner from whom the promoters have not taken any land.Let me make that point clear because it is of some importance. Let us suppose that three acres of land are required by a local authority for a building scheme, and immediately adjoining that land there is some property affected as to its local status. Supposing a railway was going through or any public authority was taking the land for gas or water under- 262 takings. The owner of other land not affected in the actual taking, would be able to come before the taking authority or the arbitrator dealing with the transaction and alleged damage to the amenities of his property, and I know the tremendous damages he used to get in this respect.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Yes. The principle on which compensation is given for injuriously affected land is laid down in the Lands Clauses Act of 1845, which I have already quoted. They deal with the matter as it arises and it is a claim for compensation. As I understand it the whole range of the doctrine of injurious affection comes within the ambit of the powers of the new valuers under this scheme and there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the new valuers doing otherwise than be compelled to take into their settlement the question of injurious affection. Is that intended by the Government or is it not? At any rate, I say it is not intended by the House and certainly not by the country, and it would astound the country to know that the same system of valuation in regard to injurious affection is going to be brought within the ambit of the powers of the new valuers where land is going to be taken for these urgent, vital, and pressing public needs. It shows the farcical nature of our proceedings upstairs that it is only down here that we can get at these things at all. I had not the time and none of us had the time or opportunity of getting these facts out there. Upstairs the whole atmosphere is different. The Government get a different type of man and a different kind of atmosphere. I press that view upon my right hon. Friend, and that there is something in it is shown by the Amendment proposed to be moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mr. L. Scott), who is chairman of this very Committee whose Report I am now quoting. Let me summarise what it says:In our opinion injurious affection falls into two classes: Firstly, damage to an owner whose land is taken, arising directly from the taking.That is by the severance or disturbance of occupation.Secondly, damage arising from the construction or user of the works which may result to an owner none of whose land is taken as well as to an owner some of whose land is taken.I leave it there for the moment, as, under the Rules of the House, I may have.
263 another opportunity of dealing with it in reply, if I am fortunate enough to catch your eye. My Amendment will not exclude that I agree, and that just shows the mildness of it. All it says is that the basis upon which you shall start shall be the facts which have been accumulated already by authorised local and central authorities. It does not say any more. Under the Bill as it stands, the central valuers can deal with this question of injurious affection, and can give some compensation in respect of it. It shows, if I am right in my assumption, what lies in this dangerous Bill. It has never received anything like proper consideration by this House. If a sudden change of business had not occurred, there would have been far more Amendments down on the Paper. For one reason or another it has been impossible to put down many Amendments which I wished to put down. This thing ought to have been well thought out, but we must make the best of it as we go along. If this basis which I suggest is not put in, the valuers will have no option but to move upon the old unjust lines of valuation, and the whole range of injurious affection will be thrust upon them. If this Amendment is put in, they will, at any rate, have a basis, and being, as I am sure they will be, common-sense men, they will see that it was the intention of Parliament that the basis should not be the sentimental amenities, but, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for one of the Divisions of Belfast (Sir E. Carson) has said with such crushing force, that the price to be paid for land for public purposes should be the price at which it has been assessed for taxing purposes. A more sound, radical doctrine has not been preached in this House for many a long year. I urge again with all the force of which I am capable the essential reason and extraordinary moderation of the Amendment which I am moving.
There are one or two points on this question of the basis of the valuation which I am compelled to emphasise. It was asked by an hon. and learned Member, "What right have you to deprive the owner of land any more than the owner of a shop or of some stocks or shares of the market value of his property? I cannot understand the attitude of mind of people who do not realise the essential difference when you are dealing with land. There is that difference, and all I can do 264 is to accept it. It may be put down as rather cheap sentiment, but I will risk it and say that after all the sacrifices in this War of life and limb and of money have gone incontestably primarily to secure and protect the value of the land of this country. That fact alone lifts this question of land values right out of the ordinary category of the valuation of other articles of property. As an hon. and gallant Friend of mine so well put it a few moments ago, "What has made the value of this land?" The common efforts of the people in nine cases out of ten. Yet under this Bill the valuers cannot do anything else than give the war value of the land. They must take the market value.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by stating that the House had accepted the words of the paragraph and that his Amendment was an addition to them. It cannot be a negative of the words which the House by the last Division has decided must stand in the Bill. I think, therefore, he must follow the line of argument with which he started, that this is not a negative of the words which the House by the last Division accepted, but is only some further safeguard.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I may have been rather lengthy in the illustration which I was putting, but, of course, the ruling which you point out to me is obviously the correct one. The arguments that I was adducing were intended to support the contention which I put forward, that the basis should be the returns with which you said that I started. I pass on to point out, by way of brief illustration, what happens where such a basis as I indicate has not been taken. That I think would be in order?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman must be consistent in some way with the words put in the Bill by the last decision of the House.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
As the Bill now stands, it provides that the value of the land shall be the ordinary market value, and my words are intended to be a qualification of that. The words "ordinary market value," as they stand in the Bill, are taken verbatim et literatim from the Finance Act, 1910, and my words are a qualification of those. By way of illustration let me state what is taking place to-day in my own Constituency in the town. 265 of Peebles itself. There the local authority is going on with a housing scheme, and it affords an excellent. illustration of the fact that there must be a very large number of small takings in different parts of urban areas where the authorities are carrying out housing schemes. They propose to take a relatively small piece of ground—only about 6½acres. They are in process of dealing with the owner of that land. The value of that land at the present time is about 30s. per acre. After a good deal of discussion with the owner they made an offer to him. Twenty years' purchase at a value working out at about £9 15s. would be about £200, but the owner is asking at a rate of well over £2,000. The local authority—the town council— offered him a sum of £600 in order to get this small piece of land, and that is how the matter at present stands. Why is that claim being pressed? Because there is a severance of the farm. Six and a half acres is being taken away from it, and, practically, the owner is asking for those 6½ acres rather more than the value of the whole farm. If this Clause stands as at present drafted, with the question of severance and injurious affection caused by it, the valuers will have no option but to deal with that land somewhat on the basis of the claim made by the owner at present, and the object of my Amendment is that the land valuers appointed under this Bill shall have express Parliamentary direction that their basis, in approaching such a transaction, shall not be the price which the owner of that piece of land might be able in open market to force upon a willing buyer, in addition to the claim for severance, but that they shall start on a basis already ascertained by valuation by two local authorities, the rating and the district valuer, and probably the valuation for Succession or Probate Duty, and that on that they shall proceed to allot the compensation required to be paid by the local authority to the claimant. That is the purpose of my Amendment. I do not know what view the Government will take as regards this. But here again in this Amendment which has been moved from this side of the House we are applying a test of the genuineness of the statements made on behalf of the Government that they propose to deal fairly with the nation as to what burden it shall bear in carrying out these social reforms. I believe if this Bill passes without some 266 such Amendment as this, you will find that the local authorities will be in a great state of unrest, dissatisfaction and, it may be, of revolt. The local authorities, great and small, are asked by the Government to assist in their great schemes of social reform. It is only with their aid that those schemes can be got to work, and unless you have the authorities working willingly and under no sense of injustice, the Government's best schemes will fall far short of the level of success to which they would otherwise reach. As far as my opinion is worth anything, I say, with the greatest possible emphasis, that this Bill, amended though it has been, without some such Amendment as we have proposed today, will not get the willing support of the local authorities, but will cause resentment and will only have their unwilling acquiescence and their halting help. The fault of this Amendment is its very moderation. It should have gone much further, and I press it on my right hon. Friend in the hope that even at this late stage some of the arguments we have adduced, perhaps with too many words, but at any rate with no lack of sincerity, will meet with some response to-night.
§ Mr. SHORTT
The Amendment before the House deals entirely with the value of the land proposed to be taken, and the principle of the Amendment is absolutely consistent not only with the Bill but with the intention of the Bill. Personally, I do not think the Amendment is necessary. Everything it provides for would in the ordinary course be carried out by the valuers, if they really understood their business.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my sentence. I certainly do not see why some such words as are contained in the Amendment should not be put into the Bill. They do not deal with the question of severance or injurious affection. The Amendment does not deal, in fact, with any other matter than the value of the land, and therefore my right hon. Friend will excuse me for not going in detail into all the points he has raised with regard to the existing law. The Bill speaks for itself. It makes certain alterations in regard to valuation, and if my right hon. Friend thinks that it will strengthen his position to have some such words as these 267 put in, we are perfectly willing to put them in. The only objection I take is to the words "shall be based on." I do not understand those words, except when they are applied to some one definite thing. An analogy to a proposal of this kind may be found in clauses in rating judgments and Statutes, but the words "shall be based upon" do not seem to me to be convenient and proper words to use when you may be dealing with perhaps a number of returns and assessments. I think it would probably meet what my right hon. Friend desires, certainly it would be more consonant with the words commonly used in judgments and, so far as my recollection goes, in the various Statutes dealing with rateable value, and so on, if he saidand in such valuation regard shall be had and full consideration shall be given—"—to any returns and assessments. That is a term I shall be perfectly willing to accept. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO !"] That the term should be "based upon," I do not understand at all. I do not know what it means or where it is going. I hear murmurs of dissent, which I gather indicate that my suggestion is not going to be accepted. From that I gather that there is some particular meaning in the words "shall be based." It is a strange expression, and one which I confess I do not know, except as dealing with some one particular thing. That I can understand. There is evidently some deep meaning in the term "based upon" which my right hon. Friend took precious good care not to explain, otherwise my suggestion would be accepted. I cannot accept an Amendment which contains a deep meaning which has not been explained. I make that offer. I am perfectly willing to accept some such words as I have suggested. How far the words "it shall be based upon" are intended to leave any discretion or to leave none, I do not know. The other words that I suggest are, as the right hon. Gentleman and every hon. Member knows, used in connection with the rating of machinery and are commonly used in every rating judgment that is given. But that the valuation "shall be based upon" a large number of things, like returns and assessments for taxation made or acquiesced in, I do not understand. The principle of the Amendment, namely, that where a man acquiesces in an assessment or makes a return upon which he, is going to pay money it should certainly have full weight when you are de- 268 ciding what value he is to get for his land, that I agree to in full. We must take the Bill as it stands to-day. We cannot take an Amendment on the basis that whatever the assessment is, that is to be the value. Having regard to the Bill as it stands, I am perfectly willing to accept some such words as I have suggested. Further than, that I cannot, offer to go.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I hope my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) will not accept the suggestion which has been made. The words suggested by the Home Secretary are open to the criticism he has directed to my right hon. Friend's words, and, on the contrary, the words of the Amendment are not open to that criticism. What is meant by the words "shall have regard to''? By how far under words of that kind will the official valuer be bound to pay any-particular attention to or give any definite decision based upon the rateable value or upon the assessment for taxation to which the owner may be liable? The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles made quite clear what is desired. It is that you should incorporate, so far as you can incorporate in this Bill, the principle laid down earlier in the Debate by the right hon. and learned Member for the Duncairn Division of Belfast (Sir E. Carson) that there should no longer be two values with regard to land, one for the purposes of assessment and another for the purposes of purchase for public-purposes. In his view market value should be the same whether you are dealing with assessment or dealing with purchase. I quite agree that under this Bill, framed as it is, it is impossible for that ideal to be fully realised. In my view and that of those associated with me, that ideal can only be realised when you have a valuation upon which a rate or a tax is based upon the land values of the country. When that is done you will be able to ascertain for the first time what the true value of the land is, and you can state quite clearly that the value at which the land shall be rated or taxed shall be exactly the same value when you wish to purchase the land for public purposes. I quite realise that you cannot introduce the question of rating land values into this Bill, but you can introduce this Amendment, which says that when the valuer comes to decide what is to be paid to the owner for land which is required for public purposes, the valuer shall begin his inquiry by asking at what 269 is the land rated and what is the valuation the owner himself has placed upon it when he has conceived it would be necessary for him to pay taxation upon its value. While that factor alone may not determine the price and while there may be other factors which require to be taken into consideration—you may be dealing with improvements as well as bare rent and for that purpose you require a different basis—yet so far as you are dealing with land and land alone, it is quite clear that the primary direction to the valuer is to inquire what has been the owner's own estimate of the land. I hope for that reason that the Amendment will be pressed in its present form and that a Division will be taken upon it.
Public opinion in the country is entirely in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division in the view that there should be an end to the system of two values, one for rating and taxation and the other for purchase. I pointed out earlier in the afternoon—it has not been contradicted, because it cannot be contradicted—that the large municipalities in this country are passing resolutions in support of the principle laid down in this Amendment. The largest municipality in Scotland, Glasgow, by an almost unanimous vote has passed such a resolution. The Manchester Corporation, by an enormous majority, has passed such a resolution. I believe that some hundreds of borough and town councils have passed similar resolutions. I have not yet heard of one council, manned by however great a Conservative majority, which has passed any resolution in a contrary sense. If this Amendment is not accepted the Bill will go out weighted with the heavy handicap that the local authorities who have to work it view its machinery with suspicion and distrust. I am certain they will never be satisfied until some alteration is made to meet their views. When that alteration comes it will go far deeper than this Amendment, and, if the Government maintains the attitude which has been taken up so far and vote the Amendment down, as they have voted down every Amendment for the purpose of improving the Bill and for the protection of the taxpayer against the rapacity of landlords, I am certain you will see a revival of the agitation among the great municipalities which took place some years ago which has linked together London, Liverpool, Manchester, Belfast, Dublin, 270 Glasgow and Edinburgh to demand that the land values in those cities shall be available for the purpose of the measuring of public revenues. That is the demand with which the Government will be faced. If that is not to be done, if there is to be no relation whatever between the value for assessment and the value for purchase, the housing schemes which the Government has sketched out cannot possibly be carried to fruition.
The main proposal of the Bill is that houses should be built on garden city lines and twelve to the acre. How are houses to be built twelve to the acre if you are to pay the prices for land which had been demanded and have been secured in the past? When the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) made his speech this afternoon it took me a little by surprise. I suppose, politicians being what they are, the cynical explanation that the speech had some relation to a recent by-election in Ulster leapt to one's mind, but on second consideration I am inclined to conceive that that may have been an uncharitable view. Probably what influenced him was the experience of the Corporation of Belfast, which has been trying to deal with this housing question. They found, when they proposed to purchase houses for municipal housing schemes, that the price asked them was equivalent to a capital value of £5,800 an acre. The comment on this in a report submitted by the corporation is that if that price was to be paid the greatest number of houses which could be built on the acre was forty, and that would mean a ground rent of £7 per house. If they are to be built ten to the acre, which is the scheme which has been defended from the Front Bench, the scheme which the Minister of Public Health put forward and you were to pay this price for the land, the ground rent would be £28 for each house. That is 10s. a week going into the pockets of the landowner before there is a single penny in return for the cost of building. I am not surprised that hon. Members representing Belfast have thrown off the party shackles and have voted as they did for the purpose of amending this measure, because if local authorities are compelled to purchase land at such a price that they have to build forty houses to the acre these housing schemes, will indeed be dead sea fruit, and you will only have the old toad wretched 271 conditions of over-crowding and the creation of slums, as you had before. I could give case after case of a similar character.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
In the movement which took place some years ago this question of the rating and taxation of land values united the corporation of Dublin and Belfast in a way they have never been united before. I am not surprised at that, because the experience with regard to housing in Belfast is confirmed by the experience in regard to housing in Dublin. A Departmental Committee was appointed to consider housing conditions in Dublin and they reported that there was a most terrible state of overcrowding there, nearly 70,000 people living in dwellings of one room. What is the cause of that? The Departmental Committee, set up to consider the matter say that one main reason for it was the price of land for housing. They say in one case £10,000 an acre had been paid by the corporation and the average price of twenty-four acres required for municipal housing was £4,070 per acre. Might I give two cases from Wales, the second of which will conform with the point of view mentioned by the hon. Member (Mr. Ratcliffe). At Ebbw Vale, in South Wales, there has been a great development during the War of the steel industry and a considerable amount of very valuable work has been done there. One very natural effect of this great development of the steel industry has been that there is a very great accession of population to the town. It was overcrowded before the War and there were slums which ought to have been swept away. Naturally, these conditions have been very much accentuated by the incursion of the new population. There has been no building throughout the War, but with the approach of Peace the district council thought they would endeavour to remove that state of things, and they proposed to erect houses, I think ten or twelve to the acre, on garden city lines, on an area of fifty-six and a half acres of land which they proposed to purchase from the Duke of Beaufort, who held the bulk of the land in the neighbourhood, and it is the only site which was really available. The assessable value was about £l an acre, which is what one would expect for agricultural land. But his grace asked £24,250 for the site, which is about 450 years' purchase of the value which he him- 272 self had considered reasonable for agricultural land. It is not for me to judge as to whether the correct value was that which he returned for rating purposes or whether it was the £24,250 which he asked from the district council when he proposed to sell the land. These two prices taken together cannot conform to the dictum of the right hon. and learned Member for Duncairn(Sir E. Carson), that there should be one value. Either one or the other is a mistaken valuation. Either the Duke of Beaufort ought to have been compelled to pay his rates upon £24,250, or it ought to be possible to acquire the land on the basis of something like twenty years' purchase on £56. I am very familiar with this valley. I lived there for thirty years, but not in the town of Ebbw Vale.
In the same valley there is a landowner who at one time was a respected Member of this House and who is now a member of the other House. Being extremely anxious to assist in the development of his neighbourhood, he is willing to sell land to the district council at about £100 per acre. This land is in the same valley a few miles further down, and is practically land of the same value as that owned by the Duke of Beaufort. I believe the land which the Noble Lord is willing to sell to the district council is trust property, and I presume that if he acted injuriously to the trust it would be possible to call him to account. Therefore, presumably, he is acting fairly to those for whom he is trustee. Will the hon. Member (Mr. Ratcliffe) tell me why it should be possible within 10 miles in the one case for an owner to receive 450 years purchase on his own value for the land, while in another case the same quality of land is to be sold for forty years' purchase. Of course, there are such cases as the hon. Member refers to, and what I want is that the case to which he refers should be the uniform case and the standard case, instead of the exceptional case as at the present time. My right hon. Friend is moving this Amendment because he desires that that should come generally into operation. I could quote cases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, and elsewhere where the prices asked for land are approximately the same as the prices which have been asked in Belfast, Dublin and other towns which would make it utterly impossible to go on with housing schemes of ten houses per acre except at a ruinous cost to the people of this country, but I do not desire to multiply the ex- 273 amples. I desire to ask the Attorney-General, and the House and the country is entitled to an answer, whether in bringing forward this Bill the Government have consulted the Prime Minister as to whether he considers this Bill is a redemption of the pledges which he gave to the people of this country with regard to this question?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We must not continue Second Reading Debates on this point. We are simply on the point of how in any way we can further define the words in Section 2 of Clause 2, which provide that the value of the land shall be the amount which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller might be expected to realise. It is proposed to add words to further define that value, and we must keep to that point.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I am unwilling to enter into conflict with the Chair, but I must ask your ruling whether I am out of order in putting to a representative of the Government the question whether in this particular matter, and in regard to this particular point, the, Government consider that they are fulfilling the pledges given by the Prime Minister to the country with regard not merely to the Bill as a whole, but with regard to this particular point which is the operative part of the Bill. This is the question upon which attention has been focussed by the municipalities of the country. The Resolutions to which I have referred have not merely been passed by the great municipalities and never refused by one, but a Resolution in support of the proposal now made by the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment, has been carried at a meeting of the National Railway Men. I am sure the Amendment has behind it the support of the great masses of trade unionists and working people in this country. I do, therefore, ask whether the Attorney-General can assure the House and the country that in his view, his Amendment to my right hon. Friend's proposal carries out the promise made to the people of this country by the Prime Minister, who, when speaking at Liverpool in December, 1909, said:Do not let us have false remedies. We want to do something to bring the land within the grasp of the people. We want to put an end to the system whereby the land of this country is retailed by the ounce so that there should not be an extra grain of breathing spaces. I tell you what we want. The resources of the land are frozen by the old feudal system. I am looking forward to the spring time, when the thaw will 274 set in, and when the people and the children of the people shall enter into the inheritance that has been given them from on high.I ask the Attorney-General whether he will stand up to-night and say that the promise that the inheritance from on high given to the people shall be restored to them is fulfilled by the attitude which he is maintaining upon this matter?
§ Mr. A. SHAW
I would like to get back to the position with which we are faced, and I should like to make a special appeal to the Leader of the Opposition. The exact position is that the House has accepted Sub-section (2) as it stands, and we have, therefore, accepted the position that the value of the land is to be the market value. As that is the basis we have accepted, it is somewhat difficult to qualify it by suggesting a different basis. That cannot be got over by putting in two consecutive Clauses things which are incompatible. I should prefer the words suggested by the Leader of the Opposition without the previous words, because upon his line the Bill would be much more satisfactory. There is a great deal in what the leader of the Opposition said, but we are faced with this position, that we may lose the whole effect of his Amendment simply by sticking too closely to the actual words which he has employed. On the other hand, he has had what I consider is a very fair offer from the Home Secretary in the circumstances in which we find ourselves in having passed Sub-section (2). It was a very fair offer to modify the words so that terms shall be employed which are well known to the law, and in such a way that the great bulk of the concessions that my right hon. Friend desires will really be embodied in the Statute. When we are faced with that position the only thing which we who agree with my right hon. Friend opposite can do is to look at the matter in all its bearings. If I am faced with the question as to what value I shall put upon the land, how am I to go about it? I find that under Sub-section (2) the value which I must give is the value which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller may be expected to realise. I find if my right hon. Friend's Amendment is accepted an entirely different basis of value. If you want to say that in ascertaining the market value regard shall be paid in such valuation to the returns and assessments for taxation, that is not a thing which stultifies. It is a thing which helps. It is an additional guide, and not a 275 source of confusion. Therefore, if I am in order, I should like to move an Amendment to the Amendment, so that it would readand in such valuation full regard shall be paid to the returns,and so on. That, I think, would be accepted by the Government, and in view of what has been done by the House in passing Sub-section (2) it would retain the real substance which underlies my right hon. Friend's suggestion.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is an Amendment which is permissible. It would have to be in two parts. The first will be after the word "and" to insert the word "in," but you can discuss the two Amendments together and they can be put separately.
§ Mr. L. SCOTT
I desire to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment, and to add that I agree completely, as a lawyer, with my hon. and learned Friend that the two Clauses as they stand would certainly be interpreted by any lawyer as obviously antagonistic and inconsistent, in providing two different bases. At the same time I am in complete agreement with the principle that a man who puts forward a basis of valuation for taxation of property ought not to have, when he sells his land for public purposes, any more than he asked that it should be assessed at for taxation purposes. The insertion of the words that regard shall be had to returns and assessments will make the valuer admit as evidence of what is the market value the estimate of the market value given for taxation, purposes by the owner. That, in my view, is the effect of the Amendment. Of course, in regard to assessment for rating purposes, another question arises. You cannot possibly say that the assessment should be the basis of valuation, for this reason, that rating assessments are made upon the occupation value, judged by the occupation at the time of the assessment. The land, for instance, may be in agricultural use, but be on the very edge of a town in the middle of a building district, and have far more value for capital purposes than its agricultural value, and to say that the assessment for rating should be the basis of assessment for sale would obviously be 276 wrong. But it is perfectly right to say that regard should be had to the assessment, because in some cases the assessment represents the annual value, which is co-relative to the capital value at the time. But the effect of the provision with those-altered words would be that in arriving at the market value the official valuer will go into what value is put upon it by the owner or by the authority for taxation purposes, and for rating purposes, and the practical result will be that the owner will not get a larger amount when he sells to the public that he put upon it when he wanted to pay his taxation.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I rise for the purpose not of differing from the speeches of the last two hon. and learned Members, but of making a slight additional suggestion with the view of carrying out the purpose which they have in mind. In the Amendment to the Amendment we get a term, which has not yet been employed, namely, "such valuation." There is no valuation referred to in the Sub-section, which simply says that in assessing "compensation" "the value of land shall." and so on. I would suggest that the form the words should take should be this:Provided always that regard shall be had to all returns and assessments for taxation made or acquiesced in by the claimant during the three years next preceding the assessment of compensation.The difference between that form of; words and the form which my right hon. Friend proposes is that, instead of saying that previous returns and assessments are to be the basis, we say that these returns are matters to which regard must be had. They could not be the basis. Examples have been mentioned. I may mention another. Take the case, with which my right hon. Friend is perfectly familiar, of the assessment under Schedule A for Income Tax. It does not in the least follow that the annual value is a true index to the capital value. In a great many places building land has been employed as agricultural land and as annual value, on which the assessment is made, depends upon the user of the land at the particular time, it would be quite wrong to say that that should be the basis of the value. But, on the other hand, that and the other returns are matters to which regard may properly be had. I would suggest that, if this form of words be adopted, whatever there is useful in this Amendment will receive recognition, and I merely make the proposal to vary the 277 words which my hon. and learned Friends have employed for the purpose of carrying out the general object of the Act.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) will see his way to accept the offer which has been made by the Attorney-General. I do so for two reasons. I think that he may be very well satisfied with the impression he has made on the adamant front of the Home Secretary. This is the first concession we have got on the Bill upon the Report stage, and I should like to assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is an exceedingly important concession indeed. That is the first reason why I hope he will accept the offer. The second reason is that I believe this offer will really give him all that he could get from his own form of words. Value is already determined in the preceding Clause; it is the value that the land might be expected to realise in the open market by a willing seller. May I point out how this matter presents itself to a valuer who has carried out valuations of this kind? What would happen if he got the words proposed would be this—that they would be operative only in those cases where the person whose land was being taken was not able to put forward clear and direct evidence of an offer. Wherever he could do that that must override any other evidence put in. Where he could not put in such evidence, then the evidence of any returns or assessments might be extremely important and valuable, and this we should get under the offer of the Attorney-General. If the right hon. Gentleman hoped by getting in his words that where the land has been valued for occupation purposes at a nominal figure, he would get such land at twenty or twenty-five years' purchase, I can assure him he would be disappointed, because the Amendment would not in any way restrict the valuer to that view. Does he bear in mind that even if the land was valued for occupation purposes at a merely nominal sum, there is nothing in the Act or the Amendment that directs him to compute the capital value thus. What he would do, what I should be bound to do as a valuer, reluctantly I admit, would be to say, "Here is a very nominal value for occupation, purposes. If I am to arrive at its capital value it must be not twenty-five, but fifty, sixty, or even 100 years' purchase." The Amendment, therefore, as proposed by the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) would not give the desired effect. What we will get by 278 the offer of the Attorney-General are two things. We shall get in the first place very valuable evidence as to value, because this will cover values for probate purposes and it will bring into evidence the whole of the records that are in the possession of the Valuation Department. That is extremely important. We could not persuade the right hon. Gentleman to accept the personnel of the Department, and I am sure he was wrong in that, but the effect of bringing all the records into evidence is an extremely great gain. On those grounds I hope the proposal will be accepted, and that we shall have this addition to the Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am not quite certain that I understood the Amendment proposed by the Attorney-General. I understood him to say that he would be prepared to accept or to propose an Amendment which would include not only the value for purposes of taxation but also the assessment for rateable purposes. If that is so I must point out that he himself in his speech demolished the argument that the value for assessment purposes could be brought forward by his statement that in very many cases the land was assessed for rateable value at its annual value, the land being used for agricultural purposes but having a much greater capital value for building purposes. The hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mr. L. Scott) used the same argument. Notwithstanding that, the Attorney-General now proposes to do that which he himself says is manifestly unfair—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If I am mistaken I shall be very glad to learn so, but I do not think I am mistaken. I am sorry that the hon. Member far Leigh (Mr. Raffan) is not in the House, because I think it was his speech which turned the Attorney-General.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad to heat that, because I heard the greater part of the speech, and I think I am not wrong in saying that it had very little to do with the Amendment, and was directed generally against the iniquities of land lords. The hon. Member for Leigh stated that it would be impossible unless an 279 Amendment of this sort was accepted to carry out the housing schemes of the Government, and he asked, how can you build ten houses to an acre if you are going to spend an enormous sum on the land? I am glad that the hon. Member for Leigh has now returned to the House, because I have not yet dealt with his speech; I am only just beginning. Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman that in building ten houses to the acre the chief cost is not in the land at all but in the money paid for labour and materials. I believe I am right in saying that at the present time you cannot build a house—leave the question of land out for the moment—with three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a sitting-room for less than £450. [HON. MEMBERS: "£650."] I am putting it very low, I do not want to exaggerate. We will say £500. [HON. MEMBERS: "£650."] All this strengthens my case. I will take £650, though I think that is a little exaggerated. That means £6,500 for the cost of building ten houses to the acre. What is the acre to cost? Of course if you go to Threadneedle Street in the heart of my constituency, it is going to cost a very large sum, and might have some effect on the cost of building.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
In Dublin it costs £6,500 an acre, which is £650 for the site of each house, exactly the sum which the right hon. Gentleman mentions.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am not taking one single instance like that from a particular part of Dublin. I have already admitted if he wishes to buy an acre in the city it will cost him a great deal of money, and the cost of the land in that case will enter into the cost of the building. But in the vast majority of cases the houses will be in more or less agricultural districts or in small towns where the land is not so valuable. Let us take it that land for the housing scheme will cost £500 per acre, and that with the cost of the houses of £6,500, will make a total of £7,000, out of which the land cost only £500. Therefore, the statement of the hon. Member that the cost of the land is going to stop the building of the houses is quite incorrect. The hon. Gentleman instanced a case of, I think, the Duke of Beaufort, and referred to a speech of the Prime Minister in 1909. A good deal has happened since then. The right hon. Gentleman was not then Prime Minister. He has 280 altered his views considerably since then. The hon. Gentleman stated that this unfortunate Duke had asked a considerable sum for a certain piece of land and that somebody else ten miles off had asked very much less. In the City of London a person might justly ask an enormous sum for an acre of land, while in Peckham, which is only four miles off and which I formerly represented, an acre of land would cost a great deal less. Therefore, it is absurd to say that because land in a certain district is worth so much and land ten miles off is worth less, that it is wrong for the person in the first district to have asked the price which he could get. The only result of all this, as far as I can see, will be to make landlords put up their rents. Another hon. Gentleman gave us a history of what happened in Derbyshire County Council. I could not quite make out what happened, and whether it was that one member of the county council purchased it from another.
§ Mr. C. WHITE
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong, as he very often is. The county council bought the land from a member of the same county council for a small holdings.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I said I did not understand the hon. Gentleman, and he has gone out of his way to be not very polite, I do not think it is a very good sort of transaction for a county council to have dealings with one of its members.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member went on to give an instance where a landlord had raised the rent of a farm from, I think, £90 to £130, and that then the land was sold at a greater price. All that tends to show that if a landlord lets his land below the value he will be penalised by this Amendment. Therefore, in self defence, he will have to do what perhaps he ought to have done before, that is, put the rent up to the market value and to the amount to which he could receive if he went into the open market and advertised for tenders. If he lets below the market value, that would be taken into account in the assessment, and he will suffer because he is a good landlord and has let at a low price for sentimental or other reasons. That will happen because the assessment will be made on the annual value. It is all very well to say "regard will be had," but what is the use of putting these words in unless 281 they are to be acted on. Anyone who has been in this House knows that the Radical Members have for a long time endeavoured to get the rateable value as the basis on which compensation is to be made if land is taken, because they know that the rateable value is in many cases below the capital value, and for no other reason. If this Amendment is carried, the landlord will at once put up his rent, in order that the rateable value shall coincide with the capital value. In many cases the tenants pay the rates, so that that will not affect the landlord, who will get an increased rent and will be certain, when his property is taken, that he will get a fair value. Therefore I am very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has departed at this late hour from the principles of the Bill. He was influenced to do so, not, perhaps, by the hon. Member for Leigh, but by the idea that there are large numbers of people who share those views, either because they are in favour of semi-confiscation, which the right hon. Gentleman told us he could not understand, or because they do not understand the position and are anxious to do something which they think will injure dukes.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I rise only for the purpose of answering a question put by the right hon. Baronet. I pointed out the reason why these returns and assessments could not properly be made the basis of assessment for compensation. It is another thing to say that regard should be had to them, or, in other words, that they shall be evidence. It would be perfectly possible in such a case as to that to which he refers, and to which my hon. and learned Friend also refers, to point out to the valuer that the assessment, for example, under Schedule A, was an assessment for a certain amount that was not a true index of the capital value.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I am afraid I have not been able to follow as accurately as I would like what the proposal of the Government is.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Speaking from memory, it is that the Amendment should read, "provided that regard should be had to all returns and assessments for taxation made or acquiesced in by the claimant during the three years next preceding the assessment for compensation."
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Then the real difference between us is as to whether my words 282 "that the valuation shall be based upon" are stronger than the words "regard shall be had." Notwithstanding what has been said by my right hon. Friend who has just addressed the House, there is a remarkable unanimity in the House at the present time that the compensation which shall be paid under this Bill shall approximate as nearly as may be to the taxation value. There is a very remarkable consensus of opinion on that point, and in deference to that opinion the representatives of the Government have made the suggestion which is now before the House. What I want to do is to find words which most nearly approximate to what I understand most of us want, and that is that the price paid by way of compensation shall most nearly approximate to the taxation value.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean annual taxation or taxation of capital value?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not present when I made rather a lengthy speech in introducing the Amendment. It was not only where annual value could be ascertained, but where capital value could be ascertained. I included them all as factors upon which the valuers should move in assessing compensation. They could take all or any of them. I am sorry to say that I do not think the words "shall have regard to" are sufficiently strong. It simply amounts to this, in my view at any rate, that they have the direction to take them into consideration, but they have not the direction, which I want, of making them the chief factor. If it is at all possible to meet the Government—
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Then the answer is that they cannot go any further. I feel a sense of responsibility in departing at all from my words "shall be based upon," but I will substitute, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman likes, "the chief factor." There is a real difference. Perhaps hon. Members who wore not here earlier would like me to repeat one or two things that I said about this. It is to be the basis or the chief factor. On that the, valuers are to have the power of adding what they may think just and right with regard to other considerations, including the question of separation and injurious affection. The proposal is not to shut 283 them in to these figures alone, but to make that not a passing regard to, but the chief factor in that valuation. That is the real difference between us.
§ Sir G. HEWART
If my right hon. Friend will forgive me, I have never been in any doubt as to that. As I understand, my right hon. Friend desires that the basis of the assessment of compensation shall be these returns and other assessments. In my humble opinion, if the House were to decide that, it would contradict what it has already decided, that the basis is to be the market value. What I am proposing, in order to go as far as I reasonably can in the direction desired by my right hon. Friend, is to say that these matters shall be matters of evidence. I am sure he appreciates the difference between that which is the basis and that which is a matter of evidence.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
He will recollect that one of the authorities which I suggested that the valuers should look at was the valuation under the Act of 1910. It is agreed that that is one of the factors which ought to be brought in; but what is that based upon? That is based upon the exact words of the Bill before us, which my right hon. Friend thinks are inconsistent with my words. The words in the Bill are taken exactly from the Statute of 1910, namely, that the value of land should be the amount which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller might be expected to realise.
§ Sir G. HEWART
That is Section 25 (1) of the Act of 1910. But that relates to capital value. My right hon. Friend's Amendment proposes that all the returns or any of the returns shall be the basis How can that be the basis and at the same time the Schedule A valuation?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I do not see the difficulty. In the Act itself Section 25 (1) says:For the purposes of this part of this Act, the gross value of land means the amount which the fee simple of the land, if sold at the time in the open market by a willing seller in its then condition, free from incumbrances, and from any burden, charge, or restriction (other than rates or taxes) might be expected to realise.That assumes market value, and it has been over and over again stated here tonight by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson) that market 284 value is taxation value, and he is no mean authority, for as a former Solicitor-General and Attorney-General he has had to argue many of these cases from the lowest to the highest Courts in the land. Of course, the words I have quoted already show the results of the Finance Act of 1910 are the open market and the willing seller, and the attempt of my right hon. Friend, in all sincerity as I know, to meet this is simply to say that this basis is to have regard to them. I say make them the chief factor. That is the great difference, and I regret that I shall have to divide on it.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I have had the privilege of sitting here throughout this Debate, and heard the Leader of the Opposition make his original speech. The answer of the Home Secretary to it was to offer verbatim the very words now before the House. He said, "I offer them because they will make no difference to the existing law." It is a very dangerous decision to adopt an Amendment which makes no difference in the existing law. I did not intervene until the right hon. Gentleman said he would not accept that Amendment, and as he is not going to accept it, I hope the Government will not support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend opposite. Nothing is more dangerous from a lawyer's point of view, and I am afraid I look rather at these things because of the unfortunate litigants who afterwards have to pay for the work we do in this House. If these words do not, as the Home Secretary told us, alter the existing law, do not let us put them in. The issue between the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and myself is absolutely clear. He wants the assessment to be the basis of compensation. I think that is a thoroughly unsound doctrine, not only for the reasons given by the Attorney-General, but—and it requires a certain amount of cheek to say it in this House—a very large number of local authorities habitually under-assess. If you assess perfectly correctly a particular union, and you take 10 or 20 per cent. off the value, it makes no difference, because the rates have to be spread on the same basis, but it prevents any appeal, because if the owner appeals you can easily defend the basis, or you ought to be able to defend it, because you are putting it at 10 or 20 per cent. below what you believe to be the real value of the land. For these reasons I think it would be dangerous to make this the basis of valuation.
285 This whole question was settled by the House by a Division we had some time ago, which settled that there was only to be one basis, and that market value. I think we ought to stick to it. Be that as it may, I hope now that the Leader of the Opposition is not satisfied—and I am not surprised he is not satisfied—we can divide on the definite question that is put, namely, when we shall have his Amendment in its entirety or the Bill as it stands.
§ Mr. SCOTT
I did not hear the Home Secretary say that in his opinion this Amendment made no difference in the law, and I can hardly think he could have said it of this particular Amendment. My view of the law is, that this Amendment does make a definite alteration in the law, and that without this Amendment we should not be able in each case to have before the tribunal the returns and assessments for taxation purposes. Putting this Amendment in does give, to my mind, the opportunity of ensuring that parity between valuation and taxation.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The exact expression of the Home Secretary was that any valuer at the present time would have regard to it, and, therefore, he would have no objection to putting the words in. I bow at once to the hon. Member's legal knowledge, and certainly shall not argue the point, but, be that as it may, I shall certainly not support the Amendment.
§ feated upon a Division, are we then to have an opportunity of inserting in the Bill the words which axe to be moved by the Attorney-General?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the Amendment of the Leader of the Opposition is defeated it will be open for the Attorney-General if he desires to move his proposed Amendment.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Perhaps the House will allow me to see if my recollection of what took place is right. After my right hon. Friend opposite had moved his Amendment, my hon. and learned Friend below the Gangway moved his Amendment to that Amendment. What I then said was, that if the Amendment was withdrawn I should be willing to move the Amendment of which I then read the terms. I certainly had it in my mind, though I did not express it—if the right hon. Gentleman opposite withdrew his Amendment—he is quite within his rights in not doing so—that after what I said to my hon. and learned Friend below the Gangway I should feel bound to move my Amendment, and even though my right hon. Friend opposite insisted upon putting his to the vote.
§ Amendment to proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
That the words 'and such valuation shall be based upon any returns and assessments for taxation made or acquiesced in by the claimant during the preceding three years' be there inserted.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 39; Noes, 156.287
|Division No. 43.]||AYES.||[10.24 p.m.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Glanville, Harold James||Sturrock, J. Leng.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hayward, Major Evan||Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Benn, Capt W. (Leith)||Hinds, John||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)|
|Bowerman, Right Hon. C. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Briant, F.||Johnstone, J.||Wallace, J.|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Waterson, A. E.|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Kenyan, Barnet||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lancs.)|
|Gangs, E. S.||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Smith, Capt A. (Nelson and Colne)||George Thorne and Mr. Hogge,|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Barnett, Captain Richard W.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Barker, Major R.||Barnston, Major Harry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)|
|Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Greig, Colonel James William||Prescott, Major W H.|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gretton, Col. John||Pulley, C. T.|
|Blane, T. A.||Griggs, Sir Peter||Purchase, H. G.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hancock, John George||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Reid, D. D.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Henderson, Major V. L.||Remer, J. B.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hennessy, Major G.||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Bruton, Sir J.||Hewart, Right Hon. Sir Gordon||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.||Roundell, Lieutenant-Colonel R. F.|
|Buckley, Lt.-Col. A.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Royds, Lt.-Col. Edmund|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Home, Sir Robert (Hillhead)||Samuels, Rt. Han. A. W. (Dublin Univ.).|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Hurd, P. A.||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Inskip, T. W. H,||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Jodrell, N. P.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Casey, T. W.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||King, Com. Douglas||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Clough, R.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Clyde, James Avon||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Surtees, Brig.-Gen. H. C.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)||Thomas Stanford, Charles|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Townley, Maximilan G.|
|Cozens-Hardy, Hon. W. H.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Waddington, R.|
|Craig, Lt.-Com. N. (Isle of Thanet)||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||McNeil, Ronald (Canterbury)||Ward, Colonel L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Macquisten, F. A.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Dawes, J. A.||Manville, Edward||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Dennis, J. W.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Weston, Col. John W.|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.||Mason, Robert||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Molson, Major John Elsdale||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Edgar, Clifford||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Edge, Captain William||Mosley, Oswald||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com.||Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Neal, Arthur||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, Mddx.)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Foxcroft, Capt. Charles Talbot||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parker, James|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Col.|
|Green, A. (Derby)||Perring, William George||Sanders and Mr. Pratt.|
§ Sir G. HEWART
I beg to move, at the end of paragraph (2), to insert the wordsProvided always that regard shall be had to all returns and assessments for taxation made on or acquiesced in by the claimant during the three years next preceding the assessment for compensation.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after the word "taxation," to insert the wordsor capital value.There is a good deal to be said for this Amendment, because the taxation on the capital value—the Death Duties—is made upon the selling value of the property, and has nothing whatever to do with the annual value, which may not be the selling or capital value. I trust the Government will accept the Amendment. They will take upon themselves a very serious step unless they do. Unless they accept these words, they are allowing the valuers to 288 bring in for the purpose of assessing what compensation is to be paid to a man for his property something which has nothing whatever to do with the actual value of the property. They are endeavouring to avoid the first part of the Clause, which says that compensation shall be founded upon the market value of the property.
They are endeavouring to evade that and to obtain the property at a cheaper price. It is no use blinking that fact. Hon. Members show by their cheers that they want to get it under the market value, and I ask the Government—is this a good time, when you arc asking capitalists to subscribe to your loan, to bring in an Amendment of this sort, which will enable people to obtain property under the market value? In my opinion it is a most fatal mistake, and therefore I trust the Government will see what they are doing and will accept my Amendment, the effect of which, after all, will only be to give 289 valuers an opportunity of paying a proper price by way of compensation to a man whose property is taken.
§ Colonel GRETTON
My hon. Friend's Amendment, no doubt, is some improvement, but it does not carry us very far. I have in my mind an estate in the neighbourhood of an urban district which was taken possession of by its owner a good many years ago. That estate was let at a low rent. But on a large part of it streets were partially constructed, as it was to be used for building land, and as such it had been assessed. But the assessment of that land for the purposes of the Land Valuation Act, 1909–10, cannot be made use of in the present case, because the land is now being used for agricultural purposes, and the present assessment or agricultural valuation is awaiting the decision of the Courts. There must be a large number of cases like that. Yet under this Amendment valuers are to take into consideration something which has no bearing on the case whatever. The Government have no reason for going on with an Amendment which they offered to accept in order to placate the Opposition—in order to give them something which went a little way to give them what they desired. I think it was a very dangerous step to take in view of the confessed desire of the Opposition to acquire land for public purposes at less than its value—less than it would fetch in the open market if offered by a willing seller. To my mind that amounts to a dishonest transaction, and I submit that, after that confession, the Government ought not to go on with their Amendment. If their basis is market value, they should adhere to that basis. But when they endeavour to whittle away that basis and to introduce considerations entirely irrelevant and contradictory, and intended in their inception to destroy that basis, they are introducing difficulties into the working of the Act which will not lead to that speed and ease of administration which is so keenly desired by this House. If my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London presses his Amendment to a Division I shall support him, but I do trust that the Government will not go on with this matter. The Bill goes a very long way and is a very great step in advance to the easy acquisition of land by public authorities, and the Government's Amendment will certainly lead to confusion, doubt and litigation in its administration.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I agree with the last speaker that the Bill goes a very long way. The price is to be that which would be accepted by a willing seller. It is a willing seller who has got to sell. I can perfectly understand the Amendment which was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles, but it would have extraordinary results in some cases. I know one case outside a large city—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We cannot go back again and discuss that Amendment. The only Amendment now before the House is the introduction of the words "on capital value."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment now before the House is to insert the words "on capital value" after the word "taxation."
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
These old valuations may be completely out of date. I understood that I was in order in speaking on the Amendment of the Attorney-General. If I am not in order in speaking on that, I have nothing to add.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I trust that the House will not accept this Amendment. Let us see exactly what is the nature of the variation proposed in the Amendment to the Amendment, which, after my promise, I felt bound to move. It is not proposed to exclude the consideration of returns or assessments relating to capital value, but it is proposed to exclude consideration of any other returns or assessments. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) deplored the Amendment which I moved. The objection to it, in comparison with the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), is based entirely upon the fact that the Amendment would have empowered the valuer to look at the returns or assessments relating to annual value. I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman is well aware that a valuer, in endeavouring to arrive at the true value of property, invariably inquires what is the rateable value. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] I put it in to make it clear that it is so. Is it to be believed that one of the gentlemen to be appointed under this Bill will not be aware that he is to take that piece of evidence for what it really proves? [HON. 291 MEMBERS: "Hear, hear !"] I hear cheers. Do those ironical cheers mean that there are at least three Members of this House who would desire to have the capital value based upon a false index of the annual value?
It was said something had already been subtracted from the true value by the omission of the words "willing buyer" after the words "willing seller." That is not our view, and it is not the view of the House of Lords in more than one case. May I read a single sentence from one of the leading cases in the House of Lords? It was said in one of the judgments, "The value which was there prescribed corresponds with the full value of the land. It is needless to say that the buildings on the land and all that goes with the land are here included in the term land." I do not think there is any subtraction at all.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend opposite that the whole Amendment is wrong. I only moved my Amendment to it in the hope of having some sort of agreement. As I understand the Government will not accept my Amendment, may I ask my hon. and gallant Friend opposite whether if I withdraw my Amendment he will tell with me against the Government Amendment? If he will I shall be only too willing to withdraw and to vote against the Government Amendment, which in my opinion never ought to have been moved.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The Attorney-General says he is under the idea that some undertaking was given. The Home Secretary, who was in charge of the House, certainly made it plain that the undertaking was simply dependent on the withdrawal of the Amendment of the Leader of the Opposition. I do not think anything the right hon. Gentleman said afterwards was in the nature of a pledge. What he said was that he would be willing to accept the Amendment in that form. He is under no sort of pledge. It seems to me it is highly inadvisable to put words into an Act of Parliament which are not meant to change the law at all. Is it not very likely to mislead someone who has to administer the law—a danger that I thought was an elementary danger. I have not the slightest interest in the landlord's point of view one way or the other. I speak simply as a lawyer, and I hope the Government will consider it merely from a legal point of view.
That the words 'provided always that regard shall be had to all returns and assessments for taxation made or acquiesced in by the claimant during the three years next preceding the assesment of compensation' be there inserted.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 132; Noes, 30.293
|Division No. 44.]||AYES.||[10.50 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Hurd, P. A.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Inskip, T. W. H.|
|Barker, Major R.||Dawn, J. A.||Johnston, J.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)|
|Barns ton, Major Harry||Edgar, Clifford||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Bell, Lieut.-col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Edge, Captain William||King, Com. Douglas|
|Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)|
|Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)||Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Eyres-Monsell, Com.||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Briant, F.||Falcon, Captain M.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Galbraith, Samuel||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Bruton, Sir J.||Gange, E. S.||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mallalieu, Frederick William|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)|
|Cairns, John||Glanville, Harold James||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Green, A. (Derby)||Mason, Robert|
|Casey, T. W.||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Moore. Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Greig, Col. James William||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. C. T.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Henderson, Major V. L.||Motley, Oswald|
|Clough, R.||Hewart, Right Hon. Sir Gordon||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.||Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hinds, John||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Cozens-Hardy. Hon. W. H.||Holmes, J. S.||Neal, Arthur|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, Mddx.)|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)|
|Parker, James||Samuels, Rt. Hon. A. W. (Dublin Univ.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Parry, Major Thomas Henry||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Peel, Lt.-Col, R. F. (Woodbridge)||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)||Weston, Col. John W.|
|Perring, William George||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles||Simm, Col. M. T.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Pratt, John William||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Coins)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Stanley, Colonel Hon, G. F. (Preston)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Stephenson, Col. H. K.||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Stewart, Gershom||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Remer, J. B.||Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.|
|Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lancs.)||Waddington, R.||Guest and Colonel Sanders|
|Rodger, A. K.||Walker, Col. William Hail|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Hancock, John George||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Surtees, Brig.-Gen. H. C.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Townley, Maximilan G.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Dennis, J. W.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wilson Fox, Henry|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Reid, D. D.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Roundell, Lieutenant-Colonel R. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Royds, Lt.-Col. Edmund||Frederick Banbury and Col. Gretton.|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next four Amendments on the Paper are ruled out by the Amendment which has just been adopted.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member cannot move that Amendment. He can, if he wishes, move the Amendment to add to Sub-section (3), the words which are on the Paper. The Amendments preceding that are out of order.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The House has fixed the compensation, and if the hon. Member deducts it is open to any hon. Member to deduct until there is nothing left. We must draw the line.
§ It being Eleven of the clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered Tomorrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.