(2) In addition to the aforesaid modes capital money may, after the commencement of this Act, be applied in financing any person who may have agreed to take a lease or grant for building purposes of the settled land, or any part thereof, by making advances to him in the usual manner on the security of an equitable mortgage of his building agreement.
(3) This Section applies to settlements coming into operation either before or after the commencement of this Act.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2).
The Clause deals with the application of capital moneys, that is to say, with the proceeds of sale of settled land which ought to be preserved, not merely for the tenant for life who has a life interest, but for the remainder man who will get the capital after his death. That is the essential of every settlement. Starting from that, therefore, think everyone will agree that any mode of application of these moneys should be 393 safe, not only in: the interest of the tenant for life, but of the remainder man; and anything likely to affect prejudicially the remainder man, in the way of insecure investment, and so on, ought not to be allowed. Under the original settled Act of 1882 great care was taken to ensure that that result should be attained. Now we have a new method of applying these capital moneys laid down in this Bill, and the mode authorised in Sub-section (2) of the Clause, I think is a very dangerous one. For that reason I propose to leave it out. It reads as follows:(2) In addition to the aforesaid modes, capital money may, after the commencement of this Act, be applied in financing any person who may have agreed to take a lease or grant for building purposes of the settled land…In other words, capital moneys arising out of the sale of the estate, or any part of it, may be applied in financing builders. That is a most dangerous thing to do. May I remind the House that it is not as if we bad to take to Court any application of the sort. In these cases the money can be applied in accordance with the Act—if this Bill becomes an Act—by the tenant for life with the concurrence of the trustees, so that if you have a tenant for life who is of, say, a speculative nature, or possibly ambitious, and thinks he can develop a great building estate, and if he gets easy-going trustees or trustees simple-minded enough to allow him to do so, then these persons, acting together, can sink the whole or a large portion of the capital money of the estate in financing builders.
May I point out what will happen? It happens every dry, or used so to do when building was more favourable for the use of capital moneys than it is now. it might very well be that a builder may build a quarter of the houses arranged for, and for some reason or another not go forward, the result being that those concerned would find themselves in this position: they would either have to get a new builder to take a new contract in order to complete the old one, or find the money themselves in order to make the houses habitable. That is a very great danger. May I point out to the learned Solicitor-General that this is entirely a new mode of application, and I think an application 394 of capital moneys which goes far beyond anything ever sanctioned in the original Act. If such a power is desirable—and it may be, and I think is desirable in many cases—well and good. You will find it in the larger cases of the settlement of property. Therefore, in the case of large properties where building schemes of this sort are necessary, you invariably find it provided for in the terms of the settlement. That is quite right. A man who prepares a settlement can do what he likes providing he does not go beyond the law, and he can put any provision he likes into a settlement. But it is a very different thing when a settlement does not contain such a clause for the Legislature to say: We give the power to the tenant for life and the trustees to risk these moneys by financing builders.
Perhaps the Solicitor-General would meet me as far as this. I should be prepared, in deference to what the House might consider in the matter, to withdraw my Amendment, if the hon. and learned Gentleman can say- that he would, in Sub-section (2), after the word "Act" ["commencement of this Act."], insert the words "with the leave of the Court." That would get over a greater part of my objection, if not the whole, because then we will have this security, that where it is desirable to lend money to a builder to build on an estate the parties would go to the Court and get the sanction of the Court, which would only be given in a proper case. The scheme would then go through. Let me add this. People talk about an application to the Court as though it was desperately expensive. Applications to the Courtunder the Settled Land Act, 1882, are exceedingly cheap. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite will bear me out when I say that under the Settled Land Act you can get the sanction of the Court to proposals of this sort, and get the whole thing through for about £35 to £40. If you are going to finance a builder, that is a very small sum of money in view of the probable expenditure in order to have a safe and secure mode of application. I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he can meet me in this matter of what I venture to think is a serious objection to the Clause as it stands by saying that this power shall not be exercised without the leave of the Court.
§ Mr. REID
I beg to second the Amendment.
I would point out to the learned Solicitor-General that the application of moneys of this kind is bound to be a speculative undertaking. If the builder is a substantial builder and a man of good credit he can raise the money otherwise. We do not want to authorise people to enter upon risky speculations of trust moneys. One can emphasise this matter if one has any acquaintance with conveyancing, and we could get further evidence bearing upon this point. But I think the matter is clear to everyone who understands the general position. The development of an estate is by no means a safe form of speculation. Again, hon. Members may remember the very well-known and very scandalous cases of the failure of solicitors about 20 years ago. These caused great consternation. A great deal of trust money disappeared. I think I am right in saying that almost every one of these failures was caused by the solicitor having made advances out of trust funds to builders for the purposes of opening up estates. I would beg the Solicitor-General to attempt to meet my hon. and learned Friend who has moved this Amendment. One cannot help feeling that this is a power which ought not to be given in this way. Trustees sometimes take their duties rather lightly, and they are sometimes overborne by stronger minded men, and I think further protection is needed.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I supported the Second Reading of this Bill on the understanding that there was to be no danger to trust money. I think this Clause seriously endangers trust money. It has just been pointed out that you could not have a more speculative investment than that of advancing money to builders to develop estates. Two or three cases of startling failures are recorded in this respect. What is the main object of a trust? It is to ensure that the capital amount of the trust shall not be diminished. By a Clause of this kind, however, you are inviting trustees to enter into a speculative business with the almost certain knowledge that very serious pecuniary capital losses may arise. Sub-section (3) of this Clause says:This Section applies to settlements coming into operation either before or after the commencement of this Act.396 The effect of this proposal is that Subsection (2) of this Clause will come into operation with regard to settlements made before the commencement of this Act. I am very much concerned about this proposal, because there is a considerable number of people who never would have thought of putting such a provision in the trust. Surely the Government are not going to bring in a Bill of this sort and insert a Clause of this kind, which interferes with and actually destroys the very intentions of the trust. I have not opposed this Bill, and I promise not to oppose it, but nevertheless that this is a most dangerous Clause, and I hope the Solicitor-General will, at ally rate, if he cannot leave this Clause out, leave out Sub-section (3). With regard to what has been said about a substantial builder, if you have got such a builder you do not want this Clause. This Clause is only required in the case of a speculative builder who is desirous of embarking for unknown reasons upon a scheme of this sort, and the only way he can get the money is by persuading the tenant for life that he can make a considerable increase in his income by lending money for this purpose. For these reasons I make a very earnest appeal to the Solicitor-General to pot in some sort of Amendment which will preserve the right of the tenant for life to say whether or not he wishes to his money invested in this way.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
If the epithets which have been applied to this Clause were deserved, I should certainly accept the Amendment, but I want those who have addressed the House on this Clause to consider one or two aspects which appear to have escaped their attention to some extent. In the first place, the tenant for life, in seeking to apply capital money to building purposes, is in a fundamentally different position to the man who is financing a builder for building on somebody else's land. In this ease the building is being done on his own land, thus increasing the value of his land, and if the builder goes bankrupt he will forfeit any unpaid instalments that have not accrued due, and any advance in the value of the land will go to the benefit of the estate. In the case where failures have occurred they have been financing builders who have been building on land belonging to somebody else.
397 The second point is that before the tenant for life can get the money from the trustees he has to satisfy them that they can lend the money in accordance with the provision's of the Trustee Act, 1893. Section 8 of that Act provides that a trustee cannot with safety lend money to be expended upon such investments as building unless before lending it he has a report from a qualified surveyor and valuer in the first place as to the value of the property. Then the valuer must he a person whom he reasonably believes to be an able and practical surveyor or valuer, not instructed or employed by any owner of the property. Secondly, he must be satisfied that he is making a loan in accordance with the advice of the surveyor or valuer. Thirdly, he is not allowed to advance more than two-thirds of the value put upon the land by the valuer. Those are the provisions of Section 8 of the Trustee Act, and all these preliminary safeguards have to be satisfied before the trustee can advance any money at all.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Does the Solicitor-General really mean that there is no danger of loss because the building is taking place on his own land? Suppose I am the tenant for life, and I advance to a builder, say, £500 to erect a house, it being understood that certain walls have to be put up before I pass on the money, and that I only advance the balance when the roof has been placed on? Suppose the builder finds that he has made a mistake, and he fails, what has happened? I find myself in possession of part of a house with no roof on it. What am I to do? The result would be I should have to find more money to finish the building.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
I quite appreciate the right hon. Baronet's point. I know that is the kind of thing that does happen from time to time, but it is not usual, and when it does happen it invariably happens that you have in hand, out of the moneys that would have been paid to the builder who fails, sufficient to pay any extra cost in getting another builder to complete the work. As a rule, the loss is a very small one, and a long way less than the one-third which you do not advance. So much as to the safety or unsafety of doing this.
Let me add this: Ever since 1909, for a reason which some people say was not 398 unconnected with the Finance Act of that year, there have been difficulties in getting buildings erected in this country, and arm result of this has been that a Clause on these lines, ever since 1909, has very often been inserted into wills and settlements in order to give the tenant for life power to go to the trustees and get money advanced for the purpose of building on his estate. This Clause has now become very common. Here I am not acting only on the small amount of knowledge that I personally possess on this subject, but I am advised, and those responsible for this Bill have been advised, by a very large body of opinion competent to judge upon these matters, including Chancery Judges, and particularly the late Mr. Justice Petersen, that these powers, which are now being habitually inserted, may properly be incorporated in the Bill as dart of the act of a tenant for life.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I would like to ask if the late Mr. Justice Petersen ever expressed an opinion as to the powers of this Clause being exercised without the consent of the Court?
§ Sir L. SCOTT
I am afraid that I cannot answer that question. I do not mean that the late Mr. Justice Petersen was dealing with this particular Clause, but what I say is that, on the broad question of principle of provision for the express purpose of facilitating by law what is the experience of everyday life during the last decade and what is considered desirable, that has been approved by a very large body of competent opinion in the profession. For that reason I cannot help thinking that the fears that have been expressed about this Clause are unfounded. As regard the suggestion made by the Mover, that this power should be subject to the leave of the Court, if it were only one application costing £35 or £40, of course, it would be a reasonable suggestion that we should put it in, but, as I understand the Clause, there would have to be not one application, but an application many times over each time an advance had to be made for any specific building. I do not see any other way in which the words suggested by my hon. and learned Friend can be read. As I understand those words, they mean that whenever an advance is to be made of this kind the person making the advance 399 must go to the Court and get leave for so doing.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
May I suggest a reason for my action? The landowner who enters into an agreement with the builder to grant a lease of 10 or 20 acres of land would go to the Court and say, "I propose to give the builder this lease and to make him certain advances accordingly as houses are built on the land." Surely that would only involve one application to the Court?
§ Sir L. SCOTT
That would mean preparing a scheme under Section 26 of the Settled Land Act, 1882, and it would be a very elaborate business indeed, involving the employment of an architect and of quantity surveyors and the preparation of plans at an expense far exceeding the £35 which would be the cost of applying to the Court. It is to get rid of the necessity for that kind of extravagance which, in 999 cases out of 1,000, is not really required, having regard to the overriding protection of the Trustee Act, 1893. Since my hon. Friend spoke just now, I have ascertained that this particular Clause was before the late Mr. Justice Petersen, who went through the whole Bill, line by line, during many weeks, and who raised no objection whatever to this Clause. I ask the House to reject this Amendment.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I hope that the House will support the Solicitor-General in the position he has taken up. I can say, in addition to the authorities he has quoted, that this part of the Bill received very special attention at the hands of the Council of the Law Society. If caution be enshrined in its extremist form in any consultative body of people, it will be found in this Council of the Law Society. The members of the Law Society who took special charge of this part of the Bill were some of the ablest conveyancing authorities in the solicitors' branch of the profession in the whole kingdom, and we can therefore be quite sure that this proposal has been most carefully examined by men who are extremely cautious in their outlook, and who, in addition, have had an immense amount of practical experience, and certainly in the case of two or three of them forty or fifty years' actual practice 400 in matters of this kind. I can therefore assure hon. Members, who may feel that this is going too far, that the proposal is supported, not only by the authorities whom my learned Friend has quoted, but also by the authority of men who have been in daily practical contact with this kind of work and who hold the very highest status in this branch of the profession. Certainly this Bill does not err on the side of rash experiment. If it errs at all it is on the side of caution.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I would like to ask the Solicitor-General one question. Are we right in understanding, in view of the wording of Sub-section (2), that this particular Sub-section which we are now discussing would have the effect of overriding a settlement which contained a definite prohibition of the use of the money of the estate for this purpose? Would it override a definite prohibition in a settlement drawn up years before the passing of this Bill?
§ Sir L. SCOTT
The whole principle of law reform embodied in the Settled Land Acts has been to forbid wills and settlements preventing the utilisation of the land in a way which Parliament has thought desirable, and necessarily the effect of a provision enabling an individual to contract himself out of the Act would be to stultify the provision itself.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I point out that what we are desirous of doing is not to prevent land being used for building purposes—for there can be no objection to that—if a builder comes forward with sufficient money for the purpose, but what we do object to is that the money for the actual building should be taken out of the corpus of the estate and used for that purpose.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I hope my hon. and right hon. Friends will not continue their opposition to this Sob-section. I cannot help thinking it is a valuable Subsection. Take the case of a landowner who desires to build cottages on his estate. Nothing is more common than the difficulties he is put into in finding capital for such a purpose.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If my Noble Friend will look at the next Clause, Sub-section (1), he will see that it gives power to 401 build houses and cottages for persons employed on the estate.
§ Lord R. CECIL
But that does not meet the case. It may well be desirable to build cottages for the general benefit of the neighbourhood without necessarily confining the occupation of those cottages to people employed on the estate. It is the duty of landowners at the present time to provide cottages on their estates especially in districts near large towns. This Sub-section, as I read it, will greatly facilitate operations of that kind, and they ought not to be retarded by a possible chance of some injury being done, in very unlikely circumstances, to people having an interest in the estate. Such a chance ought not to override a provision which will make it easier to utilise and develop the land. It is really in the interest even of the land-owning class that this provision should be carried. They want to increase the value of their land, they want to make it more saleable and more easily developed. I very much wish that this Bill had gone a great deal further, and had touched mare nearly the root of the matter. Personally, I would have been glad to support a Measure which dealt with land under settlements generally in a much more drastic way than this Bill does. I am satisfied that the Bill is in the interests of everyone concerned in the land. With regard to the point raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), I agree there is considerable substance in it. Where the terms of a settlement actually forbid any such advance of money, it might be desirable, if possible, to safeguard that particular case, but such cases would be very rare—indeed, I doubt if one could be found. Still if the Noble Lord has any particular case in his mind, where there is a settlement which forbids the use of the money of the estate for this purpose, the Solicitor-General might very well think it a proper case to be dealt with specifically, but as such cases are rare, it can scarcely be 'worth while providing for them in a. public Act. In cases where settlements are silent on this point I am satisfied that the change proposed would be an advantage.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
May I ask the Noble.Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. 402 Percy) whether he has in mind any particular case of a settlement forbidding this advance?
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
The Noble Lord the Member of Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) has spoken as a philanthropist rather than as an owner of land. I think there is a great deal too much philanthrophy at other persons' expense preached in these days, and I could wish that more land was developed at the expense of philanthropists themselves. What the Noble Lord suggests is that money belonging to the remainder man should be spent by the tenant for life in doing philanthropic work. That is a theory which has never entered into our jurisprudence or legislation. It may be desirable from some points of view to socialise the land and to say that men must use it for public purposes utterly disregarding the interests of the remainder man, but that is an entirely new and unheard of theory for dealing with settled land. Therefore, for the moment, I at any rate must disregard the very wide schemes which the Noble Lord appears to have in his mind. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) has raised what I venture to think is an extremely important point, namely, whether supposing after the passing of this Act, a man, realising the danger of the ill-judged financing of builders, puts into a settlement a condition that the money of t he estate shall not be spent in financing builders, this Clause would override that settlement. The Solicitor-General has told us that the Bill as it stands, no matter how much the settlor may desire that the money of the estate shall not be dissipated in unwise building, speculations, would override that expression of his intention. In that case you would have this startling result: A mall settles his property. He says, "I do not want it to be dissipated on unwise building." But a builder comes along, and the tenant for life, who possibly may be a philanthropist like my Noble Friend, says, "Oh, but I want to spend money in speculative building for the benefit of the surrounding neighbourhood"; he goes to his trustees and converts them, by eloquence or otherwise, to that point of view, and the whole intention of the 403 settler is set aside and the money is spent in this way. My right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) assumes that those worthy gentlemen, and I have no doubt there are many, who have examined this Bill and who have not expressly spoken of the dangers of this particular Clause—perhaps they have never had it brought to their attention at all—must necessarily approve of it; but really, with a Bill of 300 pages, when some unfortunate person has to read it through and give, his opinion, are we to take it, because he has not seen the dangers of and the objections to a particular Clause, and has not condemned it, that therefore he approves of it I think my right hon. Friend is expecting too much of human nature, even in lawyers. I do not believe that any lawyer lives, or ever will live, who could read a Bill of this sort from end to end and see all the dangers that lurk in it. Therefore, I put aside that suggestion.
The Solicitor-General, apparently, thought that the idea of getting the consent of the Court was not such a bad idea after all, but that it would be too costly. Let me put to him these two points. I say that for a very small cost, namely, that of going to the Court, you turn a dangerous Clause into a safe Clause and, when the Solicitor-General says that you have to go to the Court time after time for the purpose of getting leave to finance a builder, I venture to think be is not right. You enter into an agreement with the builder—and this is a very common form of agreement, such as is made every day—to grant a loan and make advances as the house proceeds, according to the architect's or surveyor's certificate. All that is necessary, in order to get the consent of the Court, is to take this agreement to the Court and ask the Court to sanction it. Only one application is necessary. The thing could be done in a Chancery Judge's Chambers in the course of half an hour, and would only involve one application, certainly not costing more than £35 or £40. Therefore, really the only objection that the Solicitor-General has put forward against getting the leave of the Court, that is to say, that it would require repeated applications and in- 404 volve great cost, falls to the ground. I do ask him whether he cannot see his way to put in the words that I have suggested, and thus get over what is undoubtedly a danger to the remainder man.
§ Sir WILLIAM BULL
The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down speaks as though an estate is developed by one builder alone, but, having had some little experience of developing estates round London, I can tell him that that is not the case. In a great many cases 20, or even 30, builders have the property between them, and in practice the land is dealt with in small plots by small builders. I always say that the speculative builder is one of the greatest philanthropists we have ever known, and we miss him very greatly now. If we have to have an application every time a builder applies to a landlord for four or five plots for building small houses, the expense will be something tremendous, and therefore I suggest that we do not oppose this Subsection.
Colonel Sir JAMES GREW
The arguments of the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) are arguments from the past. They would have been perfectly good against the Settled Land Act, 1882, but, in spite of such arguments, that. Act. was passed by eminent Conservative lawyers of that day; and this Clause is merely a logical development, in the interests of the public, of the principle included in that Act. What are the precautions with which it is surrounded? Both the tenant for life and the trustees will have to agree in deciding whether this is to be done or not, and surely in the national interest, where it is difficult to get money for development in this particular way, the capital money which can only be invested in the land should be invested in houses on the land and made available in this way. The whole development of estates at the present time largely demands some such power, and, with the ordinary precautions which every tenant for life and trustee would exercise, the House will surely consider that we are not running any risk of danger to estates by passing a Clause of this sort.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HURST
I should like to join in supporting this Sub-section. The Mover of the Amendment, in his reply, insisted on making the same 405 assumption that he made in his original speech, namely, that there is a great danger to the beneficiaries under a settlement through this Sub-section. He spoke about waste and about the danger to the reversioners, but I venture to think he ignored the point to which the Solicitor-General directed the attention of the House, namely, the great and complete protection afforded to the beneficiary under the Trustee Act, 1893. That is a very real protection. It means that there will be a valuation by an independent valuer, and that not more than two-thirds of the figure at which the property is valued is to be advanced out of the trust estate. As to the point made by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) with regard to h prohibition in the settlement of advances of this sort, I think, bearing in mind that the law, as it at present stands, does not contemplate the making of advances of this sort by trustees, that it is contrary to all probability, and, indeed, is almost impossible, that any settlement would have prohibited trustees from committing a specific breach of trust, which could not have been within the contemplation of the testator at a time when the law never regarded such an investment as possible. Of course, there may lie more in the point that settlements are silent on the question of investment, and the objection has been raised that it is wrong of Parliament to override the intentions of a settlor or testator. But that has been done again and again in the history of law. A testator or settlor may make a settlement which breaks the rule against perpetuities, or which is in restraint of marriage, and in other ways he may make dispositions which the law overrides at the present time. Those dispositions are regarded as void, as being contrary to public policy, and the Courts or Parliament there override the intention of the testator.
This Sub-section simply gives effect to the provision which comes later on in Section 65, as to the development of settled land or any part thereof. It provides a means by which cottages or other buildings can be laid out upon the settled land, which otherwise would not be in existence, and, moreover, these improvements are to take effect upon the actual site of the settled land. That being so, it seems to me that 406 public policy is an element in this question, and the whole public policy for the last half-century or more has been to increase the power of dealing with, developing, and managing land. This is a step in the right direction; it makes persons who have to deal with land infinitely more free than they otherwise would be It helps to relieve the great housing congestion at the present time. It not only applies, as one hon. Member has said, to cottages on great landed estates, but has just as useful an application in the undeveloped districts on the outskirts of great towns, and is equally welcome in that respect. Public policy supports it the interests of beneficiaries are safeguarded and, therefore, it eminently deserves the support of the House.
§ Mr. REID
I only want to ask the learned Solicitor-General one question: How does the Trustee Act apply to advances of this kind? I cannot possibly see how it can.
§ Amendment negativel.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), after the word "applies" [''This Section applies"], to insert the word "only."
My object is to amend this Sub-section so that it may read as follows:This Section applies only to settlements coining into operation after the commencement of this Act.In my view we should not, under any circumstances whatever, indulge in retrospective legislation. It may be right that the tenant for life should enter into speculative building operations, although personally I do not think that that is the way to promote building or to encourage sales, which, after all, is what we want in this country; but at any rate we ought not to make these alterations in the law retrospective. A large number of people have made their settlements without any idea of a Clause of this sort being nut into an Act of Parliament. It is true that if this Clause is in, people who are going to make settlements in the future 407 must make what arrangements they can and will know where they are; but to say that if a man has made a settlement in the past, with the understanding that his money shall be invested in such-and. such a way, it shall now be possible, at the will of a foolish or incompetent trustee or of a foolish tenant for life, to advance that money to a builder, who cannot get money anywhere else, for the purpose of building houses as a speculative investment, in these days when houses cost a great deal more to build than they will probably ever realise, seems to me to be absolutely wrong from every point of view.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
There are two reasons why I cannot ask the House to assent to this Amendment. Firstly, it is contrary to the whole principle of the Settled Land Acts from the start. Let me read the words of Section 51 of the Settled Land Act, 1882, which has been acted upon ever since and which every lawyer in the country has ever since regarded as a great reform. Sub-section (1) of that Section says:If in a settlement, will, assurance, or other instrument executed or made before or after or partly before and partly after the commencement of this Act, a provision is inserted purporting or attempting, by way of direction, declaration, or otherwise, to forbid a tenant for life to exercise any powers under this Act—and there are a dozen more lines to the same purport—that provision, as far as it purports or attempts or tends or is intended to have or would or might have the operation aforesaid, shall be deemed to be void.That is the principle of these Acts. To accept this Amendment would be to go contrary in one specific power to the whole scheme of Settled Land Acts administration. As to immediate merits, the effect of the Amendment would be to prevent this power attaching under any settlement coming into effect, or which has already come into effect or which comes into effect before the Act comes into operation three years hence. We have a great shortage of houses to-day which will not be made up for years to come. We want to get this building development and we want everything which will facilitate it. To hamper the process of development by striking this power out from settlements 408 which have already been made and only allowing it for those settlements which are made in the future would be a mistake in existing circumstances.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understand then the reason this Clause is put in, arid the reason my hon. and learned Friend will not accept my Amendment, is that he wants to build houses at the expense of a certain class.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
I must protest against what is a ridiculous imputation, if my right hon. Friend will forgive the epithet. This expenditure will be made on the settled estate for the development of the settled estate for the benefit of all parties interested in the settled estate.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
My hon. and learned Friend says there is a shortage of houses which everyone desires to abolish. However, I will not quarrel with him over that point, but it is extremely hard to bring in retrospective legislation in what is, after all, a very serious matter. He has read a Section from the Settled Land Act. My learned Friend below says that does not apply. If you are a lawyer you only have to say one thing and immediately another hon. and learned Gentleman, who is also a lawyer, says he disagrees with his learned brother. That I have found to arise in nearly every case I have had anything to do with, either on a Committee, in the House, or in any other place where I have the pleasure and the privilege of meeting gentlemen learned in the law. You get one hon. and learned Gentleman who says black is white and another hon. and learned Gentleman says politely it is nothing of the sort. Where are we unfortunate laymen who, after all, are the people who are making the trusts and whose property is being dealt with, to come in? I do not believe the Trustee Act comes into operation but we will presume that it really does. The Trustee Act says that if a trustee receives a report from a competent surveyor that certain things might be done he is to do them. We are all men of business. We know how an expert has been described. We know you can get a report from any expert to suit you, and therefore this is no protection whatever. I did not expect this from the Solicitor-General. I really-thought when I moved a reasonable Amendment like this he would certainly accept it. It. is a great shock to me.
§ Amendment negatived.