As from the commencement of this Act, such parts of Section four of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, as were not repealed by Section fifty-seven of the Finance Act, 1920, shall be repealed.—[Mr. Pretyman.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to accept this Clause, which will cost nothing to the Exchequer, and will save a very heavy expenditure to a large number of people in this country. The Committee will remember that in the Finance Act, 1910, a duty called Increment Value Duty was proposed. In order to facilitate the collection of that duty, it was enacted that everybody who sold land or who leased land for a long term of years should present particulars to the Inland Revenue showing the price which they had obtained, and a great many other details which required very careful drafting and which entailed a great deal of expense and trouble. The Committee will also remember that that Increment Value Duty was repealed last year, but, for some reason which I have never been able to understand, the enactment that these particulars were to be presented still remained in force. I now suggest that that enactment should also be repealed. Figures show that the solicitors' costs for presenting these particulars amount to over £500,000 a year. 2143 An hon. Member, who is not here at the moment, but who said he would be present to support the Clause, told me that he had had in one case 1,100 similar conveyances to pass through, and the only cost and trouble in connection with those conveyances was the presentation of these figures. In the ordinary case, the charge of a solicitor for preparing and presenting these particulars amounts to £1 11s. 6d. It used to be £1 1s., but it has now been increased to £1 11s. 6d. I believe some cases are done more cheaply, but the average cost is about £1 1s., and that amounts to over £500,000 in the whole, which is a pure waste of money.
It has been suggested that the presentation of these particulars may be of use to district valuers in valuing for Death Duties. I hope that defence will not be put forward, because it is far from being the case. These particulars are really of no value whatever for Death Duty purposes. On the contrary, they are very misleading, because all the particulars given here are those of completed transactions, without any record whatever of the circumstances and motives in which those transactions were carried out, and without any record of attempted sales which did not take place. That is a very important matter in the market. A valuer or a surveyor in a district, who is considering what the capital value of any particular piece of land or house may be in that district, at any given moment, would have regard not only to a few successfully completed sales, which might be at a high figure for special circumstances personal to the vendor or the purchaser. He would have regard to the whole state of the market, and to such sales as had been attempted and had failed. Further than that, particularly in these times, everybody is aware of the very rapid fluctuations which take place in the value of property. It runs up and down, and I unhesitatingly say that any competent valuers, such as those on the panels and those who have to assess the value of property for Estate Duty, would only be hampered in considering Death Duties if they were given these particulars of sales. He would be in a much better position to value if he were left perfectly free to ascertain the whole of the circumstances available.
Suppose that the Increment Value particulars did give him an advantage. 2144 Is it fair that a special advantage given to the people who are valuing for the State apart from those who are valuing for the individual? Why should particulars be available to the person valuing for the State which are not available to the man who is valuing for private individuals? This is a most wasteful provision. If the Exchequer were getting this money it would be a very unfair tax, but at any rate it would go to the revenue. Here is a tax, imposed by the State, of over £500,000 a year on a particular form of property, at a time when it is passing through greater difficulties than any other form of property, from which the revenue authorities derive no benefit whatever. I hope I am knocking at an open door in this matter, for I cannot think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has any desire to maintain this particular imposition. If it is not going to be withdrawn I shall press my Clause to a division, because it is very important that this unnecessary tax should be withdrawn. I sincerely hope that my right hon. Friend will see his way to accept the Clause.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
The primâ facie case for the Clause seems a strong one, yet I hope I shall be able to satisfy the Committee that the reasons in favour of retaining this system of delivering particulars of transactions in land are good ones and are much stronger than those in favour of abolishing it. Let me deal with the figure of the alleged cost of £500,000 a year in payments to solicitors incidental to carrying out this obligation. That estimate was arrived at by the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Clause by assuming that, for each set of particulars delivered, the solicitors concerned charged £1 1s. He has taken the number of transactions, which occurred under the absolutely abnormal conditions of 1920, as representing the average number of transactions in a year, upon which this charge of £1 1s. has to he paid. Before the War, the number of transactions during the year was under 200,000, and this year the figure is comparable with that. Even if solicitors were ad infinitum, to continue to charge £1 1s., the figure would be 200,000 guineas in the average and not 500,000 guineas. If we look at the charge, it merely means this, that where a sale is effected some small fee has to be paid in order to let the appropriate Department of the Govern- 2145 ment know the details of the transactions. In past years, say 15 years ago, it was an extremely difficult thing for the Government to know what the position really was in regard to transactions in land.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
There are very many reasons why they should know. It is very desirable that the Government, in taxing land, should know the details. This House often thinks it right that land should be acquired for public undertakings of one sort or another. It is very desirable, when land is acquired for public purposes, that the price paid for the land should not be in excess of its fair value. It is not a bad principle that the same value should be applicable where a. tax has to be paid by the owner of the land and where money has to be paid to the owner of the land for the acquisition of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to note approval of my sentiments in quarters where they are not always supported. It is of great public importance that we should have sonic system of knowing what is fair value of land, both for purposes of taxation and of acquisition. In order that we may know what the value of land is it is very desirable that the Valuation Department and the Government should be in possession of the necessary information.
Before I deal with what is necessary by way of information for the Valuation Department, I want to say a word upon that Department. I had occasion to make particular inquiry into the Valuation Department over a series of years. I came to this conclusion—I say it with all deliberation—that that Department to-day contains a very competent staff. At one time, we know, there were a large number of persons engaged in the Department—in the early stages, a good many years ago I do not want to rake up the embers of past controversies—some of whom, to be perfectly frank about it, were not competent. During the War I had the privilege of acting as Chairman of a Committee appointed by the Prime Minister to consider a number of questions relating to the acquisition and valuation of land. It was upon one of the reports of that Committee that the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, was based. Another report produced the 2146 Law of Property Bill, which awaits the Royal Assent, I think, to-morrow. But in connection with these subjects of valuation and acquisition, we made a close and critical inquiry into the working of the Valuation Department, and of the work of the valuers of that Department, to see whether they were competent or not., and the unanimous testimony of the independent experts—we had three or four on my Committee—was that they did their work extremely well. I got similar evidence from several of the Departments, particularly the Admiralty and the War Office, and the result was that we came to a very strong conclusion that they were a very useful Department, and saved the public a very great deal of money by the excellence of their valuations and the cheapness at which they were done. The Committee on National Expenditure presided over by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), in their 5th Report, expressed approval of the Valuation Department, and that opinion was concurred in by the Geddes Committee.
That being so, I venture to submit that we ought to approach the question from the point of view of accepting as a premise that the Valuation Department is a useful item of Government machinery, which tends to economy, and saves the public money. From that point; of view I want to approach this question. That Department cannot function properly unless it be supplied with the kind of information which is contained in what are called "particulars delivered," under the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, and, in order to enable that Department to function properly, it is essential to maintain the delivery of those particulars. The records of the Department as to the details of land upon which it is enabled to form its opinion as to the value of land have been maintained now continually for a series of years. To break the continuity would be, in effect, to multiply many times over the work that would have to be done at some future date to enable valuers to get the information necessary to form their opinion. When the Law of Property Bill comes into operation on the 1st January, 1925, these particulars delivered will become very much simpler, and the solicitor's costs involved in them will be smaller. I doubt very much then whether it will be necessary to employ solicitors 2147 for these particulars, and, consequently, the cost will fall to a comparatively small figure. Even to-day a copy of the document will do just as well as the particulars delivered under the Section of the Act, and the cost will thereby be substantially reduced.
Lastly, I want to say—not on the merits, with which I have dealt pretty fully—that the House considered the matter very fully in 1920. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with it, and insisted that the Valuation Department must be retained, and that these particulars were essential to its successful and efficient functioning. The House at that time accepted that view. Incidentally, I may add that under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, there are several purposes for which the Valuation Department ought to be used, and has been and is being used. I ask the Committee to say that these various reasons are sufficient for resisting this new Clause.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
The learned Solicitor-General has stated quite correctly that this matter was fully debated in 1920, when the present Leader of the House was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the argument which he then adduced in favour of the retention of this special piece of machinery has been strengthened, I think, by the experience of the two intervening years. It has been suggested to me that there is a sentimental interest in the retention of this machinery, in so far, as it is the sole remaining bit of salvage of the wreck of the land policy of the Prime Minister, and serves to mark the burial place, with, I hope, a lively prospect of resurrection, some day or other, of the whole scheme. But that is not the object with which I rise to support the position taken up by the learned Solicitor-General. There is no doubt at all that this Department does serve a really useful purpose. To begin with, it is useful for the valuation of assets on death. By the preliminary examination of valuations you can arrive at the market value on or about the time of decease much more easily. In the second place, as the learned Solicitor-General pointed out with very great force, you have here an estimate. Market value, of course, is a very difficult thing to define, but, at any rate, you have an estimate of what is the 2148 value of property at a time when a public authority seeks to acquire that property for public purposes. Whether it be a railway company, or a local authority's undertaking of any kind, there is this most useful basis of valuation. Machinery was set up by this Government in 1919 for the acquisition of land for various public purposes, and there is no doubt at all that this Valuation Department has been of real service in this connection.
There is one interesting point to me, as belonging to another branch of the profession from that of my hon. and learned Friend. It is, that the official representatives of solicitors are very willing to forego the fee of which, I understand, they have been in receipt while this thing is in operation, amounting to about £200,000 a year. I think the Solicitor-General was perfectly accurate in saying that there is nothing like the enormous amount of business in land that there was in 1920, and that it is much more likely this year to be about the general average, namely, £200,000. The objection taken by solicitors was that the details asked for were unnecessarily prolix, and that particulars were sought which were not really useful. I had a good deal to do with an effort with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in those days and some representative solicitors, to simplify the form. The form has been very much simplified since. I think it can be further simplified quite easily, and, as to the fee which is charged, it might be reduced quite usefully to one-half. The thing becomes a matter of mere machinery. The real point was that they were after a lot of details which were quite unnecessary. To the extent which they cut down these unnecessary details, provided the important information is obtained, I think all cause of grievance is removed, and this most useful basis of valuation, or rather information, on which ultimate valuation is based, ought, in the interest of the general community, to be maintained.
§ Sir H. NIELD
I have listened to the exordium which has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. I can well understand it. Indeed, if there were any cat in the bag, it was let out when he said that they desired to obtain this in view of future developments. He said it was a very useful Department. We know it has been a useful Department. It was most useful in 1909–10 to enable the right 2149 hon. Gentleman and his friends then on the Treasury Bench to pay a number of political debts by the appointments they were able to make. That I am able to know, because I was asked to undertake an investigation at that time of those very appointments, and I could show to this Committee, were I to have access to my reports and dossier, some very startling appointments that were made. Of course, it is very useful. It has cost the country £5,000,000, which has been a dead loss. That is far from, a sentimenkal reason for continuing it, and I am, of course, not surprised to find that unity of purpose prevailing between the learned Solicitor-General and the Opposition Bench. May it continue. It is the very surest evidence that the time must come when there must be a change here.
But let us see precisely what is meant by this. My hon. and learned Friend who is always so sympathetic and affable that it is always difficult to pick a bone with him, has said that this is most useful information. I venture to think the information he gets on this form is of no practical value at all to those called upon to value land. If I may say so respectfully and kindly, my hon. and learned Friend has got a bee in his bonnet on this particular subject. He has been chairman of a Committee dealing with the acquisition of land, and he has been chairman of other Committees of investigation. Further, he had a very large hand indeed in the production of that monstrous Bill—I say "monstrous" from the point of view of size—the Law of Property Bill. It is part and parcel of the argument of my hon. and learned Friend that it is under the operation of that Bill that they will be able to make use of this Department. I thought the Department was scrapped; that it had been set aside as a useless thing; that it was produced for purely party purpoes, and it had to be scrapped. It is a great surprise to me to find it still in existence. Of course, my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General thinks it has justified its existence, and is producing a profit. I should very much like to know whether he can give any specific instance which would stand the test of cross-examination, in which the Exchequer has really derived material advantage on a question of value as apart from the work of the valuers and the information on the 2150 land and in relation to the particular estate in question. No! I think we may safely conclude, those of us who have moved this new Clause, and those who have sympathy with our action, that there is a great deal of arrière pensée about this.
I hope that those who have already, that is the general taxpayers, paid this five millions of money that has been lost in the operations of this Department, will take note that this Government declines to remove it, and is quite willing that the cost of it should go on; quite willing that those who are constantly aggravated by this constant requirement for official particulars should continue to be. Some of us—solicitors and others—arc never without a form to be filled up. When that Budget, about which I have really to restrain myself when I speak—when that Budget which has been responsible for all the mischief and all the evils that have followed—[An HON. MEMBER: "The War!"] Oh, no, but for this Budget there would have not been that bargain with hon. Members who sit opposite, and we should not have had the troubles on the other side of the Irish Sea. I pass from that. But it is very unpopular to mention some of these matters. It is rubbing salt into the wounds. I finish with that. But I venture to say that what was clone then has proved to be a disastrous failure and has riled the general public. I refer to Form IV and all the other mischievous forms pronounced illegal after great expenditure had been incurred upon the actions. All this shows the mockery of the whole business, and I am surprised the Government to-day should offer one word in justification for the retention of this Clause.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
A similar proposal to the present was made in the House last year. I was rather surprised to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), because I have a recollection that last year he took part in the Debate, and I understand that while there would be some difficulty in removing this Department then—that was last year—there would not be the same difficulty in a year hence—that is now. After I had spoken the right hon. Gentleman got up and said that he had had great difficulty in coming to any decision on the matter, but, after hearing what I said, he thought I was a 2151 practical person, and he had decided to support the proposal to keep this department on. I, myself, do not know how the matter stands with him now, for he made a very different sort of speech this evening. I am speaking from memory entirely, but I think what I say is fairly accurate.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Assuming the hon. and gallant Gentleman is correct, I remain convinced by his arguments of last year.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I, at any rate, support the removal this evening, and for this reason: I thought it was reasonable, seeing we had such short notice last year, that the work might be continued for another year; but there is no excuse whatever now, for no reason can be given to justify the continuance of this Department. It is only a waste of money. Whether a man is dealing with a lease or a sale or with a matter of £500,000 or £50, the tax is all the same. We have just passed a Law of Property Bill to facilitate and to cheapen the transfer of land. I pointed out at the time that Stamp Duty was one of the great costs in the transfer of land, and here is another Government tax. It is a tax on every person, great or small, dealing with land, whether of the value of £50 or a rental of only 10s. There is no justification whatever for continuing it or making it permanent. The whole scheme should be scrapped.
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield) has handled the dossier to which he referred. If he has I have been wondering whether my name was in it, because I received one of the appointments at the time that this Department was formed, and I spent some eight years in it; so I may perhaps be credited with some little knowledge as to the value which the Department attaches to the particulars and the value which they in fact receive from them. I must confess that in the early years of this Parliament, following the time when the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister achieved his great victory—for it was a great victory, and it came as the result of one of the most wonderful pieces of organisation which this country has known—and I congratulate him—I did wonder why these particulars were left, why this small remnant of the scheme had been 2152 left. I suppose it is sonic sort of final thank-offering, a souvenir which the Prime Minister cherished of his Land Valuation Department. My mind went back to a story narrated in a well-known book of another David who, when a fierce lion came down upon his flock and seized a lamb, if I remember rightly, snatched an ear of the lamb out of the mouth of the hon. I thought that probably these few particulars represented, so to speak, the ear of the lamb, and the remnant which the Prime Minister had taken from a once large Department.
I am not without some sympathy with the position taken by those who want to get rid of these particulars. What is advanced on their behalf? The argument is, and it is perfectly true, that these particulars do keep the Valuation Department in touch with the market value. As a Department, they are not per se entrusted with any power of negotiation for the purchase and the sale of property. I think it might be truly said that if they do not get these particulars that they would be remote from a knowledge of the market values. Against that it might very fairly be argued if that is se it is not the business of private individuals to educate a Government Department at private expense. That, I understand, is the point. If this Department is to be kept informed, kept up in its work, that should not be done at the expense of private individuals. I am bound to say that there is a good deal for that case. But what has the House to consider? It has to consider this: First of all, has this Department, to be kept on? Members who think that it ought not to he kept on are entirely consistent in that view in supporting the proposed Clause, because if the Department is no use, informed or uninformed, it is no use asking the people to spend half a million upon it.
So far as we can judge it is the general sense of the House that it should continue. When the House got rid of the duties, they decided to keep the Department, and I believe everybody and every Committee that has investigated this Department has come to the conclusion expressed by the Solicitor-General, that it was a good Department, efficient, that its services were valuable and should be retained. My hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. A. Williams) I believe has had opportunities as a member of the 2153 Committee on National Expenditure of going into this point, and I think he is prepared to add his confirmation to what has been said by the Solicitor-General. If that be so, if it be that this Department is one worth retaining, that it is to the advantage of the State in its dealings with matters arising out of the transfer of property that we should have a Department of this kind, it follows that such Department must be maintained at its most efficient level. As the policy of the Government comes up at the present time it should be said there is no other way of maintaining this Department in a position to render the service which it can render, than that at present adopted, of supplying it with particulars of every transfer of property which takes place.
It is not all loss, I think, even to those individuals who resent this charge and its services, because I think nobody would be readier than my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelinsford (Mr. Pretyman) to admit that if there are to be conflicts of opinion between surveyors representing private interest and surveyors representing the Government in connection with Death Duties and matters of that sort, it is of value that those Government surveyors should be as well-informed as possible. I do not think anything has ever been said derogatory to the efficiency of the Department. General surveyors who have come in contact with the Department and have had to negotiate with them, have paid tributes to the efficiency of these civil servants. That is the position. So long as the Government maintains its present policy, or not engaging the members of the valuation staff in the actual sales and the actual negotiations with regard to the sale of land, the only way to inform them is to supply them with the particulars. If not, they had better scrap the Department. If they are going to maintain the Department they must continue to feed it.
There is, however, a way in which I think the desire of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite might be met. I will trouble the Committee a very few moments with the matter, but I refer to a change in the method of employing the Department—a change set forth in the Report which is published by the Committee on Crown and Government Lands. This Report was issued only two or three days ago, and it represents the opinion of a Committee consisting of a number 2154 of very distinguished surveyors. The chairman was Sir Howard Frank, a gentleman who holds a most distinguished place in his profession, and who has been entrusted with the most responsible task ever allotted to a surveyor in this country. Sir Howard Frank was supported by a number of gentlemen to whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be ready to testify as to their ability. They include Sir Frederick Ponsonby, Mr. E. G, Strutt, Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Sir N. F. Warren Fisher, and Sir John Hubert Oakley. They reported:We have been informed that of existing public Departments the Board of Inland Revenue—in virtue of its controlling a valuation branch with local offices throughout Great Britain—is regarded as the proper Department for undertaking all valuation work for the Government (other than that connected with the winding up of certain War transactions), but that it is not considered desirable to place on that Department the responsibility for purchase, sale or management of lands, etc.While this Department is employed for the purposes of valuation, it is divorced and kept separate and apart for the responsibility in regard to the purchase, sale or management of land. That is not dealing with the real thing, and it is not actually engaged in the purchase, sale or management of land. In their recommendations on page 9, the Committee described the procedure involved on a purchase or sale, and they come to the conclusion that:It follows from this that purchases and sales involve at every stage the advice and active intervention of a professional valuer if the work is to be satisfactorily performed, and a divorce between valuation and dealings in land is seen to be purely artificial.That is the position at the present time, because there is actually a divorce between valuation and dealings in land. You get that divorce at the present time. The Committee further report:We therefore regard it as axiomatic that a qualified professional staff should he available for advising Departments in regard to valuations, purchases and sales, etc., of real property,Therefore they recommend that a valuation Department should go on, and that there should be a qualified special staff of valuers engaged by the Crown. The Report continues:and for the actual conduct of negotiations, and we cannot adopt any suggestion that valuations should or can be separated from purchases and sales.I suggest that the Report of this Com- 2155 mittee is entitled to great weight, and that the Government should give it consideration. I for one would be perfectly willing to agree that when this change took place the supply of these particulars should cease, but I do feel that as long as the Government maintain this artificial division between their valuation staff and their land staff this is the only way in which they can bridge it. For these reasons I cannot support the Amendment as it stands.
§ Mr. CAUTLEY
Both the Solicitor-General and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) agree that these particulars are required, but for a totally different purpose to that for which they were ordered by the Act of Parliament under which they are delivered. It is extremely difficult, to my mind, to justify the continuation of this heavy burden on a particular class of the community for a purpose entirely different from that which was intended. The only argument in support of their continuance is that the valuation staff is used for other purposes, and that this staff should be informed of the sales of land. I know it is very desirable that the valuation staff should have these particulars, but why should a special section of the community have to supply them and at its own cost? I waited to see what answer the hon. Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) would give to his own question, but he ran away from it, and never gave any reasons, and the Solicitor-General has not given any reason why the cost of these particulars should be put on the landowners and they be compelled to supply information for a purpose not connected With themselves.
Why do the Government not pay for this information in the usual way instead of leaving particular landowners to supply it and pay for it? The costs have been put at £500,000 or about £480,000, and this is really an average of the transactions for the three years 1919–20–21. A charge of one guinea has been taken in arriving at these figures, but my experience shows that one guinea is by no means sufficient to cover the charges incurred. No layman could supply these statistics himself, and if they could, particulars supplied by laymen would not be accepted by the Department. Why should this 2156 particular class of people be taxed in this way for supplying information which, in many cases, will never be used at all Evidence as to the value of land five or 10 years ago is of no use as to the value of that land at the time when the inquiry is being made.
For another reason there is no ground whatever why the landowners should continue to deliver these particulars. I have always regarded it as being of the utmost political value to the State that we should in every way cheapen the sale of land and make it easier to transfer it, and yet the learned Solicitor-General brings in the Law of Property Bill, which for the next twenty years is going to increase the cost of the sale of land. The Solicitor-General is now insisting on the supply of these particulars. This again is only adding to the cost of every transaction that takes place, and whenever we have a Finance Bill that can put more taxes on the conveyance of land, we do so. Already the heavy stamp duty on the conveying land adds very materially to its cost. For these reasons I shall go into the Lobby against the Government, because I consider these particulars are quite unnecessary, and it is a gross injustice to a special section of the community.
§ Mr. ROSE
I should not have intervened in this discussion but for the remark made by the hon. and gallant Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes), who referred to the now defunct Committee on National Expenditure, of which I also was a member. The hon. and gallant Member referred to the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. A. Williams) as the one person who would be ready to confirm the generally expressed approval in that report of the continuance of this Department. I believe the Committee did report in favour of continuing the Department, and that is why I have got up to speak, because members of a Select Committee cannot make a Minority Report, and therefore the only thing I can do now is to utterly dissociate myself from that Report. It is common knowledge that those Reports are written by the President, and I believe the Chairman of the Committee is backing this resolution, and to me that seems quite inconsistent. I have nothing in common with the right hon. Gentleman who has moved this Clause, and I have no particular sympathy to waste on landlords. However, I can assure my right hon. Friend that, 2157 if he takes this proposal to a Division, in order to express my utter disapproval of the continued existence of this utterly useless Department I shall give myself the unqualified pleasure of following him into the Lobby.
I know that this new Clause has been discussed at considerable length, and I shall not stand for many minutes between the Committee and a Division. I only wish to express an opinion about the particulars which are now being demanded for the passing of every conveyance. I was astonished to hear that the supplying of the particulars for every conveyance meant a tax upon the landowner. That may be so in London and some parts of the Provinces, but, generally speaking, it is a tax simply upon the legal profession upon their time and patience, and it is included in their charges. The suggestion made by the Law Society as to the payment of one guinea has not been generally followed throughout the country. This practice is a great hindrance to easy conveyancing, more particularly in those parts of the country where we have no stamping office at our disposal. What happens is, that the conveyancer has to send his documents by post, and has to postpone the actual conveyance for many days, because of requirements which are far more complicated than is necessary.
I associate myself with what was said by the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), namely, that it is a fair thing to ask all owners of land or owners of houses when they sell their property to give particulars of the amount at which
§ they sell. That is a reasonable requirement on the part of the State, but it is not reasonable to put owners of land and sellers of property to unnecessary inconvenience, delay and trouble in the passing of their property. It ought to be possible to devise some perfectly simple form that should give the authorities the particulars of the transaction and the considerations in respect of which the property passed. The present system, causes unnecessary trouble. It holds up conveyancing unduly. It hinders that facility of conveyancing which the Solicitor-General professed so strong a desire to promote in the course of the discussions on the Law of Property Bill. It would give me some help in the casting of my vote if I could get an undertaking that the Government would reconsider the forms and methods adopted so as to secure the real purpose, and at the same time take from the shoulders of the profession an unnecessary burden in the filling up of manifold forms.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
I believe a simplification has already been effected, and if any further simplification be possible, obviously it should be carried out.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
If there be any hindrance in that respect, it should be removed, and that matter shall be looked into at once.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 69 Noes, 172.2159
|Division No. 184.]||AYES.||[8.5 p.m.|
|Beckett, Hon. Sir Gervase||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hinds, John||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn,W.)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Cairns, John||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S||suttees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Morrison, Hugh||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Cope, Major William||Nall, Major Joseph||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Finney, Samuel||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Windsor, Viscount|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Norris, Colonel sir Henry G.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Perring, William George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Mr. Pretyman and Mr. Cautley.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Armitage, Robert||Hayday, Arthur||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hayward, Evan||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Banton, George||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Scott. A. M. (Glasgow. Bridgeton)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow. Hillhead)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l. Exchange)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Irving, Dan||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Jephcott, A. R.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Jesson, C.||Simm, M. T.|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnstone, Joseph||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Sutherland. Sir William|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Kenyon, Barnet||Swan, J. E.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kidd, James||Taylor, J.|
|Casey, T. W.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Lawson, John James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Thorne, G R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Thorpe. Captain John Henry|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lloyd, George Butler||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Wallace, J.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Davies, A (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Maclean, Rt. Fin. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Dawson. Sir Philip||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Manville, Edward||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wignall, James|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Evans, Ernest||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Falls, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Mosley, Oswald||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Murchison, C. K.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)|
|Foot, Isaac||Myers, Thomas||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Neal, Arthur||Wise, Frederick|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gaff, Sir R. Park||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Preston, Sir W. R.||Younger, Sir George|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Purchase, H. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Rae, Sir Henry N.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Rendall, Athelstan||McCurdy.|
|Hallas, Eldred||Renwick. Sir George|