HC Deb 11 July 1927 vol 208 cc1898-900

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Viscount WOLMER

On Clause 2 in response to the request by the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon), I would point out that in paragraph (d) the Select Committee increased the final notice that the Postmaster-General may give to persons before entering on their land in the case of dwelling houses from 14 to 90 days. As a matter of fact, there are only two dwelling houses affected by this Bill, and the Select Committee, acting on the precedent of last year, thought 14 days not sufficient notice, and have increased it to 90 days. That was the only Amendment made by the Select Committee in the Bill and the Postmaster-General raised no sort of objection to it. We have always been anxious to give the fullest possible notice to any person whom it was necessary to disturb and also to treat such person in a perfectly fair manner as far as compensation was concerned.


I would like to ask the Noble Lord if he will give a little information about the other paragraphs of Clause 2. Clause 2 deals with the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts, and their application to land and sites under this Bill. Sub-section (a) deals with provisions under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, relating to the sale of surplus land. The Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act of 1845, in general, has been made the opportunity, for nearly 100 years, for the systematic exploitation of public bodies. Whenever the community has wanted land, it has had to pay up to 20 times the value of the land. The particular provision relating to superfluous land is, I asume, that the authorities who buy the land are not entitled to get land which is not immediately necessary for the purposes they have in mind. I would like to get an assurance that Sub-section (a) abrogates that part of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act. In the preamble of this Bill, it is stated that the Post Office require sites in the City of London, in the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham, in the Metropolitan Borough of St. Pancras, in the County Borough of Blackpool, and in the Borough of Cheltenham. Blackpool is a rapidly expanding place, where it is likely the requirements of the Post Office will not remain for many years as they are today. We all know that, under the provisions of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act, with regard to superfluous land, over and over again a public authority has had to sell out land which it did not require for its immediate purposes; but, later on, when the purpose became urgent, the land has had to be bought back at an enormously enhanced price. The second question is: Over and over again, by special Acts of Parliament promoted by local authorities or other public bodies, certain exceptions have been made in the application of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act. I am referring particularly to those which enable a part of the purchase price to be obtained by levying an improvement rate. When the nation, apart from the local authority, requires land for national purposes, it may or may not increase the, value of surrounding Iand, and that bonus, which is given by the nation to the landowner, should be recoverable by the imposition of an improvement rate. I should like to know whether the provisions of that Act, dealing with what is called the payment of sums of money for "injurious affection," are being used or not. In other words, what are the exact modifications of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act contained in Clause 2, and has every possible use been made of precedent in the way of exceptions so that this land may be had by the Government under the most favourable conditions of sale and purchase?

Viscount WOLMER

I am glad to be able to give the hon. Gentleman that assurance. We are using the Land Clauses Acts in their entirety in this matter. The only exceptions are the two exceptions mentioned in sub-Clause (a), which are not applicable to the Post Office. The first one, in regard to the superfluous land, is exactly as the hon. Gentleman has stated; it relieves the Postmaster-General from the obligation of selling again the land which is not being immediately used. The second exception, in regard to Section 133 of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act, refers to the Land Tax. The Crown does not pay Land Tax, and that Section is not applicable. Otherwise the whole of the Clauses of the Act are applicable to this Clause.