§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."1901
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
This Clause is another example of the Post Office as a bad landlord. It says:In determining any question of disputed compensation under this Act no allowance shall be made on account of any improvementin certain contingencies. On the Third Reading I intend to oppose the Bill on the ground that the Post Office has no business to be purchasing land. It is high time that all the organisations for the purchase of land for the Crown were co-ordinated. We find that there are 12 Government Departments who have the right to purchase land. They make bad buyers of land. Where they are tenants they are bad tenants, and where they are landlords they are bad landlords. Clause 3 is a retrogressive Clause, which goes against the trend of modern leasehold legislation. It provides that in certain contingencies, if improvements have been made, no compensation shall be payable by the Post Office. What is the justification for that? Is not the ordinary law of leasehold sufficiently adverse to tenants as it is, without giving further powers to the Crown as landlord? If this Clause cannot be justified, it ought to be rejected.
§ Viscount WOLMER
If the hon. Member had listened, if he was here, he would have heard the justification for the Clause. It does not raise any issues of landlord and tenant. The hon. and gallant Member says that the purchase of land ought to be co-ordinated. It is co-ordinated. The Office of Works does all the purchases on behalf of the Post Office and the other Government Departments. I agree with the hon. Member that it would be a very bad plan if it were arranged otherwise, as there might be two Government Departments competing against each other for the same site. The point which the hon. Member raises is very simple. On the 20th day of November, 1926, the Postmaster-General, as he is required to do by law, served notice on all the persons interested in the sites which he proposes to acquire by this Bill. Notice was served on these persons, both landlords and 1902 tenants, and they were given opportunities of raising any objections before the examiners of Public Bills that they might have to make. This Clause merely says that when we have to pay compensation we shall not be required to pay compensation for any improvements to the property made after that date, unless the person who has made the improvements can prove that they were necessary for the upkeep of the premises. But for this Clause it would be possible for any person who has had a notice served upon him to engage in expensive work, and then require the Postmaster-General to compensate him.