§ Lord ERSKINE
I beg to move, in page 9, line 34, after the word "unit," to insert the words:or any person from whom any portion of the tax may be recovered.The object of the Amendment, which, I think, is one of some substance, is to make sure that anyone who is called upon, or who may be called upon, to bear the tax has some right of appeal. It may be a mistake and a complete omission, but as far as we can see at the present time the man who actually holds the ground on a lease which is over 50 years will have no right of appeal at all although a great deal, and in some cases, in fact, the whole, of the tax may be passed back to him. If the learned Solicitor-General will look at Clause 26 of the Bill, he will see that the expression "owner" means:In relation to any land subject to a lease granted for a term exceeding fifty years which has commenced, the estate owner in respect of the term.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
If the Noble Lord will look at Sub-section (5) of Clause 15, he will find that there is a special extension of the word for the purposes which, I think, he has in mind. It deals with passing it back. Sub-section (5) of that Clause is designed to enable anyone to whom tax can be passed back to have exactly the same rights with regard to appeals and everything else.
§ Lord ERSKINE
Does that mean that in all cases where a tax may be chargeable, the person charged with the payment of any portion of the tax can have the right of appeal?
§ Lord ERSKINE
That is the object of the Amendment which I have moved, and, if that is the fact, I am prepared to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will read the passage, so that the Noble Lord can see whether I am right or not:The provisions of this Part of this Act as to the service of copies of entries inserted, or proposed to be inserted, in a land values register on the owner of a land unit, as to objections to, and appeals from, valuations by the owner of the unit, as to the inspection and taking extracts from a land values register, and as to the service of documents, shall, as respects a land unit owned by a lessee, apply to any such reversioner as aforesaid, and accordingly references in the said provisions to an 'owner' shall be deemed to include references to any such reversioner.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
With regard to the lessee, I agree that Subsection (5) of Clause 15 covers the point, but is the Solicitor-General quite clear that it also covers all the cases of people who might be called upon to bear the tax?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I had a note to ask a question with regard to ground annuals in Scotland. I am not sure whether under this Bill the ground annual pays the tax. That is a point which occurs to me. Reference to ground annual is made in paragraph (t) of Clause 30. If there is any doubt about it, there can really be no objection to the inclusion of these words at all. There is another possibility, though I do not say that one would do it simply from that point of view. Suppose that the Amendment to Clause 15 which stands in the name of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) were to be passed, even as regards England the owner of a piece of land would have recourse as against the tithe receiver for a portion of tithe passed on. I suggest that no harm whatever can come from inserting the words proposed by my Noble Friend unless the President of the Board of Trade can reassure us that it might perhaps cover the case which occurred to me in looking through the Bill.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
The learned Solicitor-General knows that in the North there is a form of property known as chief rents. Some of these chief rents are created by means of a lease of 999 years. When there is a reversion the case is covered. But will he tell me what is the position with regard to the owner of a chief rent which is created, not by lease, but by conveying a rent charge, an annual sum payable out of the property without any reversion at all? Presumably the owner of a chief rent of that type is in the same kind of position as the owner of a chief rent created by means of a lease of 999 years. If not, it is as well that we should have the matter explained to us.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I do not think that this is quite the appropriate place at which to go into the whole question of Clause 15. The point, I wanted to make was, that everybody to whom the tax can be passed back under Clause 15 is covered in Sub-section (5) of Clause 15. There is no reference to the Scottish position. I am not going to attempt to deal with the question of ground annual, but it is disguished owing to an unfortunate misprint in page 32, line 12, of the Bill. The "provisions of Sub-section (4)," should be "provisions of Sub-section (5)." Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will raise that question on the Scottish Clause if it is necessary to do so. Unfortunately, my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate is not here.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
It says in paragraph (b) of Clause 30 thatthe provisions of Sub-section (4)—or as the learned Attorney-General says, Sub-section (5)—of Section fifteen of this Act shall apply to any person to whom any feu duty is payable in respect of a land unit in like manner as they apply to the reversioner therein mentioned.There is no direct mention of "ground annual." A feu duty and a ground annual are quite distinct things, though I suppose that the President of the Board of Trade would say that they come to much the same thing in fact. But historically and in definiton I fancy that they are quite distinct things. Therefore, reference to feu duty certainly would not include ground annual. I do not know whether the Solicitor-General will 1243 look forward to the possibility of the Amendment by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme being passed, but, if a portion of the tithe in England is passed on to the tithe owner, I imagine that the original person would still be the owner of the land and not the tithe owner.
§ Sir BOYD MERRIMAN
May I come back to South of the Tweed, to where my Noble Friend left the matter? The Solicitor-General has correctly stated, as far as it goes, the effect of Sub-section (5) of Clause 15 as enabling the passing back to that place. But in page 17 there is a proviso which appears to hit the particular reversioner of whom my Noble Friend was talking. It states:provided that no such reversioner shall be entitled to be served with copies of any entries unlesshe has given notice that he will require copies to be served upon him. Surely, that is an anomaly. If you are going to put him into the same position, as the Solicitor-General says, that he is in with regard to appeals, he ought to get these notices, and not merely by reason of his having at some previous date given to the Commissioners notice that he requires notices to be served. I invite the Solicitor-General to tell us whether it is possible to take out that proviso?
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
This change seems to be consequential upon the Amendment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted some time ago with regard to the notices. Is it contemplated that every person shall have the right of being given notice of a change?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It really does not arise at this point. I appreciate the point. I was dealing with the question of the right to appeal. The difficulty where you have a number of reversioners is to know them. When you are dealing with one calculation, and so on, you cannot go about and find out who are all the possible reversioners. I had one experience of that in a case at law where we found about 12 reversioners of different sorts and kinds before we got back to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who had given a 999 years' lease. That is why this provision is made in that form. A lot of reversioners with nominal ground rents will not be interested.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 9, line 38, after the word "value," to insert the words:or to any action of the Commissioners under Section eight, Sub-section (3), paragraph (c), of this Act.Members of the Committee will remember that paragraph (c) of Subsection (3) of Clause 8 gives the Commissioners power, where they think fit, entirely in their sole discretion, to treat as one land unit what in point of fact is more than one land unit, provided those land units belong to one owner although they may not be in the same occupation. There does not appear to me to be any method by which an owner who wishes to put the view that he would prefer to have sold the land unit separately, because he considers it more advantageous to do so, can appeal against what appears to be the arbitrary discretion of the Commissioners. If the Commissioners say that the property shall be treated as a whole, apparently, the owner has no alternative but to accept that decision. No doubt he could put forward to the Commissioners reasons why he thought it should not be done, but if they do not agree, there does not seem to be any power on the part of the owner to appeal. An appeal might be allowed to the owner against the decision of the Commissioners. It might make considerable difference to the incidence of the tax. Certainly, the owner ought to have the right of appeal in this case just as he has the right to appeal against any other item of assessment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. and gallant Member's Amendment sounds, in one sense, reasonable, but if he will follow out what the effect of an appeal will be, I think he will see that there is not very much point in it. This is a power which when it is used, will really be for the benefit of the owner. Suppose the Commissioners decide that land A, B and C shall be grouped together for the purpose of valuation, because that is how a prudent owner would sell it. The test of that would be that A, B and C put together would fetch a better price than A, B and C separately. Let us assume that there was an appeal. Only two 1245 things could be decided on an appeal, either that the Commissioners were right or that they were wrong. If they were wrong, the grouping would be upset and the owner would pay on a higher land tax, because A, B and C as individually valued would have a higher value than that which had been put upon them by grouping.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. and learned Member says that that does not follow, but it must follow. If the Commissioners have done the wrong thing, then they have done it against themselves. That is to say, if the referee determines that they ought to have valued separately, because that is what a prudent vendor would do. The only test which the referee would have as regards a prudent vendor is as to how he would get the best price. If he comes to the conclusion that the best price would be got by selling the land separately, then he upsets the decision of the Commissioners and the assessment goes up. The value is bound to go up for the three units separately. If the hon. and gallant Member wants this provision to be put in, I do not see any particular reason why it should not be put in. The reason why it was not put in was because we felt that the only conceivable result would be a decision against the owner, and we did not want to put in a provision of that sort.
We are much obliged to the Solicitor-General for his explanation, but I confess that I am not quite clear that his explanation is entirely adequate, because it does not seem to me that his conclusion is necessarily borne out from his premises. The Commissioners, in the first place, decide that A, B and C are to be lumped together, because that is what a prudent vendor would do, on the assumption that by lumping them together he would get the highest price. The owner appeals, and on the appeal it is decided that the value put upon the combined lots is too high. Then a lower value is assigned.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL
I apologise for interrupting. That would be an appeal against the value and not an appeal against the grouping of the 1246 unit. What is contemplated here is an appeal with regard to the grouping of the unit. As to the value, there is every opportunity of appealing on the valuation of the land unit.
I am afraid that I have not made myself clear. In Clause 11, power is given to the owner of the land unit to object to the land value or to the cultivation value, but he has no power to appeal against the grouping of the units. I am suggesting that in this particular case he appeals against the land value, and says that it is too high. A lower value is found on appeal, but that value in the opinion of the owner may still be too high, because he has not had an opportunity of putting the other case, namely, that the unit should have been dealt with separately. Therefore, the question whether the units were properly grouped together is not decided. I do not see why there should be any objection to appealing against the grouping of units, quite apart from the question of value,
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I did not suggest that there was no right in the Bill as it exists to appeal against the grouping, but what I did say was that the inevitable result of such an appeal, if it did exist, must be to go against the owner. [Interruption.] Let me explain. Take the three units A, B and C. The only test which the referee could have as to whether a prudent owner would lump them together is whether they would fetch the best price——
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
In his opinion, as to how the highest price would be got, on the evidence before him. If he arrived at the conclusion that the highest price would be obtained by lumping them together, then he must inevitably uphold the decision of the Commissioners, and that they have done the right thing. If he arrived at the conclusion that the highest price would be arrived at by not lumping them together, which is the only other alternative, then the only thing that he could do would be to upset the Commissioners' aggregation of them into one lot, and he would make them into three units which would ex hypothesi put a higher value upon them than that which the Commissioners have put upon them.
§ Captain BOURNE
I think the Solicitor-General, has overlooked one fact, that in values you have to imagine that the unit is denuded of everything, with certain exceptions. A case might occur, for instance, under the Rent Restrictions Acts, where the mere fact that an adjacent unit had to be kept in its present form would make a very considerable difference in the value, whether they were grouped or not. Take four or five houses together in a terrace, part of which is under the Rent Restrictions Act and part not. The value of that property as a whole, if you can imagine the houses as not under the Rent Restrictions Act, must inevitably be higher than if you have to take into account under the proposals of the Bill where the surrounding properties are assumed to be in their present condition. Some parts of it would be restricted and some parts would not be restricted. I think the Solicitor-General has overlooked those facts. I can conceive that there are cases where this would be of value in an appeal by the owner.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The Solicitor-General need not apologise for interrupting. We are very glad to have someone for the Government who will explain the Bill. As no one else will do it, certainly no one could do it better than the Solicitor-General. The point of importance is in the interpretation which he puts upon the word "prudent." He has interpreted "prudent" as meaning prudent from the point of view of turning the property into cash value. I have never read the word "prudent" in that sense. The words "prudent vendor" are very obscure if they mean only that a person who is a vendor is prudent because of the price that he is thinking the property-will fetch. The Solicitor-General will perhaps correct mo if I am wrong, but "prudent vendor" is not a term of art. The term is not used in the Conveyancing Acts and in other Acts of Parliament.
Let me contemplate a vendor who desires to put up, say, three, six or ten houses in a terrace separately for sale, because he may be selling other property on the same estate. As a prudent vendor, he may think it very desirable to offer them separately, perhaps from the point of view of the sitting tenants. Why should the owner of a terrace of houses be required to 1248 put them up together, because they might fetch a better price, if that prudent vendor thinks that it is right to give an opportunity to his tenants to buy their own house? Why should he be regarded as imprudent because, neglecting the cash consideration which he might get for all the 10 houses in the terrace if they were put up together, he says: "Let the houses be offered separately to my excellent tenants." The Commissioners may say, "We do not think that that is what a prudent vendor would do. You must sell these houses as a whole. You must give your tenants notice and not allow them to buy the houses separately at the sale. Therefore, we shall lump them together. We shall value from that point of view, and we shall make your 10 house unit more valuable. You will pay more tax, because we think you ought not to consider the interests of your individual tenants as a prudent owner, and sell the houses separately." As the Solicitor-General is prepared to put these words in, he might allow this second Amendment to be made in the Bill.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
If the Solicitor-General has no objection to these words going into the Bill, it seems to me that they might very well go in. Take a case where the owner objects to the assessment on the ground that it is too high because the property has been lumped together in one unit. He might be prepared to concede that the grouping did in fact give the figure that appeared in the register, but on the other hand he might say that if they were taken separately, the aggregate of the three figures would be lower than the figures of the units grouped together. There is no objection, even if the Solicitor-General thinks that it is mere verbiage, to putting in the proposed words.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
The Solicitor-General, as I understood him, said that if the owner had the appeal which he would have if the Amendment were made, it would not be any good to him, because he would only be able to appeal really in cases where he did not want to.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
Where he might lose if he did appeal. There is a very 1249 simple issue between us as to whether we should give the individual owners power to take the risk of losing on their appeal, which is a matter for their own discretion, or whether we should not. Any man who appeals in the Courts of Law takes a certain risk if he fails. We might just as well leave to the owners' discretion whether they will take the risk of an appeal in Court going against them. There may be cases arising, such as that quoted by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), and others which we may not be able to think of now, in which it would be right and proper to give the owner the power of appeal. As that is the Solicitor-General's main objection to this proposal it may be left to each individual owner to decide as to whether he desires to take the risk or not. I think he should be given the right, if he desires, to have his case put before an impartial tribunal and not decided, as it will be in this case, behind closed doors by the Commissioners.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
If hon. and right hon. Members opposite want the owner to be given this dangerous weapon—I hope he will not cut his throat with it—I am prepared to agree to the principle though not to the wording of the Amendment. There is some difficulty about the drafting of the Amendment, but I will undertake to bring forward an Amendment which will carry out the principle.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I desire to thank the Solicitor-General for accepting the Amendment. I agree entirely with what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) has said. If two or three houses are valued together, the value might be higher than if they are taken separately; and that would be to the disadvantage of the owner. The landowner, however, will now be able to take care of himself.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
I beg to move, in page 9, line 39, to leave out the word "thirty," and to insert instead thereof the word "forty-two."
May I say, in regard to what the Solicitor-General has said about apologising to the Committee, that it is extremely inspiring to us on this side to see the serried ranks on the Government Benches willing to learn something about 1250 this Bill from the Solicitor-General? Nine Members of the Government supporters have attended during the last hour this somewhat intricate discussion——
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
Is it in order for a complete misstatement as to the numbers of Members on this side of the Committee to be made in that way?
It is not an unusual practice for one side of the House to call attention to the sparse attendance on the opposite side. I am not responsible for the arithmetic of hon. Members.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
I must take exception to the form in which the point of Order has been stated. It was said that it was a complete misstatement. At the moment I made the statement I verified it by counting the number of hon. Members opposite, and, excluding the Front Bench, there were only nine Members on the Government Benches, one of whom had been asleep for a considerable time. In this Amendment I am, asking for the substitution of 42 for 30 in connection with the number of days allowed for appeal, and I hope the Solicitor-General will accept it. Thirty days for an appeal under this Bill is ludicrously too short. Under the Income Tax 42 days is allowed. Here we are dealing with a whole host of intricate and new problems, some of which have already been appreciated by the Government, in regard to which all sorts of new questions will arise. Why should a less time be allowed for appeals than in the case of Income Tax, particularly having regard to the fact that Income Tax assessment is only binding for one year, while the assessment under this Bill is binding for five years?
In certain events, unless a notice has been served at some other time, the time from which these 30 days are to run is 1st August. Is it really suggested that, with all the new problems which will arise, 30 days from 1st August is a convenient or reasonable time to allow a man to make up his mind to appeal? I shall be told that the Commissioners have a power to extend the time, but that is illusory because the application for an extension of time must be made within the original 30 days and, therefore, it follows that whatever problems may arise somebody has to make up his mind to appeal, or to apply to the Commissioners 1251 for an extension of time, during the holiday month of August. That really is not reasonable, and I suggest that, having regard to all the questions which may arise in connection with trust estates, there ought to be some extension of time for appeals.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
My mind goes back to the numbers of Form IV with which I had to deal, and I feel that the Government will really be saving the time of the Department if they accept this Amendment. These assessments will come in in large numbers to those who have to deal with them. They will come in in thousands to solicitors' offices, and will have to be checked by valuers on behalf of the owners. The only thing the solicitor will be able to do is to put in an appeal against the lot, without going into the details at all. If a reasonable time is given, the Government and their valuers will be saved a large number of appeals. It is not a question of one owner looking at his assessment and considering whether it is a right and proper assessment. You have to consider those people who will deal with vast numbers of these assessments, solicitors and land agents, and, therefore, 42 days, while it is not sufficient, is better than 30 days. From a practical point of view, 30 days is utterly impossible.
§ Mr. ROSS
I support the Amendment from the point of view of those who will have to carry out the proposals of the Measure as well as those who will be affected by the Bill. What will have to be sent into the Commissioners will be a regular argued case, involving questions of great difficulty in law and complicated questions of fact. No doubt the Commissioners will in most cases grant an extension of time, but it is going to add a large amount of work to the Commissioners if they have to deal with many applications for an extension of time. I ask the Solicitor-General to cast his mind back to the days when he wore a stuff gown and dealt with pleadings, and to remember that frequently it was impossible to deliver the defence which he drafted with such care and discrimination within the time allowed, and when even he had to apply for extra time. That is not a satisfactory situation, and 42 days is a very short time in which to prepare 1252 a long, technical, argued case on questions of law and fact. It will throw an extra burden on those affected and upon the officials who will have to deal with applications to the Commissioners. There is the further aggravation of the 1st August. As the Solicitor-General knows, at the end of July the exhausted members of the legal profession generally disperse for a time, and only begin to come back in increasing numbers by the end of the month. I would appeal to him to accept the Amendment because it is a real defect in the Bill to put in an arbitrary time of 30 days, which is less than the customary 42 days. I can see no reason why there should be this haste to get objections in so quickly. The Government are bound to gain by giving a little further time.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am glad to be able to say that the Government will accept this Amendment. The time proposed is rather too short, and perhaps the reason for the insertion of the 30 days was that they anticipated that there would be a general willingness on the part of the Commissioners to extend the time. However, we are quite willing to accept the Amendment.
§ 6.0 p.m.
I am encouraged by the conciliatory mood of the Solicitor-General to ask him whether he cannot go a little further. I am not going to ask for anything unreasonable and that he should give us more than 42 days in the case of the first valuation. I am thinking of subsequent valuations, where no notice has to be served upon the owner and where, accordingly, he is given 42 days' notice after 1st August. That is the holiday season, and even 42 days does not seem to be a reasonable time when it starts from 1st August. It would be a reasonable time in any other part of the year, but it is not reasonable at that time of the year, because these are matters which will require consultation with the people concerned, who may be scattered all over the country, and solicitors will have considerable difficulty in communicating with their clients and collecting their views within 42 days. I suggest that the Solicitor-General should consider the insertion of 60 days. That would only apply to those cases in the subsequent quinquennia when 1st August would be the starting date.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman has rather frightened me about making any further concessions. One has to be careful, but I am certainly prepared to consider the matter. I cannot go any further at present.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Major MUIRHEAD
I beg to move, in page 10, line 4, after the word "and," to insert the words "may include therein."
I am not quite certain as to the exact meaning of this Clause as it stands. It states that if anybody objects to the valuation which the Commissioners have put upon himhe may give to the Commissioners notice in writing of his objection stating the grounds thereof and his estimate of the land value of the unit, and of the cultivation value of any agricultural land comprised therein.I am not quite clear whether a man who objects to a valuation can make his objection without stating the precise estimate which he himself would put upon his land, but I am inclined to read the Clause as meaning that if he makes an objection he must make his own estimate upon the land. It is in order to avoid that requirement from him that I move the Amendment. I think it is indefensible that a man should be compelled to put his own estimate on the land which somebody else is valuing for this purpose. The Commissioners have the obligation of making the valuation and the owner has the right of making his objection. If they cannot compose their differences then they go before the referee, but it is unjustifiable to take the owner of the land which is being valued, at a certain point in the proceedings, and turn him into a valuer, when you have people who are there for the specific purpose of valuing the land. If the owner likes to give his estimate that is another matter but it is unjust and unfair to compel him to give his own estimate simply because he chooses to make an objection.
Let me take an instance which has just occurred in the Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Sir B. Merriman) raised an objection to the sparseness of the attendance on the opposite benches during these proceedings, and he was bold enough to attach to his objection a 1254 numerical estimate of the number of hon. Members opposite which turned out to be wrong. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I beg the hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon for having doubted the accuracy of his estimate, but I thought he intended to include all the Members present on the opposite side and that he had forgotten those seated below the Gangway. However, that shows the difficulty and the danger of people who make objections attaching actual figures to them, and the fact that I was mistaken in attributing a wrong estimate to the hon. and learned Gentleman does not alter my main point—that in this case an owner ought to be able to enter his objection without giving his own estimate. When the question goes to the referee that is another matter. When the case comes to be dealt with in a judicial or semi-judicial manner, then, of course, all information and all figures on both sides will have to be considered, but no man should be compelled to give information of a specific character as to the value of his own land in the course of ordinary correspondence to people of no higher rank and status than the land valuers of the Commissioners. An owner should not be compelled to give such information when it may be used for any purpose, perhaps even for misrepresentation, and when he has no defence against its use in that way. This Amendment enables an owner to make a perfectly just objection in principle against a value set upon his land by the technical assessor, without being compelled himself to do the work of the valuer and to put a value upon his own land.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I support the Amendment for the following additional reasons. This Bill is based on an entirely new conception of land values. It is proposed to proceed on an illusory and, as we think, fantastic method in order to arrive at these values. You have to imagine that the building upon the site has been razed to the ground, but that all the other buildings in the neighbourhood had been left standing, and apply the same conception in turn to the other buildings in order to find the site value of the land. It appears to be monstrous that a site owner who objects to the valuation put upon his land in this highly artificial method should be expected to acquaint himself with the mental processes by which the valuers who have studied that method proceed, and apply them to his 1255 own land. Furthermore, the figure which he provides in such circumstances cannot be of the smallest use to anybody. It cannot be of any use to the Commissioners. They fix a figure by the method prescribed under the Act which they have been accustomed to study, and it is unreasonable that the subject should be called upon to do more than to say: "This value which you have put upon my land is wrong; I object to it and I shall take my objection to appeal." I think this is an Amendment which the Solicitor-General might well accept.
§ Captain HAROLD BALFOUR
I support the Amendment not only on the grounds referred to by the previous speakers, but also because I feel that the usual procedure will be, not for an owner to be so rash as to put his own valuation on his land, but for him to engage a firm of expert valuers to advise him. The period of 42 days from the receipt of the first notice until the value has to be put in, allowing for the process of engaging a valuer, getting the work of valuation completed, submitting the result to the owner, getting his approval and lodging it with the Commissioners is scarcely sufficient. From the Government point of view it might be well to accept the Amendment. Sometimes it may be that, on mature reflection, and when the first flush of indignation has subsided, an owner may feel that it is not worth his while appealing. His expert advisers may say to him that an appeal would not be worth what he is likely to gain on appeal, after he has paid their fees. If the Government wish to save many appeals it might be well for them to accept the Amendment.
§ Captain BOURNE
I also urge the Solicitor-General to accept the Amendment. As I read this Sub-section, if a man wishes to object to an assessment he has not only to state the grounds of his objection but also his own estimate of the value. I do not think that at that stage of the proceedings a man ought to be called upon to give his own estimate. If he proceeds with his appeal, the case will go to the referee and surely it is then that the aggrieved taxpayer ought to be called upon to bring forward his own estimate against that of the valuer and not in the preliminary stage when he states his objection in writing to the 1256 Commissioners. In a great many of these cases there may not be much difference between the parties, and the matter may be adjusted at the earlier stage, but if a man feels seriously aggrieved he will appeal to the referee and it is when his case comes to be tried before the referee that he should produce figures of his own to support his opinion that the valuation of the Government valuer is incorrect. I submit that it is premature to ask him for his estimate of the value at the earlier stage. He should in the first instance be allowed to give notice of his objection and to state the grounds of his objection without being compelled to give a figure to be put opposite to the figure of the valuer at that moment.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
I have been trying to consider this matter from a practical point of view, and I turn to the instance of something which I happen to own myself, namely, property with factories on it near the centre of a large city. I know, roughly, what the whole property is worth, but I have no idea whatever of the site value. I do not know what values have been obtaining in the neighbourhood. In that case I shall get this assessment served upon me. I shall have no idea whether it is right or wrong but I shall probably assume that it is wrong. I shall cause an appeal to be lodged and if I had to state a value I should probably knock it down to some value which was far too low, in order to be on the safe side. I should probably employ a local surveyor of repute who when the time came would go round and have a chat with the district valuer and they would probably come to some compromise on a reasonable figure. The local surveyor knowing the values in the district would probably settle a good many of these cases with the district valuer on a fair and reasonable basis. At the stage where the matter goes to the referee it will be necessary to have a statement of claim and defence, as it were, setting out what you want. Even where it is a matter which will be settled amicably as most of these valuations probably will be settled, appeals will have to be put in. I do not think it fair or reasonable that the wretched owner within 42 days should be called upon to state what he believes to be the value of the site when he has not the slightest idea of it. I do not think that 1257 the acceptance of the Amendment would hurt the Government and I believe that, in the end, it would save time.
§ Major GEORGE DAVIES
There are three reasons why the Bill requires amendment in this respect. First, it is an improper demand to make upon any individual to ask him to value his own land in these circumstances. It is only up to him to prove that the value placed upon his land by the proper officials is incorrect. To call upon an individual to act as valuer in relation to his own property is unfair and improper. If he is dissatisfied he should have the right to appeal and the case can be argued out when he comes before the higher authority to whom he appeals. Secondly, this valuation would be of no use to the Commissioners. It is for them to try to prove, if there is an appeal, that their view of the matter is correct. What status have I in the matter as an authority on valuation? None, except that this happens to be my property, but that does not necessarily give me any experience or authority to place a valuation on it. Therefore, I cannot see that it can be of any possible use to anyone. My third objection is that it will possibly be of disuse to the individual concerned, because whether he tries for some reason which he thinks is in his own interests to put on a high value or whether, prompted by the same feeling, he tries to put on a low one, or tries to act as a professional assessor and puts on what he thinks a fair value, it may possibly be used against him in some future transaction. Someone may say that as he put the valuation on the property, it is its true worth. I can see no reason why the Solicitor-General should not accept the Amendment.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I should like to prevail upon the Solicitor-General to accept the Amendment. He has seemed very kind and reasonable to us this afternoon, and I hope that his present mood will continue. It is not really fair to ask or to force the owner of a property to give the value of the property in his estimation if he objects to the valuation that has been put upon it. I feel that there is a good deal behind this kind of compulsory Clause. Probably what will happen is that when the owner is compelled to give his estimate of the value, he may give is as low as possible, because 1258 he will think only of the penny in the £ tax, and forget that possibly in future another Socialist Government might put an increment duty on to the value. If the land were valued at a low figure, therefore, he would suffer from any increment that might arise later on. If he is to be asked to put a value on, I am sure that the Government have something of that kind in mind. If the owners of all properties are to be compelled if they appeal to put on their own valuations, the owner of one property will be played off against the owner of another near by.
I agree with an hon. Friend who talks about the difficulty of any owner finding out what the site value of a property might be. I am trustee for an estate in the City of London in which there are a certain number of buildings. I may not as a trustee know what the actual site value of the property is. The only thing I can do is to get some sort of estimate of the value of the land by the rents which are paid for the buildings, but as, in valuing the site, we are to imagine that the buildings do not exist, one cannot get any sort of idea of the value of the land on which the buildings are erected. In this particular estate a number of wells are sunk. Am I, in being compelled to give the value of the site, to include the holes in the ground and the pumps on the wells, or have I to imagine that they do not exist in the same way that I have to imagine that the buildings on the site are not there? It will be difficult for trustees in a position like mine to say in an appeal, "I think that this particular property is worth so much per foot after having cleared the buildings away." What will naturally happen is that I as a trustee will not risk it, and will have to employ a surveyor and valuer to do the work for me. It is unfair that a burden of that kind should be put on to trustees.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
If this estimate is to be any good, you must call in expert valuers before you can decide whether you will appeal. Drafted in its present form, the Clause is a gift to estate agents and land valuers, because it is certain that, if this estimate is to be of any value, every trustee will be bound to get in some expert advice. The trustee would be taking grave risk if he did not 1259 call in an expert land valuer. The result will be that, once having got the land valuer in, he will lead you on and you will have to go through with the appeal. The Clause presupposes that the Commissioners first put on a value, that the owner puts on his value, and that the two then may come to some sort of agreement. It will encourage the Commissioners to put their values rather high, and for them to say, "The owner will take off so much, and we shall be able to split the difference between the two." It is obviously prima facie for the Commissioners and the valuers to fix the value of the land, and it is up to the Commissioners to stand up to their valuation and to answer any cross-examinations on any valuation that may have been made. You ought to allow the owner to make his valuation if he wishes to do so as a basis of settlement, but if he does not wish to, he should be able to look to the Government valuers to stand up to their valuation against the objections which may be made against it.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am afraid that it is impossible to accept this Amendment. The way in which hon. Members have looked at it is not really the proper way of looking at it at this stage of the proceedings. This is not part of the appeal to the referee at all at this stage; this is a preliminary stage which is really intended to give the Commissioners and the owner an opportunity of getting into touch with one another, and coming to an agreement before any question of appeal arises. One or two hon. Members gave an analogy of legal proceedings, but one must proceed on the basis that the valuation will be assumed to be a genuine valuation. It is not quite fair of the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Major Llewellin) to say that because there is a right of objection, you must assume that every valuer may put on a higher valuation.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I said that he may tend to do that, thinking that he may get a settlement by the owner putting on a lower figure.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
One must assume that the valuer will try to get a true value and will be mistaken in some cases. It is really the mistaken 1260 cases with which we want to deal. When the owner receives the valuation, presumably he will do something to ascertain whether he wants to appeal or not. One must assume that the owner knows some reason why he is going to appeal, and if at this stage he puts that reason and his idea of values into writing, the chances are that the valuer—the district valuer, whoever he may be—acting for the Commissioners, will be able to get into touch with him and to come to some arrangement. By having that figure before him, the district valuer will be able to see at once whether it is a case where he has made some gross error or where something has happened to make him take the wrong piece of property, or something of that sort; and whether there is a large difference and the two views cannot be reconciled, or whether there is very little difference which can be reconciled by negotiations. All that happens before the Commissionerscause the entries objected to to be amended in agreement with the objector or give notice to him of their refusal to do so.It is not until after that that any question of appeal arises at all. Subsequent to that, just after the owner has received the notice of refusal, the proceedings start to become legal proceedings if he wishes them to be put before the referee or taken to court if necessary. As we view this, it is very much in the interests of the owners in order to avoid litigation. It is really doing everything one can to bring the parties together at the earliest moment; and unless the Commissioners at this stage have from the owner some idea of the figure he thinks ought to be put on, all these preliminary proceedings will be entirely frivolous. The result will be that every single case where there is an objection will probably be fought. We wish to avoid that because of the expense on the Commissioners and on the owners and the country.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
It is astonishing to hear that the Solicitor-General is not prepared to accept this Amendment. He must allow me to say that we cannot regard him as having the role of guardian of the interests of all who will become subject to this tax. In the position he occupies he is assisting the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the plan devised 1261 for placing a burden upon those wicked people who have dared to invest their money in land, and he is frankly hostile to the owners of property, and it is no good pretending that he is not. We cannot accept him as the party to express the views of landowners or to look after their interests. He is not looking after their interests. His idea is to get something from them. When he says that the Bill as drawn is, in the interests of the owners of property, he has overlooked the fact that an owner of property will be able under the Amendment to include his own estimate of value if it is in his interest to do so. The Solicitor-General has spoken as though, if the Amendment were accepted, the owner of the property could not include the estimate which is to bring him and the valuer closer together. When it is realised that this procedure has to be gone through within 42 days of 1st August, or whatever the date may be, it will be seen how impossible it is for owners to prepare an estimate.
I think of a case affecting myself where values will have to be put upon sites, although at the moment we have not the vaguest idea of what their value may be, We shall have to ask some surveyor to advise us, and all this will have to be done and the notice of objection sent in, with the owners' estimate, within 42 days. If this Amendment be accepted an owner can put his estimate on the property, if it is in his interest to do so, but supposing he has not the vaguest notion of what the value of the property is, why, in that case, should the notice of objection be bad because he has not placed a valuation on the land? What is the owner to do who has no idea of the value of the land? It is all very well for us to think of ourselves in the position of owners, but what about all the people who are unskilled in the law, what about all the women who are unfamiliar with Acts of Parliament and notices? It will mean that they will have to employ professional valuers. In some cases they may be abroad and on holiday and may be unable to do anything. All they know is that they are aghast tat the prospect of a further tax, they see something about a notice of objection, and they can write and say, "I object to the valuation." but it is quite a different matter for them to have to say, "I value the land at such and such a figure."
1262 The Solicitor-General has not given us a single reason for not accepting the Amendment. I hope he has not exhausted his conciliatory mood, and that he is prepared to accept any reasonable Amendment and will reconsider the point. I know that he is alone, and that it is perhaps difficult for him to take a responsibility which the Chancellor of the Exchequer might take, but he is here with the power and the authority to do it, and I hope he will exercise his authority and accept this Amendment, which does nothing more than provide a reasonable way for people unskilled in the law and in valuation to maintain their rights by giving a simple notice of objection without having to include any estimate of the value of the property.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I suggest to my hon. and learned Friend that in setting up this new practice we might very well follow the old and approved method in these matters. The hon. and learned Member for Central Nottingham (Mr. O'Connor) said we were setting up a new practice and were providing persons with facilities for the review of these assessments. My hon. and learned Friend on the Treasury Bench knows perfectly well that under the Valuation Acts the appellant is not required to disclose the figure on which he is relying. We do not require him to say when he gets the notice of assessment, "I object to this figure; this other is the figure which I shall put forward," and I suggest that we migth apply that established practice, which is a very sound practice, to these cases. Long experience in these matters shows that if the appellant does disclose the figure it may very much shorten the inquiry, and the Amendment provides the appellant with an option to do so, and that is common sense. Let the appellant enter the figure if he chooses to do so, but otherwise let us keep to our old-established practice.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I cannot help thinking the Solicitor-General imagines that everyone in the country has a legal mind, and I do not think he is making enough allowance for the ordinary person. I am not a lawyer, but I understand that when a person is accused of an offence in a Criminal Court he is not required to disclose his defence until he comes into Court. When small owners of property get their notices, or even read this Bill, they will be very much alarmed, and 1263 when they are told they have to put a value on their property they will feel it to be necessary to employ a valuer. The Solicitor-General said the effect of the Bill as it stands will be to bring together the Commissioners and the person who is to be taxed, and from our experience in Income Tax cases we know that the Income Tax authorities are very excellent people and can be very helpful. In the same way, if an owner goes to see the Commissioners and it is only a small amount in question an agreement will probably be reached without an appeal, but if people are compelled to put a value upon the property that avenue of approach becomes more difficult. Unless we accept these words we shall be creating more litigation.
The hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) quoted the case of land with a well on it. How can anyone who has property which includes an artesian well know what the value of that well would be if there were no buildings upon the property? Such an owner would be bound to employ a valuer. This is an excellent Bill for the protection of valuers. They will be busy for the next 10 years. But we ought to try to protect the small people who do not want to fight the commissioners and who, if the commissioners are reasonable, will be willing to come to an agreement with them. I am sure the Solicitor-General does not want to drive them into litigation. The acceptance of this Amendment will not only be of benefit to landowners but will make the passage of the Bill easier
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
This Clause might be described as a Clause for the compulsory employment of surveyors and valuers in every valuation. The Solicitor-General has said that its object is to protect property owners, but he has now been informed from every quarter of the Committee that owners feel they would be adequately protected if the permissive words of this Amendment were inserted. It is obvious that otherwise it will be necessary for every owner to employ a surveyor at every stage of every valuation, if he is not to be gravely prejudiced. We have had estimates of the cost of this business to the State, but what will be the cost to the individual if every owner has to employ a surveyor? He may very well think that his valuation is too high 1264 and may desire to appeal against it, and in the interval between lodging his objection and the hearing of the appeal some arrangement may be come to as between himself and the district official as a result of his having heard what has Been done in other valuations. I do hope the Solicitor-General will give ear to the representations made from all sides of the House as to the desirability of giving an option to the owner to submit an estimate of the value without compelling him to do so.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I do not understand what solid objection the Solicitor-General can have to the insertion of these words. From the speeches we have heard he must realise that there is a great deal to be said for them, and that representatives of the taxpayers from many different parts of the country express a wish for them. If we are to force the owner of agricultural units to put in his estimate, and he is a layman with no particular knowledge of the value of land, he will find it very difficult to do so. He may have a rough idea of the value of the land, but he will find it difficult to give a reliable estimate of the land value and of the cultivation value. He has to do something there which is the work of an expert, and if we force him to give this estimate we shall be putting the taxpayers and the tax collectors at arm's length from the start. The taxpayer may say, "I object to this valuation because it is too high." He will very likely say, "I hate litigation or quarrels; can you not settle this matter with me? You know more about it than I do, but I am quite sure it is too high." In many cases, if the owner is obliged to give his estimate first, he will say to himself, "Whatever estimate I put, the tax collector will say it is too low," and therefore he will be inclined to put it much lower than he expects it to be put. He will therefore probably put a ridiculously low value on his land with the result that the collector will be incined to say to him, "It is no use trying to agree with you," and the parties are left at arm's length. There is a good deal to be said in favour of the Amendment, and I do not see why it should not be accepted.
Mr. R. W. SMITH
I understand from what the Solicitor-General has said that 1265 if the owner objects to the valuation, he may give notice of his objection to the commissioners in writing. If he does that, then the owner has to state his own estimate of the value of his land. Is that correct?
It is stated in Sub-section (1) thathe may give to the Commissioners notice in writing of his objection stating the grounds thereof.That seems to me to be permissive. Then the Sub-section goes on to provide that he may givehis estimate of the land value of the unit.It seems to me that the Solicitor-General does not understand his own Clause, because it is permissive in the first instance. We are dealing with an owner who is not in the ordinary sense the real owner of the land and I think it is rather hard that the only person who can take exception is the owner, and the owner of the fee simple cannot take any objection to the valuation.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
That point is covered by the word "stating," and not by the words "he may give."
We have been told that the owner would naturally put the lowest valuation on his property, but there may be a valuation just before the lease runs out, and that will be dealt with by the superior to whom the land is going to fall in. I hope the Solicitor-General will accept the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I regret that I am not able to accept this Amendment. The whole of the speeches with regard to what the owner is likely to do show quite clearly that every one thinks the owner will have an idea as to whether the valuation is right or wrong. That is what I suggest. Before there is an appeal, or notice of appeal, the owner will make up his mind whether he thinks the valuation is too high or not.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
Supposing we are dealing with a person who is unaccustomed to these legal points, and has not the faintest idea whether the valuation is right or not. Is it not right for him to be able to say, "I object to this." Surely some consideration ought to be 1266 given to that person, and why should he not be able to lodge an objection in those circumstances?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I do not agree about the right to object in that sense. The right to object must rest on an assumption that you are not satisfied with what you have got. If a person is not satisfied, the reason must be that he thinks the valuation is wrong. It seems to me that if a person does not know anything about it at all, he cannot tell whether the valuation is wrong or not, and therefore he cannot have any grounds for dissatisfaction. Unless we are going to proceed upon the assumption that ex hypothesi every valuation will be wrong, that is not the right way to consider this question, because ex hypothesi the valuation will be right. Unless there has been some mistake, you must assume, on the whole, that the valuation will be a right one.
I would like to deal with one statement which was made by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip), who said that my attitude was one which is essentially hostile to owners of property. I deprecate that way of putting the matter, because that is not my view. I have no hostility to owners at all. My attitude is that this tax should be levied in an efficient and fair way, and that anything that is put into this Bill should help to make it easier to work and fair in its operation. I do not think there will be any hardship upon anyone. I will take the example which was given by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham of someone who knows nothing about valuation. Assume that such a person receives notice of his valuation and he says, "This looks very high," and he assumes that it must be wrong because it comes from a Government Department. All that person has to do is to put the value very much lower, and then the Commissioners, on getting that valuation, will know that the person who objects thinks that the value is much too high, and they will know something about the circumstances under which the person thinks that it is too high.
That may not be of very great assistance in some cases, but in the vast majority of cases it will be of assistance to bring the parties together rather than leave everybody at large to put in 1267 an appeal in circumstances in which the Commissioners have no idea whether the parties are likely to agree or not. There being no hardship, obviously it is in the interests of all the parties, the Commissioners, the property owners, and the State to avoid litigation. Therefore, I think the best way to proceed is to have this preliminary statement showing the basis of the objection.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
I am not in the least satisfied with the explanation of the Solicitor-General. There are two underlying assumptions to which I desire to call the attention of the Committee. The first is that the person who is grandiloquently described as a landowner is a person in a position during the month of August, or some other time, to go away and get expert assistance either from lawyers or valuers. I approach this matter as one who is not a landowner, except that I fancy I have the right to a plot in the cemetery. I desire to raise this question as it affects a number of small people in my constituency, the value of whose land is in excess of £120 and will not exceed £1,000, but to whom every additional £ of taxation is of the utmost moment.
Speaking on behalf of those people I come to the second assumption which seems to be a natural one, that if the Commissioners state one value and the party concerned states another, the true value of the land must be somewhere between those two valuations. I join issue with that assumption at once for this reason. Suppose the true value of the land should prove to be on appeal, say, £500. Suppose the poor man has it valued at £1,000, and, without the benefit of legal or expert assistance, because he cannot afford to spend the money upon such matters, he puts down the value at £750. Under the terms of the Clause as drafted, thereupon the Commissioners either cause the entries to be amended in agreement with the objector, or they give notice to him of their refusal to do so. In other words, that man in ignorance of the true value, and the Commissioners in ignorance of the value, would be accepting a valuation which this man has not had any opportunity of checking, because he had made his valuation without any legal assistance. I cannot help feeling that the 1268 Solicitor-General has not really considered this matter from that point of view. With regard to individuals who are in a position to get expert advice, it may very well be that they may, under the permissive form provided by this Amendment, be enabled to say, "I am advised that it is so much, and I shall give you an estimate," but I deprecate entirely compelling those persons, who are without such facilities, to take a leap in the dark. Not being a landowner, I shall never be compelled to face the problem, but, from what I know of land used for agricultural purposes on the edge of some small towns in my part of the country, I know that there will be the gravest difficulty in assessing the so-called site value of the land.
There is another difficulty. If these appeals are to contain—as the Clause now stands—this information, in difficult cases it is going to make the time in which the appeal has to be made quite illusory. The Solicitor-General has already promised to consider the point of the time during which the notice must go in, if it happens to be one of those notices that date from 1st August. How can he really give it full consideration and fully implement his promise if facing him at the outset is this very question whether the landowner is compelled to state in his notice the estimate which he gives? I am sure he will see that that must be an element which he ought in fairness to take into account in considering the promise which he has already made. I do beg of him to see whether he cannot meet those of my friends and myself who put our names to this Amendment and give some further consideration in the matter. I do not in the least want to threaten—and if I did it would not have the smallest influence on my hon. and learned Friend—but, unless something of that sort can be done, those who feel with me on this subject feel that this is an Amendment which must be pressed to a Division.
§ Major COLVILLE
I have no doubt in my mind as to what the Government intend to do here. It is their intention to get every landowner in the country, whether an individual, a trustee, a charitable institution, or a company, to put down on paper an estimated value 1269 for their land without the buildings on it so that they may have this record, if they want it at any future time. If they intend to proceed in this way, are they taking into account, in the first place, whether it is fair and just under duress to enforce this provision and, in the second place, are they taking into account the effect it will have? During the course of this Debate the position of industrial companies has not been stressed, but the valuation of land occupied by factories and industrial companies on the assumption that the factory is not there is going to be anything but an exact science. It will be a very difficult thing to carry out. As a director of companies connected with the iron and steel industry, it is impossible for me to state what the value of the land the works occupy is. With the works removed in imagination, it will be very difficult indeed to do so. Is every industrial company, which is striving to give employment to our people, 2½ million of whom are unemployed, to be put to the expense of having this calculation made? It appears that they are to be put to this expense. Nothing the hon. and learned Gentleman has said has convinced me that this proposal is a sound or a necessary one. In my opinion this is only an additional burden upon already overloaded industry.
§ Sir HARRY HOPE
I have not yet raised my voice in Committee on this Bill, but I desire to raise a small Scottish voice to support this Amendment. The Bill, when it becomes an Act of Parliament, will create an enormous amount of worry and unrest for thousands of people throughout the country. They are going to be asked by the Bill to fix a value on their property under a very curious state of affairs. They are to be asked to assume that the buildings are not there. I can imagine that some men may wonder whether or not they are to consider what the cost will be of removing the existing buildings. I can see a great variety of valuations made by people who are thoroughly anxious to make an honest attempt to value their property. We shall facilitate the working of this very complicated Bill if we accept the Amendment which has been moved from these benches. Certainly it 1270 would tend to make the Bill much less unpopular than it will be with a vast number of people.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
May I put forward some further considerations to the Solicitor-General? He said that all that they wished was a method which was efficient and fair and that he himself was not in any degree hostile to the owner. None of us wish to insinuate that the Solicitor-General is hostile to the owner, but what we do know is that the whole Bill is hostile to the owner and, however the Solicitor-General may wish to temper the wind to the shorn lamb, we cannot rest on his own personal good will when we have to deal with a Clause of the Bill which is distinctly conceived in a spirit of resolute hostility. As to the question of the procedure being efficient and fair, it may be that, from his point of view, the procedure, without the acceptance of this Amendment, is efficient, but it is certainly clear that it is not fair for reasons which have already been pointed out and which I may, perhaps, reinforce again. The hon. and learned Gentleman said it was fair and right. If it is, why is it that the existing procedure with regard to rates is something quite different? The hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) pointed out that, in the ordinary procedure with regard to rates, a person can lodge an objection without it being necessary at the same time to put in his own valuation. If that is fair in regard to rates and if it has been accepted as fair by all parties, why is it not applied under a new valuation? I should have thought that, when the Government are trying to create a now tax and new valuation, they would take unusual pains to see that a person who is to be hit by this tax has every opportunity given him by a system with which he is familiar. If it is conceivable that he ought to give his own valuation of what he has to pay, clearly it would be more reasonable to extend it to rates, which have been in existence for many years, than to a new tax of this kind.
Let me ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to consider the application of this Clause to Scotland and to the owners of feu duties. This is a matter of Scottish law with which I am sure he is familiar, and, in the absence of any Scottish law officer, he can always get advice from the Lord Privy Seal. I am 1271 sure he is fully capable of dealing with this matter, which concerns Scotland just as much as England. An owner of feu duties will have to pay this tax. The owners of feu duties are not merely large corporations, whether the Church of Scotland or some educational institution. They include also a vast body of people of small means scattered up and down throughout the whole of Scotland. The right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) pointed out the other day that this was the favourite security for prudent people in Scotland to put their money into. Everyone who looks at the Scottish papers will see feu duties advertised in them every day for sale. That means that a person, who may be quite ignorant of land values, may be residing in one end of Scotland and may have some very small investments, amounting to £3 or £4 a year, in another part of Scotland. These are all the people on whom this tax is going to fall. Is it not perfectly absurd to impose this requirement on these people? If the assessment is reasonable, they will be willing to pay it, but they may think it is very high. If, however, they are to appeal, they must in order to appeal against the tax on this £3 or £4 a year, get a valuation of properties in quite a different part of Scotland. I never heard of a more unjust onus to place upon them. I am not exaggerating one iota, and the Lord Privy Seal knows perfectly well that is the way in which this lax and this procedure will fall upon people in Scotland.
One way out has been suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman. If the taxing authorities have imposed too high a tax, the person who is affected is to put in an alternative figure so low that at any rate it cannot be bigger than the tax which he would have to pay in any circumstances. That is what I gathered was the counter proposal of the Solicitor-General, that anyone is to be allowed to put himself in order by himself proposing a quite illusory figure. In other words, whatever the tax may be, one must put in a figure of 10s. or 5s. and then one is safe; one complies with the letter of the Act, and then one goes scatheless, and no one can object. What does that mean? It means that when anyone, however unskilled or ignorant, gets a notice of this kind, the 1272 ordinary honest person, if he is told that he is obliged to put in a figure, will cudgel his brains and put in some figure which he thinks is right, and which may prejudice him. That is what the ordinary honest person will do. I gather, however, that, unless the Solicitor-General is willing to meet us on this point, his advice to these people would be, "Do not bother about that; put in some illusory figure which you know cannot be real"—It may be 5s. or 10s., or even less if it is a small amount like a small feu duty——
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. I took the instance given by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip), and I said that, if someone were so ignorant that he could not give any sort of valuation, he could, by putting in any figure, come within the words of this provision.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Of course, the last thing that I want to do is to misrepresent anything that the Solicitor-General said, but I ask again, is not that the conclusion to which he drives us? Take the kind of person to whom I have alluded, who may be living up in Wick and whose feu duty may be down in Dumfries, and may not be a large sum. What is he to do? He can put himself straight by putting in some small illusory figure, and would he not be driven to do that under a procedure of this kind? I am bound to say at once that the Solicitor-General was answering my hon. and learned Friend, but at the same time the result of the advice that he gave, carried to its perfectly logical conclusion, is that some absurdly low figure should be put in which would just satisfy the technicalities of the Act as it stands.
§ Sir JOHN POWER
In listening to this Debate, I have admired the complacency with which the Solicitor-General has asserted that he is not hostile to those who have committed the criminal offence of owning property in this country. I wonder whether, when he says he is not hostile to property owners, he realises the intolerable and almost impossible burden which he is placing upon them, and the monetary cost of which is many times in excess of the tax that it is proposed to 1273 levy. Take, for example, an owner who has various properties in different parts of the country. He is called upon on the 1st August, during the holiday season, to obtain valuations for all his properties. That may be very good for the members of the Surveyors' Institution, but it is very bad for the taxpayer and the property owner, who is already contributing very heavily to the upkeep of this country.
How can an ordinary owner, even with considerable experience of property values, put a value on the ground on which his building stands—that is to say, the site value? I defy any amateur to do that, and I think it is also beyond the capacity of a good many owners who have a considerable knowledge of property as a whole. You have to divest the land of the buildings, to take into consideration the buildings which are around, and of which you may have very little knowledge, and you have to arrive at a valuation. One of the most valuable contributions to this Debate was that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), when he pointed out that the way to get out of this intolerable burden, which is being put upon owners by a hostile Government, is to put in, in order to sustain your objection, an illusory amount of £5 or £10, and then you will get the time that you require. I cannot understand why the recent rating relief procedure should not govern this new tax. As I have Said, if the Solicitor-General had any conception of the amount that will have to be paid in fees for the valuation of large properties in some of our cities, he would never assert that he is not hostile to property owners.
§ Captain CAZALET
The Solicitor-General, in his confession a few minutes ago, gave away the whole case. The instance which he gave will not be a single instance; it represents what will happen in the majority of cases among small people in this country, who will be quite unable to fix what they believe to be the right and proper valuation of their land. The Solicitor-General says, "It does not matter; put down any figure you like—just a representative sum." You might as well put down x pounds. In other words, he is conniving at something which must be perfectly useless for the object of this Clause; he is forcing a person to do something 1274 which we know will be perfectly useless and misleading, and which in many cases may lead him into litigation at a later period. The Solicitor-General has been so reasonable this afternoon that I believe the real reason why he will not accept this Amendment is that he thinks he has already accepted too many Amendments from these benches to-day; but all our Amendments, as he has confessed himself, have been in the cause of justice and fairness, in the cause of the small man, and it is in respect of the same individual that we put forward this Amendment. After all, not one voice from the back benches opposite has been raised in opposition to this Amendment, the object of which is to protect the small man from an additional burden. It is not surprising that no voice has been raised in support of the Solicitor-General, because, up to five minutes ago, there was not one Member on the benches behind him. One voice was raised from below the Gangway, and that was in support of this Amendment. When all these facts are taken into consideration, I feel sure that the Solicitor-General will reconsider his ill-judged decision.
Ho seems to think that the majority of people will accept the valuation. In my opinion he is an optimist. I would not like to say what proportion of these 12,000,000 valuations will be appealed against, but I think I shall not be far wrong in suggesting that there will be appeals in the majority of cases. What is the procedure? The individual who appeals must give notice in writing of his objection, stating the grounds thereof. He has to write down why he objects. He has to say that he objects to it because certain facts have not been taken into consideration, or, perhaps, because in the neighbourhood there is a piece of land of a similar nature which is only valued at so much. He has to give all these relevant facts in regard to his particular appeal, and those, surely, are sufficient for the Commissioners. Why should this additional task be imposed upon him of deciding what the value of his land is, when, according to the Solicitor-General's own statement, it may be a purely humbug figure which will not be of the slightest use?
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I was not surprised to hear the Solicitor-General say that there cannot be any hardship in connection 1275 with this matter, because the hon. and learned Gentleman is fortunate in life, and absolutely and entirely out of touch with the thousands of small people whose property is to be valued under this proposal. The case was extraordinarily well put by the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight), who pointed out very clearly and simply that thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands of people were being compelled to add to their ordinary costs. It is not merely the tax; the tax may be only two or three pounds; but the costs which these people will have to incur constitute a definite hardship. The Solicitor-General may not be able to understand what hardship means in that way, but those who live in close contact with the people do realise that, if they have to go and get a real valuation of their property, taking into account all the things that are laid down in this Bill, it will entail upon them a very real hardship, and that point ought to be taken into consideration by the Solicitor-General in dealing with this matter.
While I was listening to one of his earlier speeches, I could not help wondering why he is in this very great haste to compel these people themselves to lay down a figure which they think represents the value of their property. I assume that the Solicitor-General does not want to become the blue-eyed boy, or the patron saint, or whatever you like to call it, of the valuers; he is not merely trying to give them jobs. He is not put up by the Government to solve the problem of unemployment by having valuers for the Government on the one side and valuers for the owners on the other. I have followed for a good many years the whole of these land value taxation proposals, and I realise that this is not an accident.
The Solicitor-General is not standing out against this Amendment simply out of obstinacy, but because he knows his case, and the case is that you will do everything that you humanly can to compel these owners to tie themselves to a price. We had it from the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the early part of the Budget Debate that he wished sooner or later to compel the nationalisation of land. I am not going into that question, but it does seem that, if you 1276 have a voluntary statement of price by the owner of a property, as you will have here unless this Amendment is accepted, you then have something with which to go to the owner and compel him to sell his property, or even to hand it over. I hope that our party will divide on this Amendment, because, if the Bill stands as it is at the present time, it will be a deliberate trap, a cruel trap to make many people—widows, and orphans in some cases, people who have no knowledge of the value of property—either to seek expensive valuers or to put down a fictitious figure; and, if they put down a fictitious figure like £5 or £10, because they know nothing about it, you then, according to all the speeches that have been made on that subject, can sooner or later go and take the land at that price.
That is the trap. It is no use the hon. and learned Gentleman hiding his face and pretending that that is not what is in his mind. I know perfectly well, and anyone who has followed these matters knows, that this is a cruel trap, and nothing but a trap, and representing, as I do, thousands of these people who own small property, and being the only person in the House of Commons during this afternoon who can claim as well to represent in any way the thousands of people throughout the whole of Cornwall who have interests in property in this way, since no Liberals are here to fight for the small man, I say quite frankly that as far as I am concerned I think that the attitude taken up by the Solicitor-General this afternoon is one of the most callous and cruel attitudes that I have ever seen in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. BIRD
It is clear to everyone that, if these words remain in the Bill, every prudent man must take the advice of an expert. From something that the Solicitor-General said, I gather that he thought that everyone who owned land knew roughly what the value was. That is a funny assumption to make, because there are infants who own land and whose affairs are administered by the Court, and there are lunatics whose affairs are administered by a committee. There are again trustees who are responsible for the estates of their beneficiaries, and no prudent man is going to put in any figure as the valuation of land without expert advice if these words remain. It has 1277 come out that there are 12,500,000 units which will have to be valued for the purpose of this tax. It is going to take the Government valuers a year and a half, and there are only 42 days for the independent valuers to advise the owners of these 12,500,000 units as to what is the value. It is an impossible task, and all the surveyors working on nothing else but the Land Tax could not do the job within the time. In country districts, the valuers are also auctioneers. Most of them have to attend cattle markets once a week and do the ordinary incoming and outgoing valuations as between tenants, and they have only a certain amount of time to give to the forms that they will have to consider. It would be an absolutely impossible task for these surveyors in country districts, or in London, to deal with one-tenth of the number within 42 days. Quite apart from that, the expense is colossal.
It is on 1st August that this is going to happen. That is in the long vacation, and the Courts are closed. If an estate is in Chancery, nothing can be done without the permission of the Master. What trustee, whether he is a solicitor or the Public Trustee, will incur the expense of an expert valuer—and their fees are not light—without getting some protection from the Court, whether it be a Chancery Court or the Master in Lunacy? It would be impossible in the time to put in the proper objections. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Solicitor-General should insist on these words. He is a member of the theoretical branch of the profession, and I am a member of the practical branch—a solicitor. We shall have to deal with these questions far more than the learned branch. We shall have a stream of landowners, beneficiaries, trustees, and corporations asking our advice on these matters. It will be a physical impossibility for a solicitor to deal with them in the period, let alone a valuer. I ask the Solicitor-General to put his pride in his pocket, and, although he has refused two or three times, to accept these words. If it is not a trap—I believe it is—it will not hurt the Solicitor-General or the Government if the Amendment is accepted.
§ Commander SOUTHBY
I wish to reinforce what has been said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for 1278 Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson). I represent a constituency in which there are a very large number of small owner occupiers of houses in an area which is being very rapidly developed, who will be driven, under the Bill, either to put in a valuation of their own property, which they are not sufficiently expert to do, or else be forced to the expense of employing legal advice. Many of them are very hard put to it to make both ends meet. Not only does the further addition of the Land Tax hit them very hard, but, if they are to be driven to the very heavy expense of expert legal advice, it will be an added burden which may well become intolerable. If they do not employ expert legal advice, they will have to put on a valuation themselves. In this district the value of land is fluctuating, and no one who lives there knows from month to month what the exact value is. A building scheme comes along and the land rises in price. The scheme may be delayed and the value may fall. None of these people, who are in small circumstances, can possible know exactly what the value of the land is.
I differ from what has been said by my hon. Friends, that these men will put in a sort of peppercorn valuation, because, as far as the Commissioners and the Government are concerned, it is a case of "Heads I win and tails you lose." If the valuation of the Government is accepted by the owner, it is just as likely that the Commissioners may make a mistake as the owner. It is not necessarily true to say that their valuation is going to be correct any more than the owner's. If he does not put in an objection and accepts what may be an over high and mistaken valuation by the Commissioners the Government win. If, on the other hand, he puts in his own valuation, that may also be too high, because he is afraid of putting in a valuation which is too low, and the Government win again. If he puts in a peppercorn valuation, the Government win again, because there is no shame about this Government when they say this is the beginning of nationalisation of land.
Past experience has led people to understand that, if they put in a low valuation of any of their property, a Socialist Government, and Socialist principles, 1279 at once claim that that is the valuation upon which they may be expropriated. If this unhappy citizen, already overtaxed and driven into a corner by the mere suggestion of taxing his land, which in many cases he has saved all through his life to purchase, and already penalised by having to employ expert legal assistance, puts in a valuation which is too low, the day will come when the Government will turn round and say, "You cannot complain. We are going to expropriate you from your land. You assessed it. This was the value of it, and at your word you are going to be taken." This is an intolerable hardship as far as it applies to thousands of people in my constituency, and I would urge the Solicitor-General to reconsider this matter and to accept the Amendment, because the Bill, as it stands, adds a burden and will create difficulties for a deserving body of people.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I would press on the Solicitor-General the great hardship which he is imposing on a vast mass of people. If I were to be asked to-day what was the value of the piece of land on which my house stood, I should not be able to give an answer, because a vast number of circumstances go to such a question. You cannot discover it upon the amount of the ground rent, because that may be entirely dissociated from what could be obtained at present. You cannot discover it from the value of the building. I could take the Solicitor-General along many streets in Edinburgh where the value of the houses could not be assessed upon any such basis, because no one could ever build them up again for the value which would be given for them to-day. I am certain that, without expert advice, and even that only doubtfully, the hon. and learned Gentleman would not be able to come to any sort of result as to the true value of the site on which his own house is situated.
The rules that are laid down in the Bill are very difficult to construe. What is a piece of land worth cleared of what is already on the site on the assumption that the other places round about are still there? I hope I am comparatively intelligent, but for the life of me if I were in possession of a piece of property like that, I could not come to a conclusion as to the value of the site. So far 1280 from this thing being easy, once you begin to get the assessments of valuers, you will find that valuers all over the country have proceeded on different principles and have arrived at very odd conclusions. Anyone who starts to reconcile all the conclusions which will be given will have a hard task to perform.
I would beg of the hon. and learned Gentleman not to put the unfortunate person who happens to be the possessor of a piece of ground into the position of being compelled to put on a value. He will never know the kind of considerations with which he is faced until he finds himself face to face with the Government surveyor, compelled to give an account of how he has arrived at the conclusions that he has presented to the referee. The Solicitor-General knows the difficulty of arriving at values on cross-examination of surveyors, and he knows that a vast number of considerations go to an ordinary assessment, apart altogether from the difficulties created by this Bill. It seems to me a terrible burden to put upon the ordinary, unsophisticated owner to present a statement to the commissioners as to the value of his land. Full justice would be done if you allowed him to appear at the court and cross-examine the surveyor before he is bound to give any sort of view at all as to what the value of the land is. How can he know upon what principles the result is to be arrived at? The Government will set up a feeling of irritation which they will never get over, and that feeling will be very just.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I have been wondering how the people who live near me are going to answer the Solicitor-General. I come from a country district where the postmaster owns his own land. How is he going to answer the Solicitor-General? Next to him there is a email holding owned by a local iron-stone manufacturing concern. What kind of price are they going to put on it? If they are going to be expropriated, what is going to be the result on their mining operations? There are many farmers who own their own land. This will involve cultivators in very large and quite unnecessary expense. I should like to know how the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) would approach the subject. He would probably say that the owner and the Government officials 1281 would come together, the owner suggesting a low figure and the officials a higher one, and they would strike a bargain. The answer to the hon. Gentleman has been given by the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who clearly showed the. difficulty of coming to any agreement because minerals are not excluded. How are the people I have mentioned, the postmaster and the iron-stone manufacturing concerns, to set to work and to estimate their site values without the minerals? The Government are going to get into considerable difficulties. I do not share the views of the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, but I do say that it is impossible for an owner to put a value on his site without the minerals. As a rule the site has already been valued with the minerals in it. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme pointed out that gravel and earth and lime were minerals and were taken into account in the valuation.
In Lincolnshire there is a tremendous amount of lime as well as ironstone, and
§ the land varies. In some places it is clay, which is extremely valuable. Any valuation so far made has no doubt had a proportion of these values included. I honestly feel that there are very great difficulties for the country people who have approached me upon this matter. I am stating some of the difficulties that they have placed before me with regard to valuations of this kind. I ask the Solicitor-General to try to meet us. The Government have always expressed a desire not to put fresh burdens upon agriculture. Whatever may be the facilities for town owners and great business undertakings to get a proper valuation of their land, these facilities are not available for agriculturists. Country people are not in the habit, in every little operation that they undertake, of consulting either a solicitor or a land valuer. I hope the Government will see their way to accept the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be-there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 170; Noes, 262.1285
|Division No. 298.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Albery, Irving James||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Inskip, Sir Thomas|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Dalkeith, Earl of||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Atkinson, C.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Ferguson, Sir John||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Fermoy, Lord||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Ford, Sir P. J.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Boyce, Leslie||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Bracken, B.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gower, Sir Robert||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Millar, J. D.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Chamberlain Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hamilton, Sir George (Word)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hanbury, C.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Christie, J. A.||Harbord, A.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hartington, Marquess of||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Smithers, Waldron||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Remer, John R.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Steel-Maitland Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Thompson, Luke||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thomson, Sir F.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Savery, S. S.||Train, J.||Sir George Penny and Sir Victor|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Alpass, J. H.||Gill, T. H.||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gillett, George M.||Longden, F.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Glassey, A. E.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Arnott, John||Gossling, A. G.||Lunn, William|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Gould, F.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Ayles, Walter||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Gray, Milner||McElwee, A.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Barr, James||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||McKinlay, A.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Groves, Thomas E.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Benson, G.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||McShane, John James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Manning, E. L.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Mansfield, W.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||March, S.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Harris, Percy A.||Marcus, M.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Markham, S. F.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Haycock, A. W.||Marley, J.|
|Bromfield, William||Hayes, John Henry||Marshall, Fred|
|Brooke, W.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mathers, George|
|Brothers, M.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)||Matters, L. W.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Maxton, James|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Messer, Fred|
|Buchanan, G.||Herriotts, J.||Middleton, G.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Hicks, Ernest George||Mills, J. E.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Milner, Major J.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Montague, Frederick|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Hoffman, P. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hopkin, Daniel||Morley, Ralph|
|Cape, Thomas||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Chater, Daniel||Jenkins, Sir William||Mort, D. L.|
|Church, Major A. G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Muff, G.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Murnin, Hugh|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Grecnock)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Cove, William G.||Kelly, W. T.||Palin, John Henry|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Daggar, George||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kirkwood, D.||Perry, S. F.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lang, Gordon||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Phillips, Dr. Marlon|
|Day, Harry||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Potts, John S.|
|Duncan, Charles||Lawrence, Susan||Price, M. P.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Leach, W.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Egan, W. H.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Richards, R.|
|Foot, Isaac||Lees, J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Freeman, Peter||Leonard, W.||Ritson, J.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Romerll, H. G.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Rowton, Guy||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Sorensen, R.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Stamford, Thomas W.||West, F. R.|
|Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Stephen, Campbell||Westwood, Joseph|
|Sanders, W. S.||Strauss, G. R.||White, H. G.|
|Sandham, E.||Sullivan, J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Sawyer, G. F.||Sutton, J. E.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Scurr, John||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Sexton, Sir James||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Sherwood, G. H.||Tillett, Ben||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Shield, George William||Tinker, John Joseph||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Toole, Joseph||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Shillaker, J. F.||Tout, W. J.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Wise, E. F.|
|Simmons, C. J.||Vaughan, David||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Sinkinton, George||Viant, S. P.|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)||Walkden, A. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Walker, J.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)||Wallace, H. W.||Charleton.|
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ This Amendment aims at removing a most extraordinary proviso which restricts the right of appeal in a very large number of cases which may arise between the taxpayer and the Government. The revised entries referred to in this proviso are the revised entries defined in Clause 10, on page 9, that is to say, entries which are made in the register in cases where the land which is the subject-matter of one valuation of the unit has been divided or sub-divided so that an apportionment has become necessary. Under the proviso someone who acquires one of these apportioned or divided parts of an existing land unit can appeal only in a case where he challenges the actual values on the apportionment. He is restricted from challenging any other aspect of his taxation, and more particularly he is unable to challenge the value of the land which he has acquired except in so far as he is affected by the apportionment; that is to say, if a man has bought a plot of land for £1,000, and that represents the original value, he is unable to challenge that valuation on any ground except that there has not been a fair apportionment of the existing valuation. Say the existing valuation of a plot of land is £2,000, and that plot has been divided into two, so that the valuation of the land is £1,000, but he has in fact acquired it for only £500, and that is really the total site value of that plot of land. He is bound to pay on a basis of £1,000, although 1286 it may be common ground that the site value is only £500. That is clearly unfair, and there seems to be no ground for the right of appeal to be restricted in this way. Again, it is a fair thing that a man who has acquired land the original valuation of which may have been inadvertently accepted should have the opportunity of having that original assessment revised, particularly if in fact he has bought a plot of land the site value of which is so much less than the site value at the date of the original valuation.
§ I suggest that this Clause, in its present form, cannot be justified. What is the principle by which this system of taxation is governed? We have been told that the principle is that if a man chooses to invest his money in land, he is to be penalised by paying a tax on the land. That principle connotes taxation in respect of the land value, and that a man who has acquired a plot of land for the first time should be taxed on a principle which bears no relation to the then value of the site, but has simply a relation to the value of the site three or four years ago, seems to me to be at variance even with the principles of the Socialist Government.
§ This restriction of appeal has very important practical effects in the case of the county, one of whose Members I have the honour to be, in which site values are steadily decreasing. There is no doubt that, with the increasing distress and bad trade in a county like Lancashire, a great many site values are steadily depreciating, and the more we have "Socialism in our time," the more 1287 these site values are likely to depreciate. If a man buys a plot of land three or four years after it was valued, he may be taxed, if this proviso goes through in its present form, on a basis which bears no true relation to the current value of the site. This Clause, by restricting the right of appeal, must confer an injustice on a large number of taxpayers, particularly in cases where site values are deteriorating, and that is so in many parts of the country. It is so unfair, particularly in industrial areas, where the dead weight of Socialist government is causing so much depression and depreciation in the value of property, that I move this Amendment.
§ Mr. GALBRAITH
I beg to support the Amendment. As I know the learned Solicitor-General values so highly his reputation for consistency and logic, I hope to be able to adduce one or two reasons which will induce him to accept the Amendment. Under Clause 10, where the ownership of land is split up after valuation, the Commissioners shall cause to be substituted for the original entry revised entries in respect of the divided unit, and then, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) has pointed out, under this paragraph (a) the only ground on which an appeal can be lodged in regard to these revised entries is that the value of the former unit has been wrongly apportioned by the Commissioners as between the several parts thereof.
The whole object of this Bill, as has been stated in most of the important speeches which have been delivered with regard to it, is to bring about two results—first of all, to bring upon the market land which has been improperly held up to the detriment of the community, and, secondly, to reduce the value of land, as it has been urged that that will be the inevitable result of bringing extra land upon the market. If those are the main objects of the Bill, let me give one simple illustration of the hardship which the restriction of the right of appeal will confer upon a person who purchases land as a result very largely of the Government's scheme. Take the case of a piece of land, whose parts are practically all of the same value, which belongs to a duke and is entered in the valuation register as of the value of 1288 £10,000. Assume that one-tenth of that land is sold, at a price of £750, to a person who, as a result of the Government's scheme, gets it at a lower value than it would have had if that scheme had not been brought in. Suppose he purchases it one year after the original valuation is made, he, one of the persons to whom the Government should be grateful for purchasing land which has been held up to the detriment of the community, will have, during the remaining four years during which the valuation runs, to pay a land tax not upon the basis of £750, which is the true value of the ground, but upon the footing that the land was really worth £1,000.
That cannot be reasonable or consistent. This may affect a large number of people, and if the Government's scheme is going to have the results which they hope and intend that it shall have, that illustration shows what a great hardship the Government are inflicting on people who are purchasing land in this way if they make them pay, not upon the true value of the land, but upon its value as ascertained against a person who, it is suggested, has been holding it up in an improper way.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)
I have listened with great attention to the speeches of the hon. and learned Members who have moved and seconded this Amendment, but I am bound to say that they have left me entirely puzzled as to their position with regard to the whole of this matter. The Bill provides that once every five years the land shall be valued, that during the whole of each of those quinquennia the value fixed at the beginning shall be taken as the value on which the tax shall be paid. That applies quite naturally to land which is not sub-divided during the period of the quinquennium. We have already passed Clause 10, in which the Committee has decided that where land is sub-divided the aggregate value of all the parts shall be taken to be the same as the total value of the whole, when decided at the beginning of the quinquennium. I am entirely at a loss to see how it is possible that, now that we are on Clause 11, we can allow that to be called in question on an appeal when we have already decided in Clause 1289 10 that that shall in fact be the aggregate Value of the various portions of the site.
Therefore, apart from the argument on the matter, it seems to me that if we were to make this alteration in Clause 11, it would necessitate an alteration of Clause 10 on the Report stage, and it is only to-day that we have had Clause 10 before us. This matter was to some extent at any rate thrashed out on Clause 10. Hon. Members taking a different view put forward their view, the Solicitor-General took the case on the other side, and the Members of the Opposition, as I understood, accepted the argument of the Solicitor-General as conclusive and did not press the alteration of Clause 10.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I do not remember exactly what he did say, but if the hon. Member assures me that that is so, I will accept it. At any rate, I understood that hon. Members opposite in the main accepted the view of the Solicitor-General about Clause 10.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
If so, that is quite enough for my point. This Amendment strikes at the principle of Clause 10, because it seeks to reverse the very essence of the case on which Clause 10 is based. But let me put that rather technical point aside and deal with the Amendment on its merits, on the supposition that we could not only alter it, but that we propose on Report to alter Clause 10 at the same time to make it fit in with the altered Clause 11. The hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst), who is no longer in his place apparently, said it was grossly unfair that when a man bought a site he should be prevented from altering the valuation after he had bought it. I can understand that argument if it was applied as a whole. If it was said that in all cases of sale, whenever a purchaser came into possession, he could call in question the valuation, that would seem to me to be a perfectly logical argument. As far as I know, there is no Amendment on the Paper for doing that in the general case of the sale of land. Apparently, the Opposition are quite willing to accept 1290 the principle in general that, where a hereditament has been valued, and when that changes as a whole during the quinquennial period, the purchaser shall go on paying Land Tax for the whole of the rest of the quinquennial period on the basis on which the valuation was made at the beginning. They have only raised the difficulty where the hereditament is not sold as a whole, but is sold in pieces. I really cannot see, if the argument of the hon. and learned Member who moved the Amendment is sound, why they should be confining themselves to this case alone instead of to the larger question of what should be the position in the case of any sale of land during the quinquennial period.
Let me take the argument a stage further. I understand them to say that in this isolated case they want to upset the valuation. I assume now that they are going to do that, not only in isolated cases but in the larger case of the sale of a hereditament as a whole. They suggest that it is only fair that, where a new purchaser has become possessed of a piece of land, the old valuation ought thereby to be upset. Do they seriously suggest that it can only be upset in one direction? If it is going to be upset in one direction in order to lower the valuation at the desire of the purchaser, clearly the commissioners ought to be given a right to increase the valuation if in fact the sale price has disclosed that the land has been under-valued.
In spite of the illustration which the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Galbraith) gave, I should think that there would be at least as many cases the other way as there were in the direction in which he suggested. He gave the illustration of the man who possessed land of which the site value was put at £10,000 and which was cut up into 10 parts, one of which he sold to a particular individual. He supposed that that individual actually bought his site for £750 and he asked: Is it not unfair that he should pay Land Tax for the remainder of the quinquennium on the basis of £1,000? It is an arguable point whether you should keep the value for the whole quinquennium or whether you should change it as a result of the sale. Clearly you cannot change it only in one direction. If you give the right to reduce the value and therefore to reduce the 1291 tax in the case where the sale, instead of fetching a thousand pounds only fetched £750, equally the commissioners must be given the right, where the value, as found by the sale, has increased to £1,250, to put it up. The Government think that it is a fair plan to allow the valuation to remain for the whole of the five years. At the end of those five years the purchaser of these fractions of the original hereditament will have the right to raise the matter of the valuation. Therefore, it is only over the remainder of the quinquennium that the difficulty arises.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Gentleman thinks that it is fair to the Revenue authorities, why not do it?
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
There is something to be said for an annual valuation of all property. There is something to be said for revising it either upwards or downwards in all cases of sale, but, on the whole, the Government think that the simpler plan is to let the valuation stay for the quinquennium. This particular Amendment would not do that at all. It would pick out an isolated case, only the case where the land was split up, and it would only bring about a change when the purchase price showed a reduction in amount. Clearly the Government think that the five years' stabilisation of the valuation on which the tax is based is the better course, and they cannot possibly accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I would not base my objection to this Sub-section upon the case of my hon. and learned Friend, with the very greatest respect to him. My objection to the Sub-section is that it is entirely redundant. It is unnecessary. It is always a bad thing to restrict the right of appeal to one particular field. As far as I can see, the Financial Secretary is entirely right that the only relevant appeal one can see at the moment as a general probability is the appeal as to apportionment, because an appeal as to increase in aggregate value will not arise at all. That being the only appeal which can possibly arise, the drafters of the Bill have put themselves to a very great deal of trouble in vain. They have provided a long Sub-section to cover a point which probably will 1292 not arise. I think that they would have been perfectly safe not to have provided the Sub-section at all and to have left a general right of appeal. The Financial Secretary said that the only possible appeal, having regard to the principle enunciated by the Solicitor-General in Clause 10, would be an appeal on questions of apportionment. No honest legislator in this House would regard with equanimity an entirely unnecessary Subsection. We shall have to have another explanation either from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General or from the hon. Gentleman as to the necessity of this Sub-section at all.
We know the aggregate valuation is only to be fixed at the next quinquennium, and there will be no appeal upon that. I do not claim that the owner of a divided part of any land unit has a greater right than any other landholder in the country. I do not think that we can justify that once we grant the principle. Therefore, I cannot see the necessity for the restriction of the Bill. We take, naturally, an uncharitable view of the whole of these land taxes and of every proposal put forward to implement them, and therefore we were quite rightly bound to regard with suspicion such a restriction as this one. We have a right to ask the hon. Gentleman, if he is sincere in his argument, why he puts on this restriction at all. Upon his own arguments the Sub-section is unnecessary. He says that it does not do any harm. We say that it does not do any good. Therefore, I am quite prepared in the interests of the simplicity of legislation, to divide against the insertion of an entirely unnecessary Clause. If you look at Clause 10, you can see the possibility of an appeal upon another question, than of apportionment. Clause 10 reads in this way:Where it appears to the Commissioners that on the first day of January in any year of charge any piece of land valued under this Part of this Act as a land unit has become divided into two or more parts in different ownership.I do not pretend to be a land lawyer, but I know that it may involve very difficult questions of law as to whether one separate land unit had really become split into two different ownerships. Therefore, I can see questions of law arising upon which no possible appeal can be 1293 made under the Act. That being so, the Government are very foolish in insisting upon this very unnecessary Sub-section. I do not think that such a situation will be liable to arise. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General knows perfectly well that this legislation is going to affect the whole face of the country, and you cannot possibly prophesy that some such point of law may not arise in a number of ways. It will be entirely against public interests that we should put an unnecessary restriction upon the right of appeal, having regard to the fact that this is going to affect the whole population of the country. If the Government wish to administer this part of the machinery of the Bill fairly, they ought not to impose this restriction, and I ask that their decision should be reconsidered.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
May I ask the Attorney-General to give me a reply to two questions? It seems to me that if this Sub-section stays in, we may be depriving a man who, as the Attorney-General and everyone will agree, ought to be able to appeal on the question of value, from being able to do so. The Subsection provides that in a case where there has been revised entries, the owner of one of the smaller units shall have no right of appeal, except against the apportionment of the valuation. What is going to happen in a case where the vendor of a single unit sells it in 10 separate tenths? As a result of having sold the lot, he does not care what the valuation of the whole is. He has parted with it and he has no right of appeal and no desire to appeal. The other 10 people, just because they are the purchasers of revised units, are given no right to object to the valuation, which amounts to so much for the whole 10 tenths, except in regard to whether the apportionment between them is fair. I do not know whether the Attorney-General can assure me that that is not the case, but it seems to me that that is a point that requires consideration. As far as I can see, it has been overlooked.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment, as he went on in his argument, seemed to me not to have appreciated fully what would happen if the Sub-section had not been in. Apparently, the argument is that five years is too long to wait. We must have some point at which we get the 1294 valuation, and if they remove the Subsection, hon. Members opposite are opening the door for the cutting down of the five years to 12 months. I would not object to that in the least, because it would redound to the credit of the State very quickly, owing to the enormous increases that take place from year to year in values. I am afraid that that was not present in the hon. Member's mind when he moved the Amendment. I cannot see the Bill having its well-knit parts unless this Sub-section remains in. In regard to the striking out of Subsection (5), as was suggested by the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) I think that would be a fatal mistake from his own point of view, because that would mean robbing the new owners or the new purchasers of their right to reviews if they are wrongly apportioned.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I think the hon. Member has misunderstood me. Certainly, I want the right of appeal to be in and I do not want it to be restricted in any way, but the right of appeal is only on the question of the apportionment. I said that the question of apportionment was probably the only appeal that was likely to arise.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I am only throwing out a hint that there are serious dangers looming ahead from the landowners' point of view if hon. Members carry the Amendment. I intervened to point out the red lights behind the proposal to leave out this Sub-section. If the Opposition are prepared to remove the five years and to leave us with a free hand to have our reviews at intervals of less periods than five years, it is on their heads. I am simply telling them to look out and be careful before they move an Amendment such as they are moving now.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir William Jowitt)
Earlier in the Committee's proceedings when we were discussing Clause 10, some controversy arose as to its meaning, and those hon. Members who were present will remember that the Solicitor-General, in making clear what he thought was the meaning of Clause 10, referred to Clause 11 and pointed out that the two were dovetailed together. He relied on Clause 11 to explain the meaning of Clause 10. Hon. Members opposite are divided into two camps, 1295 those who object to the Sub-section because they believe that it is wicked and bad, and those who think it is otiose. The object, as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has explained, is simply to adhere to the basis fixed at the beginning of the quinquennium, and throughout the five years to adhere to that basis, notwithstanding the fact that in the course of years the unit may become split up into various units. If the unit becomes split up, then for the rest of the five years those among whom it is split up shall have also split up among themselves no less and no more than the value which was put upon the unit at the beginning of the quinquennium.
We are told that the Sub-section is unnecessary. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) expressed the view that he thinks it is unnecessary. I am by no means prepared to say that I am satisfied that he is wrong, but I am prepared to say that to make the matter clear—one does not want any ambiguity—I think it is wiser to have the Subsection in. It is necessary because if you read Clause 11 as a whole, before and after the proviso, you find that in perfectly general terms you give by means of this machinery the right of appeal; a general right of appeal to anybody who objects to the valuation of his land unit. The hon. Member for Eastbourne said, in effect, that the general words of Clause 11 must necessarily be qualified by the restrictions already in Clause 10. He may be right, but I think it is wiser and better to take care, in order to avoid the apparent conflict between Clauses 10 and 11 which would otherwise result, to qualify the general words of Clause 11 by a proviso, in the terms of Proviso (a), to show that you do not mean in Clause 11 to go outside the meaning which you have already put down in Clause 10. As a matter of drafting it is wiser to do that, and it is for that reason that I think we ought to retain the Subsection, which really makes plain the meaning which is in Clause 10. As the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) said, I have no doubt that in the majority of cases this plan of adhering to the valuation put upon the land unit at the beginning of the quinquennium, notwithstanding that the unit has been split up into various parts, will tell in favour of the taxpayer, but we 1296 think it not unreasonable to follow the precedent of the quinquennium.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I beg pardon. The hon. Member put forward the case of an undivided property owner being indifferent as to the valuation, or at any rate the case of a valuation having been fixed and then the property being divided up——
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
If the owner sells at the moment, the precise moment, when the valuation is being made the respective purchaser will want to know something about it. One of the terms of the contract of sale no doubt would be that the solicitor of the prospective purchaser would take the right to interfere in the matter, but unless the sale takes place at the precise moment when the valuation has been taken the man who is the owner at the material date, that is the date of valuation, will take such steps as are necessary to see that the valuation is not unfair, and consequently the various people among whom the land is subsequently split up will only be sharing among them that which is fair. Therefore, the point that as the valuation takes place precisely at the moment of sale, the existing landowner, who is going to sell, is indifferent to what the valuation is, and the unfortunate tenant will fall between two stools does not arise.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
It is perfectly obvious from what the Attorney-General has said that the point I am making is a genuine one, and one which will have to be dealt with by the Government. When I say that the sale takes place at the moment of valuation it is only by way of example. Anyone who is accustomed to sales of large estates by auction knows perfectly well the kind of thing that is likely to happen. A valuation has been made, perhaps notice has not been given with regard to the valuation, but it is going on at the same time as the sale. Imagine the owner of a large estate which has been sold in 20, 30, 40 or 50 lots. Is it to be supposed that all the trouble and expense in the first instance of appealing 1297 against an unfair valuation, which is to be split up between 20, 30 and 50 different purchasers, is all to rest, as far as the Government revenue is concerned, upon the vendor of the property, and that every vendor of property who sells his property in lots is to be prepared to feel that when he sells—in the ordinary way he would finish with the land—he is going to be saddled with the necessity of conducting on behalf of his purchasers a long appeal proceeding in order to get a valuation which is fair to those who have bought his property in separate lots. This is not a matter of trying to alter the scheme of the Bill, and I am perfectly certain that the Attorney-General thinks there is something in my point because with all his knowledge and experience in these matters he has not been able to tell me that there is nothing in my point. I am certain he realises that something will have to be done to meet this point before the Bill passes.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Will the hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) agree with this, that where a large unit is split up the valuation of the respective lots if taken together have a greater aggregate value than the unit had before
§ it was split up. If that is so, the argument he is now advancing does not hold, because if an immediate valuation was made after the estate was split up there would be a greater value attaching to that unit than before it was split up.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) completely misunderstands the whole point I have put forward. What I am assuming is—it will happen in a great many cases—that the original valuation was wrong, was very much too high, that is the whole point; and the person whose interest it is and whose right it should be to appeal against it is cut out from the right of appeal simply because he happens to be a purchaser. It is one of those cases where the original owner would have appealed, but when he has sold the property, and because it is split up into a number of different units, all right of appeal is taken away from everybody interested in the land.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 262; Noes, 129.1301
|Division No. 299.]||AYES.||[8.43 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Charleton, H. C.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Chater, Daniel||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Church, Major A. G.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Clarke, J. S.||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Cluse, W. S.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Arnott, John||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Harbord, A.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Compton, Joseph||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cove, William G.||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)|
|Ayles, Walter||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Harris, Percy A.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Daggar, George||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Dallas, George||Haycock, A. W.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Dalton, Hugh||Hayes, John Henry|
|Barr, James||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Benson, G.||Duncan, Charles||Herriotts, J.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Ede, James Chuter||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Edmunds, J. E.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Egan, W. H.||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Elmley, Viscount||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Foot, Isaac.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Bromfield, William||Freeman, Peter||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Brooke, W.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Isaacs, George|
|Brothers, M.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Buchanan, G.||Gill, T. H.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Gillett, George M.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Glassey, A. E.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Gossling, A. G.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Gould, F.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Cape, Thomas||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Gray, Milner||Kirkwood, D.|
|Knight, Holford||Morley, Ralph||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Lang, Gordon||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)|
|Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Mort, D. L.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Muff, G.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Murnin, Hugh||Sorensen, R.|
|Leach, W.||Nathan, Major H. L.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Naylor, T. E.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Lees, J.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Leonard, W.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Sullivan, J.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Palin, John Henry.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Parkinson, John Alien (Wigan)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Perry, S. F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Longden, F.||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Tillett, Ben|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Lunn, William||Pole, Major D. G.||Toole, Joseph|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Potts, John S.||Tout, W. J.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Price, M. P.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Quibell, D. J. K.||Vaughan, David|
|McElwee, A.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilton||Viant, S. P.|
|McEntee, V. L.||Raynes, W. R.||Walkden, A. G.|
|McKinlay, A.||Richards, R.||Walker, J.|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Ritson, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Romeril, H. G.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|McShane, John James||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Rowson, Guy||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Mander, Geoffroy le M.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Manning, E. L.||Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||West, F. R.|
|Mansfield, W.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Westwood, Joseph|
|March, S.||Sanders, W. S.||White, H. G.|
|Marcus, M.||Sandham, E.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Markham, S. F.||Sawyer, G. F.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Marley, J.||Scurr, John||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Marshall, Fred||Sexton, Sir James||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Mathers, George||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Matters, L. W.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Maxton, James||Sherwood, G. H.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Messer, Fred||Shield, George William||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Middleton, G.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Mills, J. E.||Shillaker, J. F.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Milner, Major J.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Montague, Frederick||Simmons, C. J.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Sinkinson, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Colfox, Major William Philip||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Albery, Irving James||Colville, Major D. J.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cowan, D. M.||Inskip, Sir Thomas|
|Atkinson, C.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Balniel, Lord||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Dawson, Sir Philip||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Eden, Captain Anthony||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Wetton-s-M.)||Lymington, Viscount|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Everard, W. Lindsay||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Fermoy, Lord||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Ford, Sir P. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Bracken, B.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Ganzoni, Sir John||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Millar, J. D.|
|Butler, R. A.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hanbury, C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Penny, Sir George|
|Christie, J. A.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Remer, John R.||Smithers, Waldron||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Reynolds, Cal. Sir James||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Rood, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sueter, Roar-Admiral M. F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Salmon, Major I.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thomson, Sir F.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Train, J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Skelton, A. N.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert||Major the Marquess of Titchfield|
|and Captain Wallace.|
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I beg to move, in page 10, line 21, to leave out the word "thirty" and to insert instead thereof the word "forty-two."
§ This Amendment is consequential upon an Amendment which has already been accepted by the Committee. I propose later to move a second Amendment which is also consequential and a third one which is nearly consequential, in relation to the question of the period of time allowed in connection with objections and appeals. We have already altered the period from 30 days to 42 days in the earlier part of the Clause. The first two of these three Amendments—in lines 21 and 28, respectively, to leave out the word "thirty" and to insert the word "forty-two"—are necessary for that reason, and the third Amendment which I propose to move—in line 30, to insert the words "not being less than forty-two days"—is in order to equate the period in the subsequent proceedings with the period of 42 days which applies to the earlier proceedings. I do not imagine that the Government will make any objection.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
We are prepared to accept these Amendments. The first two, as the right hon. Gentleman says, are merely consequential. The third Amendment is to make a fixed time with regard to the period within which appeals must be made, and, although not at present in the Bill, we are quite prepared to accept those words also.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 10, line 28, leave out the word "thirty" and insert instead thereof the word "forty-two."
§ In page 10, line 30, after the word "time," insert the words "not being less than forty-two days."—[Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson.]1302
§ Mr. ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL
I beg to move, in page 10, line 33, to leave out the word "one," and to insert instead thereof the word "two."
The Solicitor-General let fall a dictum that everyone will not appeal when he has received his valuation. That may be literally true, but I think that a large number of people will feel great bitterness about this Bill, and will regard it as something conveying an injustice to them; and, although we are totally against the principles of the Bill, we ask to be allowed to exercise our right to mould it in such a form that it will reduce the bitterness to which I have referred. I am dealing with the Sub-section which says that a person may appeal to one of the panel of referees. I would like the Solicitor-General to tell us what virtue he attributes to the word "one." Why only one? This is not a very contentious Amendment, and to use again an observation of the Solicitor-General, it may make the Bill more easy to work. We feel that one is not enough, and, if the Clause be amended as I propose, the appeal will be heard by not less than two referees. If that be carried, it may be necessary for there to be an umpire, but, if the Solicitor-General is prepared to accept two, I will not press for the third. Some provision should be made in certain cases, however, so that an umpire can be called upon. This Subsection also provides thatany party to the appeal may require the referee to state his award as to the whole or part thereof in the form of a special case for the opinion on any question of law of the High Court.Is not that the very thing which we want to avoid? We want not only to save bitterness, but to make it less likely for an appellant to feel that he must go further and appeal. The House of Commons should save persons the necessity of appealing to a court of law. 1303 In the interests of peace, therefore, we urge the Solicitor-General to take the view we hold, and to allow us to have two referees instead of one.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I think that the addendum of the hon. Gentleman proves the wrongness of his Amendment. The fact that he envisaged the necessity for an umpire shows the completely unsatisfactory character of a court which consists of two referees. A court consisting of two persons is always unsatisfactory, because you can never get a majority decision, and to have to resort to one of them withdrawing his decision, or some such recourse as that, is highly unsatisfactory. This provision is really modelled upon the Acquisition of Land (Compensation) Act, 1919, which has always worked quite satisfactorily. Under that Act a single referee has always been appointed, and I think that all parties have been satisfied with that form of procedure, which has been adopted in heavy compensation cases when large issues in regard to money have been raised.
As regards the proviso, the hon. Gentleman will realise that the referee who deals with valuation points is not a proper tribunal to deal with any point of law that may arise. Therefore, it is necessary to have some means by which, if a point of law does arise—one hopes that they will not arise very often—an appeal can be made to the courts in order to settle it. That is again the procedure which has been found quite satisfactory under the Acquisition of Land (Compensation) Act. In fact, one of the advantages of that Act which everybody realises was the getting of a single arbitrator to decide the matter instead of resorting to the old clumsy procedure of having two arbitrators and an umpire, which resulted in the two arbitrators generally being rather partisan and the umpire acting as the referee in the long run.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
In view of what the Solicitor-General has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I beg to move, in page 10, line 34, to leave out the words:
"I. of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910." and to insert instead thereof the words:
The effect of this apparently cryptic Amendment is simply to alter and, I hope the Solicitor-General will agree to improve the constitution of the committee which is to deal with the panel of referees. That committee under Part 1 of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, consisted of the Lord Chief 9.0 p.m. Justice, the Master of the Rolls, and the President of the Surveyors' Institution. Seventeen years after, under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, similar machinery was established, and it was decided that the committee should consist of the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Surveyors' Institution and the President of the Law Society. I hope that the Government will look with some favour on this Amendment. The finding of suitable persons to act as referees on the panel is a matter which needs a committee with two particular qualifications. One is absolute impartiality; they must be people who are respected for their high position and general impartiality. Another is that they should be people who know something of the work which has to be done by these referees, and know the reputation, experience and ability generally of that particular profession or class of person from whom the referees are to be drawn. In this case they would be surveyors, auctioneers or other persons accustomed to dealing In land—and the land in the particular part of the country where the valuations are to be made.
The President of the Law Society is a man who, in his official position, has a special reason for being able, if I may put it in those words, to give good and reliable advice as to the type of person to be chosen. Indeed, I venture to say there is no one who could do it better. He, being a solicitor, and not allowed, therefore, to be a surveyor, does not compete with members of the surveyors' profession, and has no interest therein, but he does represent the profession which more than any other employs those people, and a profession which, with that of the surveyors, probably knows more about the land and methods of dealing with land than any other. The Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls are two Judges of great dignity 1305 and position, but one would hardly expect either of them to have any practical knowledge of, or to go through the actual labour of inquiring into, who are the most suitable people in a particular part of the country to do this work. Their names are there in order to give confidence that the choice made is a correct and proper one, but there ought to be associated with them others who have practical knowledge of those who are to act as referees or who, from their official positions, are able to obtain particulars of the reliability and suitability of the people who are to act as referees. If those two great Judges are to have proper and efficient assistance I cannot think of anyone more likely to give it than the President of the Law Society and the President of the Surveyors' Institution. The knowledge of each supplements that of the other.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I have very great sympathy with the real point which lies behind this Amendment which is that in the selection of these referees the services of the President of the Law Society should be available, but there is a real difficulty in the form in which the Amendment is put forward, arising from the present constitution of the two panels. The panel under the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, is largely a panel of surveyors, the type of men wanted as referees in valuations; but the panel under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, is largely a panel of lawyers, either barristers or solicitors, excellent in their way, but not experts upon valuation points. The ideal would be to add to the selecting body under the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, the President of the Law Society, but frankly I am not quite certain whether that could be done, and it would be necessary to consult the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls and the members of the panel before such a proposal could be accepted by the Government. [Interruption.] I beg pardon, I mean the members of the selecting body. If I may I would suggest that the hon. Member should withdraw this Amendment on the basis that we make inquiries of the reference committee as to whether that condition could be met, and that if it is found possible to do it some such Amendment should be suggested by us on the Report stage. I do not wish to give any undertaking 1306 that such an Amendment will be put in, because the position must be explored, but we are anxious to explore the suggestion, and, if possible, to act on it.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) and myself appreciate the sympathetic way in which the Solicitor-General has dealt with this Amendment. We are quite aware that in its present form it is not particularly apt for the occasion, and although the Solicitor-General has not given an undertaking—and we could not ask him to do that in view of the fact that he must consult those who are already members of this committee—subject to that I feel a certain amount of confidence that when the Report stage arrives he will be able to give full effect to the suggestion, very modest, but most useful, contained in this Amendment.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I am not sure whether my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) attaches importance to the provision in the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, by which the reference committee may appoint persons for particular localities as well as generally, but, speaking for myself, I think that is a valuable point. The difference between the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, and the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, lies partly in that distinction. I am not going to ask the Solicitor-General to do anything more than he has undertaken to do, and that is to consider the matter, but having regard to the importance of getting people familiar with the locality it would be a great protection to the taxpayer if it were possible for the reference committee to do what they have power to do under the Landlord and Tenant Act, and that is to appoint persons not merely generally, but to any particular locality. There does not seem to be much point in a London surveyor being selected to deal with land in Lancashire or Scotland, and I hope the Solicitor-General will consider whether he cannot incorporate that part of the Landlord and Tenant Act.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I entirely sympathise with what my hon. and learned Friend has said as to the value in this particular case of adopting the course provided for in the Landlord and Tenant 1307 Act, and, indeed, in moving this Amendment I did make reference to the necessity for valuers having local knowledge. After what the Solicitor-General has said I shall be willing to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, realising that he cannot go further at the moment, but feeling perfectly satisfied with his promise to inquire into the matter, the more so as I believe that everybody concerned with the practical working of the Bill will realise the assistance they are likely to get if the proposals of my hon. Friend and myself are carried out. As the present Government were warned, and expressed their intention of accepting the warning, not to make the mistakes which had been made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), they would be well advised to see that gentlemen with local knowledge are appointed in the different localities, and that a gentleman who has gained most of his experience in valuing surburban villas on the other side of the Thames will not be sent to value farms in Lincolnshire, as was done under the Act of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I beg to move, in page 10, line 37, to leave out from the word "any," to the word "or" in line 40, and to insert instead thereof the wordsperson aggrieved by the decision of the referee may appeal against the decision to the High Court within the time and in the manner and on conditions directed by rules of court.My Amendment is intended to give a general right of appeal in these cases. The Clause, as drafted, providesThat any party to the appeal may require the referee to state his award as to the whole or part thereof in the form of a special case for the opinion on any question of law of the High Court.There are not many hon. Members present even on the Government side of the House, and it is not much good to say anything about special cases and the way they are prepared. I am afraid the power to demand a special case and state a point of law too often results in the tribunal, particularly if they are a little jealous of their own decision and a little anxious not to see it reversed, stating the facts in such a way that, 1308 although a point of law may appear on the face of it, the facts are such that the point is bound to be decided against the appellant. That is no reflection on individual integrity or impartiality, but it is an observation founded upon the defects of human nature. If you get somebody to state the facts upon which a point of law arises, in nine cases out of ten it is possible to state them in such a way that you can anticipate what the decision on the point of law will be. There are precedents for this, and, although the Solicitor-General may say it is unfortunate from the point of view of the taxes imposed in 1910, the taxpayer will not say that, because everybody knows that the power to appeal to the High Court, often unencumbered by a statement of facts, is very valuable to the taxpayer.
The Solicitor-General may say that that was one of the causes of the downfall of those taxes, but it does not seem to lie in the mouth of the Government to refuse a general appeal on law and fact simply because there might be so many appeals that it would be impossible to collect the tax. Any argument of that kind would show how desirable it is that we should give a general appeal, and the more it shows that the public are very much interested in having an unrestricted right of appeal. As the Solicitor-General will no doubt have informed himself by Section 33, Sub-section (4), of the Finance Act of 1910, any person aggrieved by the decision of the referee may appeal against that decision to the High Court within the time prescribed by the rules. Therefore, the Amendment I am moving is in accordance with precedent, a course found to be very convenient and one which affords a much desired protection to the taxpayer. Although a special case may be a convenient form of stating facts for a superior court, all lawyers know perfectly well that it very much restricts the right of appeal both on points of law and on points of fact.
I think, however, that the High Court may be trusted not to entertain appeals merely on questions of values, about which they have had no experience, and upon which they must depend on the evidence of responsible people. No High Court judge or tribunal would be likely to allow people to appeal to them merely 1309 because they thought respectable witnesses had put too high or too low the value on a piece of land. On the other hand, questions of valuation which come under what are known as mixed questions of law and fact can only be properly safeguarded by giving an unrestricted right of appeal as is provided under the Act of 1910. I ask hon. Members opposite, who claim to represent what are generally called the people, to be very careful to see that unrestricted rights of appeal are given to the people. The proposal of the Bill is novel and intricate in its design, and I hope the Solicitor-General will not simply say that he is sympathetic towards the object of this Amendment, but will be willing to accept it in the interests of those who ought to have the most ample protection that this Committee can give to them.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
I support this Amendment as the result of a not inconsiderable experience on the effect of making appeals solely by way of cases stated for the opinion of the court. I do not think there is any Member of this Committee who has had practical experience of that class of appeal who has not come to the conclusion that that procedure has proved completely unsatisfactory in a great number of cases, and has often resulted in a real denial of justice. That procedure is dilatory in its operation because it often happens that, by reason of the restriction under which the court finds itself, a case has to be sent back for further information, and it has to be re-stated. Sometimes additional information is supplied on points that arise, and which do not arise in an ordinary appeal case. Only in this way, any information which the court desires can be obtained, and the Law Books are full of cases dealing with highly technical points which are not of much value and which have cost the public enormous sums of money. I remember one instance in which the case had to be stated on four different occasions before finally we got to the point at which the matter was intended to be decided, and when that time arrived, one of the parties had been forced to file his petition in bankruptcy, and consequently there was no decision at all. There are many illustrations of technical points which have been raised which the parties have really tried to get decided, but have found themselves in 1310 the meshes of an award stated in special cases One cannot help knowing that very often these things are due to the ingenuity of the advocates who are instructed on the one side or the other. The advocates can only do their duty in accordance with the state of the law which they are called upon to help to elucidate.
Let me give another illustration. It is well known that the form of special case in which appeals under the Income Tax Acts have arisen in the past have caused a maximum of inconvenience and all sorts of difficulties have arisen. The Courts have finally come to the conclusion that they are forced to give a decision in one way or the other based simply and solely upon the form in which the case comes before them and without being able, under this form of procedure to have real regard to the true merits of the dispute. Speaking, as I am, to a member of my own profession who, I am satisfied, has a wide experience in this matter, I feel sure I need not dilate any further on the particular evils of the system which we desire not to see perpetuated under this Bill. I earnestly hope that the Solicitor-General on this occasion, as on so many occasions this evening, will be able to give us either some assurance or some acceptance of the Amendment, in that extremely reasonable frame of mind which I think, on the whole, he has shown to our efforts to improve the Bill.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I intervene in this Debate after some very distinguished members of my profession have given their experiences. I would remind the Solicitor-General of the very important book which was written a year or two ago by the Lord Chief Justice, called "The New Despotism." Perhaps one of the chief characteristics of our 20th century civilisation has been the creation of a lot of tinpot Courts, which have not any real means of forming a judgment, and with no proper right of appeal from them. That is rightly regarded as a very great invasion of the rights of a subject in matters of legal dispute. Let me give another example of the new despotism. I have not had the experience of my hon. and learned Friend behind me, but my experience has been quite sufficient, because the Solicitor-General will appreciate that in one's earlier years at the Bar one comes 1311 into contact very largely with benches of magistrates. He will appreciate that the case stated by magistrates, who are usually under the domination of the magistrates' clerk, leads to many kinds of injustice throughout England. These cases stated are very often quite honest but prejudiced from the start.
The hon. and learned Member ought not to criticise the bench of magistrates in such terms.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I will not pursue that line any further, but I understand it has frequently been criticised before, and criticised outside this House a very great deal. I will not refer to the magistrates as you, Mr. Dunnico, regard them as sacrosanct. I was merely stating that the system of cases stated really dates back to an archaic period in our history. It dates back to the time of formal pleading and matters of that kind, whereby the litigant is deprived of his ordinary rights. That is really the case stated, and I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to consider the facts of the present situation. In this case you have an official appointed under the Government, and he has to draw up, in the form of a special case, a case which he himself decides. I do think it would be much better if that was not so, and if there was unrestricted right of appeal in this matter. We have the precedent in the previous Act which has already been referred to and I really do not see what, at any rate, on the matter of principle, can be said against unrestricted right of appeal. I should have thought it was absolutely conclusive that unrestricted right of appeal would mean a far more just tribunal, when the head of the tribunal is not a trained lawyer or judge, but merely has to serve under Government on a technical matter. It would be far better if beyond that technical atmosphere which must invade the court of referees, there were, at any rate, the sanction of the court behind it.
There is a later Amendment on the Paper in which I notice the county court is mentioned. I do not in the least object to there being appeals to the county court in matters of small amount. I think the work of the county court judges is very seldom appreciated. They are brought closely into touch with the 1312 people, and the judge very often has to appear as advocate on both sides of the case to help the litigant. Their work is enormously valuable, and they would form a very suitable court, as formality is sometimes dispensed with in the county courts. I do ask the Solicitor-General to reconsider his decision in this matter. As a matter of fact, I am afraid he will not, because there is such a great question of principle involved here, but perhaps he will surprise me once more by showing reasonableness and generosity.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
On a point of Order. A moment ago you ruled that my hon. and learned Friend must not say anything disparaging to or critical of magistrates.
I did not rule the hon. and learned Member out of order. I think it is perfectly in order to make general comment on the Benches, but I did think the hon. Member was rather trespassing too far afield by making such harsh charges against magistrates which might lead to retaliation.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I should not presume to criticise your Ruling and I was only anxious about what was capable of being regarded as a ruling that one must not reflect on the magistrates in this country as distinct from Judges of the superior Courts. I thought it necessary to get an indication of your opinion, and that was all I intended. I am very much obliged.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am afraid I cannot even regard this Amendment with sympathy. That is a result of my own experience. May I first of all draw attention to the fact that my hon. and learned Friend who spoke last made one mistake in dealing with this Amendment? He suggested that the person who was to decide the matter of valuation as referee was the creature of the Government. That is not so. He is chosen from a panel of perfectly independent persons, and he is chosen, amongst others, by the author of "The New Despotism." Therefore, one can hardly assume he will be in any way a person who is likely to err in that matter. The real difference between the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite is as to whether there should be, on the question of value, an appeal to the High Court. I quite appreciate the argument which has been put as regards the difficulties 1313 which sometimes occur as regards cases stated and, what is quite a different thing, awards stated in the form of special cases. Where one is dealing with lawyers of great ingenuity who sit as arbitrators, it may possibly be, though I hesitate to suggest it, that the form of the special case is sometimes such as to make it difficult for the Judge to come to any conclusion other than that arrived at by the arbitrator.
In this case we are dealing with a simple surveyor who is unlikely to have that degree of ingenuity, and when he states a ease, according to my experience—and I have been concerned with a good many special cases and awards in the form of special oases stated by the official referees under the Acquisition of Land Act—there is invariably extreme fairness, and almost every case supplies the necessary facts, which in valuation cases are extremely simple. It is not a case of having a complicated series of facts which have to be stated. It is very easy, in cases of compensation or valuation, to state the facts simply, and the point of law which is taken by either party from those facts. I do not think that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are justified in thinking that there is any real restriction in this case upon an appeal being fully heard by the High Court on any question of law which is raised by either party. One hon. and learned Member mentioned the Income Tax Act, but I venture to think that, if every Income Tax case at the present time were open to appeal on all questions of fact as well as of law, the Courts would be very much fuller of appeals than they are at present.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
May I intervene to point out that there is no difficulty at all in regard to the county courts? Under Section 120 of the County Courts Act, the appeal is limited to law, but, nevertheless, you do not have your case put forward in the form of facts stated; you get a general appeal, and the court can then investigate what facts there are to give rise to the question of law. It is quite a different procedure, and I think that upon reflection my hon. and learned Friend will see that it does not follow that what we are pressing for is a complete appeal upon every conceivable little point of fact that will arise under these valuations. I can 1314 quite see that that would give rise to all sorts of difficulties.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am afraid I was only speaking to the Amendment and the suggestion which was perfectly definitely put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved it, which was that there should be a perfectly open appeal on all questions of fact as well as of law. I was attempting to point out to the Committee that in my experience that would be disastrous, because it would lead to a vast multiplication of appeals, and I gave the instance of the Income Tax Acts, which I think will show to anyone who has experience of them that really on the whole that system is a very satisfactory system, and one which tends vastly to limit the area of appeal. After all, one has to take account of the fact that these provisions, and provisions in any Act of this sort., whatever it may be concerned with, where you have arbitration, should be so designed as not to lead to unnecessary appeals, that is to say, not to tempt the litigant—and everyone knows that the litigant always wants to go on, apparently for the sake of litigating; he always wants to go to a higher court.
This limitation represents exactly the position as regards compensation cases under the Acquisition of Land Act, the Land Clauses Act, and all the other Acts in which there has been compensation legislation. The position is precisely the same here, except that it does not include what has been in some cases, I agree, an unfortunate feature, namely, the feature of stating a case for the opinion of the court in the course of the arbitration. There is a good deal to be said against that, and that is why we are here adopting the alternative form of stating the award when the arbitrator has finally finished the hearing and then stating a special case raising points of law for the court. I can confidently say from my own experience that that procedure is calculated to lead to an absolutely fair decision on a point of law raised, and not to shut out anyone who wants to raise a point of law, while, on the other hand, it is going to stop needless and unnecessary legislation on points of fact which are most properly decided by the referees.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
The Solicitor-General really gave us the key to his answer when he made it clear that what he really desires is to stop appeals. I am not the least impressed by what he said a moment ago about these poor simple surveyors who always state facts exactly as they are, untrammelled by any attempt to state either party out of court, or anything of that sort, whereas the lawyer who sits as an arbitrator can exercise his ingenuity. It is notorious, and I am perfectly certain that, if the Solicitor-General thinks for one moment, he will agree that these professional non-legal arbitrators almost invariably, or, if not almost invariably, very frequently, employ a solicitor or counsel to put their awards into form for them. Indeed, I am reminded that the official referee is actually provided with a solicitor for the purpose. At any rate, we are dealing now with these referees on the panel, and with surveyors sitting as arbitrators, and it is notorious that they do employ lawyers to draw the case, so that there is nothing in that point at all.
Again, I think that the Solicitor-General has very seriously under-estimated the sort of difficulties which will arise, and their complexity. Look for a moment at the sort of things which will arise under Clause 8 of the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) said that the sort of things about which he is thinking are what we call mixed questions of law and fact. Is a particular work erected for agricultural purposes; or is it erected partly for agricultural purposes and partly for something else; or is it erected not for agricultural purposes at all? Is grass growing on a unit a natural growth or not? Is heather, gorse, sedge or thistle a natural growth in any given case? When is a natural growth not a natural growth? We were told last night by the Solicitor-General that the greens in the fairway on the Bramshott golf course were grass within the meaning of the sort of natural growth which is assumed to be left upon the unit, like thistles. All these are mixed questions of law and fact. The matter bristles with points of this sort. Why should we not be allowed to take them to the proper tribunal and get them decided, not hedged about by some narrow restriction in the way in which 1316 the case is stated so as to raise only one particular point? So far as this particular part of the 1910 Act is concerned, I do not think anyone has seriously criticised the effect it has had on the working of that Act, and yet both of these points on which we are insisting here were incorporated in the 1910 Act, and, in my submission, they ought to be incorporated in this Measure.
I should like to add a word on a slightly different point which so far has not been emphasised. That is in regard to the person who is to have the right of appeal at all. Owing to the way in which this Clause is drafted, again in contrast with the Act of 1910, the right of appeal is very severely limited. It will be seen from Sub-sections (4) and (5) of Clause 11 that the purpose of an appeal, and the persons whom the referees can decide to add as parties to an appeal, are severely limited by the question of ownership of the land. It is plain that in many cases the valuation here will vitally affect a great number of people who do not come within the definition for the time being of owner of that particular unit. For example, mortgagees may be very vitally affected by the valuation. The ground landlord may be very vitally affected in a case where the lessee is, under the terms of the Bill, the owner within the definition Clause. Trustees, again, who may not be the owners, may be affected and, last but not least, to give one other illustration, a person who is entitled in remainder to the immediate estate.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
I mean that the remainderman may be affected. A remainderman need not necessarily be the owner at all. There is an estate in existence to which, perhaps, in a very short time he may expect to succeed, but he is not the owner and therefor cannot be a party to this appeal, or indeed to the proceedings before the referee, and yet really to all intents and purposes he may be the person most vitally affected of any one. There ought to be some provision for that. That is implicit in the use of the words "person aggrieved"—the words used in the 1910 Statute, and in the Income Tax Act. Why should they not be used in this Statute? There is nothing about the 1317 right of appeal being limited to a party to the assessment. It is quite sufficient for my purpose that the phrase is used in the 1910 Act on this kindred subject matter. There cannot possibly be any danger to the Crown in the use of these words as distinct from the use of "party to the appeal," limited strictly to anyone who may be said at any given moment to be the owner. No one can suppose for a moment that the High Court, or the county court, if my hon. Friend's other Amendment is accepted, would allow the court to be embarrassed and blocked with appeals by persons who have no sort of interest in the matter. The High Court would take very good care to ensure that any person who said he was a person aggrieved was, in the legal sense of the word, a person aggrieved, or they would make short work of him. There is no danger to the Crown, but there is a great safeguard to people who are really aggrieved by any given valuation, and whose interests ought to be protected.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. and learned Gentleman is not quite right in his statement as to the people who have a right to appeal because he has forgotten what was pointed out earlier in the evening, that Clause 15 (5) gives a right to anyone who can in any circumstances bear any part of the tax as a reversioner or anyone in that position who may come in as owner.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I was not saying that. I was saying the hon. and learned Gentleman was not quite right in the ambit that he took of the person who could at present make use of the right of appeal. I did not say it covered all the people he mentioned, but it covers some, and one of them is the reversioner to the lease who, he said, could not appeal under existing circumstances.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
The Solicitor-General tried to make me say I was referring to a reversioner and I expressly said I was not.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
If the hon. and learned Gentleman looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he will see 1318 that, before he got to the remainderman, he talked about a person who was a reversioner to a lease.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It is the same thing. The ground landlord is the reversioner to the lease in every case.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I quite agree, and the reversioner would be the ground landlord. He would also be included in Clause 15 (5).
§ Sir T. INSKIP
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman say whether in Scottish law the superior is a party who might be aggrieved, whether the superior is a reversioner or not? We have not the benefit of the Lord Advocate's presence. Whether he knows anything about the Bill or not, I think he ought to be here.
§ Sir B. MERRIMAN
I do not know whether the Solicitor-General is as familiar with the chief rents in Lancashire as some of us are. I think the landlord there is in exactly the same position as the Scottish landlord to whom my hon. and learned Friend has referred. I want to know whether he is protected.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I submit that we are entitled to have the responsible legal advisers of the Government to deal with the points at issue and, in so far as these Clauses are general Clauses, and deal with Scotland as well as England, we are entitled to have the responsible legal opinion which can deal with Scottish points. We all respect the Solicitor-General and the skill, if not always the convincingness, with which he deals with English points, but we are entitled to have legal opinion given us with regard to the Scottish points that arise on these general Clauses which affect both countries.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman is not quite accurate, because I think the Scottish point, as regards the position of the Scottish superior, arises on the Scottish adaptation Clause. At present we are dealing with reversionaries and matters of that sort, which have no existence in Scottish law. When we come to the Scottish adaptation Clause, there are a number of Subsections which deal with the Scottish law.
§ Sir JOHN GILMOUR
There are innumerable points which are being settled in Clause 19 which, it is true, in Clause 30 are going to be adapted, but the essential matter is the principle, which affects great masses of people in my country, for whom this House is responsible. The hon. and learned Gentleman's statement will not bear examination for a moment. I think at the least, in courtesy to the House and to Scottish Members who have a right to be heard in this matter, the Lord Advocate or someone representing the Scottish Office ought to be on that bench.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am sorry to differ. We are not discussing Clause 19 at all. We are discussing Clause 11, which deals obviously with the English procedure. The terms used, "High Court" and the rest of the terms, are quite inapplicable to Scotland. There is to be an adaptation of that Clause to Scotland, and in that adaptation Clause the question whether the superior or the chief renter, or whatever the people are called in Scotland, are equivalent to some similar person in England, will of course arise, and whether the superior ought to be in the same position as a man who owns a ground rent or a landlord, and points of that sort.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
Really, we must protect all parts of the United Kingdom. When the Solicitor-General says that we are dealing here with words which obviously apply to the English system of law, he really is inaccurate, because these words are not legal words or terms of art as he calls them. "Party to the appeal"—that is the expression with which we are dealing. We want to substitute for it the expression "person aggrieved." We are entitled to be told whether or not the persons we mention are covered by the words "party to the appeal." It is no answer to tell us that when we come 1320 to the Scottish Clause we can deal with the matter. We cannot then amend Clause 11, which we are now considering. We might possibly interpret the terms of art in English law into terms of art in Scottish law, but "party to the appeal" is not a term of art and is not capable of being dealt with in Scottish law.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite might let me speak. The point which has just been put to me is this: There may be within the terms certain people in England, and the hon. and learned Gentlemen wants to know whether certain other people in Scotland come within the terms. Under Clause 15 (5) there is a provision that any person to whom a tax is passed back will be entitled to be a party to the appeal. Beyond that people will not be entitled to be a party to the appeal unless they are owners. That is to say, the people mentioned by an hon. Member opposite, mortgagees, will not be entitled to be a party to the appeal. The reason why the Clause is being brought forward in this form is that the people who have to pay the tax are thought to be the people who will be chiefly interested in the valuation, and they will be quite a sufficient body of persons, together with the people who may be added, that is to say, the subsequent purchaser if the land changes owners, to see that protection is afforded on questions of law.
Of course, this is only a question of appeal on points of law. If no points of law appear to any of these people who have to pay the tax I do not think there is any ground for complaint that we did not go wide enough. "Person aggrieved" is a very much wider term than the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) seems to think. Any neighbouring owner could come along and say, "I am aggrieved because this land has not high enough land value." It would be quite intolerable if you had the position that anyone in an area could appeal against anyone else's land valuation after the reference to some point of law which he chose to raise. I really ask hon. Members opposite who accept the view that there is no undue limitation of any sort here, 1321 and that on all the precedents of valuation, except that of 1909–10, which is not a very happy precedent to quote——
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
And as the hon. Gentleman knows, the art of obstruction which was practised with regard to appeals in that case was one of the causes.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
The Solicitor-General has really been most good-humoured in dealing with the points put to him, but I wonder whether he would answer one question which brings the matter, perhaps, a little nearer home than Scotland or Lancashire. The hon. and earned Gentleman at present represents a division of the city and county of Bristol. There they have a system of what are called perpetual fee farm rents. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman at some time make inquiry and see whether the people who get the perpetual fee farm rents in Bristol will be entitled under the Bill to ask for an
§ appeal? Further, will he look at Subsection (4), which in express terms mentions "The Reference Committees for England and Scotland"?
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
The Solicitor-General, in answer to a question, mentioned the Lord Chief Justice's book, "The New Despotism," as if it justified the Government in some way. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to take advantage of a point to which he is not entitled. The whole thesis of the Lord Chief Justice's book was that the courts were asked to implement the bureaucratic behests of the House of Commons. In fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman turned the Lord Chief Justice into a new sort of despotism which I do not think would satisfy the author of that book.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 264; Noes, 171.1325
|Division No. 300.]||AYES.||[10.4 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Cluse, W. S.||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Harbord, A.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Compton, Joseph||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillshro')||Cove, William G.||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Harris, Percy A.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Daggar, George||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Dallas, George||Haycock, A. W.|
|Arnott, John||Dalton, Hugh||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Henderson, Arthur, Jurn. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)|
|Ayles, Walter||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Herriotts, J.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Barr, James||Duncan, Charles||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Batey, Joseph||Ede, James Chuter||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Edmunds, J. E.||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Bennett, Sir E. M. (Cardiff, Central)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Benson, G.||Egan, W. H.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Elmley, Viscount||Isaacs, George|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Evans, Herbert (Gateshead)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Foot, Isaac||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Freeman, Peter||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Bromfield, William||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Brooke, W.||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Brothers, M.||Gill, T. H.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Gillett, George M.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Glassey, A. E.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Buchanan, G.||Gossling, A. G.||Knight, Holford|
|Burgess, F. G.||Gould, F.||Lang, Gordon|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Gray, Milner||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Cape, Thomas||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Chater, Daniel||Groves, Thomas E.||Leach, W.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)|
|Clarke, J. S.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lees, J.|
|Leonard, W.||Nathan, Major H. L.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Naylor, T. E.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Sorensen, R.|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Palin, John Henry||Strauss, G. R.|
|Longden, F.||Paling, Wilfrid||Sullivan, J.|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Palmer, E. T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Lunn, William||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Perry, S. F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McElwee, A.||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Tillett, Ben|
|McEntee, V. L.||Pole, Major D. G.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Potts, John S.||Toole, Joseph|
|McKinlay, A.||Price, M. P.||Tout, W. J.|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Quibell, D. J. K.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Vaughan, David|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Raynes, W. R.||Viant S. P.|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Richards, R.||Walkden, A. G.|
|McShane, John James||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Walker, J.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Ritson, J.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Manning, E. L.||Romeril, H. G.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Mansfield, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|March, S.||Rowson, Guy||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Marcus, M.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Markham, S. F.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||West, F. H.|
|Marley, J.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Marshall, Fred||Sanders, W. S.||White, H. G.|
|Mathers, George||Sandham, E.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Matters, L. W.||Sawyer, G. F.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Maxton, James||Scurr, John||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Messer, Fred||Sexton, Sir James||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Middleton, G.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Mills, J. E.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Milner, Major J.||Sherwood, G. H.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Montague, Frederick||Shield, George William||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Shillaker, J. F.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Morley, Ralph||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Simmons, C. J.||Wise, E. F.|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sinkinson, George||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Mort, D. L.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Muff, G.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Murnin, Hugh||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Mr. Hayes and Mr. B. Smith.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Albery, Irving James||Chapman, Sir S.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Christie, J. A.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hanbury, C.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Colfox, Major William Philip||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Colville, Major D. J.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Balniel, Lord||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Cowan, D. M.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Dalkeith, Earl of||Inskip, Sir Thomas|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Boyce, Leslie||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dawson, Sir Philip||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.)||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Buchan, John||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Ferguson, Sir John||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)|
|Butler, R. A.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Gower, Sir Robert||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Remer, John R.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Mason,-Colonel Glyn K.||Ross, Ronald D.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Rothschild, J. de||Thompson, Luke|
|Millar, J. D.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Moore Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Salmon, Major I.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Train, J.|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Savery, S. S.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|O'Neill, Sir H.||Skelton, A. N.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Peake, Captain Osbert||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Penny, Sir George||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Smithers, Waldron||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain|
§ This Amendment is to omit the paragraph which limits the number of expert witnesses who may be called in a case. I feel sure that hon. Members opposite will realise that as far as I and any members of my party are concerned, we would never wish to add unnecessarily to the legal expenses of those concerned, and I hope the learned Solicitor-General will not demean himself by making the excuse that if our Amendment were carried, it would in any way add to the, costs. The real reason why some of us wish to omit this paragraph is that we realise that when you have these cases—and they are appeal cases in a sense—it is not right that you should lay down any limitation on the number of witnesses. Many of the cases during the first period of the working of the Act, if ever it comes into operation, will be examples upon which the whole of the law in connection with the exaction of the tax will be based. A given case will he taken and the amount of tax which will have to be paid by other people will entirely be based upon it. When you are liable to take cases which in some instances must deal with properties of great value, and in other instances must lay down the law for a very large number of cases, you should not in any way limit the freedom of the individual, who, in his particular case, may possibly be having the whole of his fortune brought under review. You should not limit the number of witnesses he may bring forward.1326
§ I presume that, in the event of a case being lost by the Government, naturally the Government would bear the expenses, although I cannot find anything to that effect in the Bill. It seems to be unfair that when you are levying a tax of this kind upon an individual, or upon a great corporation, such as a trade union or friendly society, that it may cover a very large amount of property in one way or another. It is not right that you should say to these people that the Government have the power to say that you may bring only one, two or three expert witnesses. I do not wish to see the proceedings delayed or the costs raised in any way, but when you take up a position under the Act of laying burdens on a variety of people in almost every part of the country, you should give them absolute freedom to bring whatever witnesses they like to the court. I hope that when we have a reply as to why the words should not be left out, we shall not be told in this case that it does not apply to Scotland, or that you can find a Scottish example somewhere later on in the Bill. At the beginning of the paragraph it deliberately lays it down that it applies to England and Scotland. I hope that the Government will be able to accept this very reasonable Amendment to omit paragraph (d).
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The Amendment is contrary to the whole of the previous legislation in this class of case which has been found to work extremely satisfactorily. Anybody who has had experience of practising before the official referee in compensation cases, where an exactly similar Clause applies, 1327 will admit that it has been very satisfactory in its working. I see an hon. and learned Gentleman opposite with that experience nodding his head at me. The reason why it is so satisfactory is, that in the general and ordinary case one expert witness is accepted as quite sufficient, and whenever a case is made out in which there is any importance, the referee is always willing to give his permission to have more than one expert witness. The hon. Member seems to think that expert witnesses cost nothing. I do not know whether he has been engaged in litigation, but I know that many lawyers' mouths have watered when they have heard of the fees paid to expert witnesses.
There will be no limitation of any witnesses as to facts. No possible point of law that can arise and go to the High Court is ever involved in the evidence of an expert witness but only in the evidence of witnesses as to facts, so that this really has no bearing upon appeals to the High Court. One other question which the hon. Member raised, which had nothing to do with the Amendment but which I am glad to answer, related to costs of appeals. Under Sub-section (6) of the present Clause the referee may order that the costs of any appeal to him incurred by any party may be paid by any other party. That, again, is an extremely satisfactory provision and far better than the one that is in the Acquisition of Land Act, which attempts to fetter his discretion, because he is able to apply more or less the ordinary rules that apply in the courts when awarding the costs of any litigation.
§ Amendment negatived.
Are you not going to call the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), on the top of page 1870?
If I may say so with respect, we could not exactly calculate how much time would be open to us. 1328 It was only on the assumption that we should not have time that we, refrained from asking Chat that Amendment should be called.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 11, line 38, at the end, to insert the words:(f) that if any party to the appeal so requests, the referee shall himself view the land unit in respect of which the appeal is made.This is a reasonable Amendment. Obviously, there are going to be many complications in the class of cases which are going to go before the referee. It is by no means clear in Clause 8 what is to be taken into account and what is not. It is very necessary in some cases that the referee should himself go down and view the land. You may have a case on one of the new roads, a main road which has been much improved out of the Road Fund. With regard to certain parts of that road the valuer may very well consider that they have a possible building value in excess of the cultivation value, but it is almost impossible for the referee to judge that without a personal inspection. The evidence is likely to be contradictory. It is not always easy to say whether or not it is an eligible building site, especially if the owner contends that it is not a good building site because, say, of the absence of water or something of that kind, although it may appear to be a desirable site. Without personal inspection it is very difficult for the referee to judge of the merits or demerits of the owner's case. Where it is a question of the referee having to make a personal inspection it is very important that he should do so, and I think this is an Amendment which the Government might accept.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
This is a matter which in our view, should be left to the discretion of the referee, who is, obviously, a gentleman skilled as a referee and surveyor, who will always view the land whenever he thinks it necessary. Exactly the same position arises under the Acquisition of Land Act, and I have never known a case where the official referee has not viewed the land if requested to do so by either the parties, sometimes before and sometimes 1329 after the arbitration. It would not be of any assistance to take away from the discretion of the person who is trying the reference the question as to whether or not he should view a particular site. He is far better able to judge as to whether he can form his ultimate decision better by viewing the site or by depending upon the evidence before him without viewing the site, especially where you may have a large number of cases, in one street or a road. Once he has visited the site it is wholly unnecessary for him to make a journey, perhaps of many miles, to view it again. The Committee can feel confident that in every case where a view is desirable the referee will take the step which any surveyor will take, and that is to have a view.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The Solicitor-General, while as usual putting a good case forward, has not really met some of the apprehensions which some people feel and quite reasonably ask to have removed. As on a previous Amendment, he has again referred to existing practice. No reference to past practice can be conclusive in regard to a new impost of this kind. Earlier in the afternoon when we desired the existing practice to be adhered to in the matter of appeals we could make no impression upon the Solicitor-General. In that case we wished that the person who was objecting to a valuation should not be forced to give his own alternative valuation. The Solicitor-General refused our request, although we pointed out that the existing practice, so far as it offered any guide at all, showed that it was
§ perfectly right to admit the objection without the person who makes the objection having to give an alternative assessment. I agree that in certain cases it may be sufficient for the referee not to be compelled to have to go to the site unless he himself thinks fit to do so, but in the case of a new impost of this kind, I submit that if the Government want this tax to be accepted with the minimum degree of grievance, the referee himself should be ready to view the site, and that if the parties wish him to view the site they should be entitled to require him to do so. It does not add greatly to the cost of valuation or to the delay, but it means that the person who may be called upon to pay this new impost, of a kind entirely unknown, would be satisfied in his own mind that, so far as the fairness of the case is concerned, he has been given full justice. I would further point out that one objection which the Solicitor-General put forward is without foundation in fact. If I interpreted the hon. and learned Gentleman aright his objection was that there were cases in which the referee might be able to pronounce a better decision——
§ It being Half-past Ten of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 4th June, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 175; Noes, 274.1333
|Division No. 301.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.|
|Albery, Irving James||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cowan, D. M.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Butler, R. A.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Campbell, E. T.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)|
|Atkinson, C.||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Balniel, Lord||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Chapman, Sir S.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Christie, J. A.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Ferguson, Sir John|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bracken, B.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Colville, Major D. J.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Cooper, A. Duff||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Buchan, John||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Marjoribanks, Edward||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Hanbury, C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sueter Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Thompson, Luke|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||O'Connor, T. J.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||O'Neill, Sir H.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Train, J.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Perkins, W. R. D.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Remer, John R.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ross, Ronald D.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Salmon, Major I.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Savery, S. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Skelton, A. N.||George Penny.|
|Lymington, Viscount||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Clarke, J. S.||Harbord, A.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cluse, W. S.||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Harris, Percy A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Alpass, J. H.||Compton, Joseph||Haycock, A. W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cove, William G.||Hayes, John Henry|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Arnott, John||Daggar, George||Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Dallas, George||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dalton, Hugh||Herriotts, J.|
|Ayles, Walter||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Barr, James||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Batey, Joseph||Duncan, Charles||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Ede, James Chuter||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Edmunds, J. E.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Isaacs, George|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Egan, W. H.||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Benson, G.||Evans, Herbert (Gateshead)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Foot, Isaac||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Freeman, Peter||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bromfield, William||Gill, T. H.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Bromley, J.||Gillett, George M.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Brooke, W.||Glassey, A. E.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Brothers, M.||Gossling, A. G.||Knight, Holford|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Gould, F.||Lang, Gordon|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Buchanan, G.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Gray, Milner||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Cape, Thomas||Groves, Thomas E.||Leach, W.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lees, J.|
|Chater, Daniel||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Leonard, W.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Sorensen, R.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Palin, John Henry||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Paling, Wilfrid||Stephen, Campbell|
|Longden, F.||Palmer, E. T.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Sullivan, J.|
|Lunn, William||Perry, S. F.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|McElwee, A.||Pole, Major D. G.||Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Patts, John S.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettlestone)||Price, M. P.||Tillett, Ben|
|McKinlay, A.||Pybus, Percy John||Tinker, John Joseph|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Quibell, D. J. K.||Toole, Joseph|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Tout, W. J.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Raynes, W. R.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Richards, R.||Vaughan, David|
|McShane, John James||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Viant, S. P.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Ritson, J.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Walker, J.|
|Manning, E. L.||Romeril, H. G.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Mansfield, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Watkins, F. C.|
|March, S.||Rothschild, J. de||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).|
|Marcus, M.||Rowson, Guy||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Markham, S. F.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Marley, J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Marshall, Fred||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||West, F. R.|
|Mathers, George||Sanders, W. S.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Matters, L. W.||Sandham, E.||White, H. G.|
|Maxton, James||Sawyer, G. F.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Messer, Fred||Scurr, John||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Middleton, G.||Sexton, Sir James||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Millar, J. D.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Mills, J. E.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Milner, Major J.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Montague, Frederick||Sherwood, G. H.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Shield, George William||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Morley, Ralph||Shillaker, J. F.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Simmons, C. J.||Wise, E. F.|
|Mort, D. L.||Sinkinson, George||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Muff, G.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Murnin, Hugh||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Nathan, Major H. L.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at this day's Sitting.
§ Clauses 12 (Amendment and keeping of registers) and 13 (Values in force for assessment of tax) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Mr. T. Kennedy.]
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
Upon this Motion, I desire not only to renew in the most formal way she protest which we feel ourselves obliged to make against this constant practice of the Government, but also to make a suggestion to the Government as regards the course of business next week, and perhaps I had 1334 better make the suggestion first. At Question Time to-day my right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) addressed a question to the Prime Minister with regard to the position in which we shall find ourselves in dealing with Clause 19 and Clause 20. Clause 10 concerns exemptions, and on that there are a largo number of Amendments already on the Paper, to which I shall make further reference later. On Clause 20 there are certain Amendments which will raise very important questions which clearly deserve decision and debate. As things stand, it appears improbable that anything more than a most perfunctory discussion, if any discussion at all, can be given to Clause 20. There are at present something like seven pages of Amendments to Clause 19 on the Paper, by no means confined to Amendments from Members of the Conservative party, because of those Amendments no fewer than 17 stand in the names of Members of parties other than 1335 that to which I belong. Under these circumstances it is clear that there must be a protracted discussion on Clause 19, and I understand the Prime Minister had that in mind to-day when he gave an indication that a statement would be made on behalf of the Government at the beginning of the proceedings on Clause 19 which he thought, if I understood him aright, might have the effect of abbreviating discussion.
Of course, I have no means of knowing what that statement will be, but I imagine that what the Government have in contemplation is that either the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, or somebody else on behalf of the Government, will make a general statement indicating what further exemptions the Government are prepared to make. That statement having been made, the Government hope to shorten Debate on the Clause. I think that is perfectly true. Would it be possible, instead of having a considerable portion of the very short time—only one day given to Clauses 19 and 20—occupied by making a statement on the 6th Allotted Day, to utilise that time on Monday night during which either the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or somebody on behalf of the Government, could make a statement as to what exemptions they propose to accept? That would have this great advantage, that there need be no further Debate, and hon. Members would have the night to reflect upon and consider——[Interruption.] Clause 19 is one of the Clauses upon which it might be said that we look forward to being able to set aside our prejudices, because there are Amendments to that Clause standing in names of all parties.
If the statement of the Government's intentions were made that night, and still more if the proposed Government Amendments were tabled, we should start on Tuesday with that statement and these Amendments in front of us. In those circumstances, I think we should undoubtedly be able very materially to shorten what would otherwise be protracted proceedings on Clause 19. If we could do that, it might be possible to conclude the Debate on Clauses 19 and 20 at a reasonable hour, which I think is the result at which we all desire to arrive. I put that suggestion to the 1336 Government. As regards the other part of my observations, we wish to renew in the most emphatic manner our protest at the fact that the Finance Bill has been allotted less time for discussion than is usually allotted to Finance Bills and even less time than is usually given to an ordinary Bill.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his suggestion, but I am sorry that I cannot give a definite answer at this moment. Through no fault of the right hon. Gentleman, but because I had another engagement—this matter was only placed in my hands after two o'clock, and this has been a most unusually heavy day for me—I have not had an opportunity of consulting the right hon. Gentleman as to what precisely he means. I should have liked very much to have had an opportunity of consulting the right hon. Gentleman, and, if he will agree to taking note of the suggestion now, I will give it my most careful consideration. I am not at all sure at what point the Chancellor of the Exchequer would intervene, but, obviously, the intervention must be at a time when it is possible to curtail Debate. I will do my very best to see if we can come to some sort of accommodation, and I am sorry that I cannot be more definite now.
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but can we have any idea as to when he will be able to give us a definite answer on this point? May I point out that there are a great many important bodies throughout the country who are particularly interested in this particular Clause, and I am quite sure hon. Members on all sides who have received communications from these various bodies will desire to see how far the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer meets the objections, and criticisms that have been put forward by those bodies. If the statement is only made immediately prior to the Debate, it will be very difficult for hon. Members to be certain whether their criticisms are met by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement; therefore, it would be a very great advantage if we could have a little time to consider any statement that may be made.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
May I be permitted to call the attention of 1337 the Committee to the position in which we are placed? We are acting under very rigid limitations of time adopted by the House on the Motion of the Government. We are told to-day that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, at the opening of the sitting on Tuesday, make a statement which will materially curtail the discussion which would appear to be inevitable from the notices of Amendments already given. What does that mean? It means that on Tuesday, when the time that we can give to Clause 19, which is immediately affected, and the next Clause, is limited to the hours between a quarter to four and half-past-ten, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to come down at some point, not necessarily at the beginning of the sitting, and recast this Clause. We shall really be confronted not with a Committee discussion but with a Second Reading Debate on a new proposal, and we are expected to conduct that Second Reading Debate and the following Committee Debate on the Amendment within the narrow limits I have mentioned.
On all sides of the House we are regretting the lowered estimation of this House in the eyes of the country. [Interruption.] I thought we all were, but if some Members do not feel that regret, I am sorry that it should be so. I am quite sure that the Prime Minister, as much as myself, cherishes the honour and the traditions of this House, and regrets anything which leads to it being held in less estimation in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about last night?"] We are all too ready to attribute that to the actions of others than ourselves and to the Press, though sometimes they contribute to it, but if there is one thing which can reduce the estimation in which this House is held and which can lessen its influence with the country, it is that issues such as will be raised on Tuesday should be scamped in discussion, and that the country should feel that when great bodies of men and countless individuals have vital interests at stake the House of Commons has no time to give to their consideration.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I hope that nothing will be said to stir up what, after all, was the conciliatory atmosphere created by the remarks of the Prime Minister. He laboured under great difficulties, as the House labours, but what the right 1338 hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) has said has peculiar force in regard to Clause 19. There are, of course, many political issues wrapped up in this Bill, but in regard to that particular Clause there are issues and interests outside this House and, indeed, outside the ordinary range of party politics, which are deeply affected by it, and I sincerely trust the Prime Minister, as I believe he will, will go as far as he possibly can in what seems to me the reasonable suggestion made from this side of the Committee.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It is very difficult for me to say more than I have said. It is unfortunate that to-morrow is a Friday, but I will inform myself in the morning of the situation and, through the usual channels, or directly with the right hon. Gentleman himself, I shall be very glad to see what statement can be made on the lines of what I have said, and get it communicated to the House generally in the best way we can.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I have not the least wish to do anything to interfere with the conciliatory spirit to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. I only rise for the purpose of reminding the Prime Minister of the course which was adopted by his Government and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in somewhat similar circumstances in the case of the Finance Bill of last year. The Prime Minister will remember, and I am sure that the President of the Board of Trade will remember, that there was a very difficult and complicated Clause in last year's Finance Bill, known generally as referring to single-premium life insurance policies. That Clause had been criticised a great deal, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised that he would make certain concessions and alterations in it; and for the convenience of the House he issued a White Paper showing the Clause as originally drawn and the amended form in which he was prepared to accept it. I venture to suggest to the Prime Minister that that might be done in consultation between now and next Monday, without any awkwardness owing to the intervention of a Friday; and, if that White Paper were issued on Monday, I think it would meet all those desires which have been expressed on this side and have been received with so much sympathy by the Prime Minister.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."1340
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 172.1341
|Division No. 302.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Markham, S. F.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gray, Milner||Marley, J.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Marsball, Fred|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mathers, George|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Matters, L. W.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maxton, James|
|Ammon, Charles George||Groves, Thomas E.||Messer, Fred|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Grundy, Thomas W.||Middleton, G.|
|Arnott, John||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mills, J. E.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Milner, Major J.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Montague, Frederick|
|Ayles, Walter||Harbord, A.||Morgan Dr. H. B.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Morley, Ralph|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Harris, Percy A.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Barr, James||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L.|
|Batey, Joseph||Haycock, A. W.||Muff, G.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)||Murnin, Hugh|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Benson, G.||Herriotts, J.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hicks, Ernest George||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Palin, John Henry|
|Bowen, J. W.||Hoffman, P. C.||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hopkin, Daniel||Palmer, E. T.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Bromfield, William||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Isaacs, George||Phillips, Dr. Marlon|
|Brooke, W.||Jenkins, Sir William||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Brothers, M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Potts, John S.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Price, M. P.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Burgess, F. G.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Kelly, W. T.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Richards, R.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Kirkwood, D.||Ritson, J|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lang, Gordon||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Chater, Daniel||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Romeril, H. G.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Rowson, Guy|
|Cluse, W. S.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawrence, Susan||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Compton, Joseph||Leach, W.||Sandham, E.|
|Cove, William G.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lees, J.||Scurr, John|
|Daggar, George||Leonard, W.||Sexton, Sir James|
|Dallas, George||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lindley, Fred W.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Logan, David Gilbert||Shield, George William|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Longbottom, A. W.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Longden, F.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Duncan, Charles||Lunn, William||Sinkinson, George|
|Ede, James Chuter||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Egan, W. H.||McElwee, A.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEntee, V. L.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Evans, Herbert (Gateshead)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Freeman, Peter||McKinlay, A.||Sorensen, R.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Stephen, Campbell|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Sullivan, J.|
|Gill, T. H.||McShane, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Gillett, George M.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Glassey, A. E.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Manning, E. L.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Gould, F.||Mansfield, W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Marcus, M.||Tillett, Ben|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Wellock, Wilfred||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Toole, Joseph||Welsh, James (Paisley)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Tout, W. J.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||West, F. R.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Vaughan, David||Westwood, Joseph||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Viant, S. P.||White, H. G.||Wise, E. F.|
|Walkden, A. G.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Walker, J.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Wallace, H. W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Watkins, F. C.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.|
|Actand-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Albery, Irving James||Ferguson, Sir John||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Fielden, E. B.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Astor, Viscountess||Ganzoni, Sir John||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Remer, John R.|
|Atkinson, C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gower, Sir Robert||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Rothschild, J. de|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Salmon, Major I.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Guntton, Captain D. W.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hanbury, C.||Savery, S. S.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Hartington, Marquess of||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Bracken, B.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Buchan, John||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Butler, R. A.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Iveagh, Countess of||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Campbell, E. T.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. Geoge (S. Molton)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Thompson, Luke|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Little, Graham- Sir Ernest||Train, J.|
|Christie, J. A.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Lymington, Viscount||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Marjoribanks, Edward||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Millar, J. D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir George Penny.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||O'Connor, T. J.|
§ Committee accordingly report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.