§ 12.5 p.m.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I beg to move, in page 15, line 28, to leave out "date on 2138 which that money is to be paid," and to insert "redemption date."
All the Amendments on this Clause, with the exception of one, arise out of the acceptance in Committee of an Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens). They are to provide for recovery of redemption money, not in a single payment as originally in the Bill, but by instalments.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I understood that all the Amendments hang together with the exception of one. Is that so?
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
Yes, Sir. The one exception is that on page 17, line 14, to leave out Sub-section (11), and to insert a new Sub-section in its place.
§ 12.7 p.m.
May I ask one thing on the administration of this Clause as it would be amended? It is true that there is now power to redeem compulsorily tithe under £1. In the Tithe Act of 1878 there was power for an impartial referee to see that redemption was carried out on terms reasonably fair to the tithe-payer, and particularly to the tithe-payer of small means, and I believe that on many occasions they have refused to allow a redemption to go through on the ground of hardship. May I ask the Minister if anybody is going to carry out that function, as it were a referee between the Commission, first of all, and later on the Treasury, on the one side, and the tithe-payer on the other? I have grave fears as to what will be the result if the Commission and later on the Treasury make large-scale compulsory redemption orders in the case of all tithes under £1, and I would ask the Minister if he will do his best to see that in the first year or two the procedure of compulsory redemption is only undertaken gradually and somewhat experimentally. I think we might get into very grave difficulties if the Commission of the Treasury went for all the small payments along the lines of compulsory redemption.
I appreciate that there are provisions for the extinguishment of small tithes which are not worth the trouble of collecting, but I question very much 2139 whether the Treasury will not be tempted to ignore that procedure in favour of the compulsory redemption procedure, because whereas it may not be worth while to collect 2s. 6d. a year for 60 years, it might seem to the Treasury to be very well worth while to collect, I believe it would be, some £3 15s. as a lump sum. Under the present law, where a tithe-payer would be paying perhaps some 5s. a year as tithe and some 2½d. a year as redemption, there are many small tithe-payers who will resent that 2½d. They will say, "I do not mind paying my tithe, but why should I pay something so that somebody else in the far distant future should benefit?" These small land-owners, generally allotment-owners, do not understand that the payment is gradually increasing the value of their land in the open market by each payment removing a small part of the charge from it. They are not interested in their land 60 years hence, and I think that very great discontent will be produced if these small people are asked to pay compulsory redemption even by four, five, or six instalments. I would therefore ask the Minister, in the interests of peace and good feeling on the countryside, that the compulsory redemption procedure should be undertaken by the Commission and afterwards by the Treasury very gently, very gradually, and in such a way as will give an opportunity for individual cases to be brought up to the Minister for consideration and not overwhelmed in a flood of compulsory redemption orders, where it will not be possible to give proper consideration to each case.
§ Colonel BURTON
I have here a report of a case where an old couple, aged 73 and 79, living on the old age pension had their furniture thrown into the front garden and sold in order to redeem a tithe amounting to £2 17s. 6d. I am sure that such action is not the wish of my right hon. Friend, and I hope he will do something to give effect to the desire expressed by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Acland) for some kind of referee in such cases.
§ 12.12 p.m.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I quite appreciate the point raised by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Acland), and I think he may take it as certain that this administration will be sympathetically carried 2140 out by the Commission. With regard to the actual case put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton), under this Bill, when it becomes an Act, it will be possible, as it is not possible now, for the Commission to get its redemption money by instalments and not in a lump sum, so as to spread it over weeks, or months, or years in order to prevent such a bad occurrence as that which he mentioned. In Committee we went through this Clause meticulously in order to make it easier for those who might be called upon to redeem. I do not think it is so much a case for a referee or machinery of that kind as a case for sympathetic and kindly administration on the lines urged by the hon. Member for Barnstaple, and in view of the fact that the authority has power to postpone redemption and to ask for it by instalments, I think that ample latitude is given. I think the House can rest assured that there will be sympathetic and wise administration.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made:
In page 15, line 37, at the end, insert:
Provided that the appropriate authority may postpone service of a redemption notice during such period as they may think fit, and may revoke or amend such a notice, and generally may make such provision in respect of the compulsory redemption of annuities as will avoid any undue hardship on any owner of land in respect of which an annuity redeemable compulsorily is charged.
In line 42, leave out "that date," and insert:
the redemption date:
Provided that the appropriate authority may provide for payments by instalments on dates to be specified in the notice.
§ In page 16, line 3, leave out "date specified in the notice," and insert "redemption date."
§ In line 5, leave out Sub-section (6).
§ In line 21, leave out "payment is made," and insert "redemption date."
In line 29, leave out from "charged," to the end of the Sub-section, and insert:
the like notice as if it had been charged and the notice were a redemption notice served in respect thereof."—[Mr. Ramsbotham.]
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I beg to move, in page 17, line 14, to leave out Subsection (11), and to insert: 2141(11) The appropriate authority may, on the application of the person by whom any sum is paid in respect of the redemption of an annuity grant to him a certificate charging any land in respect of which the annuity was charged or any estate or interest therein with that sum or any part thereof, together with interest at such rate as the authority may determine, and a person to whom such a certificate is granted shall be entitled to a charge in accordance with the terms thereof having such priority in relation to other charges on the property charged as may be specified in the certificate.The Clause as it stands deals with charges in favour of persons who pay redemption moneys. The object of the Clause is to enable a person who is not the owner of the whole interest in land and who discharges the land from the burden of an annuity, to recoup himself out of the land as a whole. It is quite a reasonable provision such as is commonly made in similar circumstances as, for example, where a part owner redeems land tax or pays off Death Duties. The Sub-section as it stands makes it obligatory on the appropriate authority to grant a charge which will operate over all interests in the freehold and in priority to any other interest or incumbrance. It has been pointed out that such a provision is not sufficiently elastic. It would, for example, give a long leaseholder upon whom the burden of redemption ought to fall a right to a charge over the freehold for which he could make no just claim. The Sub-section has, therefore, been recast so as to make it more elastic and to enable the appropriate authority to grant such charge as seems to them just in the circumstances.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 17, line 33, at the end, insert:
(13) In this section the expression 'redemption date' means, in a case in which a redemption notice or a notice under sub-section (8) of this section is served, the date or the first date, as the case may be, on which a payment is thereby required, and means, in a case in which a payment is made under sub-section (7) of this section, the date on which that payment is made."—[Mr. Ramsbotham.]