HC Deb 13 December 1937 vol 330 cc871-947

6.14 p.m.

Mr. George Hall

I beg to move, in page 6, line 29, to leave out "sixty-six million, four hundred and fifty," and to insert "forty-four million, three hundred."

This Amendment stands in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) and the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) as well as my own name. The purpose of the Amendment will be quite clear to the Committee; we shall not need lawyers to explain this one. Its object is to reduce the global sum to be paid as compensation to the royalty owners from £66,000,000 to £44,000,000, or to reduce the price from 15 years' purchase to 10 years' purchase. I think the Committee are well aware of the desire of the workmen's side of the mining industry with regard to compensation for royalties. If the Government desire to pay this compensation, they should find the amount to be paid. This amount ought not to be charged upon the coal-mining industry which has borne the charge for centuries. Now that the Government are nationalising royalties this should be a national charge, because the industry has been exploited too long.

I cannot argue for the complete abolition of compensation or of the sum proposed as the purchase price, but we wish to fix the amount at something lower than was recommended even by the report of the tribunal which the Government accepted. Taking it even on that basis, it must be remembered that it is two years since, in their election manifesto, the Government said that it was their intention to nationalise royalties. That was said in 1935. I shall not discuss the delay which has taken place or the protracted negotiations between the Government and the royalty owners. Even with the distant date set down in the legislation which we are considering today, on which the coal is to be transferred to the ownership of the Commission, that point will be reached five years hence, in July, 1942. The tribunal suggested that 15 years' purchase was a reasonable price to pay for the royalties. If you calculate the date from the report of the tribunal until the vesting day, that is, nearly five years, and if 10 years' purchase was paid from 1942, the recommendation of the tribunal, would, we think, be carried out, and the royalty owners would get ther 15 years purchase.

Instead of that, the royalty owners are to take their royalties from the date in 1935 when the Government announced their intention to nationalise royalties, that is to say, seven years to 1942—not even from the time when the legislation has been introduced. Instead of the royalty owners having a 15 years' purchase, they are, in fact, having nearly 20 years' purchase. The tribunal held that they are entitled only to 15 years' purchase. The questions which the Secretary for Mines sent to the Mineowners' Federation, dealing with certain points which arose concerning the unification and nationalisation of royalties, were very much appreciated by the Federation, but they would have liked the questionnaire to have been very much fuller so as to have enabled the opinion of the Mine-workers' Federation to be included on the question of the purchase of the royalties. I think it can be said that the Federation replied very fully. They dealt with the point that, if compensation was to be paid, it should be a national charge.

Our purpose in putting forward this Amendment is to rid the industry of that charge at the earliest possible moment. We think that 10 years is reasonable. I shall not argue that there are not royalty owners who will have a just complaint because they have purchased royalties within the last 10 or 15 years. I have no sympathy—very few people in this country have—with the big royalty owners who obtained their land by questionable means. Even the Government say that, in addition to advantages which might accrue as a result of the unification of the industry, any surplus remaining after the Commission have met charges, expenses, interest upon the money borrowed and repayment, and after setting up a reserve fund—of the amount of which we have not yet any knowledge—should be used, under Clause 21, to reduce royalties, wayleaves, dead rents, and other incidental charges upon the industry. As the Bill is framed, I see no prospect of any concession being given to the industry during the next 10 years. We shall have to wait for five years from the vesting date. After the vesting date, when the Commission will be charged with the responsibility for receiving royalties, expenses will have to be met. The Commission will have to build up the reserve fund. Knowing the Treasury and the Board of Trade, we conclude that the reserve fund will not be small, but will be substantial. After doing those things, the Commission would have the right, after consultation with the Treasury, to use the reserve fund to pay a portion of the money which had been borrowed.

We might ask whether any advantage is to come to the coal-mining industry as a result of this legislation. We are anxious to reduce the amount of the interest to two-thirds of the amount proposed in the Bill. That will reduce the amount of repayment of capital by one-third, and there would be a surplus which could be used to relieve the industry of certain of the charges, as is provided in Clause 21. There are several other points. I can speak as one who has had a rather unique experience in connection with royalties. For two and a half years I represented a very substantial royalty owner. As the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary for Mines are aware, Greenwich Hospital is a royalty owner, and the Civil Lord of the Admiralty is charged with the responsibility of administering royalties. There are many things which royalty owners will have to do, and which the Commission will have to do when it becomes a royalty owner, as the royalty owners have had to do in the past. They will require a surplus in order to deal with these matters. There is the question of the concessions to be given to royalty owners as a result of any abnormality met with in the working of the colliery. The colliery whose royalty was owned by the Greenwich Hospital had to loan to the royalty owner something like £2,000 in order to get through a difficulty, and no end of trouble was created. It was necessary that the loan should be given to the royalty owner.

When the Commission starts with the responsibility of administering these royalties and properties, they will have to meet an amount of exceptional expenditure which is being met by royalty owners at the present time. A larger surplus would mean that they would be able to get rid more quickly of this charge, and that the Commission would be very much more generous to colliery owners. I have known collieries being kept open largely as a result of concessions given by royalty owners in consequence of difficulties which had arisen. That is one of the reasons why we should reduce this charge upon the industry to the lowest possible point. We should like to rid the industry of the whole of this charge, but if we can bring it down by one-third by reducing the global sum to £44,000,000, in addition, of course, to the £10,000,000 with which it will be further charged, the industry would be rid of the unfair burden which has been levied on it for centuries. The industry, and particularly the workmen, would benefit as the result of the reduction for which we are now asking. For those reasons I ask the Committee to accept the Amendment.

6.27 p.m.

Captain Harold Balfour

The speech of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) was a little more ingenious than some which were made on the Second Reading. As a reason for moving his Amendment he gave his wish to rid the industry of the charge. He also associated himself with remarks made upon the Second Reading by those who wished to reduce the sum because they felt that the royalty owners had been amply compensated already. The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) said: Fundamentally, we object because we say that the royalty owners have already been adequately remunerated for the royalties that they possess, and that there is no reason why they should receive further remuneration for that for which they have already been overpaid by the mine workers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1937; col. 1166, Vol. 329.] In spite of the second point made by the hon. Member, the Amendment raises an important new principle about which the Committee and the country are entitled to hear something, that is to say whether compensation is to be paid according to the doctrine of whether owners of property are, politically considered, in justifiable ownership, or not. We come to the point that the Opposition have now agreed that the nationalisation of property and compensation are to be based upon political considerations, and that the longer someone has owned property, and because the royalty owners have enjoyed the benefits of the income from their property for a long time, they should have less compensation. It seems most amazing that there should be a political motive in reducing the compensation to be paid.

Hitherto, the principle of the Opposition in compensation matters has been fair compensation for owners. That has been the declared policy of the Labour party. Now we have the situation in which the Opposition are moving an Amendment to reduce compensation which has been arrived at by arbitration, whereas they themselves have put forward in literature published by the Labour Publications Department and dealing with nationalisation: The Labour party does not believe in confiscation. … The basis will be existing profits plus reasonable expectations. The amount will be determined by agreement if possible, and in the absence of agreement, by arbitration. That is the pamphlet of the Labour party, written by one of its members. But that is just what the Government have done; they have put forward proposals, the two parties did not agree, and, therefore, there was arbitration. I see that in the foreword to the pamphlet it is stated: That will be one of the first tasks of the future Labour Government. Indeed, its Bill to achieve these great ends is already drafted and has our full approval. Now we have a Bill which carries out the principle that, if agreement cannot be arrived at, there must be arbitration, and the Labour party come down here and move a reduction of an amount which has been arrived at by arbitration. I think the country is entitled to ask whether there is really anything behind the promise of the Labour party that as regards compensation there shall be arbitration if agreement cannot be arrived at, or whether political considerations are to be involved in all future questions of compensation in connection with the nationalisation policy of the Labour party. Are the owners of houses, because they have owned their property for a long time, or because they happen to own big houses, or are the owners of land, because landowners are politically disapproved of, to get less compensation? The hon. Member for Aberdare said that he would let the little ones off—

Mr. Hall

I said that one has a certain amount of sympathy with small royalty owners who have only been in possession of their royalties for a few years.

Captain Balfour

Then I understand the hon. Gentleman's view to be that somebody who owns only a small property has a right to his property, but that anyone who has owned his property for many years has no title to his property whatever, and that anyone who owns property from which he has been deriving income in the past is to have less compensation because he has been the owner of the property for a long time.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Does the hon. and gallant Member consider it right that the royalty owner should receive, in addition to past royalties, a price equal to 15 years' purchase?

Captain Balfour

I am arguing about the principle of arbitration, the principle which the Labour party have advocated and for the application of which they have a Bill drafted, but from which they are now endeavouring to run away by putting forward an Amendment to reduce the amount arrived at by arbitration. We have had an amazing statement from them. In the first place they say that political considerations will govern compensation under a Labour Government; secondly, they say that, the longer someone has enjoyed the benefit of his property, the less he is entitled to compensation in respect of that property; and, thirdly, there is the contradiction, which has not yet been explained to us, that the Labour party's pamphlet says that in the absence of agreement there must be arbitration, whereas, when in this Bill a sum is stated which has been arrived at by arbitration—never mind what the sum is—they come here and say that it is too big. These are amazing inconsistencies which we shall endeavour to remember with regard to the Labour party's policy of nationalisation with fair compensation when we look back on this Debate, in which, when a proposal for fair compensation is put forward by the means they propose, they have run away from their own political principles.

6.36 p.m.

Mr. Batey

The last speaker has enjoyed himself by making great play with the Labour party's inconsistencies. He says that we are opposed to confiscation, but some of us, if we had our way, would make the royalty owners pay some back money. We have already this year introduced into the House of Commons a Bill which proposes that the compensation shall be two years' purchase. Although I should have liked to propose that the whole £66,000,000 should be taken, I support this Amendment as a small step, because, if we could reduce this figure of £66,000,000 by £20,000,000, we might put that £20,000,000 to a far better purpose than giving it to the royalty owners.

Captain Balfour

The non. Member says that the Labour party have introduced a Bill proposing two years' purchase. What, then, did they mean by putting forward the principle that in the absence of agreement there should be arbitration? They cannot have it both ways.

Mr. Batey

That is simply a situation that might arise. We believe that £66,000,000 is far too much to give to the royalty owners. We believe that we are entitled to take £20,000,000, and that that £20,000,000 might well be used as the nucleus of a pension fund for miners. That would be putting it to a far better purpose than giving it to the royalty owners. I admit that the nationalisation of royalties was foreshadowed by the Sankey Commission, but since that time there has been paid to the royalty owners no less than £90,000,000, and in my opinion, when they have had £90,000,000 since we first proposed nationalisation of the royalties, they have had as much as they should have.

I want now to direct some remarks to the representative of the Ecclesiastical Commission, and I am glad to see the hon. Member in his place. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners take nearly half the royalty rents and wayleaves in Durham. The amount paid in royalty rents and wayleaves last year was £726,000, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners took no less than £261,000. During the last 10 years the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have taken, for royalty rents and wayleaves in Durham, no less than £2,828,400. If they have not been sufficiently paid, I do not know who has. I wanted to find, from the annual report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, where these amounts have been drawn from, but they are smart enough not to give too much information. They avoid giving too much information in their annual reports. In their Mineral Depreciation Fund they showed a balance, on 1st November, 1935, of £2,240,000, and the balance on 31st October, 1936, was £2,321,000. When they have as much money as that in their funds, they should in my opinion leave the miners alone; they should not expect the miners to continue to be levied for them when they have so much money as that. I would ask the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman), when he comes to reply for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to tell us why the miners should pay a single penny to the Ecclesiastical Commission when in the county of Durham there is not one miner in 1,000 who attends the Church of England.

The Deputy-Chairman (Captain Bourne)

I must point out to the hon. Member that this is not an Amendment to abolish the compensation, but to reduce it.

Mr. Batey

I would take as much as ever I could get, and I am voting for this reduction because I cannot get more. I want it to take place so that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners shall get as little as ever possible. I argue that the Commissioners are collecting this money for the Church of England, as the agents for the Church of England, from everybody, but not one miner in 1,000 ever attends the Church of England. To the miners in Durham, the Church of England is an alien Church, the Church of the aristocracy. They scarcely ever enter it except to get married.

The Commissioners have taken more than £2,000,000 from the miners. Will the hon. Member tell us what they have given to the miners in return? We have gone through some bad times in the County of Durham, but we have had no help from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, or from the Church of England either. We have had to go through those bad times, but the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have never paid a single penny towards local rates. While the Commissioners have been taking this money, our people have had to depend upon the local rates to help them through bad times. Neither have the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, though they have at their disposal a fund of over £2,000,000, ever given a single penny to brighten our colliery villages. I object to giving to the Ecclesiastical Commission, who are one of the largest royalty owners in the country, and who take nearly half the royalty rents of Durham, the full amount of £66,000,000 laid down in the Bill, and I would reduce that amount as much as I possibly can.

The Ecclesiastical Commissioners take these royalties from our miners in Durham, who have been receiving very low wages. During the year 1932, when all miners' wages were very low, and when the average wage of miners in Durham was only £1 17s. 11d. per week, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners ran away with over £300,000 in royalty rents. That was at a time when our men were braving dangers and working hard and only drawing £1 17s. 11d. per week. Recently I went to one of my own towns, which is in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I refer to South Shields. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) will excuse my mentioning it. I lived for many years in that town, and I know that the Ecclesiastical Commission owns almost all the land in the town. The town is really in pawn to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They are taking enormous amounts in ground rents, and the slums that they are allowing to exist—

The Deputy-Chairman

We cannot discuss the general administration of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on this Amendment, though the hon. Member is entitled to say that, as royalty owners, they may be receiving too much.

Mr. Batey

Yes, I quite agree. I am not going to complain, Captain Bourne, because I know we are dealing with royalty rents and wayleaves; but the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to my mind, have done very badly in the County of Durham. Only this morning I was talking to one or two gentlemen, and one said, not knowing that I was thinking of mentioning the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the Debate to-day, that "the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have a beastly record." He was quite correct. It makes some of us feel strongly, because we have seen our folk suffering from low wages, and the Commissioners have been taking from them 6d. per ton of coal. I have worked in the pits at South Shields and after a hard day's work have been paid 5s. for braving the dangers of the pit, and the royalty owners perhaps have pocketed 2s. for my work that day. They did nothing so far as the coal was concerned, and it is a scandal to think that for all these years royalty owners, like the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, could have gone on taking the rents when men were working for low wages. So one naturally is led away to the question of ground rents.

I was saying that it seemed to me on coming out of the station at South Shields that the Japanese had been there dropping bombs. The Labour party have a majority on the town council at last, and they are sweeping the slums away. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, considering the money they have got from ground rents in South Shields, might have done it years ago.

The Deputy-Chairman

We cannot go into the general administration of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on the Amendment.

Mr. Batey

This has to be paid for out of the local rates. In my opinion, we are entitled to take from the royalty owners every penny we can. I would take this amount provided for here, because I cannot get any more. If I could take more, I would, and I believe that in doing so I would be doing my duty to the working people of Durham.

6.50 p.m.

Mr. Peake

I just rise to draw the attention of the Committee to the extraordinary contrast between the two speeches which we have had on his Amendment from the Opposition benches. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) made it perfectly plain that if he had his way, he would not give one penny of compensation. The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) seemed more conscious of the political pitfalls of having an arbitration between the claims of the willing buyer and the willing seller, and then setting it on one side by reducing the sum by one-third. I must say that I thought his argument extremely thin. It was ingenious in one respect, because it was founded on time. His argument was that the Greene Tribunal had assessed the value of royalties at £66,000,000, and, as the owners were bound to enjoy the royalties for a further 4½ years, they were, in fact, getting 19½ years' purchase. That is obviously a complete fallacy. If the State was in a position to hand over £66,000,000 to the royalty owners now, they would be perfectly prepared to drop their claim to royalties for the next 4½ years, but it is obvious that you cannot leave them without either their royalties or the interest on the money which they would have drawn for the next 4½ years.

I do not see how this Committee can go back on the verdict of an independent tribunal, of absolutely unimpeachable integrity, which arrived at its decision after very careful consideration of the case put forward from both sides. In particular, I am unable to see how the party opposite can go back upon their past in this matter. The hon. Member for Spennymoor referred to a Bill which he introduced in this House on 12th February of this year—only eight or nine months ago. The hon. Member for Spennymoor obviously was not feeling quite himself on the day that he introduced that Bill—he had had some slight personal difficulty. I will not remind the House of that. I think that, possibly, as a result of his difficulty, he did not thoroughly read the Bill which he was laying before the House. If he had read Clause 9 of the Bill, which was to acquire not only the mines but the minerals as well, he would have seen that it provided: The compensation payable to the owners of any mines or minerals vested in the Corporation by virtue of this Act shall be the fair value thereof on the appointed day. In Clause 9 you will find the following words: In the assessment of fair value any consideration of monopoly value or advantage or any similar consideration shall be wholly excluded and subject thereto fair value shall be taken to be the sum for which a willing seller would have been willing to sell and a willing buyer willing to buy. On the back of the Bill we find the names of the hon. Members for respectively Aberdare, Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell), Neath (Sir W. Jenkins), Bedwellty (Sir C. Edwards), Durham (Mr. Ritson), Leigh (Mr. Tinker), and Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. E. Smith), so that there are nine Members of the party opposite who are actually committed by signatures on the back of a Bill to the principle of fair valuation for minerals after an impartial tribunal has reached a decision, and no fewer than 125 Members of the party opposite went into the Lobby in support of the proposal. What has happened since to make them go back on the proposal? The country will be interested to know that when they come into power there will be an independent valuation of anybody's property which they propose to take, and that then a percentage—it may be 33⅓, 50, or 66⅔—will be taken off the amount of the valuation. I am surprised that the hon. Members for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) and Aberdare put their names to a proposal of this kind, because there are not two more generous or open-fisted Members of this House, and I should like to compare their attitude with that of some of their fellows on the benches opposite.

The Bill for the nationalisation of minerals introduced by the Labour party on 12th February provided also for the nationalisation of wayleaves and surface servitudes. That only proposed to give two years' purchase for those rights. There is an Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Members for Stirling (Mr. Westwood), North East Derbyshire (Mr. Lee), and Consett (Mr. David Adams), proposing 10 years' purchase for those rights at the present time. Those hon. Members are moving in the right direction. They have come from two years' purchase to 10 years' purchase, and I dare say that by the time we reach the Report stage they will be for giving 20 or 25 years' purchase. But the hon. Members for Ince and Aberdare and others who backed this Bill last February are moving in the wrong direction, a direction which, I am afraid, will bring the party opposite at the next election to an even worse position than it occupies in Parliament at the present time.

6.58 p.m.

Mr. T. Smith

I was interested in the reference of the hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) to myself and other hon. Members as the end of his speech. As his colliery interest happens to be close to my constituency, any time that he is prepared to discuss this matter there I shall be pleased to meet him. I was not in the country when the Bill to which he referred was introduced last February, but I am glad my hon. Friends thought of putting my name upon it. I was, I think, in New Zealand, and I learned there how they dealt with minerals. The hon. Member said there was some inconsistency in the speeches of the hon. Members for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) and Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall). If that be so, I can only say that there is plenty of room for difference on the question of mining royalties. I do not mind telling the Committee what the differences have been in regard to royalties, both in the Labour party and the Mine-workers' Federation. It is not true to say that the first time this subject was mentioned was before the Sankey Commission, because in pre-war days tribunals were sitting, considering it. There were men at that time, not Socialists, who advocated that a fair purchase would be 10 years. We know that in this country the law regarding property has been more strongly enforced than the law regarding human welfare.

We went through the War for four years. When the War was over, and the politicians were asked to translate into effect the slogans which they had put before the electors, the Sankey Commission was appointed in 1919, and hon. Members know that every newspaper in the country pointed out how much money certain landowners had drawn from the private ownership of minerals. The Miners' Federation took up the attitude that they would differentiate; those who legitimately bought their land within a certain period should be treated differently from those who inherited it. I do not mind saying that I would give less to those who inherited royalties than I would to those who purchased them in the open market. I said on the Second Reading that, as I do not believe in confiscation, I would make that differentiation, and the point of this Amendment is as to whether £66,450,000 is a fair figure at which the Commission should take over the royalties.

I should like to get the support of this matter of one or two hon. Members on the Government benches. I see the Minister of Labour, who used to be a member of the Liberal party. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was also a member of the Liberal party, and I believe the present Minister for War was. Before the formation of the National Government they sat on these benches advocating the merits of "Coal and Power." The Liberal party then divided coal royalties into three categories—those which are being worked, those that were known and had been proved, and those that were unknown. They said in "Coal and Power," "We will pay £70,000,000 for royalties"—£4,000,000 more than this Bill says. But they also said that the royalty owners had so flagrantly disregarded the welfare of the miners who earned them the royalties that we will take £10,000,000 of that £70,000,000 and hand it over to the Miners' Welfare Fund for improving the social condition of the mineworkers. I hope that the Liberalism of the Minister of Labour, who now supports the National Government, will come up to that standard, and that he will now show a little consistency.

The hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) talked about honour. Much as I respect him, I am bound to tell him this. Do not let the spokesman of the mineowners get up and talk about honour when speaking of the findings of a commission; the shelves of Government Departments are full of reports since the War which have been ignored. And, talking about compensation, does the hon. Gentleman remember the Holman Gregory report, the result of an inquiry made after the War, which said that workmen's compensation should be increased. But did the Government increase it? Of course they did not. When we are talking about 10 or 15 years' purchase of minerals, what does this House lay down as the purchase price of a man who gets killed at work? In 1897, for the first time in the history of this country, we had a Workmen's Compensation Bill, in which Parliament said that when a man was killed, three years' purchase of his earnings should be paid, with £300 as the maximum. Substantially that is the law to-day, though since 1923 a little has been added for dependents. When hon. Members opposite talk about consistency, I hope they will have some regard to their own record before charging others.

I want this Amendment carried, and the figure of £66,450,000 reduced by one-third, because I want to see some portion of that surplus used for benefiting the people in the mining industry. I would like to see a pensions scheme—and I know the hon. Member who spoke last agrees with me on this point—for those who are no longer wanted by the mining industry, so that they can spend at least the closing years of their lives without being threatened by the finger of the investigating officer of the Unemployment Assistance Board.

The Deputy-Chairman

I hope the hon. Member will not pursue this subject too far, as there is an Amendment to Clause 21 which raises that point directly.

Mr. Smith

I am sorry. I did not wish to get away from the Amendment. The Amendment says that £66,450,000 is too high a figure, and we seek to reduce it by one-third. We do so because we believe that that figure, together with the money that they will get between now and the vesting date, is more than they are entitled to, and I was trying to point out that the figure should be reduced because a larger surplus would then be left in the industry, which could be devoted to improving the condition of the mineworkers.

7.6 p.m.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I listened, as we always do on this side of the House, with great interest to what the hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) had to say. He referred to the Bill which my hon Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) moved in this House some time ago. I may say, in passing, that we welcome the re-emergence of the authentic voice of nonconformity in this House. The hon. Member for North Leeds has charged us with seeking to go behind the award of the Greene tribunal. That tribunal was asked to fix the value of the royalties in 1936. First of all, there was an agreement that the annual value of these royalties was so much—£4,000,000 odd—and they were asked to decide what should be the figure by which that sum should be multiplied to arrive at the global sum, and they decided that the figure should be multiplied by 15.

Captain Crookshank

It was this year, not last year.

Mr. Griffiths

I am sorry—1937. Then may I ask this question? Were the Greene tribunal told that in fixing that sum the State would not own the royalties until 1942?

The Deputy-Chairman

It would not be proper to go into that at this moment, because immediately following this Amendment is one that says that the amount paid in the intermediate period should be deducted from the aggregate amount. I am not quite certain whether it would be convenient for the Committee if we took those Amendments simultaneously. It seems difficult to keep the two points separate.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

On that point I noticed that several Members who have spoken on this Amendment have almost inevitably trespassed on the ground covered by the next, and I think perhaps the Committee might well feel it would be convenient if we discussed them both together, and then possibly took a Division on both.

The Deputy-Chairman

I am in the hands of the Committee if the Committee wish to discuss the two Amendments together.

Mr. Griffiths

I will discuss the two separately. I referred to this point only because the hon. Member for North Leeds specifically charged us with a breach of honour—that we were trying to undercut the sum already agreed upon by the Greene tribunal. But since the matter is to be dealt with specifically on the next Amendment, I will leave that. I will say this, which is certainly relevant to the present Amendment. I have heard it mentioned in mining circles that there is a very interesting history of what took place before this question went to the Greene tribunal. There were negotiations, and we believe that certain sums were offered. I do not think it is a secret that the royalty owners were disappointed even by the sum awarded by the Greene tribunal, and it is whispered that the Government offered the royalty owners a sum which is more than the Greene tribunal awarded. We believe that if you add the amount received in royalties between the valuation date and the vesting date it will equal the extra amount that the Government offered them, and which the royalty owners are now very sorry that they turned down.

Mr. Stanley

I should like to take the opportunity of contradicting that.

Mr. Griffiths

Our interest in this matter is primarily the interest of the industry and the men. We have no special brief for the royalty owners, though we have always regarded them as the worst, but not the only, parasites on the mining industry. If this Bill passes, what is there for our men? Is there anything? What we say is that if the sum is to remain at £66,450,000, and if there is to be added to that for the Commission's expenses at least £10,000,000—and from all the indications the sum will be greater than that—and the total will thus amount to between £76,000,000 and £80,000,000, then that will be a burden upon the industry. We are afraid of the danger that in the end the actual burden of royalties on the industry may be even more than it is now. We are, therefore, perfectly entitled to move Amendments that will aid us in our primary task of trying to get at least some consolation and some help for the men in the industry out of this Bill. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds speaks here as a coal-owner. I do not know whether he has been speaking as a coalowner or royalty owner to-night, or as both. How much does he think the mining industry in Yorkshire is to get if the price paid for royalties is £66,450,000, plus £10,000,000 for the Commission's expenses? What relief does he expect the industry will get?

Mr. Peake

I do not expect to get relief under this Bill for a great many years, but I do expect to get the convenience which the colliery proprietors will have from working their coal to the best advantage, that is, of working it in whatever parts of their pits they please.

Mr. Griffiths

That is the frankest admission we have had in this House that there may be something for the owners in this Bill, but that there will be nothing for the men for many years to come.

Mr. Peake

Quite obviously if we work the coal more economically and more advantageously, the miners will participate in the benefit therefrom.

Mr. Griffiths

That may be so, but my hon. Friend will agree that that is not true of all the coal-mining districts, and that it does not leave much for the men in South Wales. We press this Amendment sincerely, because here is a sum of £66,000,000 being awarded to the royalty owners who for generations have had more than they deserve. In 1919 the Sankey Commission went into the problem of mining royalties and the Miners' Federation, the owners and the consumers were represented on that Commission as well as employers and workmen in other industries. There was one thing upon which that Commission were agreed, and that was the proposal to nationalise royalties. In those days they had not learned the new vocabulary of the National Government, and even Conservatives did not speak about unification, but nationalisation. The proposal was unanimously agreed upon and the report was signed by the President and the Vice-President of the Mining Association, the two most representative coalowners in the country, urging that the royalties should be purchased for the nation at a 15 years' purchase. If at that time the Sankey Commission and the President of the Mining Association thought that 15 years' purchase was a fair purchase price for royalties, surely we deserve the support of hon. Members in endeavouring to cut it down to 10 years' purchase. We press the Amendment because we wish to relieve the industry of some of its burden, so that the money might be used, as we would like to see it used, as one collective sum for the advantage of the men by means of pensions or in some other way. We could certainly find many ways in which to use it for the benefit of our people.

7.18 p.m.

Mr. Denman

The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) was good enough in his speech to devote a considerable amount of time to a body whose representative I am in this House, and he will perhaps expect me to make a brief answer to his remarks. I do not complain in the very least. But for the genial and kindly nature of the hon. Member, it might have been thought a bitter speech. I know that, in fact, it represents a very real and widely-held point of view, and he has a right to express it in the House, where we can all hear it and can answer it. There are two quite separate points. His attack really is upon the principle of property, and about that I will say something in a moment. I do not think that, admitting the principle and practice of property as it is established by law in this country, he would assert that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are bad property owners. [Interruption.] If so, he does them a complete wrong. I have had a better opportunity than he has had of seeing that Commission at work.

Mr. Ede

When were you last in South Shields?

Mr. Denman

Not for a long time. By comparison with property owners in general, the Ecclesiastical Commission have a very high standard. I believe that any Durham Member who knows the facts will admit that, in Durham, we do take a part in local economy with other property owners. In fact, we take rather a larger part than many. I feel bound after this attack to mention something which I would not have mentioned otherwise, because if I do not do it, it may be said that we did this as a result of the Debate. A couple of weeks ago we decided to give a house and £1,000 to be used for the benefit of aged miners. It is not every property owner that would do that. We recognised that it was a duty as well as a pleasure.

On the general question of property, I am surprised that, in the argument that you ought to take over this coal for national purposes without any compensation, the Labour party should so go back upon their own principle, that fair compensation should be paid. I do not think that anybody can doubt that the figure fixed by the tribunal is fixed by a method as fair as can be attained. The terms of reference, and the tribunal were agreed upon, and, although the sum awarded was a considerable disappointment to the owners of the coal, nevertheless, they felt bound to accept it. What seems to me to be odd in this Debate is the assumption that coal is a particular form of property that demands different treatment from other forms of property. I think that that is partly due to the fact that people will talk and think of royalties instead of coal. What is happening under the Bill is that the coal royalties of the country are being transferred from private ownership to a Commission.

Coal is an extremely valuable property; one of the most valuable blocks of property in the country. What has been happening up till now is, that the owners of this particular form of property have been selling it at what was the market value. It has been the selling of actual property, and when that process is stopped and the State takes over the property, on all ancient Labour principles, especially the principle as expounded by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), whom I see on the Front Bench opposite, fair compensation should be paid. It has been objected that this is unduly large because of the time lag between the date of the award and the time of payment. The reason for that is because of the very peculiar method by which this valuation—

The Deputy-Chairman

This is the point at which I stopped the hon. Member who preceded him, and asked the Committee whether they would like to discuss this Amendment and the next Amendment together, and the Committee decided that they did not wish to do so.

Mr. Denman

I misunderstood the Committee, and I apologise, Captain Bourne. I cannot refer to that matter now, and I will conclude by saying that this figure has been arrived at by a method upon which the Labour party could not themselves have improved. I am sorry to see that collectively they are going back on that and are approaching the vices that involve confiscation.

7.25 p.m.

Mr. Tinker

The hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) mentioned my name in reference to a Bill which I seconded, and spoke about my inconsistency in supporting this Amendment. I shall try to justify my consistency by saying that I am agreed that there should be compensation on a fair basis. I have always held that point of view in Labour party conferences. I have never agreed to confiscation. Owners of property should have payment, but the question always arises as to what is a fair payment. I wish to justify the point of view of this Amendment. It is estimated that the royalty cost is round about 6d. per ton, perhaps slightly more than that. The average daily output of a person employed in a mine is 24 cwts., so that we may assume that every mine worker pays 6d. per day to the royalty owners. Over a period of 12 months, assuming that there are 240 working days, each miner pays £6 per year to the royalty owners, and at the end of 10 years it amounts to £60. Can anybody, after analysing the work which the miner performs as against what the royalty owner does, justify the keeping-on of that burden for an additional five years, adding another £30 to the £60 before getting clear of the royalty?

We on these benches are agreed that this sort of thing ought to cease, that the State ought to take over the royalties, and that, while this is being done, some portion of this money should go to the mine workers. The mine workers are entitled to a share in the division of this money when the time comes. The Tribunal was set up, but the Government reserved the right to accept their findings or not. The Government were afraid at that time that the Tribunal might exceed the offer of £75,000,000 which they made. I am under the impression that the first offer of the Government was £75,000,000, as against £150,000,000 for which the coalowners asked and that the coalowners would not accept it.

Mr. Denman

The Government have already denied that there was any offer. I have made considerable inquiries and have not been able to trace the fact that there was any offer whatever. It was always denied that the Government offered any figure at all.

Mr. Tinker

Reports get out, and the hon. Member, when he replies, may be able, to confirm it or otherwise, but the impression abroad is that the coalowners asked for £150,000,000, and that the offer was made was £75,000,000, which they refused to accept. The Government set up the tribunal on the distinct understanding that the coalowners would accept the findings, but the Government reserved the right to say whether they would agree to them or not. Therefore, we on these benches are not departing from what we claim to be fair when we offer 10 years' purchase, after the long period that has elapsed since the day when this matter ought to have been settled many years ago. If it had been settled in 1919, we should not have been called upon in 1937 to pay compensation based on another 15 years' purchase. I was consistent, in seconding the Bill last February, in suggesting that compensation should be on the basis of 10 years' purchase. I want the miner to get some benefit. I do not think that it ought to be called upon for another 15 years to pay £6 a year royalty on the coal that he gets. Ten years is long enough.

7.31 p.m.

Mr. Maitland

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), because he states his case with great moderation and fairness. The Committee was impressed by the recital of his case, and I propose to follow the argument as he advanced it. He suggested that each mine worker was responsible for paying the royalty owner £6 per annum. That is only right up to a point. The mine worker does not pay that amount to the royalty owner. The mine worker receives his wages from the colliery proprietor, and the 6d. per ton royalty which is eventually paid is paid not by the mine worker but by the consumer of the coal. On a matter of this kind it is not only easy but attractive to say, "This £66,000,000 is a very big sum; let us see whether we can take something off and devote it to some more humane purpose." That is an argument to which we can all subscribe, but in view of the fact that in the country there is general recognition of the principle that if the State takes over any property, it must pay proper compensation for it, the Committee ought to confine itself to the one question. Is the sum named in the Bill the right figure: is it too high, or is it too low?

The hon. Member for Leigh referred to the negotiations and the subsequent setting-up of the Commission of inquiry, and I was impressed by his moderate statement; but I could not follow his deduction, because he said that the Government, having set up the Commission, stated specifically that whatever the award might be, the royalty owners would be bound by it but the Government reserved their rights. Surely, that cannot be said to be any arrangement in favour of the royalty owners. It left the Government in the final position, after inquiries and investigation had taken place, to take their own line and to decide whether or not the price was fair. I do not know the exact details of any prior negotiations that took place, but it would not influence me in the slightest if it was to be found that either this Government or any other Government had offered £80,000,000, £90,000,000, or £100,000,000. The point is whether the price fixed is right from the point of view of the State and the point of view of a willing buyer and a willing seller.

The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), with great eloquence, said that he would not give one penny to the royalty owners, because he stated that in the course of a very few years something like £90,000,000 had been paid to the royalty owners. A statement like that creates different impressions on different minds. The impression that it created on my mind was that if in a few years the royalty owners have received £90,000,000, then the State is making a very good bargain in buying this asset for £66,000,000. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us something about the negotiations that took place. He might tell us that the tribunal was an independent one, composed of men of great integrity, that they were requested by the Government to go into all relevant matters and state what, in their judgment, was a fair sum, and whether that sum is the sum mentioned in the Bill. If that be so and the Government, after taking advice, have decided that it is a reasonable figure, then, although it may be nice to say, "Let us devote some of this money to other purposes," I maintain that we should keep to the point whether the sum in question is fair, rather than raising wider issues. Having regard to the fact that the royalties paid are not paid by the miner but by the consuming public, the point for us to decide is whether the consumer is getting a fair deal. As far as I can see, the Government have made a very good bargain for the State.

7.36 p.m.

Mr. A. Bevan

When the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Maitland) says that the consumer has to pay the royalty, one might be led to think that the consumer had no relation whatever to the producer. If the consumer pays anything, he only pays it out of what he earns as a producer. I am interested in this matter from an entirely different angle from that raised by the hon. Member. He said that the figure was one as between a willing seller and a willing buyer. I have yet to see any enthusiasm on the part of the royalty owners as willing sellers. As far as I can see, they have put up a stubborn resistance to the coal royalties being bought from them, and they are still maintaining their resistance in this House. There is not, therefore, the relationship of the willing buyer and the willing seller. It is no use the hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) arguing this matter on the basis of the rights of property. If he was arguing it on that basis, then, speaking of the matter as an abstract principle of property rights, there is no owner of property who would be willing for the State to take over his property on a 15 years' basis. On a strictly business basis, if coal were the same form of property as other property, no one in this House would willingly sell out on a 15 years' purchase basis.

How was the period of 15 years arrived at? I know of no abstract principle to justify it. It might have been 20 years, 10 years, or five years. The 15 years is a purely arbitrary figure. You are not compensating the royalty owner because he is the owner of property per se and, therefore, is entitled to compensation on that basis. This is not a payment of £66,000,000 for the buying-out of property rights. It is a peace price for the owner. It is an ex gratia payment. It is the amount that you think you can get away with. You think that if you paid the royalty owner less, his political resistance would be too strong to be overcome, and that if you paid him more, the conscience of the country would be outraged. It is no use hon. Members opposite arguing that in justifying this payment of £66,000,000 they are defending it because there are sacrosanct property rights that have to be bought. They cannot justify the basis of payment.

The Greene Committee considered the matter, but what did they do? As far as I can see, they brought the minimum of judicial and the maximum of political wisdom into their consideration. I can find no basis for the 15 years. I have searched for it, and I have asked hon. Members for it. I am not supporting the Amendment because many years have elapsed since we declared in 1919–20 at the time of the Sankey Commission royalty owners ought to be wiped out. The reason why I am supporting the Amendment is that I believe that the Government have over-assessed the political resistance of the royalty owners, and I think it has been discovered that the royalty owners have fewer friends in the Government than they have thought. I think they are paying the bandit too much. Hon. Members on the other side have never put up any real claim for the royalty owner. The most daring has been the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman), but even he has not furnished the Committee with any criteria upon which the figure has been based.

Mr. Denman

I support the methods of the tribunal, properly appointed, with agreed terms of reference.

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member said that the rights in coal are like other property rights. If, therefore, 15 years' purchase is reasonable for coal royalties, that period must be equally reasonable for other property. Is it, therefore, a political plank in the hon. Member's platform in future that whenever the State takes over other property, it should be taken over on a 15 years' purchase basis?

Mr. Denman

Not in the least. The principle of the years of purchase would naturally vary with different forms of property. It is the method that I approve, not the figure.

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member does not approve the figure on the abstract grounds of compensation for property? In what way is property in coal different from property in land or other forms of property?

Mr. Markham

It is a wasting asset.

Mr. Bevan

The fact that it is a wasting asset of considerable value has been proved by the royalties that have been paid on it. What I want to get from the hon. Member—he has not answered me yet—is, in what way property in coal differs from property in land or anything else. He has defended this on the ground that it is proper compensation for property in coal; therefore, the same basis is equitable for other forms of property. We are interested in this matter; we are somewhat curious. We want to know from the hon. Member or the President of the Board of Trade whether this is the estimate of the National Government of the value of property to those who own it. If so, I would like to know in what respect property in coal differs from other forms of property that it should be treated less preferentially. Perhaps we shall get an answer to that question. I might have made a considerable sum of money in some industry and invested it in the purchase of coal or land. I have converted one form of property into another, and it is the convertibility of property on which I understand the royalty owners are basing their argument that a claim in coal royalties is the same as a claim in other forms of property.

We have only one of two issues before us. One is that we are buying out a form of property which has equal rights with other forms of property, and on the basis of that argument we are now informed that the estimate of the claims of property is a capitalisation of 15 years.

Mr. Denman

No, we deny that every time you mention it.

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member may deny it, but he has not yet met the argument. Is it 15 years' purchase, or 20 or 25 years' purchase? What is the fair figure? The fact is that it is the other consideration which has influenced hon. Members opposite in supporting a 15 years' purchase, and that is that, in their judgment, coal is indefensible as a form of private property. They know in their minds and hearts that they cannot defend private property in coal, and, therefore, they have not treated property in coal as they would other forms of property. There is, therefore, nothing sacrosanct about the £66,000,000. It is a purely arbitrary figure, and based on the Greene Committee's estimate of what it will cost to overcome the political resistance of the royalty owners to the Measure. Really the House of Commons is being held to ransom. They say, "Give us this £66,000,000, or we smash the Bill." It is a ransom payment. Therefore, we are entitled to say that if the royalty owners can extract £66,000,000 from the State for a form of property which they ought never to hold, according to the views of hon. Members in all parts of the House, we are perfectly entitled to say that we are going to put up the maximum resistance to this £66,000,000 and say that they could be ransomed for less. That is one of the grounds on which we rest our case. There is no defender in the Committee or in the country for private property in coal; it is an offence against the public conscience.

All that we have here is a payment for a property right which most hon. Members regard as indefensible. Why pay £66,000,000? Our resistance to the proposal can be overcome if the Government reduce it by one-third. And if you added an additional £22,000,000 to the funds of the Commission, we could at a subsequent stage of the Bill suggest to the Government uses to which that sum could be applied for the well-being of the community engaged in the coal industry, who have a far better title to the money than the royalty owners themselves. It seems to me that the defenders of the coal owners have overstated their case in this Bill, and have deprived themselves of any rational grounds for paying the royalty owners any compensation at all. I hope we shall demand that the Coal Commission shall have this additional sum at their disposal to use for the welfare of the persons engaged in the coal industry.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. H. Mitchell

What hon. Members opposite propose by their Amendment is, in fact, to reduce the amount of compensation to be paid by one-third. I have not heard a single argument to justify such a step, nor have I heard a single alternative proposal which we should adopt in preference to the award made by an impartial tribunal. No one has suggested that the tribunal was anything but expert and impartial, and surely if we put aside an arbitration award of a tribunal of this character it would lead to all sorts of difficulties. I was amazed when the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said that coal royalties were exactly the same as any other form of property. He must know that there are very few forms of property more speculative than coal. For example, after a time coal in a particular area may be worked out, and, further, no one can tell what amount of coal lies under a particular area. His suggestion that all forms of property must be valued on the same basis is obviously absurd. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) made a very eloquent speech and a very impassioned attack on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. As one brought up in another church I cannot be accused of special partiality for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but when the hon. Member was making his attack I asked myself whether when the new Coal Commission became a big coal landlord it will deal any more tenderly with the miners of Durham than the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The arguments put forward by hon. Members opposite all seem to me to smack a great deal of prejudice. I can see no more reason why attacks should be made upon the owners of property because it happens to be in coal any more than on people who have inherited fortunes made out of biscuits or chocolates, or anything else. The burden of the speeches of hon. Members opposite has been simply an appeal to prejudice. The Bill is not going to give immediate benefit to the miners. I sympathise with the point of view underlying the Amendment; they would like to have some immediate benefit. I am supporting the Bill because I believe the nationalisation of royalties, from the psychological point of view, will be of great benefit to the industry, but I do not think that any immediate benefit is going to be derived. If hon. Members opposite should at any time be in power will they introduce the methods of nationalisation which they are proposing in the Amendment? If they say that house property is to be taken over by the State, are they going to set up an impartial tribunal then and then reduce the award they give by one-third? We want to know this, because it is extremely important. The hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) asked why the Labour party had put forward the Amendment. I can tell him. A few months ago they were in favour of compensation, but since then the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has reached their Front Bench, and hon. Members opposite have been studying his works. Unless hon. Members opposite can put forward an alternative method of valuation and tell us in what way the award is unfair or wrong, we must resist the Amendment.

7.57 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman), and I was amazed that he of all people should have taken the line he did in defence of property. I want to appeal from the hon. Member for Central Leeds to the great Denman, who was a Law Officer of the Crown to the great Reform Government over 100 years ago. He had to advise his Government on the same question of property in land, namely, the right of the owner of certain lands to return Members to this House merely because he was the owner of the land. One gentleman said, "Why, I have only recently paid £32,000 for a miserable little park that would not be worth anything like that sum of money but for the fact that it gives me the right to return two Members of Parliament." The hon. Member's distinguished ancestor advised the Government of that day that whether it was property or not, these people ought not to be compensated—and they were not compensated. To-day we have heard, I cannot call him "the great Denman," because I should be out of order in alluding to him by name, but we have heard the hon. Member for Central Leeds, the hereditary depository for that sound doctrine, advancing the argument he has with regard to this particular kind of property. I am reminded of the words of the great poet Lowell: A mountain stream that ends in mud Methinks is melancholy. The hon. Member is the representative of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, probably the worst-hated royalty owners in the country. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), who worked for many years in the pits in my constituency, has breathed here to-day the resentment that I heard only as recently as last Saturday night voiced in my constituency, regarding the body for whom the hon. Member speaks in this House. I can assure him that this feeling with regard to the injustice of this Measure when it deals with compensation to be paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is deeply felt in the county of Durham. One has only to mention the visit of a distinguished man to South Shields just over 100 years ago for the purpose of dealing with this subject, to show how long it is that this problem of dealing with coal royalties in the way proposed in this Bill has been before the public. William Cobbett was in South Shields in October, 1832, and this is what he wrote: Almost the whole of the country hereabouts is owned by that curious thing called the Dean and Chapter of Durham. Almost the whole of South Shields is theirs, granted upon leases with fines at stated periods. This Dean and Chapter are the lords of the Lords. Londonderry, with all his huffing and strutting, is but a tenant to the Dean and Chapter of Durham, who souse him so often with their fines that it is said that he has had to pay them more than a hundred thousand pounds within the last ten or twelve years. What will Londonderry bet that he is not the tenant of the public before this day five years? That was written in 1832. In 1937 we are still dealing with the same problem. The passage goes on: There would be no difficulty in these cases, but on the contrary a very great convenience; because all these tenants of the Dean and Chapter might then purchase out-and-out, and make that property freehold, which they now hold by a tenure so uncertain and so capricious.

Mr. H. G. Williams

I understand Cobbett wanted the people to buy it; he did not want it to be nationalised.

Mr. Ede

I was talking about what Cobbett said 100 years ago, the time in which the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) usually lives. Cobbett was dealing with the problems of 100 years ago. He pointed out the advantage of having this system nationalised.

Mr. Williams

Making the property freehold.

Mr. Ede

The hon. Member listened only to the part which he thought would suit what he is pleased to call his argument. Cobbett asked what would Lord Londonderry bet that within five years he would not be a tenant of the public. He visualised nationalisation. He might indeed have thought that it would then be better for the nation to sell the property as required, but undoubtedly he expected nationalisation to come first.

I would like now to deal briefly with the question of the amount. Is it contended that the Government are bound by this amount? Is it contended that the Government, if they did not like the figure recommended by the Greene Committee, would then be compelled to drop the whole subject? Let us assume that the Greene Committee has said that 40 years purchase would be the appropriate number of years. Would the Government, if they thought that figure too much, be compelled to drop the subject altogether? While they remain the Government of this country, surely they are entitled to bring in a Bill containing any figure which they think fit to ask hon. Members to adopt. It is true that they have an argument in support of this figure inasmuch as the Greene Committee have recommended it, but I venture to say that the House of Commons is still sovereign, even over the Greene Committee, and if this Committee wishes to say that it will go either higher or lower than the Greene Committee, there is nothing in the British Constitution which places the Greene Committee above the House of Commons or compels the Government to adopt the figure recommended by the Greene Committee. Frankly, we feel, for various reasons, including those that will be advanced on the next Amendment, that £66,000,000 is too high a figure to take, and we suggest that a fair figure, having regard to the national interest, and the number of years during which this problem has been before the public, is £44,000,000. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) that if the royalty owners get £44,000,000, they will do exceedingly well and ought to consider themselves very lucky.

8.7 p.m.

Mr. Crossley

Clearly the Labour party have to-night put forward their most ingenious and erudite speakers in defence of an Amendment which really states a very simple proposition. I wish briefly to restate that proposition to the Committee. In the first place, there was on the part of the Government the determination to acquire mining royalties, and for that purpose they set up an independent tribunal. I do not know whether it was a question of a willing seller and a willing buyer, because clearly the willing seller was bound to accept the findings of the tribunal, and the Government need not, if they did not wish to do so. That tribunal recommended an amount of £66,000,000 and hon. Members opposite have put down an Amendment to reduce the amount by one-third, to £44,000,000. The argument on which they base their Amendment is that they consider 10 years' purchase to be long enough.

But is that always to be the principle which hon. Members opposite will adopt whenever they determine, in the days when they rule this country, if ever they do, to take over this or that industry or this or that form of property? Is that to be the method by which they will determine the sums to be paid in compensation. Will they appoint an independent tribunal and then fix the sum to be paid at two-thirds of the figure which the tribunal finds? Certainly that does not represent a belief in confiscation, because if they believed in confiscation they would not be willing to pay £44,000,000; and certainly it is not a belief in compensation, to the full at any rate. Apparently it is a compromise. They say that they will compensate to the extent of two-thirds of the sum which an independent tribunal finds to be the value of the property, but that they will confiscate one-third. If that is the sort of treatment of property that is to be meted out in future, it will indeed inspire fear among the moderate-minded people of the country.

8.10 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

This Debate has been very successfully conducted by my hon. Friends, and my only reason for intervening at this stage is to reply to the question put by the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Mitchell) and the point made by the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley). We have been challenged on the general principle of compensation and as to what will happen in future if any question arises as to the acquisition of private property by the State. Let me say, in the first place, that, as far as the Labour party are concerned, no principle arises in the matter of compensation or indeed in the matter of confiscation. It is purely a question of expediency, and of what is best in the circumstances. That has been demonstrated by the Government themselves in relation to this matter, and it is for the Government to reply to any attack that may be made upon them in that regard. For my part, I merely say that if, in the future, the question of State acquisition of property should arise, as undoubtedly it will, for the principle of State acquisition has been accepted by this Government and there must be a development of that principle in due course, we shall be able to follow the lead set by this Government, and on the proper assumption that coal—and here I quote the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman)—is in the same category as any other form of property, clearly we ought not to pay more than the price based on the number of years purchase provided for in this Bill. That is a simple way of dealing with the matter. Clearly, if that is to be the maximum assessment, no charge can be levelled against this party if, in some future case, it decides, as we are demanding to-night, that there should be a reduction in the years of assessment.

What is the basis of the case which we are advancing? In my judgment, and with the greatest respect to many of my hon. Friends, it has very little to do with the miners, for I do not believe that the miners will gain a penny piece merely as a result of the State acquisition of royalties, whatever they may gain from any reorganisation subsequently effected in the industry, either by amalgamation or any other form of reorganisation. Even then, any change that would be calculated to improve the conditions of the miners is remote. Therefore, let us for a moment disregard the position of the mineworker in relation to the question we are now discussing. What is happening is that we are converting what is undoubtedly an industrial risk into a gilt-edged security. Of that there is no dispute.

Mr. Denman indicated dissent.

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) does not agree, but let me put to him and to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade the following proposition. Let us assume that this Bill had not been brought up and that in the ordinary course of events, voluntary amalgamations had been effected in the industry. It will not be disputed that in such a contingency, pits that were regarded as uneconomic would have been closed. But voluntary amalgamations might have gone much further than the closing down of pits or even of colliery undertakings; they might have led to the wholesale closing down of districts. Will it be denied that, for the purpose of meeting the needs of the consumers of coal, both in the internal markets and the export markets, we could produce all the coal required by concentrating on two or three coal districts? North Wales, Northumberland, and, apart from the gas-coal produced in Durham, much of the Durham coalfields, and, apart from the anthracite area in Western Wales, much of the bituminous coal area of South Wales, could be closed down, and yet we could produce all the coal required to meet the requirements of the internal and external markets. If voluntary amalgamations led to a situation of that sort, clearly the royalty owners, in the absence of State acquisition and the compensation arising from it, would lose their property rights and there would be no royalty rents.

My contention is that there is at present a serious industrial risk in the owning of coal royalties. If the mining industry expands, the royalty owners will gain, but assuming a serious trade depression and a diminution in the demand for coal what will happen to the export trade? These are not fantasies. Anyone familiar with the coal problem is aware that these things may happen. I hope they will never happen, but they may. In those circumstances, the royalty owners would have a property that was worth little or nothing, except in those districts where coal was being worked. Our case is—to repeat what I have already said—that the Government are here converting an industrial risk into a gilt-edged security. There is to be security for the royalty owners for many years to come.

As regards the amount which is to be paid to them, let us consider the situation. The royalty owners are to receive an amount based on 15 years purchase. The hon. Member for Central Leeds was questioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) as to what he considered a fair price. I think that question ought to be answered. What do the royalty owners think is a fair price? They are accepting, very reluctantly, the proposition made by the Government arising from the arbitral award. They dislike intensely the financial Clauses of the Bill. Then what do they regard as a fair price? Is it £70,000,000, or £80,000,000, or, as the Samuel Commission preferred, £100,000,000, based on the findings of the Government valuer? Is it to be 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, or 30 years purchase? I think the answer can easily be found. They do not know. They hope for the best, and they have got what is, I believe, in the opinion of many of the royalty owners themselves a very sound offer, having regard to all the circumstances that beset the mining industry.

If there were no security for the royalty owners in this proposition, one might be prepared to offer a larger measure of compensation. We have been challenged on this question of compensation. We accept it, as I have said, on the basis of expediency, but certainly not if it means inflicting serious financial losses on the community or on the industry concerned. In other words, compensation, yes, but not inflated compensation. I think that is a fair proposition. But leaving that question aside if, as I maintain, security is afforded to the royalty owners—and I think that is indisputable—why should they complain? How can it be argued that there would be less security for them on the basis of 10 years purchase? That would mean more than £40,000,000 for something which is after all, a wasting asset—an asset that might not be used throughout the whole of the coalfield but might only be used in part of it? In all the circumstances, I think we are justified in asking the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment.

The hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick affirmed that we were attacking the royalty owners. I do not deny that there has been some criticism of them but where is the attack coming from in this instance? From the Government. The Government are acquiring the royalty owners' property. The Government have accepted the arbitral award, and if the royalty owners have any case at all, it must be against the right hon. Gentleman opposite and not against hon. Members on this side, who have always opposed the claims of the royalty owners and who are not inexperienced on issues of this kind. The hon. Member for Central Leeds was, I presume, defending the rights of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and he said almost everything on that head, except the one thing which ought to be said. How did the Ecclesiastical Commissioners acquire this property? It would be interesting if the hon. Member were to indulge in a few revelations on that subject. If he is now disposed to give us the facts of the case, I shall be glad to give way to him. Apparently he is not disposed to do so on this occasion, but perhaps on some other occasion before we are finished with this Bill, we shall hear from some representative of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the facts and figures concerning that body's acquisition of this property. Did they pay for it, and how much did they pay for it?

I suggest this—it is speculation on my part, but I think it could be supported by evidence—that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, if they ever did pay for this property, paid much less for it than the Government are now proposing to pay to them. What, then, is their complaint? Why are they critical of the Government's proposal? Whether they are good or bad property-owners is beside the point. The hon. Member for Central Leeds spoke with elation and enthusiasm of their virtues, but it would be most surprising if they had no virtues. After all, we expect virtue from that quarter. But what we are concerned with is that the public, when they are acquiring private property, should not be asked to pay more than a fair price, fixed on a proper valuation. In our judgment, 10 years' purchase is a fair assessment; the amount suggested in the Amendment is a fair price to provide security for the royalty owners and it is, on the whole, fair to the public.

8.23 p.m.

Mr. Stanley

We have had an extremely interesting Debate on a subject of great importance. I do not pretend that I am going to follow all the ramifications which we have pursued during the last two hours. The interesting reminiscences of Cobbett which have been quoted are not going to lead me, as the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) would like, into a discussion of the gambling transaction with a relation of mine 100 years ago, on which, apparently, if it had happened 100 years later, he would have lost. The real point at issue is considerably narrower than some of the speeches indicate. It has nothing to do with the respective merits of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and of other royalty owners, either as owners of coal or as owners of ground rents—a subject which at one time during the evening we found ourselves discussing. The issue is simply this. First, is it right, if the State is taking for its own purposes property which people to-day enjoy under the protection of the law, that those people should be paid fair compensation for the property which the State acquires? Secondly, if that be so, is the method which the Government have proposed in this instance such as to ensure that the compensation, which is to be paid and which is included in the Bill, will be fair?

I am not at all surprised that the Opposition have raised this Amendment, and they will not be surprised at our rejecting it, because, of course, we are on this question in quite a different position. The hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) spoke about being bound in honour, and some hon. Members opposite resented that because they thought it was applied to them. They are quite right to resent it, because they made it from the first perfectly clear in questions and supplementary questions, which were asked when the present Prime Minister made his announcement in the House of Commons, that they were not bound; but no one can deny that the Government and the members of the Government are in honour bound to accept the award of an arbitral tribunal to which they agreed and which has reported. We have, I think, taken the fairest possible method of arriving at a proper sum to be paid in this case. I am not concerned with arguments which hon. Members used as to how mining royalties were acquired somewhere in the time of Queen Elizabeth or the particular use to which particular people have put them since.

This Measure, although it does mean taking away from the existing owners of the royalties their property, has not been introduced by the Government as a penal measure with the object of punishing those who happen to own this particular form of property. It has been introduced by the Government to help the industry, and it does happen that those who own the property in coal own property which the Government think can be exploited better in the national interest and in the interest of the coal industry by a unified body such as we propose rather than by the individual owners who now possess it. And it is no new thing, and no new precedent is set up by the Government in this Bill, when it is proposed that under circumstances such as these the Government should acquire that kind of property and pay compensation. When the Government wish a trunk road to go between two towns, they acquire the land, which, while it remains in private hands, remains an obstacle to that road passing through.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to reply, as his speech indicates, that the State is purchasing this property? As far as I understand it, there is no State purchase. The money that will be used in order to purchase royalties will come out of the mining industry and not out of State funds at all. On three occasions the right hon. Gentleman has referred to State purchase, but it is not that.

Mr. Stanley

I think that hon. Members are entirely familiar with the financial provisions of the Bill, and I am sorry if I used a term which seems to have excited prejudice. It does not alter the principle that whatever the financial means by which this statutory Commission is going to finance the purchase of royalties, the royalty owners whose property is acquired should get a fair deal. We believe that the method adopted by the Government was the right method to secure that. We first of all tried to find the method of negotiation, tried to reach an agreement between ourselves and the royalty owners as to what we both considered was a fair price to pay. That, as hon. Members know, failed, and we were unable to reach agreement. It was, therefore, provided that this question should be referred to what is now known as the Greene Committee for their decision. This tribunal was to determine the amount which the fee simple of all unworked coal in all mines in Great Britain and certain rights between the parties ancillary thereto might be expected to realise if sold in the open market by a willing seller.

I need not again go through the agreement as to the annual value upon which the years of purchase were to be counted. But the Government, in announcing that decision, stated that the royalty owners had agreed to be bound by the decision of the tribunal, but that the Government were free to accept it or not. We reserved that right, as I think any Government has to reserve the right, in case, much to our surprise, the tribunal had awarded a sum which made the finance of the whole scheme impossible, and to which, therefore, no Government could have been bound. But certainly this tribunal, having been set up, whatever the tribunal reported, it would be wrong if we then proceeded to legislate to get some lower sum, in this case lower by one-third, as hon. Members opposite desire. Now the hon. Gentleman says to Members on this side, as a terrible threat, I think, that if they were in power and they came to nationalise other forms of property and other forms of industry, they would follow the lead set by this Government. The hon. Gentleman said, "Follow the lead set by this Government." If they are going to follow that lead, if, whenever they are going to nationalise some form of property, they are going to set up a tribunal of the status and impartiality of the Greene Committee and are prepared to abide by that tribunal's decision, I do not think the threat a menacing one, because that is the precedent which has been set up by the Government.

The hon. Member then made an extraordinary point, of which I will say, in justice to a Member for whose acumen I have a great regard—I will say in justice to him that he borrowed it at the last moment from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), and would never have advanced it on his own account. It seemed one of the most tortuous arguments that I had ever heard, even from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—the curious argument that, because a tribunal in dealing with one particular form of property had awarded a compensation based on a particular number of years—because for one particular form of property a certain number of years had been fixed—that that was to be taken as the measure of compensation which was always to be awarded for any type of property under any circumstances.

It seems to me the most ludicrous conclusion, and the absurdity was borne out by the hon. Gentleman himself in his speech, because towards the end he forgot this rather bad argument which he had borrowed from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and started a much better argument of his own. He argued that the real reason why we ought to reduce the compensation was that mining royalties were a serious industrial risk. He went on to describe exactly why they were a serious industrial risk, differing from all other forms of property, because anthracite might be concentrated in one place, production might be concentrated in Yorkshire, voluntary amalgamations might close down this or that district, and other things might happen which could not happen to other forms of property. He went on to show that because that serious industrial risk had been changed ino a gilt-edged security, we ought to reduce the compensation available. I enjoyed the hon. Gentleman as himself much better than I enjoyed him as seconder of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale.

I understand the purpose of hon. Members opposite in moving this Amendment. Many of them have been franker and simpler than either the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale or the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell). They have not challenged the validity of the award or the fairness of the compensation. They have said, in effect, that they would like it to be lower, because if it were lower, more would be available for the miners. I can sympathise with that as a desire, but I do not believe it is the sort of basis upon which this Government, or indeed their own party if they ever came into power and proceeded to put their schemes into effect, could really proceed when they were dealing with compensation for property that they acquired. I believe that the Government have taken every step to safeguard both the rights of the property holder whose property they are acquiring and the rights of the body to whom this property is to be transferred. We are in honour bound to accept the award of the tribunal that we set up, an award which I believe is fair and just to both the parties concerned.

8.38 p.m.

Mr. E. J. Williams

I am sure that hon. Members appreciate most of the remarks that have been made by the right hon. Gentleman, but he has forgotten to tell us about one significant point with regard to the terms of reference to the tribunal. Was the tribunal under the impression in fixing the purchase price for royalties that there would be a lapse of practically five years before the purchase was complete? If they were not under that impression, the Amendment for a ten years' purchase represents a sum about equivalent to what the tribunal recommended. There is another important point that ought to have been contained in the terms of reference. We understand that they took the round figure of £4,000,000 a year and multiplied it by 15 to make the global sum. They might have been told that the Government had on the stocks proposals for compulsory amalgamations, and the Government might have placed before them some evidence of what the effect of such amalgamations would be as the years went by. That £4,000,000 might, after the Government's amalgamation proposals had been put into effect, have been £3,000,000 a year. Instead of that, the tribunal have multiplied the £4,000,000 by 15 as if £4,000,000 will be the annual payments in royalties 13, 14 or 15 years hence.

Mr. Wragg

It might be £5,000,000.

Mr. Williams

Most eminent engineers consider that it will be less. These two matters are interlocked. The Government must have had in mind a depleting asset and the redundancy that will be created by their amalgamation proposals. Otherwise, we should not have had at this stage the questions of royalties and amalgamations interlocked. The royalty owners are making a splendid bargain. In the Welsh provincial Press we find a speech of an eminent mining engineer, Captain William Llewellyn. He was speaking at Swansea on Saturday, and he said he could visualise that in ten years time the 35 collieries that come under the anthracite group may be reduced to about ten. He can foresee things as they are likely to be ten years hence, and it is obvious that that is the tendency of the industry. Output is increasing per individual, it is concentrated into larger units, and there are certain areas in which there is no prospect of coal development at all. The royalty owners are really making a splendid bargain in this Bill. If the tribunal had been told that by compulsory amalgamation the amount per annum might be reduced by £100,000 a year for the first ten years or so, and had been given an assessment of the number of concerns that will be producing coal and where those concerns are likely to be over a period of years, I doubt whether they would have multiplied the £4,000,000 a year by 15. The royalty owners have a splendid bargain, for they are being treated as if £4,000,000 would have been paid for the next 15 years with no contraction at all. In view of that contention our Amendment is a reasonable one.

I do not want to go into the recommendations of the Sankey Commission. Miners will recall what has happened after 18 years. They will recall that certain recommendations were put into effect, such as the shortening of the working day. They will recall that the last Conservative Government increased that day by an hour and made the miners work an extra hour for nothing. When we talk about fairness, miners will recall that a little while ago we were talking about compensation awards to dependants. In their case the average wage was multiplied by three years and the maximum was £600. That would be assuming a multiplication by six. Here the royalty owners, with an asset that is wasting, are to be compensated with 15 years' purchase. Fairness is not in the calculation at all. In the case of human life, three years; in the case of property, 15 years. This is just where we find ourselves in opposition to the Government. It is another piece of class legislation such as is usually advanced by this Government. Property interests are well self-guarded, but when any Bill is brought before Parliament in which consideration has to be given to human life, then it is the minimum figure which is suggested by hon. Members opposite. We look upon this Amendment as suggesting a very reasonable figure indeed, and we had hoped that most Members would support it.

8.46 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Evans

I should like in two or three sentences to explain why I, personally, and I think some of my hon. Friends, will support the Government in regard to this Amendment. What we are concerned with is the price which the State should pay for something which the State wants. When one is buying something, there are three ways of arriving at the purchase price. One can pay the seller what the seller asks; and probably in private life that is what most of us do. Or one can try to bargain with him; and if one does that, it is only on very rare occasions that one comes off better than under the first mode of procedure. In the third place one can arbitrate upon the price, and that is what was done in this case. The arbitration was conducted by men of great ability and great experience. No one challenges their bona fides or their capacity, and therefore it seems to me that very strong reasons ought to be adduced in order to dissuade the Committee from accepting what the arbitrators have suggested.

I was very pleased to welcome the announcement that the Government were prepared to adopt the policy of unification of royalties, but a little apprehensive about what would happen when the terms were referred to arbitration. I was rather afraid that the sum fixed might be so small that the royalty owners would exercise sufficient pressure on the Government to prevent that policy being carried out, or that the sum might be so big that the Government would be afraid to face the undertaking. In the result the figure fixed by the arbitrators is not very far removed from the fair and reasonable estimates which had been made beforehand of what the unification of royalties would be likely to cost the State. Therefore, it seems to me the Government have no option but to accept the award which was made. I think the public would also be wise to accept the award. This is not likely to be the last occasion on which the principle of nationalisation will be put into operation, and I believe that here we have a very valuable precedent which will be of great use in the case of any other great undertaking comparable to this.

In saying that I do not commit myself to the support of the argument used by the hon. Member who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench when he said that because 15 years' purchase had been accepted in this instance, 15 years was to be the extreme limit which the country would have to pay in connection with nationalisation in any case. I do not think that is a fair argument, and I feel that it was discountenanced completely by the rest of the argument when he was complaining that in view of the uncertainty of the value of royalties, and of other uncertainties in the coal industry, the figure was too high.

I think the country would be wise to accept this precedent, because it does show how easily and, if I may say so, how fairly the principle of nationalisation can be put into practical operation, and how smoothly it can be done. The tribunal was a fair and a capable one, and I think it has arrived at a fair figure, and therefore the Committee ought to adopt it. I have but one other word to say. My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. J. Williams) said the royalty owners had made a very good deal—I think they have made a fair deal —and I think the country also has made a good deal, and that is an additional reason for supporting the Government.

8.50 p.m.

Mr. David Grenfell

I have been tempted to speak largely by what the Minister told us and by the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for the Welsh University (Mr. E. Evans). We are invited by the Minister and the hon. and learned Member to be grateful for the proposal which the Government have put before us. I speak as one who spent the best part of his life in the mining industry, and I do not feel the least grateful for the proposal. I do not regard this as the nationalisation of the mining royalties. This is not nationalisation. This is a proposal to compensate, to buy out, the owners of mining property, not at the expense of the State, but at the expense of the men who have always paid these claims, who have paid year by year for hundreds of years. The right hon. Gentleman said that these claims go back as far as the reign of Queen Elizabeth. I have made a computation, and the Committee will be surprised to know that in the aggregate no less than £300,000,000 has been paid in this country as mining royalties to people who have laid all kinds of claims, within the law, to the ownership of the nation's coal.

We are asked to pay respect to the tribunal which, having accepted the assumption of rights on the part of the royalty owners, went on to discharge their claims by recommending so many years' purchase. We were told that this great tribunal, this just tribunal, this fair and perfect tribunal, were right in recommending 15 years' purchase. I suppose 16 would have been wrong, and 14 equally wrong, but 15 years appears to be the ideal, the only just, computation. To discharge this claim it is not proposed to pay royalties at the existing rate for 15 years. Oh no, it is a different proposal. It is proposed to pay the present rate of royalty payments multiplied by 15, and to pay it now as a capital sum. Every elementary schoolboy knows that that is not 15 years' purchase, but much more than 15 years of royalties. The proposal is not to pay 15 years' royalties, but to pay as 15 years' purchase a sum which amounts in the aggregate to £66,450,000.

Even so, the property is not to be vested in the Commission for four years, and so the royalty owners have four years during which the payments will be very much higher than at present. It is estimated that the output of coal will be 250,000,000 tons in 1937; if we are not mistaken the output next year will be still higher; and if a slump does not come sooner than the Government anticipate, we shall have a still higher output in 1939. So we can expect payments for the next 2½ years which are far greater than the payments made in the last 2½ years. We say that this basis is entirely wrong, because all these payments are made in respect of a vanishing asset. They are made in respect of coal which is now being worked and they are to be paid to-day, although that coal will be worked out in the course of the next five or ten years. It would be infinitely better to continue paying royalties on the annual basis than to pay these people a capital sum which can be converted into a gilt-edged security which will be very much higher in value than the future royalties could be.

Therefore, we say the basis of compensation is too high—I am permitted to say that, and that only, on this Amendment—but I do want to argue this point before the Committee, because I feel sure the Committee will come to the same conclusion, if they start their examination of the problem from the same point and follow the examination which I am about to make.

This basis of £4,470,000 a year for 15 years is based on the assumption that the output will be 250,000,000 tons a year, but that is not a fixed output. It has been very much less in the past and may be very much higher in the future. The Committee should be invited to look at this matter in the light of the probability that the output will not increase indefinitely in this country. Vast economies have been effected in the utilisation of coal. Large quantities of coal go for domestic consumption, but there is a considerable annual saving in the consumption of coal due to increased efficiency in the burning of it. Unless a boom sets in which results in a large and sustained increase in industrial production, the probability is that we shall require less, and not more, coal for the maintenance of our industrial productivity. I have given the figure for the payments already made. I will now give an entirely new figure, which is that 10,000,000,000 tons of coal have already been worked in this country. The Mines Department have vertified this figure, and I have verified it for myself by making an estimate of the production in past years. Many coalfields in respect of which royalties are paid now and which are in full production, have been greatly denuded of their resources in the working of this vast quantity in the last 200 or 300 years, and many of the present coalfields are almost exhausted.

I do not like to make a sensational report here, because of the men who are working, but it would be true to say that many coalfields in the North of England and in Scotland will find themselves with a very bleak prospect in the next 50 or 60 years. They are not so rich in mineral deposits as they were. Nevertheless, it is in respect of the output now gained from these coalfields that the valuation is to be made, as though the output would go on for ever, without end. Some of the coalfields were being worked in the days of Queen Elizabeth and in Tudor times, and others were being worked even as far back as the days of the Romans. They were the coalfields where the coal was so plentiful that it was shown on the surface and worked on the surface, and to the landowners who owned the property where coal was worked in those conditions the first royalty rights were accorded. I doubt very much whether the same kind of right would have been conceded if their rights of ownership had been examined in present day conditions.

Let me give to the Committee the history, which is not sufficiently known, of the Kent coalfields. In 1847, about 90 years ago, a shrewd geologist, in the early days when the science of geology had not made the progress it has made to-day, carried out certain observations, extending right from Ireland, through South Wales, through the South of England and Northern France as far as Westphalia. He made a calculation—

The Temporary Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I do not think we can regard this history as in order on this Amendment.

Mr. Grenfell

I would like to show the difference between two kinds of royalties. There are the old coalfields which are nearly exhausted and the new coalfields and those yet to be proved and discovered, and whose value is not yet known. In respect of the Kent coalfields, there was no claim until recent times to the ownership of the coal, because coal was not known to be present there and the landowner could make no claim. He did not know that there were any surface indications, or any other sign that coal existed under his land. The strange story is that when a geologist told the landowners that coal existed there under their land, they did not believe it and they protested most strongly at the suggestion that Kent might be converted into a coalfield. At the expense of much boring and sinking, coal was discovered in Kent, at distances of 1,500, 2,000 and 2,500 feet. The landowners then held out their hands and said that they claimed the royalties. The royalty has been created under very different conditions. There had been no effort on the part of the landowners; the coal was discovered by scientific men. I am not disputing the right under law of the Kent owners of the coal, but I would point out that these new measures, in Kent and elsewhere—and there are vast measures lying between Nottingham and Yorkshire and the sea, possibly extending under the whole of the county of Lincoln and into the North Sea—have not been proved. They will be proved only at great expense by boring in future years.

Does any hon. Member suggest that there is a right to compensation for coal hidden 3,000 or 4,000 feet below the surface? There is no step by which you can determine the right of the owner of such land, even though the existence of coal may be suspected. What compensation can be due to the man who does not know where his coal is, whether it lies 3,000 or 4,000 feet or more below the surface? This is a vital question. In regard to the coalfields now nearing exhaustion and, in many cases, exhausted, what right has the owner of the land to compensation for a right which will be exhausted in a very short time, on the supposition that the present output can be maintained for 5 or 10 years? Who is to pay compensation, and to whom is compensation to be paid? There is this global sum of £66,450,000 that has to be divided in some proportion. Nobody knows how much anybody is to get, or the basis upon which each one will claim his proportion. This compensation will be paid from the industry itself. I am sorry that I got up after the Minister. I would like him to say during the later discussion of this Clause that this is not a case of State acquisition of minerals, and that the compensation is to be paid for by the workpeople themselves. There is to be no gain at all, so far as the workpeople are concerned. The man who gets coal to-day on a royalty charge of 6d. per ton will still find his output subject to the same charge. If the charge is a 1s., his output will still be subject to it. There are cases where the royalty has been charged at 2s. per ton, in my own working life, and in which the men got no more than 1s. for cutting and filling. I have known cases in which the royalty was twice as much as the men got for all their labour.

The compensation can be provided only by paying the same royalty rate per ton. It has been suggested in the Debate—I heard it on Second Reading, and I have heard it to-night again—that there is a psychological effect to be considered. People who are opposed to nationalisation and to interference with private property bring forward the argument that to take this property away from the private owner and to give it to the Commission will have beneficial results, because men will work harder. Would not the psychological effect be greater if you gave the royalty owners only half as much? It is because of my reluctance to accept this kind of argument that I have intervened in the Debate, and to answer some of the speeches to which I have listened. We are to pay the same rate of royalty. The royalty rates cannot be reduced; as far as I can see, there is no prospect of that. Indeed they may be largely enhanced. It is shameful that the House should be asked to pass an Act of Parliament giving the Commission the responsibility for finding each year £3,000,000 in interest, and so on. That money will have to be obtained from an output of 250,000,000 tons at an average rate of 5d. per ton. But I see clearly the possibility of the output dropping by 20 per cent. in less than five years, and, if the obligation still remains to provide a royalty rate which is now met by an output of 250,000,000 tons, it cannot be met on an output of 200,000,000 tons without increasing the royalty rate itself by 20 per cent. There is no way of escape. Once the burden is thrown on the Commission, the Commission can only balance itself by making a higher demand per ton for royalty payments. If a slump should come, it will leave the industry with a heavier burden per unit of production than it has to bear at the present time.

This Bill, in my opinion, is not a Bill to compensate anybody for loss of property; it is a Bill for the permanent endowment of royalty owners. On the sum which they are to be given, namely, £76,000,000, they can get their 5 per cent. They can convert their property from royalties into other forms of property, and, unless some new Government comes into power in this country, they will be in the pleasant position of being able to draw from £3,500,000 to £4,000,000 a year for ever, while the coal is being worked away. In course of time the whole of that property will have gone away in smoke, but their claim to a settled income will go on for ever. That is the gist of the Bill, and that is why some of us are so strongly opposed to it. This is not State ownership. The State is not going to pay. It is the men who dig the coal who will pay. I stand here in the strongest spirit of revolt and protest against this idea, as one who worked for 23 years, man and boy, in the coal pits. In the whole of that time I was paid less than £2,000, for 23 of the best years of my life spent in the mines of this country. I have given 2½ years of hard labour and servitude to a royalty owner. Everything that I did in 2½ years went to royalty owners. During those 2½ years I had to keep myself, so I think

it is a fair computation to say that, allowing 2½ years for providing myself with the means of sustenance while I worked, the whole of my labour for 5 years of my life went to the service of a landowner in royalty payments. Does anyone think that there is a fair, just, human or moral claim to the continuation of that state of things? There is no sign that that kind of thing is going to cease under the Bill; these payments are to go on.

If I could speak according to my own heart, and with no regard for Parliamentary procedure, I would say that not one penny piece more should go to the royalty owners. They have already drawn too much. They have kept the working people of this country poor. The levy drawn from the miner in royalties is sufficient to provide every miner's family in this country with a house of the freehold value of £500. I would not pay the royalty owners a penny more. I must, however, refrain from pursuing that argument, but I would ask the House to look at this subject from the miners' point of view and from the national point of view. You are not getting national property; you are only changing the form of servitude. The power behind the servitude is simply passing from the mineowner to the Commission. If we cannot get the House to agree to there being no compensation, I beg the Committee not to vote this large sum of over £66,000,000, but to vote for the Amendment which has been moved.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 211; Noes, 109.

Division No. 51.] AYES. [9.11 p.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Bracken, B. Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Braithwaite, Major A. N. Cox, H. B. Trevor
Albery, Sir Irving Brass, Sir W. Cranborne, Viscount
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Craven-Ellis, W
Allen, Ll.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page
Apsley, Lord Bull, B. B. Crooke, J. S.
Aske, Sir R. W. Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.
Assheton, R. Butler, R. A. Croom-Johnson, R P.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Cartland, J. R. H. Cross, R. H.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Cary, R. A. Crossley, A. C.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Davidson, Viscountess
Balniel, Lord Channon, H. Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Clarke, F. E. (Dartferd) Dawson, Sir P.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) De la Bère, R.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Clarry, Sir Reginald Denman, Hon. R. D.
Bernays, R. H. Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Denville, Alfred
Birchall, Sir J. D. Colfox, Major W. P. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.
Blair, Sir R. Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Doland, G. F.
Boulton, W. W. Conant, Captain R. J. E. Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.
Boyce, H. Leslie Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Drewe, C.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Dugdale, Captain T. L Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Rothschild, J. A. de
Duncan, J. A. L. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Rowlands, G.
Eastwood, J. F. Kimball, L. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Ellis, Sir G. Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Salmon, Sir I.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Salt, E. W.
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Levy, T. Samuel, M. R. A.
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Lewis, O. Savery, Sir Servington
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Liddall, W. S. Scott, Lord William
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Lipson, D. L. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Fleming, E. L. Little, Sir E. Graham. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Foot, D. M. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Furness, S. N. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Fyfe, D. P. M. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Maclay, Hon. J. p. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Magnay, T. Spens, W. P.
Gluckstein, L. H. Maitland, A. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Gower, Sir R. V. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mander, G. le M. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Grant-Ferris, R. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Markham, S. F. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Train, Sir J.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Tree, A. R. L. F.
Grimston, R. V. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Wakefield, W. W.
Guinness, T. L. E. B. Munro, P. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Warrender, Sir V.
Hambro, A. V. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Hannah, I. C. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Wells, S. R.
Harbord, A. Owen, Major G. White, H. Graham
Harris, Sir P. A. Peake, O. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Perkins, W. R. D. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Holmes, J. S. Procter, Major H. A. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hopkinson, A. Radford, E. A. Wise, A. R.
Horsbrugh, Florence Raikes, H. V. A. M. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ramsbotham, H. Wragg, H.
Hume, Sir G. H. Rayner, Major R. H. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Hunter, T. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Ropner, Colonel L. Captain Waterhouse and Major
Adams, D. (Consett) Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Leslie, J. R.
Adamson, W. M. Frankel, D. Logan, D. G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Gardner, B. W. Lunn, W.
Ammon, C. G. Garro Jones, G. M. Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McEntee, V. La T.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Grenfell, D. R. Mainwaring, W. H.
Banfield, J. W. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Maxton, J.
Barnes, A. J. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Messer, F.
Barr, J. Groves, T. E. Milner, Major J.
Batey, J. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Montague, F.
Bellenger, F. J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Bevan, A. Hardie, Agnes Muff, G.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Bromfield, W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Naylor, T. E.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Henderson. T. (Tradeston) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Hicks, E. G. Oliver, G. H.
Burke, W. A. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Paling, W.
Cassells, T. Hollins, A. Parker, J.
Chater, D. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Cluse, W. S. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Price, M. P.
Cove, W. G. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Quibell, D. J. K.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Kelly, W. T. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Daggar, G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Ridley, G.
Dalton, H. Kirby, B. V. Riley, B.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kirkwood, D. Ritson, J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lathan, G. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Day, H. Lawson, J. J. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Leach, W. Sexton, T. M.
Ede, J. C. Lee, F. Shinwell, E.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Leonard, W. Short, A.
Silkin, L. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng) Wilkinson, Ellen
Silverman, S. S. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Simpson, F. B. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Smith, E. (Stoke) Tinker, J. J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) Walkden, A. G. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Smith, T. (Normanton) Watkins, F. C.
Sorensen, R. W. Watson, W. McL. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.

9.20 p.m.

Mr. G. Macdonald

I beg to move, in page 6, line 30, at the end, to insert: less the amount that represents the rents and profits accruing between the valuation date and the vesting date from the interests to be acquired. The hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) has kindly referred to me as being a generous person, and, in moving this Amendment, I hope I shall not belie that reputation. This Amendment gives the royalty owners £66,450,000—the sum that the Bill gives them—provided that they have been paid on or before the valuation date. The purpose of the Amendment is to frustrate a deliberate attempt on the part of the Government to give more. I referred to this on Second Reading, and the Chancellor then said: If anyone imagines that we have postponed that date unnecessarily, they cannot be closely acquainted with the work that has to be done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1937; col. 1085, Vol. 329.] We are satisfied that a big job has to be done, but we are not satisfied that, provided the staff is adequate, it could not be done before the valuation date. We are certain that there is no need to wait until 1942 before this transaction is completed provided that it is completed then we have no objection, now that the last Amendment has been defeated, to £66,450,000 being paid, but we are not prepared to see another three-year period added.

It is all very well for the Government to tell us that this is a complicated job, but there is nothing to prevent payment on account being made before the completion of the task. Glance at Part IV of Schedule 3, which deals with payments on account. I am of opinion that under paragraph 19 it would be possible to complete the transaction, even though it needed more investigation. We argued on the last Amendment as to whether £66,450,000 is the right or wrong sum to give. The President of the Board of Trade said that the Government, after investigation, were satisfied that it was the right sum. Let it be £66,450,000 then, and do not, by various devices, add more for the royalty owners. We do not raise any objection to that amount being paid, but we think the Government should see that the royalty owners do not get any more.

9.24 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

I rise to support the Amendment. I do so for slightly different reasons from those put forward by my hon. Friend. I believe that as a nation we are only entering into our own. It is not a question with me of how quickly you can do the work. The question with me is that we are taking back now, by nationalisation, that which the owners of royalties never had any right to hold. I can well believe that the royalty owners are disappointed with the £66,450,000 that they have got; the Greene Tribunal will have disappointed them. We have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in which he said that the terms were agreed by the Greene Tribunal. I think the royalty owners must have been very sorry afterwards that the price was fixed on the basis of 15 years' purchase, but because of that disappointment they are to be consoled by an extension of the period by 3¾ years, during which they will receive royalties at the same rate as in the past. I have just been looking at the Second Reading speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and I notice that he said: First of all, the net annual return to the royalty owners was agreed between the Government and the royalty owners at a sum of £4,430,000 per annum, and the tribunal was to be asked upon that basis to determine the value of the whole property."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1937; col. 889, Vol. 329.] In my view that and that alone is the only sum that they are entitled to receive. As soon as this Bill is through, the deed is done. In all but the purchase price the minerals are nationalised, and, therefore, as far as the royalty owners are concerned, the minerals are no longer theirs. There will be a considerable amount of investigation spread over 3¾ years, during which time you are proposing to pay them a further sum of £4,430,000 per annum—provided, of course, the output works out at that rate. Thus in 4½ years from now they will have received another £20,000,000. They are therefore going to receive in all something very near that £100,000,000 which has been spoken of in this House from time to time. The learned Attorney-General said they would proceed on the lines that property should not be taken until round about the date when the price could be paid, and he said that that was the ordinary principle applied to ordinary purchase. But this is not ordinary purchase. We are taking back what belonged to us. Further, it seems to me that exactly the opposite practice applies in other affairs such as house purchase. When the bona fides of the purchaser have been accepted, the purchaser gets the house, and the rent is his, although he has not actually put down the money for the house.

Let us take a different case with which I am more familiar—that of workmen's compensation—and the contrast between the treatment of the royalty owners and the men who are producing the coal upon which the rent is paid is dreadful. In cases of workmen's compensation, where the owners want to liquidate the compensation, they pay into court a certain sum, but it may not be acceptable, and the case may go on for a long time. It may even go to the High Court, but the injured person is not getting compensation at the rate of so much per week, plus that which he was entitled to as a lump sum at the end. Not at all. If that principle can be applied to an aged workman, it seems to me that it ought to be applied to the royalty owners. Let us take the case of liquidation, and we had some bitter experience of that in the coalfields. For some particular reason, such as we had when the coalowners locked us all out in 1926, compensation was paid weekly for some time, and then it was found that the owners were not prepared to continue paying compensation weekly, and they determined in the particular case I have in mind to compound and to pay a lump sum. Those lump sums were not paid for 12 months. In some cases that I know men did not receive anything for years. But it was said that the compensation crystallized on the day they gave notice. And my view is that this sum crystallizes when this Bill is placed upon the Statute Book, and the amount of money received in the way of rent after that date should belong to the State. If the State does not know what to do with it, then make a pension fund for the miners, which would give general satisfaction.

Apart from that, I cannot see where there can be any benefit for the miners from this Bill during the lifetime of any miner working to-day. For some of them the seams will be pretty well worked out by the time that this is settled. A case was put before me some time ago of two men who got 61 tons in nine shifts, and when the deductions had been made there was 8s. 5d. a shift. The price for filling the coal was 8½d. a ton—and in some cases that is rather a high figure, because coal is being filled for as little as 6½d. a ton. If I remember rightly, during the last 14 years the royalty rent has been at the rate of 6¼d. per ton in Northumberland. What a ridiculous state of affairs that men should be filling coal—enduring hardships and braving dangers—for the same sum, and in some cases, under the system of machine mining, less than other men are receiving who can live in their castles and have their landed estates.

9.35 p.m.

Mr. Mander

This Amendment is entirely different from the last one. We felt, with regard to the last, that it was right to support it because it was the result of arbitration, and I do not think that any Government coming into power could have dealt with it on different lines. Here you have an entirely different situation. When the arbitration board were asked to assess the value of this coal they were not told by the Government, "We want you to assess the value of this' as from five years from this date," or something of that kind. They value it more or less as at the present time. That certainly ought to be taken into consideration. It may be that these precise words are not the correct ones: I do not think that they are. They should be amended, and in the event of the Amendment being carried, we should propose, at a later stage, to move a further Amendment in order to bring it more into line with what should be correct. I would like to ask the Minister this question. I understand that he is going to have about three and a-half years to carry out this valuation with a certain staff which it is intended to put on to the work. Can he say what that staff is likely to be? Would it not be possible to increase the staff, if necessary to double the staff, and if he were to do that, could he not carry through the valuation at a very much earlier date? I hope he will be good enough to deal with the point as to whether there could not be a great deal of expedition by increasing the staff which it is already contemplated to put on to this work. We shall support the Amendment.

9.37 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

The Amendment raises very much—not quite in the same form—the point which we discussed the other night, when the hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to put the vesting date forward to 1940, and the arguments which they brought forward, and the arguments which I shall bring forward to combat the Amendment, are, therefore, more or less the same as on that occasion, because they turn on the length of time it will take to do the valuations. The hon. Gentleman just now said that the Tribunal were not putting the value as at five years from 1937. They were asked to give the value at the time they were making the case put before them. On an earlier Amendment somebody else made very much the same point, whether the Tribunal were under the impression that the transaction was going to be carried out forthwith or not. I can only remind the Committee of what the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said when he made the announcement of the setting up of the Tribunal to deal with this problem. He said, in dealing with notice being given as to whether the Tribunal's award was to be accepted or not: If notice is not given, the Committee will be entitled to assume that the Tribunal's decision is acceptable to His Majesty's Government and that they will introduce during the present Session of Parliament a Bill to acquire the property on the basis of the Tribunal's decision."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1937; col. 980, Vol. 321.] They knew that it was the intention to proceed. The Committee will remember that it was rather too late in that Session to hope to get it through, and we therefore passed the Registration Bill in order to facilitate the work, and we announced then that we would introduce a Bill in the autumn, which we have done. Therefore, the whole time-table is being carried out. There is the reference to the understanding that, if we accepted the decision, we would legislate as soon as possible, and so it is here. I really think sometimes that people, not necessarily in this House but everywhere in the country, do not realise the magnitude of this project. It is a colossal undertaking. There is an enormous amount of value and a great number of properties. Hon. Gentlemen know that registration is already going on. There is the claiming, the valuing and the appeal, and, after all, granted that you are going to do this you have to make it fair as between claimant and claimant. The hon. Gentleman says, cannot you put on a great many more people to do it? In the Third Schedule we shall deal with the machinery of valuation, and so on, but the answer is, that the number of persons in this country, expert in valuing mineral property, is extremely small. This is not a subject, I am advised—and I have been in touch with the matter for some little time now—out of which one can just turn out somebody else who is a valuer for some other kind of property. I am sure that Members for mining seats who have experience of the mining districts realise that fact.

Mr. Mander

I take it that you will be employing them all.

Captain Crookshank

It is no desire of ours to prolong this matter. If we are to take over the property, we are only too anxious to take it over at the earliest moment possible. We cannot find from the estimates we are able to make that it will take less than three and a-half years. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment says that during that period the income should be deducted from the global sum, and that in his view this is a deliberate attempt by the Government to give the royalty owners more. It is not any attempt to give anybody any more than that to which they are entitled, but we recognise that the process is going to take a long time, and until the Commission can be in a position to pay out and accept that obligation, we feel that the only fair basis is the basis we have adopted, this notional contract for sale. All that has already been debated on earlier Clauses. That was the only way in which we saw that it could be done, and that is why we are putting it before the Committee and the House in this Bill.

When the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) says that he thinks it should be done more quickly and that he is suspicious of our intentions, he can take it from me that there is nothing suspicious about it. We do not believe that it can be done more quickly—we wish that it could—and we have no ulterior motives in this matter whatever. The difficulty, as the Committee will recognise, of the principle of a global system, is that we cannot be sure of the full compensation until we have got to the point of finding out the amount for each person, and then, when we come to the next Clause as to whether the proportion should be either more or less than the original award, there is the difficulty of being able to make very large payments on account. The question of payments on account we can discuss later. There may be some which may be made to a certain extent, but the Commission will have to be safeguarded. If it should pay somebody a certain sum, it may be found, after the proportion has been worked out, that it is more than that to which they are entitled. We have given every kind of consideration to expediting the valuation proceedings, and I am sorry to say that we have not found it possible to put it at a less period than is contained here. Some hon. Members on the last occasion that the Bill was debated were very apprehensive that it would not be done in that time, and an hon. Gentleman opposite said something of the same kind. He did not think that it could be done so quickly. We think it can, and that is why we ask the Committee to accept the proposal.

9.44 p.m.

Sir S. Cripps

The hon. and gallant Member really has not met the point of the Amendment. Let us for the moment assume that it is going to take four and a half years to carry through the division of the spoils among those who are to receive them. The question arises, who in the meantime should have the larger sum, that is, the rights from the royalties, and who should have the lesser sum, that is, the interest on the money raised? The material change in the status of the royalty owner takes place after this Bill has passed. Then he gets absolute security. His risk of his royalty is turned into an absolute certainty of getting a capital sum in respect of it. He gets a larger sum by way of royalties because he has got the risk. The 15 years' purchase is taken as being the fair capitalisation cost of the risks that are attached to royalties. That is why 15 years is fixed, and not 20 or 25 years. The moment this Bill is passed he is entitled to his 15 years' purchase price, plus interest on the money as long as it remains unpaid, but instead of getting the interest on the money as long as it remains unpaid, he is to get the full royalty sum for four years, which is something like, on the estimates, twice—it may be more—the sum which may be payable by way of interest on £66,000,000. Therefore, over the period of four years there will be something between £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 which he will get in excess of the sum to which he is entitled, as having the right of the payment of a certain fixed sum based on the 15 years, plus interest until that sum is paid to him in full.

I am sure that the Minister for Mines cannot by any reason, once the royalty owner has had it made certain to him that he is to get a capital sum, justify the proposal that until he gets that sum he should get more than a fair rate of interest upon it. It is impossible to justify anything more than that. If he continues to get the royalties he should also continue to run the risks which are inherent in getting royalties, that is, the risk of his particular mine closing down, or whatever the risk may be. He runs that risk, not for a year or two but in perpetuity, because that is a risk which attaches to the receipt of the royalty. That is why he claims a higher sum by way of royalty than he is prepared to accept by way of interest on a certain capital sum paid by the Government. The very least that can be done is that instead of allowing the royalty owner to take the royalties from the valuation date up to the vesting date, he should from the valuation date up to the vesting date receive interest equal to the interest that he would be entitled to get by way of a capital sum.

Mr. Peake

What is the sum?

Sir S. Cripps

Obviously, the argument can be raised that the sum has not yet been ascertained, but there is no danger in paying a sum by way of interest, because any excess can be deducted from the capital sum which he eventually gets. Therefore, to pay him in advance a certain amount of interest is quite a common risk and procedure. Suppose by way of interest he received three times too much, that will be still less than one-third of the capital sum that he would receive in 1942. It would be easy to adjust the matter when he came to be paid the capital sum, by deducting from the capital sum the excess of interest that he has received. Let us assume that a claim is put in for £10,000, and let us further assume that by writing down, that claim eventually becomes £5,000. The claimant gets, say, 3½ per cent. or 3 per cent. interest on that sum, pending its ascertainment. He will get £350 a year on £10,000 for three years. That would be £1,050. If at the end of the period it is found that the interest should not be £1,050 but that he should have got only £525, the extra £525 he has received can be treated as part payment of the capital sum, so that instead of getting £5,000 he will get £4,725, and there will be no risk. The Commission will be covered to the extent of £4,775. They will be perfectly safe as regards the cover. It will be perfectly easy to pay him that interest up to the time the capital is ascertained, and any access of interest can be set off against the capital when the capital becomes payable. Therefore, there is no risk and no difficulty in doing it in that way.

I assume that the hon. Member opposite has some anxiety how this can be worked out. He agrees, I suppose, that it is a fair way to do it if the thing can be done. He will appreciate that if this can be done it will save the Commission about £7,000,000, which is a very large sum of money even when we are talking of £66,000,000. It is 10 per cent. If by this device, which is perfectly fair, a sum of anything like 10 per cent. can be saved, there is no reason that I can see why it should not be done. The hon. Member must know perfectly well that it is the commonest thing in taking land of all sorts and kinds to enter into possession before the amount of the compensation is agreed or settled by arbitration. The compensation law is full of regulations by which by depositing bonds when dealing with private contracts, and so on, you can operate this system. Very often in these complicated cases it is two or three years before eventually the valuation claim is settled by arbitration, and there has never been any difficulty as far as that is concerned. Nobody has ever suggested that it is not a perfectly feasible way of carrying it out. The moment an authority enters into possession of property it receives all the rents and pays the interest. There can be and have been provisions by which the interest can be paid if necessary from time to time by way of part payment of the purchase price.

There is no difficulty of any sort, technically, in doing this, if it is desired to be done. The only reason that can possibly lead the Government to desire not to do that is because they wish the royalty owners to get the £7,000,000, and not the Coal Commission. If the Minister really means what he says, that he would like to get into possession of this property as quickly as possible on behalf of the Coal Commission, he has this well known means of getting into possession. He can give the royalty owner a perfecly fair deal, pay him the full rate of interest from the time of valuation until the vesting date, the full rate of interest to be paid from time to time.

Captain Crookshank

On what?

Sir S. Cripps

Does the hon. and gallant Member really suggest that there is the slightest difficulty? Say there is a claim put in for £10,000. Very well, let the Commission say: "We are prepared to pay interest on your claim from that date at 3½ per cent."

Mr. Peake

Why does the hon. and learned Member say 3½ per cent? The royalties are speculative and they give 6½ per cent. on 15 years' purchase. Why should not the royalty owner invest his capital the same as any other security equally speculative and get an equal rate of interest?

Sir S. Cripps

The Government are guaranteeing the payment of this £66,000,000. The security they have is national security. I am dealing with the period in which he gets the cash. During that period he has the security of the Government, and he is not entitled on that security to get any more than the ordinary rates of interest which everybody else gets on Government securities. The fact is that during that period he is holding what is equivalent to a Government security instead of his royalties. That is the change made by the Bill. Up to the date of vesting he holds Government security for payment by the Government, and on that he is entitled during that period to such rates of interest as owners of similar securities. I said 3½ per cent. because that is the rate recognised by the Government.

Let me come back to the hon. and gallant Member, and assume that a claim is made for £10,0000 and the Commission say that they are prepared to pay 3½ per cent. on the claim up to the date when the claim is settled. They pay, therefore, £350 a year, with the reservation that if it is found they have overpaid in interest it shall be set off against the capital sum. Assume that the capital sum is reduced by one-half or one-quarter, it does not make any difference; say it is £2,500. They will have paid £1,050 as interest in the three years. Instead of paying on a quarter of that sum, which is what they should have paid, £262 10s., they say, "We have overpaid you three times the amount of £262 10s., that is £787 10s., which we must deduct from the £2,500, and we will pay you the balance of the capital sum." That is an extreme case where there has been a claim four times the amount to which the claimant is entitled. There is no risk. The Commission can perfectly well pay the sum, and by doing so they save themselves the difference between 3½ per cent. on £66,000,000 and what is the annual amount received in royalties, which is calculated at something over £2,000,000 a year. Surely that is a perfectly fair way of dealing with everybody concerned, both with the royalty owners and with the Commission, and it will be saving a sum of £7,000,000 to the Commission. It will at least be some reduction of what we consider to be an excessive amount.

9.59 p.m.

Colonel Nathan

I have a footnote to add to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). In paragraph 19 of Schedule III the machinery which my hon. and learned Friend has been adumbrating is in terms set out. I agree with the Secretary for Mines that the valuation will be long and complicated. I agree that it will take fully three and a half years, possibly more. I agree too that the number of persons qualified to make this kind of valuation is extremely limited. They will require to work on the past, and it will take them a much longer time, in my opinion, than the time allowed. But in Schedule III the Government have provided that before the valuation is made there may be a payment made by the Commission on account. The Schedule is not only explicit as to that, but it goes further and deals with the question of interest. The hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) asked my hon. and learned Friend, "Why 3½ per cent.?" I repeat that question: Why 3½ per cent., because the Government have provided in paragraph 19 of the Third Schedule that the rate of interest shall be 3 per cent. If it is possible for the Commission to pay a sum on account with interest at 3 per cent. before the relevant certificate has been given by the regional valuation board, why is it not possible for them to pay at an earlier date, namely, at the valuation date fixed by the Bill? Why should not the valuation and vesting date be one and the same? I can see no reason in logic why it should not be so, and I find the Minister's observation on the subject singularly unconvincing.

I can understand it being said that it is a very complicated question, that they do not know to whom they should pay, and that they are not sure whether the amount they pay will not be more than the ultimate amount payable. But the persons to whom these amounts are to be paid have to register under the Registration Act. If any royalty owner has refrained from registering, he has no one to blame but himself. The Bill in all likelihood will become law in the early part of 1938, and there is no suggestion in the Amendment for advancing the valuation date, which is January, 1939, and those who have not registered already will have plenty of time to do so between the passing of the Bill and the valuation date of January, 1939.

There is a more difficult question as to the Commission being satisfied that they are not paying more on account than will ultimately become payable, but the Schedule itself provides exactly how the sum paid is to be allocated as between interest and capital. The very thing which hon. Members of this side are seeking to effect by the Amendment is to some extent provided for under different circumstances in Schedule III. If any question is raised as to satisfying the Commission that they will not be overpaying, if they wish to be more cautious, they can ask the owner, the registered owner, to make out a prima facie case, and it will be for him to satisfy the Commission by evidence that he has a claim for not less than a certain amount. That, in the circumstances contemplated by Schedule III, is the actual procedure which the Government are proposing to enact. There is a number of methods whereby a registered owner can make out a prima facie case. He can produce his Income Tax returns for previous years to show how much he has received, and that will form a basis on which he will be paid on account. I am sure the Minister, with his expert advisers, if he does not like that method of procedure, can find another which will satisfy the Commission that they are not making an overpayment on account. I think it is relevant to point out that owners will be receiving under the Bill as drawn a gross sum of over £15,000,000 in excess of the amount fixed by the Greene Committee.

It is worth bearing in mind that the reference to Sir Wilfrid Greene's Committee was that they should ascertain the

present value of a perpetual annuity. It will be agreed that 3½ years does not make very much difference to the value of a perpetual annuity, but that reinforces the argument that the £15,750,000, as near as may be, is a gratuitous payment over and above what Sir Wilfrid Greene's Committee found was the appropriate sum. I calculate that interest at the rate of 3 per cent. on the £66,000,000 for 3½ years would be just over £7,000,000, so that under the proposal in the Bill the royalty owners will be receiving between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000 not contemplated by Sir Wilfrid Greene's Committee, and £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 out of public funds will go to the royalty owners rather than to the Commission when, in accordance with the normal practice, the royalty owners might expect to receive, and should receive, interest at the rate of 3 per cent. by an adaptation of the machinery which the Government themselves have set out in paragraph 19 of the Third Schedule.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 126; Noes, 215.

Division No. 52.] AYES. [10.8 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Garro Jones, G. M. McEntee, V. La T.
Adamson, W. M. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Mainwaring, W. H.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Mander, G. le M.
Ammon, C. G. Grenfell, D. R. Mathers, G.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Masser, F.
Banfield, J. W. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Milner, Major J.
Barnes, A. J. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Montague, F.
Barr, J. Groves, T. E. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Batey, J. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Muff, G.
Bellenger, F. J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Bevan, A. Hardie, Agnes Naylor, T. E.
Broad, F. A. Harris, Sir P. A. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Bromfield, W. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Oliver, G. H.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Owen, Major G.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Paling, W.
Burke, W. A. Hicks, E. G. Parker, J.
Cape, T. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Cassells, T. Holdsworth, H. Price, M. P.
Chater, D. Hollins, A. Quibell, D. J. K.
Cluse, W. S. Jagger, J. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Cove, W. G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Ridley, G.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Riley, B.
Daggar, G. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Ritson, J.
Dalton, H. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Kelly, W. T. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Kirby, B. V. Salter, Sir J. Arthur (Oxford U.)
Day, H. Kirkwood, D. Seely, Sir H. M.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lathan, G. Sexton, T. M.
Ede, J. C. Lawson, J. J. Shinwell, E.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Leach, W. Short, A.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Lee, F. Silkin, L.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Leonard, W. Silverman, S. S.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Leslie, J. R. Simpson, F. B.
Foot, D. M. Logan, D. G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Frankel, D. Lunn, W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Gardner, B. W. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Smith, T. (Normanton)
Sorensen, R. W. Watkins, F. C. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng) Watson, W. McL. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) White, H. Graham Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Wilkinson, Ellen
Tinker, J. J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Walkden, A. G. Williams, T. (Don Valley) Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Anderson.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Emrys-Evans, P. V. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Fildes, Sir H. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.
Apsley, Lord Fleming, E. L. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Asks, Sir R. W. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Peake, O.
Assheton, R. Fyfe, D. P. M. Peat, C. U.
Atholl, Duchess of Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Perkins, W. R. D.
Blaillie, Sir A. W. M. Gluckstein, L. H. Peters, Dr. S. J.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Gower, Sir R. V. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Procter, Major H. A.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Grant-Ferris, R. Radford, E. A.
Bernays, R. H. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Boulton, W. W. Gridley, Sir A. B. Ramsbotham, H.
Boyce, H. Leslie Grimston, R. V. Rayner, Major R. H.
Bracken, B. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Brass, Sir W. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Hambro, A. V. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Bull, B. B. Hannah, I. C. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Burghley, Lord Harbord, A. Rowlands, G.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Butler, R. A. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Cartland, J. R. H. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Cary, R. A. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan. Salmon, Sir I.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Salt, E. W.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Samuel, M. R. A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Holmes, J. S. Savery, Sir Servington
Channon, H. Hopkinson, A. Scott, Lord William
Christie, J. A. Horsbrugh, Florence Selley, H. R.
Clarke, F. E. (Dartford) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Hume, Sir G. H. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Hunter, T. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Colfox, Major W. P. Hutchinson, G. C. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Spens, W. P.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cox, H. B. Trevor Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Cranborne, Viscount Kimball, L. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Craven-Ellis, W. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M F.
Crooke, J. S. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Tate, Mavis C.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Lewis, O. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Liddall, W. S. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Cross, R. H. Lipson, D. L. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Crossley, A. C. Little, Sir E. Graham. Wakefield, W. W.
Culverwell, C. T. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Davidson, Viscountess Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Dawson, Sir P. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Warrender, Sir V.
De la Bère, R. McKie, J. H. Wells, S. R.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Denville, Alfred Magnay, T. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Maitland, A. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Drewe, C. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Markham, S. F. Wise, A. R.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Duggan, H. J. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Duncan, J. A. L. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Wragg, H.
Dunglass, Lord Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Eastwood, J. F. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Ellis, Sir G. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Captain Waterhouse and Mr. Furness.
Emery, J. F. Munro, P.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Lee

I beg to move, in page 6, line 30, at the end, to insert: and the compensation payable in respect of all subsidiary coal hereditaments shall be on the basis of ten years' purchase of the ascertained annual value. The arguments adduced by the last two speakers on the previous Amendment with regard to paragraph 19 of the Third Schedule were passed over very coolly, and perhaps at a later stage we may have a further explanation concerning them. This Amendment deals with subsidiary coal hereditaments. A global figure is mentioned as the maximum amount for the principal coal hereditaments. With regard to the subsidiary hereditaments, however, we have an estimate of £10,000,000 which is to cover not only those hereditaments but also the cost of registration and valuation as well as interest and other items. We have no idea of how the value of the subsidiary hereditaments is to be ascertained.

I suggest that as we have taken a basis of 15 years' purchase in the case of the principal hereditaments, we should take a basis of 10 years' purchase for the subsidiary hereditaments. I should like to know whether the Government have any basis upon which they are going to fix a figure for subsidiary hereditaments. Is the sum of £10,000,000 merely an estimate which may be increased later? If the £10,000,000 is to cover all the items mentioned, one can readily understand how it may rise to a much larger figure. I do not know whether the Government have formed any estimate as to the amount which have to be met in respect of subsidiary hereditaments. There is nothing in the Bill to guide us or to show how it is proposed to arrive at a figure, and, as I say, it may be that the sum of £10,000,000 will not cover it. We ought to know whether this is merely an estimate or the maximum sum which is to be spent upon these subsidiary hereditaments together with the registration and other costs mentioned.

10.19 p.m.

Mr. David Adams

I support this Amendment with a feeling of considerable confidence that the Government will be prepared to accept it. In the Debate on an earlier Amendment to-day we discussed the issue between 10 years' purchase or 15 years' purchase in the case of the principal hereditaments, and the Government have used their majority to carry their proposition that 15 years' purchase is the appropriate figure. Coming to an inferior kind of coal, we shall be justified in suggesting that the period of purchase should be restricted to 10 years. The House ought clearly to know that the £10,000,000 figure which is mentioned in addition to the £66,000,000 is not any fixed amount. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Second Reading made the position very clear, and left it to the House to come to a determination as to whether 10 or 15 or any other period of years would be appropriate in the circumstances. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, in response to a question: Then the hon. Gentleman asked me a question about the extra £10,000,000. There is really no mystery about that. It is contained in the Bill. The £10,000,000 is not an agreed figure of any sort or kind. What has happened is that there are a number of figures which were not, in fact, included in the subject-matter of the award made by the Greene Tribunal. They were never intended to be so included. An important matter, for example, is compensation in respect of subsidiary coal hereditaments, such as iron, stone and so forth. It must go in many cases with the coal. It has got to be the subject of a proper determination."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1937; col. 1084, Vol. 329.] So that the matter is quite specifically left open for the House. Now surely, if 15 years is being asked for clean, straight coal at the present moment, or for coal which is known to be available within a reasonable period, then for this subsidiary coal which is mixed with iron ore, or may be exclusively iron ore, or stone, or what in county Durham is known as clay or marl, surely a reasonable figure cannot be the same figure of 15 years' purchase. Then we were very carefully advised by the coalowners on the Second Reading. For instance, the hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Sir H. Seely) said that coal-mining was not a lucrative business. That was his general statement, and he mentioned that in 1890 in his particular district a borehole was sunk at a cost of between £10,000 and £12,000. That money was lost, and nothing was returned from it, and he said he had paid two sets of death duties upon that property. If that be so, surely the Government are going to be put in an invidious position if we are to pay the whole figure that is suggested in the Bill, namely, 15 years' purchase.

Therefore, it is plain from the statement which has been made by the coalowners themselves in this House, that in certain circumstances it is almost possible that much of this subsidiary coal will not be worked at all by the Government, and surely the Government ought to protect the industry itself by agreeing to a less figure and a less purchase price than that suggested at the moment in the Bill, namely, 15 years. It is for these reasons, which are business reasons and sound, equitable, and just, that the Government ought to accept the proposition suggested in this Amendment.

10.25 p.m.

Sir S. Cripps

I want to put before the Committee a slightly different aspect of this Amendment. The Committee will appreciate that, so far as the principal coal hereditaments are concerned, there is a limiting sum. It can be divided as the royalty owners like among themselves. It is no concern of the Commission or the Government how it is divided, because it cannot be more than £66,500,000. Then we come to the question of the subsidiary coal hereditaments, that is, minerals or substances other than bituminous coal, cannel coal or anthracite, and property and rights annexed to any such minerals. This can be assessed for compensation at any sum, without limit whatever. There is nothing in the Bill, in a case, for instance, where one of these minerals is in association with coal, to stop the royalty owner who thinks he has got a raw deal over his coal putting in as extravagant a claim as he likes. One has to consider next how that claim is to be decided between the Commission and the owner of the subsidiary coal hereditament. When one turns to the Third Schedule of the Bill, one finds that the valuation boards which are set up for the purpose of assessing the share of the sum paid by virtue of the compensation for the principal coal hereditaments are also to assess the value of the subsidiary coal hereditaments. These valuation boards have a curious constitution. They consist almost entirely of those who at the date are engaged in the management of the mineral assets in the regions. They are the very people who will be putting forward the claims. In other words, we are setting up a tribunal of the people who will be the claimants with an unlimited power to give them as much as they like. That, I think, is perhaps the most extraordinary provision that has ever appeared in any Act of Parliament.

The appeal from them is to a referee who must also be a mineral agent, or in all probability will be a mineral agent He will not be a mineral agent concerned in the claim, but, on the well-known principle, "I will scratch your back if you scratch mine," these agents, hearing one another's claims, are not likely to be over parsimonious in the sums which they allow for the subsidiary coal hereditaments. I imagine that this method of assessing compensation for the subsidiary hereditaments is really an oversight. That is why we have introduced in the Amendment a suggestion that, if we are to have anything like this method of arriving at the compensation for subsidiary coal hereditaments, we must put in the Bill a maximum sum beyond which they cannot go in these arbitrations. Whether it is secured in that way or by introducing some different and fresh system of arbitration by impartial persons does not perhaps matter so much, but we are convinced that some method must be introduced by which the Commission and the public can be protected against extravagant claims being allowed by the valuation boards.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Stanley

The intention, if not the direct effect, of this Amendment is to fix for the subsidiary coal hereditaments some kind of global sum in the same way as has been fixed for the principal coal hereditaments, and I confess that had it been practicable and possible to do so it would, I think, in principle, have been desirable. But hon. Members will, on reflection, realise that the differences between these two valuations are such that the method which we have adopted for one becomes quite impracticable for the other. In the first place, the whole method of the valuation of the principal coal hereditaments depended on being able to agree upon an annual sum which represented their value and would, when the number of years' purchase had been found, give the global sum. We had sufficient information to enable us to do that in the case of the principal coal hereditaments, but no such information is in existence with regard to the subsidiary hereditaments, and it would not be possible to arrive at any annual figure on which a number of years' purchase could be based.

The second thing to remember is that, whereas with the principal coal hereditaments we are taking over not only coal which is being worked, but all coal, even if unproved, in the case of the subsidiary hereditaments all that we are taking over is those which are actually now included in leases, and even those we can disclaim. Therefore, the question whether the particular asset is wasting and how much life remains to it becomes extremely important, much more important than when we were dealing with the principal hereditament, where we were taking over all the unproved coal, which makes almost a perpetuity of the asset.

I confess that there will probably be a number of instances where, to give to the associated minerals a price fixed upon 10 years' purchase, would provide a bargain much too favourable to the owners of those minerals. It might be that the lease in which they were comprised had only a year or two to run, it might be that the minerals were almost worked out, and yet we should be compelled to give a 10 years' purchase price. There is, I think, no satisfactory method, except that of the individual valuation of such subsidiary hereditaments as the Commission desire to take over, because we must remember that they have the power, even though these associated minerals may be comprised in a lease, to disclaim them if they think that it is no advantage to them to have them. Therefore, I think there is no possible method of arriving at proper compensation for these subsidiary hereditaments other than that of individual valuation of those which are to be taken over, and that is the method adopted by the Government. I cannot give any accurate forecast of the sum to which such compensation is likely to amount, but I can tell hon. Members that from what knowledge we have from the surveys which we have been able to make it would appear that the amount involved will be extremely small.

I come now to the very important point raised by the hon. and learned Gentle-

man the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). He referred to this matter on Second Reading, and I was struck at the time by the point that he made. I have looked into it since, and I agree that the method which we have adopted for the valuation of the principal coal hereditaments which really consists only of splitting up among people an amount which is already agreed, is a method which, although for that particular purpose the best and the quickest, is not so well adapted to deal with the valuation of individual properties, the global sum not having been agreed. Therefore, when we come to the Third Schedule, I shall be prepared to put down an Amendment which should safeguard the position of the Government and the Commission, will ensure that the valuation of such of these subsidiary hereditaments as they wish to be taken over will be on a proper basis, and will give no loophole for the admission of those inflated values to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred. I think that hon. Members will agree that the method of individual valuation is the best and that, with the safeguard which I will then propose, there will be no danger that they will be foisted upon the Commission at exorbitant prices.

10.36 p.m.

Sir. S. Cripps

In view of the undertaking which the right hon. Gentleman has given that he will deal with this question of the value of these subsidiary hereditaments, I am sure that my hon. Friend will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.

Mr. Lee

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 226; Noes, 112.

Division No. 53.] AYES. [10.37 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Brass, Sir W.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Briscoe, Capt. R. G.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Barrie, Sir C. C. Brocklebank, Sir Edmund
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)
Asks, Sir R. W. Birchall, Sir J. D. Bull, B. B.
Assheton, R. Boulton, W. W. Burghley, Lord
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Boyce, H. Leslie Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.
Atholl, Duchess of Bracken, B. Butler, R. A.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Braithwaite, Major A. N. Cartland, J. R. H.
Cary, R. A. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Guinness, T. L. E. B. Procter, Major H. A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Gunston, Capt. D. W. Radford, E. A.
Channon, H. Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Christie, J. A. Hambro, A. V. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Clarke, F. E. (Dartford) Hannah, I. C. Ramsbotham, H.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Harbord, A. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Clarry, Sir Reginald Harris, Sir P. A. Rayner, Major R. H.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Colfox, Major W. P. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Colman, N. C. D. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Ropner, Colonel L.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Holdsworth, H. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Holmes, J. S. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Cox, H. B. Trevor Horsbrugh, Florence Rowlands, G.
Cranborne, Viscount Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Craven-Ellis, W. Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hume, Sir G. H. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Crooke, J. S. Hunter, T. Salmon, Sir I.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hutchinson, G. C. Salt, E. W.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Samuel, M. R. A
Cross, R. H. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Savery, Sir Servington
Crossley, A. C. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Scott, Lord William
Culverwell, C. T. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Seely, Sir H. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Selley, H. R.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Dawson, Sir P. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
De la Bère, R. Kimball, L. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Denville, Alfred Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Drewe, C. Liddall, W. S. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Lipson, D. L. Spens, W. P.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Duggan, H. J. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Duncan, J. A. L. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Dunglass, Lord Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Stuart, Hon. J, (Moray and Nairn)
Eastwood, J. F. McKie, J. H. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Ellis, Sir G. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Tree, A. R. L. F.
Emery, J. F. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Magnay, T. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Maitland, A. Wakefield, W. W.
Errington, E. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Mander, G. le M. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Markham, S. F. Warrender, Sir V.
Fildes, Sir H. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Wells, S. R.
Fleming, E. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. White, H. Graham
Foot, D. M. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Furness, S. N. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Fyfe, D. P. M. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Ganzoni, Sir J. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Wise, A. R.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Munro, P. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Gluckstein, L. H. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Wragg, H.
Gower, Sir R. V. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Grant-Ferris, R. Palmer, G. E. H.
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Peake, O. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Peat, C. U. Captain Waterhouse and Major
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl sbro, W.) Perkins, W. R. D. Sir James Edmondson.
Grimston, R. V. Peters, Dr. S. J.
Adams, D. (Consett) Burke, W. A. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Cape, T. Ede, J. C.
Ammon, C. G. Cassells, T. Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Chater, D. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. G. R. Cluse, W. S. Frankel, D.
Banfield, J. W. Cove, W. G. Gardner, B. W.
Barnes, A. J. Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Garro Jones, G. M.
Barr, J. Daggar, G. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.
Batey, J. Dalton, H. Grenfell, D. R.
Bellenger, F. J. Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)
Bevan, A. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)
Broad, F. A. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Groves, T. E.
Bromfield, W. Day, H. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Dobbie, W. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)
Hardie, Agnes MacNeill Weir, L. Short, A.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Mainwaring, W. H. Silkin, L.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Messer, F. Silverman, S. S.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Milner, Major J. Simpson, F. B.
Hicks, E. G. Montague, F. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Hollins, A. Muff, G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Jagger, J. Nathan, Colonel H. L. Sorensen, R. W.
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Naylor, T. E. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Noel-Baker, P. J. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Kelly, W. T. Oliver, G. H. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Paling, W. Tinker, J. J.
Kirby, B. V. Parker, J. Walkden, A. G.
Kirkwood, D. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Watkins, F. C.
Lathan, G. Price, M. P. Watson, W. McL.
Lawson, J. J. Quibell, D. J. K. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Leach, W. Richards, R. (Wrexham) Wilkinson, Ellen
Lee, F. Ridley, G. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Leonard, W. Riley, B. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Leslie, J. R. Ritson, J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Logan, D. G. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Lunn, W. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Macdonald, G. (Ince) Sexton, T. M.
McEntee, V. La T. Shinwell, E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Ordered, That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Captain Margesson.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.