HC Deb 20 July 1937 vol 326 cc2100-47

10.4 p.m.

Mr. Batey

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, after "therewith," to insert: including particulars of wayleaves surface and underground. We are anxious to secure that the register should not only contain the particulars of ownership of coal, but also particulars of ownership in regard to wayleaves both on the surface and underground. When the Bill was before the House for Second Reading, it appeared as though it was directed only to the registration of owners of coal. On the front page of the Bill which contains the Financial Memorandum it says: The object of this Bill is to enable the Board of Trade to register particulars of the present ownership of coal. I believe that there must have been a mistake in the drafting of the Bill in limiting it merely to the registration of the ownership of coal because for many years miners have not only had a grievance against royalty rents and have argued and agitated for the abolition of royalty rents, but they have also coupled with royalty rents wayleaves. We believe that wayleaves ought to be abolished just as royalty rents ought to be abolished. Therefore, seeing that the Bill merely provides for a register of the owners of coal, we want it to be provided that the register shall also include the owners of wayleaves, on the surface and underground. I should like to give a typical case so that the Committee will see how urgent is this matter. Two years ago in the county of Durham a coal company went before the Railway and Canal Commission with a view to getting relief from wayleave rents. The coal trade was not doing as well then as now, and the coal company found the pressure of the high rents for the wayleaves which they had to pay so severe that they decided to go before the Railway and Canal Commission to seek relief from those rents. I cannot do better than read a statement sent out by the company after the case had ended: Application by the Consett Iron Company, Limited, before the Railway and Canal Commission for relief in the matter of rents for wayleaves for use of surface lands used as a railway between (a) the Iron Company's collieries and its loading place on the River Tyne, (b) between its collieries and its coke ovens and bye-product plant at Derwenthaugh, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and (c) between its collieries and access to the North Eastern Railway. The short facts set out in the application show that:

  1. (1) The railway was made by the Iron Company and is maintained and worked by it.
  2. (2) There is no other way to get the coal from its collieries except by means of way-leave lands.
  3. (3) The lands belonging to the lessors are about 27 acres, and are worth at a full letting value, plus allowances for disturbance, less than £5 per acre per annum.
  4. (4) The Iron Company endeavoured to buy the lands and offered a high price, but the lessors refused to sell.
  5. (5) The company paid during the period from 1st January, 1890, to 31st December, 1931, to one lessor a total of £97,872, and to the other lessor for the same period, £66,601, making together a total of £164,473. This, divided by 27 acres"
which was the amount of land they were using— was a total of £6,092 per acre, without interest. Although the letting value of the land was about £5 an acre it cost the coal company £6,092 per acre. The company went on to say: So long as the collieries continue working these payments, at the present time about £6,000 per annum, would have to be paid unless the relief sought for could be obtained. The company went before the Railway and Canal Commission and the Commissioners granted relief, ordering that the rent to be paid in future should be £10 per acre per annum, amounting for the 27 acres to £270 per annum, and an order to that effect was issued. The lessors appealed to the Court of Appeal and by a majority the Court of Appeal was against the Railway and Canal Commissioners, with the result that the coal company has been doomed to continue to pay at the higher rate.

Miners are affected by a question like this because these rents have to come out of miners' wages. Before there is any opportunity of the miners getting any wages these rents for wayleaves have to be paid. This is a typical case of many others that could be quoted, and we contend that these excessive rents for way-leaves whether on the surface or underground should be done away with. The company is in the hands of the lessors and they must pay the rent or close the colliery. With regard to wayleaves underground a colliery may be working one piece of coal and they may have to bring it over somebody else's coal in order to get it to the surface. In doing so those who own the second parcel of coal insist upon a wayleave being paid for the carrying of the coal from where it is being worked to the pit shaft.

Miners have conducted a long agitation for the abolition of royalties, believing that royalties were wrong and that they did an injury to the miners, and just as we have conducted that campaign for the abolition of royalty rents we think that wayleaves also should be abolished. Therefore, I ask the Committee to accept the Amendment so that it can be provided in the Bill that the register when completed should be a register not only of the owners of coal but also the owners of way-leaves, so that we may have the way-leaves abolished along with the royalty rents.

10.13 p.m.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I desire to support the Amendment, and I hope the Minister will accept it. This is a machinery Bill designed to acquire information in order to make easier later on the passage of another Bill, which we cannot anticipate and discuss to-night. I want to support what has been said by my hon. Friend. Those of us who have spent our lives in this industry know, speaking for both sides, that the rents and wayleaves are often even more onerous and aggravating than the problem of the royalty owners. It is rather difficult to find out what the wayleaves and rents represent. I have been making a calculation. In a statement to the tribunal, which was accepted on both sides, it transpired that the average annual rents paid in royalties in this country was £4,430,000. I assume that that figure excludes the amount paid in wayleaves and rents. Therefore, I have calculated that the average amount paid in the total for royalties and way-leaves in the last 15 years is not less than £5,655,000. If we deduct from that the £4,430,000 paid in royalties it leaves £1,225,000 which is the amount paid in wayleaves and rents in the coal industry. We who are interested in the men's side of the industry have asked for a measure of this kind for a long time. All these items go on production costs against the wages of the men, and it is not a matter of theoretical nationalisation but of daily bread for the people we represent. Therefore, we want this information to be collected. My own view is that any attempt to put in force any scheme for the nationalisation of royalties, if it leads to changes in the industry, may be rendered nugatory by these very way-leaves. Unless power is taken now it will be impossible to deal with this problem. Merely to make coal itself national property and to leave alone all these things which surround coal, the wayleaves underground and the wayleaves on the surface, is merely to deal with one half of the problem. For these reasons I support the Amendment and hope it will be accepted by the Minister.

10.18 p.m.

Mr. Spens

I do not rise to speak as to the desirability or not of putting in wayleaves either on the surface or underground, but to ask whether or not that question is not already adequately covered by the provisions of the Bill. The Bill says that in addition to the proprietory interests in coal there shall also be registered: the property and rights which are held in association with such coal and mines or any of them and in which the holding subsists. A wayleave is a right of way, either above ground or under ground, and it is obviously a property or right which is held in association with coal where that right of way is enjoyed and is attached to the ownership of coal. Secondly, hon. Members will also see that the register will include the servitudes, restrictive covenants and other matters subject to which the coal hereditaments in which the holding subsists or any of them are or is held. Therefore, whether they hold coal subject to a right of way belonging to some other coalowner they will have to register that adverse right of way. I suggest that the one exception to rights of way which are enjoyed not in respect of holdings of coal but rights of way which are enjoyed in respect of some surface rights which do not come into this Bill, is the only exception to the rights of way which hon. Members opposite suggest ought to be registered. Therefore, I suggest that the Amendment is not really required, and if we add to the register every single right of way enjoyed by the owners of coal in respect of coal property you are going to acid a great number of details which delay registration in many cases, and I doubt whether they would be of any great value for the purposes of the next Bill.

10.19 p.m.

The Secretary for Mines (Captain Crookshank)

I am fortified in what I was going to say by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens), because he has made the position much clearer than I can. The purpose of the Amendment is already covered by the requirements of the register now and it is therefore redundant. It is not a desirable thing in a general drafting sense to put them in because if you make a specific reference to one example you give the appearance of limiting the scope of the Clause. On these grounds the Amendment is unnecessary, and I hope the Committee will not accept it.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

I wonder whether the Minister, before giving his reply, considered the possible danger in cases such as that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey). The words: The property and rights which are held in association with such coal and mines give one the easy impression of embracing these things, but in different parts of the country, where the distances are rather long, a wayleave may be operated as an easement or other right of way over land a considerable distance from the pit. I am not sure whether that is satisfactorily covered by the Bill as it stands.

10.21 p.m.

Sir Hugh Seely

I am not entirely satisfied by the Minister's statement. The hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) said that the drawback of putting in the words of the Amendment is that it would take time and would add to the difficulties of registration. Speaking as a royalty owner and a coalowner, I consider that this is a very serious matter. If this registration is to be of any value, it must cover all the points. The hon. and learned Member for Ashford gave as a reason for not accepting the Amendment the fact that it would complicate the registration and take time, but surely that is not a sufficient reason. Anybody who knows anything about this registration knows that the question of wayleaves is most important. It is not clear from the Bill that the wayleaves are included. If the Amendment were accepted, it would be far more clear that the question of wayleaves was being fully dealt with.

10.22 p.m.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I put a concrete case to the Minister with a view to finding out whether what we have in mind is dealt with? In the area from which I come, where anthracite is very largely the coal that is worked, there are cases where a slant is driven into barren ground right into the mountain until eventually coal is reached. The owner of the land at the mouth of the slant is not the same person as the owner of the coal. There is a lease by which the owner has the right to work the coal and pay a royalty, and there is also a wayleave paid for the adit or level. Would that adit or level come under the term: Certain property and rights held in association therewith"? There is also the case referred to by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey). I would like to have an assurance from the Minister as to whether two cases of that sort are covered.

10.24 p.m.

Sir Stafford Cripps

I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has really dealt with this matter quite satisfactorily. He seemed to be in danger of doing what I am afraid the House often does, that is to say, accepting an assurance that something will be interpreted as we wish it to be interpreted, which assurance leads afterwards to endless litigation. The courts might eventually find that the assurance was not accurately given, not because the hon. and gallant Gentleman or his Department wanted to give an inaccurate assurance, but because the courts happened to take a different view. Every hon. and learned Member knows that that sort of thing has constantly happened. Surely this is a case where it is desirable—and apparently everybody is agreed upon that—that these things should be included, and it cannot possibly pass the wit of the draftsmen to make it abundantly and indisputably clear that they are included. It is that for which I understand my hon. Friends are asking. It is clear from what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) said that, in his view, the addition of these words would add further obligations as regards registration. Then his argument that this will only delay the registration is a very poor one—

Mr. Spens

A right of way is an easement and it is therefore attached to the dominant tenement and if the dominant tenement is the coal or the mine then every way-leave enjoyed as a right in connection with that coal, will be on the register. Similarly if the coal mine is subject to an adverse right of way then that would be on the register. But it is just conceivable that there might be a right of way, attached not to the coal which is being worked but to a piece of the surface. If those odd rights-of-way were required to be put on the register in every case it would, in my respectful submission, seriously delay registration. I do not believe that they have any substantial importance especially when you have the words already in the Bill.

Sir S. Cripps

I was just about to explain, though less lucidly than the hon. and learned Gentleman has done, what this Clause means. I agree with him that it deals with cases where you have associated with the ownership of coal a right to pass over other land in the same lease. But the mere fact that the lessee may be the same person in two cases, with two different lessors, does not necessarily associate the right with the coal or with the mine. It is in those cases, and there are many of them, where there is some intervening owner of land who has no interest in the coal but through whose land it is necessary to pass either underground or overground, in order to market the coal or bring it to the surface, that you will not get registration under this Measure, and those are the cases about which my hon. Friends are speaking.

Mr. Spens

You can attach to the ownership of coal and the right of working coal any right-of-way which is convenient in connection with the working of the coal. It is entirely a question of conveyancing and as regards the intermediate land if the owner of the coal acquires a right-of-way and attaches it so as to associate it with the coal which he owns and is working, then that will be a wayleave which is enjoyed as a right in connection with the coal.

Sir S. Cripps

I am not suggesting that you cannot so associate it. What I am suggesting is that there are many cases where it is not associated.

Mr. Spens

Very few.

Sir S. Cripps

Then I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman only disagrees with me in regard to the number of cases?

Mr. Spens

Owing to bad conveyancing there may be exceptional cases.

Sir S. Cripps

If there is only an occasional case it will not delay the registration. On the other hand, there may be cases of great importance, although they are exceptions. I do not agree that they are exceptions. I think there are probably many of such cases but that would be discovered if we put in such an Amendment as this. I ask the Government to consider this Amendment. Everybody is agreed that it is desirable that these things should be recorded and clearly there is some doubt here. We are not making difficulties for the sake of making difficulties but because we believe there is a doubt and we do not want to have the courts hereafter saying that this is the sort of sloppy legislation which goes through Parliament nowadays. Let us be certain about it and if we mean it, let us say it without doubt or hesitation. I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman in these circumstances at least to tell us that these words or some words will be inserted to put this matter beyond all doubt.

10.30 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

As this discussion has shown, there are difficult questions involved, and I need not say that my right hon. Friend and my hon. and gallant Friend welcome any assistance they can get. It is to be noted that this Amendment seeks merely to include certain specific matters as matters to be covered by the general words "held in association with." In our view at present, though, of course, we will consider what has been said, those general words, "held in association with," are the best words at any rate that we have so far been able to think of, and I do not think they are restricted as a matter of construction in the way that the hon. and learned Gentleman has just suggested. I would ask him to look at Subsection (4, e) , which gives a certain elasticity in allowing or empowering the Board of Trade, when asking for particulars, to get particulars of such other matters, if any, relating to the coal hereditaments in which the holding subsists, or to the title thereto, as appears to the Board to be material for the purpose of rendering the information as to proprietary interests recorded in the register complete. I have not the slightest doubt at the moment, though I will, of course, consider what has been said, that wayleaves are covered in so far as they are held in association with the property in the coal, and I think that the paragraph to which I have referred is relevant, in that it gives the Board of Trade a certain elasticity in saying what are the particulars necessary in order to complete what is required for the register, namely, coal and the rights held in association with it. The objection which I feel to this Amendment, or to enumerating specific rights as included under the general words, "held in association with," is that, if you enumerate specific sorts of rights, you tend to raise the implication that other rights, just as important, may be excluded. We think that the words which we have in the Clause, coupled with the power which the Board of Trade has to specify the particulars which they require, are sufficient for making the register complete in the sense in which everyone desires that it should be complete. For the reasons which I have given, we could not agree to accept an Amendment on these lines, which picks out certain specific rights and makes specific reference to them, but, as I said, this is a difficult matter. On this Amendment, at any rate, we all have the same aim, and we will consider carefully what has been said.

10.34 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

As often happens, the doubts which one legitimately holds are very often only increased by the sincere efforts of the Government Front Bench to point out why they should not exist, and I would like to say three things in answer to what the learned Attorney-General has just said. First, with regard to Clause 1, Sub-section (4, e), surely that is quite useless and almost misleading on this point. What the hon. Members for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) and Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) want is not that way-leaves should appear as material information to put in the register about some other proprietary interests. What they want is that these wayleaves shall be registered proprietary interests. As I understand paragraph (e), it cannot enable the Board of Trade to add one jot of ownership to the register. Another thing that the Attorney-General said was that it is dangerous to enumerate specific rights lest by using specific words you narrow down the whole thing. I agree, but it is the duty of the Government and their draftsmen to see that the Bill covers the specific rights which it is intended to cover, and they must use proper language to cover them. If it does not, the Government ought before the Report stage to see that it does.

It struck me when my hon. and learned Friends were discussing the matter across the Floor of the House that there is a simple illustration of the thing which would be rightly called a wayleave, but which would not be called a wayleave by the Bill as it stands. Take a colliery company which has a lease of its coal seams from the Duke of X. The land of the Marquess of Y lies between two of the seams rented from the Duke of X, and they have to lease from the Marquess of Y at an exorbitant rent the right to pass their coal from one of the seams to the shaft. That wayleave is only associated with the coal in the very loose sense that if you were not getting coal you would not want it. The Marquess of Y quite likely owns no more coal than I do, and perhaps less if his cellar happens to be smaller than mine. Here we have something that clearly ought to be covered by this Bill.

10.38 p.m.

Mr. J. Griffiths

We want this included because when the major Bill comes forward we want to discuss wayleaves. I gather that the figure submitted to the tribunal as the annual sum payable was £4,430,000, but the actual sum that has been paid is £5,655,000. Am I to understand that it is not proposed in the major Bill, and, therefore, it is not proposed in the register, to deal with the question of wayleaves and rent? There have been, I gather, some formal consultations with the people employed in the industry. Am I right in stating that both sides have urged on the Government that if the job is to be done, it should be done as one job completely?

10.39 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

A statement was made in the House on the whole question on 9th March. The figure which the hon. Gentleman quoted was taken out of the Treasury Minute when the tribunal was established. It was agreed between the representatives of the royalty owners and the Government as the average net annual income derived from such property during the seven years 1928–34. That was the basis of the discussion. Being an average figure, it is not the figure for any one year. What the tribunal was asked to determine does include underground way-leaves.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The £4,430,000 includes all the money paid from royalties for coal, rents and wayleaves, underground and on the surface?

Captain Crookshank

I understand that the figure covered all underground rights connected with the working of coal.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 122; Noes, 244

Division No. 299.] AYES. [10.40 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Oliver, G. H.
Adams, D. (Consett) Groves, T. E. Paling, W.
Adamson, W. M. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Parker, J.
Ammon, C. G. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Parkinson, J. A.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Harris, Sir P. A. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Price, M. P.
Banfield, J. W. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Pritt, D. N.
Barnes, A. J. Henderson,. J. (Ardwick) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Barr, J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Riley, B.
Batey, J. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ritson, J.
Bellenger, F. J. Holdsworth, H. Roberts, H. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Hollins, A. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Broad, F. A. Hopkin, D. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Jagger, J. Seely, Sir H. M.
Buchanan, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Sexton, T. M.
Burke, W. A. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Shinwell, E.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Silkin, L.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Silverman, S. S.
Cove, W. G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Simpson, F. B.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Daggar, G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Dalton, H. Kirby, B. V. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Sorensen, R. W.
Day, H. Lathan, G. Stephen, C.
Dobbie, W. Lawson, J. J. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lee, F. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Ede, J. C. Leslie, J. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Logan, D. G. Thurtle, E.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Lunn, W. Tinker, J. J.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Viant, S. P.
Foot, D. M. McEntee, V. La T. Walkden, A. G.
Frankel, D. McGhee, H. G. Watson, W. McL.
Gallacher, W. MacLaren, A. Westwood, J.
Gardner, B. W. Maclean, N. White, H. Graham
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mainwaring, W. H. Wilkinson, Ellen
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Mander, G. le M. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Maxton, J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Grenfell, D. R. Muff, G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Naylor, T. E. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cary, R. A.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Bernays, R. H. Castlereagh, Viscount
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Bird, Sir R. B. Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Bossom, A. C. Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Boulton, W. W. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)
Apsley, Lord Bower, Comdr. R. T. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)
Aske, Sir R. W. Boyce, H. Leslie Channon, H.
Assheton, R. Brass, Sir W. Christie, J. A.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Conant, Captain R. J. E.
Atholl, Duchess of Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)
Balniel, Lord Bull, B. B. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Burghley, Lord Courthope, Cot. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Butcher, H. W. Cox, H. B. T.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T P. H. Cartland, J. R. H. Craven-Ellis, W.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Carver, Major W. H. Critchley, A.
Crooke, J. S. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W H. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Joel, D. J. B. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Cross, R. H. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Remer, J. R.
Crossley, A. C. Keeling, E. H. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Crowder, J. F. E. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Culverwell, C. T. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Ropner, Colonel L.
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
De Chair, S. S. Kimball, L. Rowlands, G.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lamb,Sir J. Q. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Denville, Alfred Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Dodd, J. S. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Doland, G. F. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Salmon, Sir I.
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Salt, E. W.
Drewe, C. Lewis, O. Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Liddall, W. S. Scott, Lord William
Durglass, Lord Lipson, D. L. Selley, H. R.
Eastwood, J. F. Little, Sir E. Graham- Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Eckersley, P. T. Lloyd, G. W. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Loftus, P. C. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Ellis, Sir G. Lyons, A. M. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Mebane, W. (Huddersfield) Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Elmley, Viscount MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Emery, J. F. McCorquodale, M. S. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Errington, E. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Erskine-Hill, A. G. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Everard, W. L. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Fildes, Sir H. Macquisten, F. A. Spens, W. P.
Findlay, Sir E. Magnay, T. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)
Fleming, E. L. Maitland, A. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, [...])
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Storey, S.
Furness, S. N. Manningham-Butler, Sir M Strickland, Captain W. F.
Fyfe, D. P. M. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Ganzoni, Sir J. Markham, S. F. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Tate, Mavis C.
Gower, Sir R. V. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Grant-Ferris, R. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Thomas, J. P. L.
Granville, E. L. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Titchfield, Marquess of
Grigg, Sir E. W. M Moreing, A. C. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Grimston, R. V. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Turton, R. H.
Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Wakefield, W. W.
Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Guinness, T. L. E. B. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Nicholson, G. (Farnnam) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Guy, J. C. M. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Warrender, Sir V.
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wayland, Sir W. A
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Peake, O. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Peat, C. U. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Hepworth, J. Perkins, W. R. D. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Petherick, M. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Higgs, W. F. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Holmes, J. S. Plugge, Capt. L. F. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Wragg, H.
Hopkinson, A. Porritt, R. W. Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L Radford, E. A. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Horsbrugh, Florence Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsbotham, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ramsden, Sir E. Major Sir George Davies and Mr.
Hulbert, N. J. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Munro.
Hunter, T. Rayner, Major R. H.

10.49 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, at the beginning, to insert: Every person having, or claiming to have, a proprietary interest which constitutes or is comprised in a holding shall make application to the Board for the registration in the register of particulars in respect of such holding within the period of six months beginning as to England on the date on which notice is first published in the London Gazette, and as to Scotland on the date on which notice is first published in the Edinburgh Gazette, of rules having been made by the Board with respect to the procedure for the making of applications, and. The three Amendments which follow upon the Order Paper, and which I understand are to be called, are all part of the same proposal. Two are purely consequential. If I may, I will speak on all four Amendments at this stage. They are designed simply to make the operation of registration possible, and for that purpose I think they are reasonably fit and apt words. They look a little clumsy, but they have been taken almost textually from the provisions in Schedule 2 of the Bill relating to putting forward applications for the registration of particulars. Whereas the Schedule in effect says that persons who are going to make applications shall make them like this, the words which I propose shall be inserted are that people having any such claims or interests shall as a matter of compulsion put them. All that I want to say is—not interrupting hon. Members opposite too much—that the matter should be made compulsory.

If anyone wants a precedent—and naturally a conservative lawyer like myself looks for a precedent—it is to be found absolutely in the Land Registration Act, 1925. It is amusing to discover that in the long tangled history of land registration in this country it was supported at an early date by those persons, sometimes called reactionary, the landowners, and opposed by the lawyers. It is now the law that every person owning land in this country can, if he happens to be in the right area, be compelled to register his own title to his own land. As far as precedent goes there is the precedent. So far as argument for the application of the precedent in this particular instance goes, surely every argument is in its favour. I attribute good faith to the Government in this matter.

I feel sure that they are really anxious that this Bill shall provide them with the maximum of machinery to assist in the carrying through of their subsequent Bill, and I am certain of two things: First, that if this Bill remains voluntary the more people who join in it the better the Government will be pleased, and, second, that if registration is not made compulsory under this Bill something very similar to registration will be made compulsory in the next Bill, save in respect of all those persons who do not want to be compensated in respect of their property. If the Government want as many people as possible to register under this Bill, why not tell them all to register? It is not much of a hardship to say to a man, "If you are deriving something out of the activities of other men by sitting still (which is the social function to be dealt with in the final Bill) you must bring it before the country and put it in a register," which register for the moment, although we have Amendments down about that, is a register which inquisitive people will not be allowed to go and read. I ask the Committee to say that it is eminently reasonable and the only sensible thing to make this compulsory instead of voluntary.

The only other part of my Amendments which I think requires some mention beyond what I have already said is the Amendment to Clause 1, page 1, line 17, at the end, to insert: No application for registration shall be received by the Board after the expiration of the said period of six months unless for special reasons in ens particular case the Board decides or the High Court direct that this should be done"— six months being a period of six months running from the date when notice of the rules is first published in the respective Gazettes and that being taken from the Government's own provisions in the Schedules. The Government's idea is this: After the rules have been published—you cannot expect anyone to do very much in the way of seeking registration before the rules are there—the Government give six months to everyone in which to register, and provide the modest sanction that, if they do not register, they will not get the costs of registration. We who want to make it compulsory seek to give them the same period of six months. At the end of the six months we cannot bar them from compensation, even conditionally, because this Bill has nothing to do with compensation, but we seek to say that at the end of the six months the opportunity for fulfilling the duty of registration will lapse, and that, if anyone comes along after that and wants to register, he must show the board that there is some special reason in his particular case, or, if the board do not think that there is, he must show the High Court. The suspicion will not have escaped hon. Members that if that were carried we should like to think that in the final Bill there would be a provision that the compensation pool should be divided only between those who have put themselvees on the register, but I only mention that in passing; it cannot be done by this Bill, or properly discussed upon it. In substance the four Amendments simply ask that the provision should be made compulsory.

10.58 p.m.

Sir H. Seely

Personally I think there is a little difficulty in this Amendment, but I am supporting it on the ground that, if there is to be registration, it is much more likely to be done if it is compulsory than if it is to be voluntary. Of course, compulsion will not bear hardly on any large royalty owner, such as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or anyone like that, but I know that there are many poor and small royalty owners who may find it rather difficult to register compulsorily within the six months. I am not putting that forward as a reason why registration should not be compulsory; I do not quite understand the advantage of its being voluntary, and personally, as there is to be registration, I should be in favour of the Amendment.

10.59 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

On the Second Reading it was made quite clear that our intention was to try to get as much of the work done on the problem of collecting information about the properties in coal as could possibly be achieved, in anticipation of the introduction and passage of the Bill to which allusion has been made throughout our Debates. The hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment is to the effect that steps to that end should be compulsory, but the really difficult question that arises is the question: What justification can there possibly be for trying to compel people to do something unless and until the purpose of the register is defined in the next Measure? Compulsory powers would have to be considered in the presence of far more details as to the general plan which Parliament will be discussing. We put it forward as a voluntary proposal in order that as many people as possible should register, and as much as possible of the work which is admitted to be necessary by the royalty owners themselves should be done in anticipation of the general scheme. They are quite prepared to undertake that work. That is one thing. To undertake work for some purpose which cannot be specified in the legislation is really not a practical proposition. After all, this register is not going to close in six months. The Amendment would have that effect. Under our proposal, under which voluntary action will be taken at the start, it will last considerably longer than that.

The hon. and learned Gentleman says we have only put in a modest sanction that they should only be paid if they register voluntarily. I cannot conceive that being described as a sanction. He admitted that what he would like is that after six months, if anyone had not registered, he must be barred from compensation, but he said the Clause could not do that because the Bill has nothing to do with compensation, and therefore he could not insert a sanction of the kind he would like. Ultimately, of course, I should envisage that Parliament will say that the road to receiving compensation will be the road of the register, because whoever is going to deal with the matter will obviously have to have accurate information about the property so that in the end it will be a complete register of the properties which will be paid for. When he tries to make it compulsory that every person claiming to have a proprietary interest shall make application to be registered, he is inviting a tremendous and unnecessary number of persons to register, because "every person claiming to have a proprietary interest" admits a whole variety of people who have some sort of interest in a particular property—wives, brothers, sisters, trustees and everyone else—and, as I read the Amendment, they will all have to register. The work will not merely be duplicated but multiplied to an enormous degree. Under the proposal of the Bill it is sufficient for one person who has a proprietary right to register the property. The rights of the others are dealt with otherwise, and only one lot of costs will be paid.

Mr. Pritt

I am willing to withdraw the words "claiming to have."

Captain Crookshank

That is a very handsome offer but not one that I am prepared to accept, because I do not concede that it is desirable at this stage to make registration in any way compulsory. Our whole object is to try to get on with the work now, and we feel sure that the best way of getting on with it, in anticipation of another Bill, is to do it on voluntary lines. You cannot expect people to do compulsorily something for a purpose which is undefined and it cannot be done without raising a great many issues far wider than it is reasonable to discuss in a machinery Bill of this kind and I am afraid, in spite of the pleasant way in which it was proposed, we cannot accept the Amendment.

11.5 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made confusion worse confounded by the statement he has made to the Committee. I should like to apply not the legal interpretation to either the Clause or the Amendment, but the common sense interpretation. What possible objection can the Government have to compulsory registration? I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that you cannot associate compulsory registration with an indefinite purpose. Although there is no Bill before the Committee at this stage which defines the ultimate purpose of the Government, it is clear that this Bill is a preparatory Measure designed to be dovetailed into another Measure which will appear at a subsequent stage. If we divorce the ultimate purpose of the Government from this Measure it will have no purpose at all, and I cannot understand why the Government should produce it. If there is no compulsory legislation, what is the purpose of registration? I understand that the Government desire, for purposes which, in the opinion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, are for the moment indefinite—they certainly are not clear to us, although we have a vague idea of the ultimate intentions of the Government—at least to obtain in this Measure all relative information in relation to coal royalties, way leaves and the like in order to prepare themselves for some future event. If the registration is incomplete, the information will be incomplete, and how can incomplete information on a matter of this kind be of any value to the Government? That is the essential point, and I cannot understand for the life of me why the hon. and gallant Gentleman refuses to make this provision compulsory.

This is a complete block, and the Government have no clear conception themselves as to the nature of the Measure which is to follow. I have a suspicion as to the kind of Bill that will be produced. It may be a hotchpotch Measure which is not designed to acquire royalties at one fell swoop, but merely to acquire royalties over a long period of years. It may be that that is in the mind of the Government, and for that reason they are not attempting compulsory registration at this stage. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that compensation will follow registration, and that is to say, that compensation arising from a subsequent Measure is in some way related to the question of registration. Clearly, if that is so, registration must be complete. How will it be possible for any royalty owner or anyone who has any right and interest in wayleaves, surface rights and the like to demand compensation at a later stage unless he is included in existing registration? How can the Government have some knowledge as to their rights unless these rights have been definitely registered?

It may be true that I am the only one in the Committee in this state of mind, but I am hopelessly confused as to the meaning to be derived from the hon. and gallant Gentleman's reference to compensation following registration. How are the two things to be related? I come to what I regard as the most substantial issue of all. If the ultimate Measure is to be of any value, clearly it must be based on a complete knowledge of the facts of the case. There must be full information made available to the Government in order to determine what the royalties are, where they are situated, what their value may be and all cognate information.

Without that information the Government will not be in a position to determine what form the ultimate Measure is to be. If this scheme is to fit into the main plan, it is far better to have compulsory registration than a partial and incomplete registration based on the voluntary method.

It may be—I offer this opinion with due reserve—that the voluntary system is suggested because the Government have some doubt whether the royalty owners will be prepared to come into the ultimate scheme. Objections have already been raised. Objections were stated in another place. It may be that these objections will become more pronounced in due course. It may be on account of that fear in the mind of the Government that they have not demanded compulsion. If that be so, what is the use of the Bill that is to follow, if there is to be a Bill? Taking not the legal view but the common sense view, it is far better to insist upon compulsion now than to have this partial and incomplete method, which in the end will have no value.

11.12 p.m.

Sir S. Cripps

Every time the Minister talks on this Bill it appears more extra- ordinary and fantastic. Presumably, the purpose of this Bill is in order to get a register of the interests in coal in this country. It so, it must obviously be the desire of the Government to be a complete register because an incomplete register is worse than useless; it is misleading. The Minister says that you cannot compel people to register unless they know what the ultimate purpose is. The Land Register has no ultimate purpose except that people should register their titles in a way which enables other people easily to ascertain what those titles are. In this case the other people are the Government. Even if you have a method of collecting statistics—agricultural statistics, Board of Trade statistics—unless you can compel the answering of these statistics they are perfectly valueless to you, because they are incomplete. I cannot understand if all that is required is that the royalty owners should have an opportunity of getting ready before the next Bill comes, why we should trouble to pass a Bill in order to help the royalty owners to get ready. They can get ready without a Bill of any sort; When one looks at the Bill, it is very extraordinary, because it is quite clear that by its terms the Bill takes up the point of view that it is necessary to register. If the Minister will look at the Schedule on the Order Paper, Clause 3 (a) he will find these words: So, however, that this provision shall not have effect as regards a holding"— This is the provision about not paying costs in respect of which application is made after the expiration of the said period in a case in which it appears to the Board that sufficient cause is shown for no application having been made within the said period: What is the "sufficient cause for no application having been made," when registration is voluntary. The sufficient cause is that the man did not want to register. It is in fact laying down a criterion on which the Board of Trade are to judge whether or not a man ought to register. tinder a voluntary system there can be no "ought" about it. In fact, the person who drafted the Clause has applied the sanction that if a person does not register within six months he will not be able to get the costs of his application or the costs of subsequent litigation. He is to be deprived of the benefit of the State paying for the costs of his regis- tration and subsequent litigation, and if he comes late the Board of Trade is to say whether he ought to have registered within six months or not. What criterion is going to be applied by the Board of Trade as to whether a man ought to have registered within six months if registration is not compulsory? If registration is compulsory it is perfectly easy to apply a criterion and to say whether a man has a good cause for not registering. That is what is proposed by the Amendment. There is power to excuse compulsory registration; the man may not have heard about it or may be out of the country; he may have a good excuse; but you cannot wed the idea of voluntary registration and the idea of penalising a man for not registering, which is done by the Bill as it is drafted. It is quite clear that the Committee must take the view, either that they do not care about registration, that it is not going to be of any value and that they do not want it, or the view that registration is essential in view of what we know is the intention as regards the coal mines; and if it is essential, then it must be complete, otherwise it is valueless. If people are going to be asked to register now, there is no reason why one lot should be asked to register now and another lot compelled to register later on. If anything is going to happen there must be compulsory registration at some stage, and I cannot see what benefit it is to anybody to make it voluntary, or what harm there is in making it compulsory. I hope the Committee will accept the Amendment. If it is to be satisfactory, it must be made compulsory.

11.19 p.m.

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

The speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has raised a rather larger issue than that raised by the Amendment. There appears to be still considerable misconception both as to the purpose and as to the utility of the Bill, and I should like to remind the Committee of the circumstances which have given rise to it. I do not disguise from the Committee that, if we were now at the early part of a Session instead of the closing days, it might have been unnecessary to introduce a Bill of this kind, and we might be discussing the major Bill, which would have included provi- visions very much of this nature. As was announced to the House by the Prime Minister a few weeks ago, it became clear, after the receipt of the award of the arbitral tribunal, that, owing to the exigencies of Parliamentary time, there would be no possibility of passing the major Bill into law before the end of this Session. I think the whole House recognised the force of that contention. That major Bill is bound to be, when it is introduced, a Measure creating considerable controversy and one which the House not unnaturally would wish to discuss at great length.

The Government were faced with this dilemma. If it was a fact that no legislation could be introduced until next Session, were all the intervening months to be completely wasted, or was there a way in which those months could be used to provide us with information which would be necessary afterwards, and which, therefore, to some extent, would shorten the time that we finally required? We believe that those intervening months can be usefully filled by compiling a register on the lines set out in this Bill, but at the same time we have to be careful not to do anything in this Bill which will compromise individual Members when it comes to a discussion of the major Bill and which will commit them in advance of full knowledge to particular points. I have made those remarks because I want the Committee to understand what is the balance that we try to maintain in this Bill. The hon. and learned Member asked why this Bill has been made voluntary. I think the answer is really contained in the Amendment which hon. Members opposite have moved. It is, that in this Bill and at this stage, even if the hon. and learned Gentleman sought to make registration compulsory, he would be unable to find any sanction for that compulsion. There is, in fact, no sanction behind it. That is because, until the major Bill is discussed, it is impossible to introduce a sanction of any kind.

Sir S. Cripps

It has the sanction of the courts behind it.

Mr. Stanley

I am not talking now of sanctions in the way of authority, but in the sense of penalties. There is no sanction, because the only thing that happens is that a man cannot get on the register, and as far as this Bill is concerned, a man does not suffer if he is not on the register. It is only in the major Bill that you can deal with that position, and it is only in the major Bill that the measure of compulsion will be introduced. What is that measure of compulsion likely to be? It is that anybody who has not registered will not, in fact, share in the compensation. It seems to me that that, when it comes to be proposed. is the effective sanction for this registration. It is not that we want to have a great number of people registering in cases where the particulars that they register are of no interest to us. It is that ultimately only those who do register will be entitled to the compensation.

Mr. Shinwell

Does that mean that the Government intend, in the ultimate Measure, that those who fail to register are to be dispossessed of royalties without compensation?

Mr. Stanley

It is clear that there must be a time-limit somewhere with the registration, otherwise it would be impossible to distribute compensation at all.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer as simply as he can the simple point I put to him? Do I understand him to have said that the ultimate—

The Deputy-Chairman (Captain Bourne)

I would point out to the Committee that I had very considerable doubts about accepting the Amendment on the ground that it might be outside the scope of the Bill. The discussion is now getting outside the Bill. If the subsequent discussion proceeds on those lines, I may have to withdraw the Amendment from the Committee.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman has used as his major argument against the Amendment the suggestion that in the later Measure those who fail to register under this Clause will be deprived of compensation and will be dispossessed of their property. Do I understand him to have said that? What did he say?

Mr. Stanley

That was not what I said. All I said was that at some time finality would have to be reached, based on the register. I did not go further than that.

Mr. Pritt

With reference to the suggestion that the Amendment could not be accepted because there is no sanction—which is inconsistent with the reason given by the Secretary for Mines—is it really the view of the right hon. Gentleman that the general body of owners of coal royalties are so disloyal that they will not obey a statute unless there is a penalty for not doing so?

Mr. Stanley

If we are to go into that, we are entitled to say that if the thing is so unimportant that no penalty attaches to it, then it cannot carry much weight. The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that we had already given away the case in the provision with regard to excuses for not registering within six months. That is the only point I have to answer. What we have in mind is the case where a man can prove to us that he was unable to register—that he was abroad or ill, or through some physical disability, or for reasons of time or space, was unable to register in the time. In that case we give him a chance of registering.

Sir S. Cripps

The right hon. Gentleman has not appreciated the point, though I am sure that is my fault. Why have you to look for a reason, when this is only voluntary? Surely it is a good enough reason to say, "I do not want to register." Yet you have a provision here that it is only in certain cases, where it appears to the Board that sufficient cause is shown, that the owner who fails to register is not to be treated by sanction as if he had done something wrong. The Schedule does make it wrong not to register within the six

months, because, unless the owner can get his excuse past the Board of Trade, his costs of registration will not be met by the Board. He is penalised as compared with the others who register in the six months. Surely, that is a sanction. If you say to A, "I will pay your costs of registration," and to B, "I will not pay your costs, because you have not applied within six months," is not that a sanction for not having applied within six months? But that is what the Clause says, and it goes on to say that the Board of Trade may excuse B if he can put up a proper excuse. What excuse is required except "I do not want to register"?

Mr. Stanley

I do not wish to weary the Committee by replying to the speech which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made in the middle of mine. I do not think his point is a good one. The position is simple. We say to the royalty-owners: "Here is the register in which you may register your holding". In order to encourage owners to register as quickly as possible, we offer an inducement by way of payment of the costs of registration in six months. If for any reasons of their own certain owners prefer to register later than six months there is no reason why we should give them that benefit; but it is absurd to say that because we do offer an inducement for early registration we are thereby imposing a sanction.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 116; Noes, 225.

Division No. 300.] AYES. [11.30 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Dobbie, W. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)
Adamson, W. M. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)
Ammon, C. G. Ede, J. C. Henderson, J. (Ardwick)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Hills, A. (Pontefract)
Banfield, J. W. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Holdsworth, H.
Barnes, A. J. Foot, D. M. Hollins, A.
Barr, J. Frankel, D. Hopkin, D.
Batey, J. Gallacher, W. Jagger, J.
Bellenger, F. J. Gardner, B. W. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.
Broad, F. A. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Jones, A. C. (Shipley)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Green, W. H. (Deptford) Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Buchanan, G. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Burke, W. A. Grenfell, D. R. Kelly, W. T.
Charleton, H. C. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.
Cluse, W. S. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Kirby, B. V.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.
Daggar, G. Groves, T. E. Lathan, G.
Dalton, H. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Lawson, J. J.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Lee, F.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Harris, Sir P. A. Leslie, J. R.
Logan, D. G. Price, M. P. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Lunn, W. Pritt, D. N. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Macdonald, G. (Ince) Richards, R. (Wrexham) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
McEntee, V. La T. Ritson, J. Thurtle, E.
McGhee, H. G. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.) Tinker, J. J.
MacLaren, A. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Viant, S. P.
Maclean, N. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Walkden, A. G.
MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Seely, Sir H. M. Watson, W. McL.
Mainwaring, W. H. Sexton, T. M. Westwood, J.
Mander, G. le M. Shinwell, E. White, H. Graham
Maxton, J. Silkin, L. Wilkinson, Ellen
Messer, F. Silverman, S. S. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Muff, G. Simpson, F. B. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Noel-Baker, P. J. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Oliver, G. H. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Paling, W. Smith, T. (Normanton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Parkinson, J. A. Sorensen, R. W. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.
Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Stephen, C.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Denman, Hon. R. D. Lipson, D. L.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Dodd, J. S. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Doland, G. F. Lloyd, G. W.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Loftus, P. C.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Drewe, C. Lyons, A. M.
Apsley, Lord Dugdale, Captain T. L. Mabans, W. (Huddersfield)
Aske, Sir R. W. Duggan, H. J. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Assheton, R. Eastwood, J. F. McCorquodale, M. S.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Eckersley, P. T. MacDonald Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Edmondson, Major Sir J. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Ellis, Sir G. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Atholl, Duchess of Elliston, Capt. G. S. McKie, J. H.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Elmley, Viscount Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Emery, J. F. Macquisten, F. A.
Balniel, Lord Emrys-Evans, P. V. Magnay, T.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Errington, E. Maitland, A.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Erskine-Hill, A. G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Fildes, Sir H. Markham, S. F.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Findlay, Sir E. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Fleming, E. L. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Bernays, R. H. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Bird, Sir R. B. Furness, S. N. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Bossom, A. C. Fyfe, D. P. M. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Boulton, W. W. Ganzoni, Sir J. Moreing, A. C.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Boyce, H. Leslie Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Brass, Sir W. Gower, Sir R. V. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Granville, E. L. Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Gridley, Sir A. B. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Grigg, Sir E. W. M. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Grimston, R. V. O'Neill, Rt. Hon, Sir Hugh
Bull, B. B. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Orr-Ewing, I. L
Burghley, Lord Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Peake, O.
Butcher, H. W. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Peat,C. U.
Cartland, J. R. H. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Petherick, M.
Carver, Major W. H. Guy, J. C. M. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cary, R. A. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Plugge, Capt. L. F.
Castlereagh, Viscount Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Porritt, R. W.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Procter, Major H. A.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Radford, E. A.
Channon, H. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Christie, J. A. Hepworth, J. Ramsbotham, H.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Herbert, Major J.A. (Monmouth) Ramsden, Sir E.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Higgs, W. F. Rathbone, J. R, (Bodmin)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Holmes, J. S. Rayner, Major R. H.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Reed, A. C.(Exeter)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Hopkinson, A. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Horsbrugh, Florence Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Romer, J. R.
Cox, H. B. T. Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Craven-Ellis, W. Hunter, T. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Critchley, A.James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Crooke, J. S. Joel, D. J. B. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Rowlands, G.
Croom-Johnson, R.P. Keeling, E. H. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Cross, R. H. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Salmon, Sir I.
Crossley, A. C. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Salt, E. W.
Crowder, J.F. E. Kimball, L. Scott, Lord William
Culverwell, C. T. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Selley, H. R.
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
De Chair, S. S. Liddall, W. S. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Tate, Mavis C. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Thomas, J. P. L Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Titchfield, Marquess of Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Spens, W. P. Turton, R. H. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd) Wakefield, W. W. Wragg, H.
Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Storey, S. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Strickland, Captain W. F. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Warrender, Sir V. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Sutcliffe, H. Waterhouse, Captain C. Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Mr. Munro.

11.34 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

I beg to move, in page 2, line 30, at the end, to insert: (6) The provisions of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the payment by the Board of costs incurred in giving effect to the provisions of this Act. This Amendment and other amendments in my name, are merely a reprint of the underlined privilege parts of the Bill.

Mr. Batey

I want to raise the question whether the costs of registration should be borne by the State or by the royalty owner. When will be the best time for me to raise it?

The Deputy-Chairman

It obviously arises on this Amendment. If it is raised now it cannot be raised again on the Schedule. I think it had better be raised now.

Mr. Batey

My hon. and learned Friend on the front bench has an Amendment which will raise the question, and I will wait until he moves it.

Amendment agreed to.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. George Hall

I beg to move, in page 2, line 35, to leave out from beginning to "any", in line 36.

This Amendment and the following Amendment—in page 3, line 1, to leave out from "person" to "may", in line 3—in the names of myself and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) stand together. Their purpose is to allow the public to see the register and take extracts from it. We cannot understand why the register should be kept secret. No subject has been more widely discussed or has given rise to more controversy among the mining population than royalities and wayleaves. We are all interested in who owns the coal, how much there is of it, the terms of any lease or sublease, and the amounts paid in royalties in the various collieries. There is a considerable difference between the amounts paid in royalties by different collieries and there are differences between district and district even in some collieries. I have in mind a colliery not far from where I live where the royalties vary from 6d. to 1s. 9d. a ton. Why this information should not be disclosed I cannot understand. The reasonable royalty owner has nothing to fear; it is only the unreasonable royalty owner who has a dislike to the information being made public.

The replies given to this request by the Secretary for Mines and the President of the Board of Trade on Second Reading were not very convincing. The President of the Board of Trade indicated, though he did not pledge himself to it, that there would not be the same objection to the information being disclosed to the public if it were really a State register, a compulsory register, and not a voluntary one. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I have his words before me, but I do not want to take up time by reading them. If he looks at his speech on Second Reading he will see that what I have said is correct. We think it a good thing that the public should have an opportunity of checking what may be unjustifiable claims by examining the register. The more complete the register becomes, whether by compulsion or as a result of a voluntary response, the more confidence will the public have in it. At any rate there is publicity as soon as any litigation takes place between the various owners regarding rights in any property to be put on the register, and if the information is disclosed in those cases we do not see why the whole register should not be available for those who desire to examine it. No one is more interested in royalties than miners and miners' representatives. The cost of royalties absorbs a very substantial part of their production of coal. No less than £4,500,000 is taken out of the pro- duction of the miners every year for royalties. The interest of the miners in this question will therefore be readily understood, and for the life of me I cannot see why the Government should not make the register public, so that anyone desiring to get information should have an opportunity of doing so, instead of the register being confined to those who themselves register and the officials of the Board of Trade.

11.45 p.m.

Sir H. Seely

I support the Amendment because I cannot see the advantage of secrecy. There is a feeling that the information might be used for propaganda purposes, but I do not see how that could last very long, while I see great advantage from having the thing public. There may be people who think they have claims to rights and fees. There is also the point, which anybody who owns a colliery knows, that there is a certain amount of coal for which there is no owner, and for which you have to make allowances because some owner may turn up in the future. It is time people knew who is the owner of coal they are working. I cannot see why secrecy should be observed when you are registering coal and not when registering land. If there are not to be complications in the future, the more public the thing is the better, and the more advantage there will be to the coal trade as a whole.

11.47 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

I cannot see that any conceivable public purpose can be served at this stage in making public these details. These properties are still in private hands and it does not seem easy to find justification for making public the details of private properties. The hon. Member who called in aid the registration of land unfortunately did so wrongly; it is the other way round. Only a very small number of persons are authorised to go to the register, under the Act of 1925, and this Clause was drafted from that Act. What is laid down appears to me to be reasonable. Quite different circumstances might arise later, if the properties passed into public ownership, and if that stage is reached everybody ought to be able to go and see the register and inform themselves as to who has the property.

Mr. S. O. Davies

After it has become public property?

Captain Crookshank

The House decided that we should proceed to have a voluntary and not a compulsory register. If you made it possible for details of private properties to be available, a great many people would say, "No, I am not prepared to give those details."

Sir H. Seely

Perhaps the rightful owner.

Captain Crookshank

The rightful owner can himself register. I cannot see that any public purpose is served by making this information available at this stage. I take my stand on the clauses of the Registration of Land Act, in which there is very great similarity and I would not advise the Committee to accept this amendment. The hon. Gentleman who moved it said that everybody was interested to know how much coal there was, who owned it, the amounts paid in royalties and so on. That may be, but here we are making a register of the coal properties and when he said that it would be very useful to make it public because the public would be able to check unjustifiable claims, although we cannot go into what may be done in a subsequent Bill, I cannot imagine that there will not be machinery to deal with unjustifiable claims without having to call in aid the whole of the general public of this country. It is a matter in which everybody is interested.

Mr. Pritt

Then let everybody see it.

Captain Crookshank

There is no justification for allowing the information to be doled out piecemeal.

11.52 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

The hon. and gallant Gentlemen says that he can see no public service in making important facts public. I think most people can. But when he particularly appeals to the precedent in the Land Registration Act I would draw his attention to a much more interesting, relevant and cogent question. It appears that in 1872 numbers of wicked persons were making propaganda against landowners. I imagine that they included Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke; if not, their immediate intellectual predecessors. The Government of the day took a wise course. They said, "If people are going to make propaganda against landowners let the facts be known." They published a list of all the landowners and what they were getting out of their land. It would be a good thing if the same were done here.

11.54 p.m.

Mr. S. O. Davies

I am afraid the fear that propaganda would be made if these facts were disclosed is becoming an obsession with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He does not appreciate the amount of ammunition which he has in a short speech given to this side of the House, propaganda not merely against this Bill but against the general attitude of the Government and supporters of the Government as to what they still regard, in 1937, as the extreme sacredness of private property. We have had an exhibition of that mentality which harks back for several centuries. Surely it is obviously in the interests of the general public that they shall know that this vast sum of money, if it is to be distributed, shall not be distributed among people who might obviously have no claim at all to the sharing of this vast loot, which is to be taken out of the miners of this country. As one who has spent most of his life in and associated with collieries, may I tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman that neither he nor his Department, nor any resources to which he may lay claim, will be able to check the claims that will be made by royalty owners, fictitious and otherwise, in this country? May I give one simple illustration of what I mean? I give it only in order to strengthen, if necessary, the claim that we on this side of the Committee make with respect to this Amendment. A royalty owner registers, and tells the Department that he has claims to royalties from, say, 10,000,000 or 100,000,000 tons of coal which is known to exist in a certain part of, say, the South Wales coalfield. It may be known to us that the coal exists there—perhaps a square mile, or square miles, of coal un-worked. It may be known, incidentally, that the coal is of excellent quality. But, although the coal is there, and although the claim may he made by a royalty owner, it may be known to us, though possibly not to the Department, that that coal, a s it is situated, is absolutely of no use or value to the country. It may be in the heart of a vast waterlogged area, and, although it may be of first-class quality, it may be for practical purposes absolutely useless.

Why should not the people who live in the locality—a locality which may have generations of experience in coal working—be assured that no royalty owner has come along and has taken out of this sum of money perhaps tens of thousands of pounds in respect of property that is, and is likely to remain, absolutely useless? Naturally we shall want to ask: Who are the people who are to share this money; what claims have they to a share in it; how have those claims been registered; and have they been proved to be genuine and bona fide claims? But the hon. and gallant Gentleman tells us that, whatever interest we have in this Bill and in the coal that is there, we are not to be permitted to find out whether, on an absolutely fictitious claim, tens of thousands of pounds have been paid out.

It simply comes back to what we on this side have continually accused the Government of, namely, that the interests of the working class do not matter at all, that the Government have no concern for anyone but the crowd of property owners by the existence of whom, apparently, they justify their own existence I want to assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that, unless the people have access to the claims that will be registered, he will provide far more propaganda for those who desire material for it than he will by revealing the contents of these claims. Further, it will be his own fault if suspicion is engendered in the minds of people who are interested, not on the basis of any claim to royalties, but as workers, miners and others who will have to find this money. It will deepen their suspicion; it will bring home to them, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the only spirit that can be embodied in any legislation from this Government will be the spirit that eternally looks after the interests of those to whom, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, this is a gift to which they have no moral and no sound historical claim.

12 m.

Mr. MacLaren

In the event of the registration being compulsory will the data recorded in the register be made public? I can quite understand looking at it from the point of view of the Minister that seeing that this is an inducement to voluntary registration they might deem it advisable to make the data public under the voluntary scheme. That is why I am asking if the registration be- comes compulsory would the Minister promise to allow the data to be open to public inspection.

Captain Crookshank

I cannot take the matter much further than my right hon. Friend did on the Second Reading. If I read what he said it may answer the point: Let it be remembered that the register starts as the register of holdings in the possession of private individuals, but it will end as the register of holdings which are the property of the State. When that happens and the register is simply a description of what the State in one form or another owns, I myself, although I can make no pledge at the moment, can see no objection whatsoever in its being made public."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1937; col. 1135, Vol. 326.] Of course the second answer apart from that quotation is the general one that that is one point that must be left for Parliament as a whole to deal with later on.

Mr. MacLaren

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that to make it public after transfer is of very little avail. It is a sort of historical document which may have propaganda value retrospectively. I have not raised the point of propaganda at all. I think the Minister was most indiscreet to throw that in that there was propaganda behind it because that was making a confession to the world that if the facts were known they were of such a character that if Members of the Labour party were to microphone there would be a revolt against the proposition embodied in the Bill.

12.4 a.m.

Mr. Mainwaring

Is this secrecy of the list of ownership being maintained in the interest of private owners or of the public? In whose interest is this House supposed to deal? Are we here to deal with the interests of the general public or of private ownership? That seems to me to be the real purpose here. Many a colliery company itself is a royalty owner. The company's resources are well known to everyone. Anyone can see them at Somerset House as a capitalistic concern. There is no privacy that anyone deems it necessary to safeguard. When you come to deal with the making of this register, there is some mysterious reason why it has to be safeguarded. In whose interest? Obviously, in the interest of the people who can exploit the public. I am particularly interested in a certain transaction in my area—and it is typical of a large number of similar transactions all over the country—in which a certain landowner has sold his landed estate. His ground leases have been sold. No one seems to know what has happened in respect of the royalty underneath that land, but we know that the company who have bought the surface rentals of the land are endeavouring to safeguard themselves against those who may purchase the ground leases and against any claim that may arise from undermining that land. No one seems to know why this particular safeguard is being sought at the moment, but in the interests of the general public, it is very necessary that all the publicity possible must be shed upon the real ownership of the coal resources of this country, otherwise we are laying it open for the general interests to be exploited by certain private individuals in this country. In whose interests are the Government really devising this scheme? Are they deliberately shielding private ownership in order that it may exploit the public? That is the real question in this matter.

12.7 a.m.

Mr. Batey

The Minister himself made a statement in which he led the Committee to believe that, when the register was complete, it might be open for inspection. Will he explain the meaning of Sub-section (7), on pages 2 and 3, which says: The person on whose application particulars have been registered in respect of a holding and any person authorised by him or by an order of the High Court or by rules made by the Board, but no other person, may inspect and make copies of and extracts from the entries in the register relating to the holding. That seems to suggest that no person may inspect and make copies of and extracts from the register except the person who makes the application or someone he appoints, unless it be by order of the High Court or by rules made by the Board. Why is it proposed to make these rules?

12.8 a.m.

Captain Crookshank

The hon. Gentleman will realise that there are several places in the Bill where provision is made for making rules, and this is one of them. In the Bill there is reference to rules being made. They are machinery rules, and we put the provision in here to cover certain cases in respect of which the Board might consider it necessary to make these rules. The House can see exactly where they come in, but it does not mean a general application; it merely means that in certain cases one can conceive that the Board might think it desirable to apply them.

12.9 a.m.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Suppose the miners' representatives made an application to the Board that their auditor, for ascertainment purposes, should be permitted to see this register, would he not be an interested person? Royalties and all these commitments enter into the costs of production and into the ascertainments, which govern the payment of wages. Supposing the miners of South Wales asked that their auditor should have a look at this register, would he be entitled under this Clause so to do?

Captain Crookshank

I do not think there would be any purpose in that so far as I can see. No complaint on the part of auditors to whom the hon. Gentleman refers has been brought to my notice.

Mr. Griffiths

They may want to check the information on the register. It is true that they get information, but they may want to check the actual amount which is paid in royalities. Would they not be entitled to look at the register to check such information?

Mr. Jenkins

Miners will be deeply interested in this Bill and in the subsequent Measure. Suppose the Miners' Federation decided to ask their officials to examine the register; would they have the right, as being as much interested in this matter as anybody else, to inspect the register, take particulars from it and report what they found there to the members of the Miners' Federation?

Hon. Members


Captain Crookshank

I have no objection to rising at once to answer the question. I do not think that anyone would have rights of that kind.

Mr. Mainwaring

Would anybody who desires to make a claim for compensation for undermining of his house and property be entitled to inspect this register?

Captain Crookshank

No, Sir, I do not think so. It is possible to bring up all sorts of cases. We must come back to where we started; let us find out what is the object of this register.

12.14 a.m.

Mr. Mainwaring

May I put to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the difficulty that I am in? In my district there are 1,700 leaseholders faced with the position that there has been a transfer of ground rents from the original owner to a new one, a finance company in the City of London. Much of the property was safeguarded against undermining; if it became damaged in consequence of undermining they had a right to compensation. Now the finance company is seeking to compel these 1,700 owners to purchase their freeholds compulsorily, with the stipulation that they shall no longer be safeguarded against undermining. Who is the owner of those mining royalties? That is a question of grave importance to those 1,700 individuals. Unless they are entitled to inspect the register against whom are they to make a claim? They will not know. The old owner is gone and it will be very serious for them if the Government, in this new legislation, safeguard the new crowd of financier sharks from London. It is a grave responsibility.

12.16 a.m.

Mr. Davidson

Can the Minister let us know exactly what the wording of the Clause means when it refers to a person authorised by the owner or by an order of the High Court? In the event of a national stoppage in the mines, when the miners, led by their leaders, are fighting for certain conditions as they have done in the past, and as they will probably have to do in future, nad should figures be quoted with regard to this dispute, what rights would there be for the men's representatives to ascertain the facts for themselves in regard to the cost of production of coal? That is a very important point and one on which we ought at least to ask for some assurance from the Minister. The Secretary for the Mines Department stated that in regard to this Clause it was not just the sacredness of private property, but it does seem to imply the sacredness of private ownership.

What is the ulterior motive behind the Clause? I want the Secretary for the Mines Department to try to give us at least a straightforward reply. If he really intends that the public are not to be acquainted with the facts in regard to this Clause, then let him say so, and not hide behind quibbling words that have no meaning at all and talk about propaganda of hon. Members on this side. I am not a representative of mining, but I do say that he has to-night throughout presented the industrial areas at least with a suspicion, that will mature into a definite propaganda, that when he refuses to come into the open and when he definitely shows he has something to hide with regard to mining conditions, there must be some very underhand political work going on by the opposite side.

12.18 a.m.

Mr. Ede

I want to allude to the question asked by the hon. Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. Mainwaring). On the case he presented to us it seemed to me that his constituents are people who have a right as against the existing coalowners before the finance corporation came in, and therefore such compensation as they are entitled to is one of the other matters set out in Sub-section 4 (c) of Clause I. How are these people to know that the coalowner—or the owner of coal, if you like, because there may be some distinction—or the person who ought to have registered, has registered, and if he has not, he obviously may obtain a substantially larger sum than he would if the nature of this liability were known. It seems to me that at this stage we should have some assurance before the matter assumes its final form that these people will have an opportunity of making quite sure that their position has been protected, and that the owner is not in fact receiving a greater sum of money than the restrictions on his ownership warrant.

I cannot understand why there is this objection to publicity. There is in my constituency only one royalty owner, a very wealthy one—the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. On any day that I pluck

up the courage to do so, I can come to this House and ask the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) any question I please about the ownership of coal, the restrictions on it, the amount received in royalties and anything else connected with that matter, and no one has ever raised the slightest objection to my doing so. That may be because the coal belonging to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is specially sacred, and is therefore taken entirely out of the rules. All I know is that my constituents believe the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to be the most hard-hearted and conscienceless coal royalty owners in the country. However, it has long been recognised in the House that their transactions in this matter may be questioned. Why they should be put in a class apart as people whose conduct may be inquired into and the other people be put in another class and protected from questioning in the House and elsewhere, I cannot understand.

While I represent a coal-mining constituency, I do not think it should be thought that the miners are the only people who are interested in this matter. Obviously the general public, who are to be asked in the subsequent Bill to buy these people out at a figure that has been agreed, are also very considerably interested in the matter. After the example given this evening by the hon. Member for East Rhondda (Mr. Mainwaring), an assurance should be given that there will be the greatest amount of publicity, so that all people who think they are in any way remotely connected with this matter and have any financial interest in it, may have an opportunity of making their voices heard before the money is paid and the royalties have become the property of the State.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 187; Noes, 91.

Division No. 301.] AYES. [12.23 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Bird, Sir R. B.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Bossom, A. C.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Balniel, Lord Boulton, W. W.
Apsley, Lord Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Bower, Comdr. R. T.
Aske,Sir R. W. Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Boyce, H. Leslie
Assheton, R. Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Brass, Sir W.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Briscoe, Capt. R. G.
Atholl, Duchess of Bernays, R. H. Brocklebank, Sir Edmund
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Plugge, Capt. L. F.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Ponsonby, Col, C. E.
Bull, B. B. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Porritt, R. W.
Burghley, Lord Gunston, Capt. D. W. Procter, Major H. A.
Butcher, H. W. Guy, J. C. M. Radford, E. A.
Cartland, J. R. H. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Cary, R. A. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Ramsbotham, H.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan. Rankin, Sir R.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Higgs, W. F. Rayner, Major R. H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Holmes, J. S. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Channon, H. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Christie, J. A. Horsbrugh, Florence Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Robinson, J. R.(Blackpool)
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hunter, T. Ropner, Colonel L.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Rowlands, G.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Joel, D. J. B. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Salmon, Sir I.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Keeling, E. H. Salt. E. W.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Scott, Lord William
Cox, H. B. T. Kimball, L. Selley, H. R.
Craven-Ellis, W. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Critchley, A. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Liddell, W. S. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Cross, R. H. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Crowder, J. F. E. Lloyd, G. W. Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Loftus, P. C. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Lyons, A. M. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
De Chair, S. S. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Spens, W. P.
Dodd, J. S. McCorquodale, M. S. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)
Doland, G. F. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Drewe, C. McKie, J. H. Sutcliffe, H.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Duggan, H. J. Magnay, T. Thomas, J. P. L.
Eastwood, J. F. Maitland, A. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Eckersley, P. T. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Titchfield, Marquess of
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Ellis, Sir G. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Turton, R. H.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wakefield, W. W.
Elmley, Viscount Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Emery, J. F. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Warrender, Sir V.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Moreing, A. C. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Fildes, Sir H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Findlay, Sir E. Muirhead, Lt.-Col A. J. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fleming, E. L. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Furness, S. N. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Fyfe, D. P. M. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Wragg, H.
Ganzoni, Sir J. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Peak., O. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Peat, C. U.
Grimston, R. V. Petherick, M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Mr. Munro
Adamson, W. M. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) McEntee, V. La T.
Ammon, C. G. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) McGhee, H. G.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) MacLaren, A.
Banfield, J. W. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)
Barr, J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mainwaring, W. H.
Batey, J. Harris, Sir P. A. Mander, G. le M.
Bellenger, F. J. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Maxton, J.
Bann, Rt. Hon. W. W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Messer, F.
Buchanan, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Burke, W. A. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Oliver, G. H.
Daggar, G. Holdsworth, H. Paling, W.
Dalton, H. Hollins, A. Parkinson, J. A.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Hopkin, D. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jagger, J. Price, M. P.
Debbie, W. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Pritt, D. N.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Ritson, J.
Ede, J. C. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Kelly, W. T. Seely, Sir H. M.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Kirby, B. V. Sexton. T. M.
Foot, D. M. Kirkwood, D. Silkin, L.
Frankel, D. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Silverman, S. S
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Lawson, J. J. Simpson, F. B.
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Lee, F. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Logan, D. G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Lunn, W. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Grenfell, D. R. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Sorensen, R. W.
Stephen, C. Tinker, J. J. 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.) Westwood, J.
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) White, H. Graham TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Groves and Mr. Mathers.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

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

12.32 a.m.

Mr. MacLaren

Before we pass this Clause I think it is appropriate that some comment should be made. If I were asked to illustrate this Clause, I would do it by a graphic drawing of a red piece of vegetable and a pair of pants, because the President of the Board of Trade tells us that the inspiring policy behind the Clause is more the carrot than the donkey. That is to say, he was going to induce the owners of the rights in coal to make a voluntary registration. That being so, everything else in the Clause naturally followed. It is hard really to appreciate the position in which the Government now find themselves. It is true we have been told that circumstances will not permit a first-class Measure being launched at this time, and therefore there is something in the nature of—shall I say?—a sign that something is going to be done and here we have it in this Bill.

I will not detain the Committee for long, but I think it is the duty of the Committee in a very important Clause like this to say something about it before we leave it. I merely repeat the point that we have to have a sign that something is to be done. Therefore this Bill has been launched, at least it is being brought before the House. We have got to induce by every possible device a voluntary confession of ownership by voluntary inducement; no coercion and no public exhibition of the facts when ascertained, and then, let it be observed that the main success of this registration will depend upon the easy passage in the Law Courts of any litigation that may arise out of the registration. There are a number of lawyers in this House, and I do not think they will say I am stretching the facts if I give this illustration. There will be a good number of owners of property in coal who will not wish to be registered either voluntarily or compulsorily, and an unemployed lawyer will go to them and say: "The Government is going to bring in legislation. I am out of a job"—

Mr. Turton

Would not the lawyer be debarred from or turned out of his profession?

Mr. MacLaren

Yes, I agree, if he did it the way I was saying. But we are met in private circumstances where we can talk freely without endangering professional etiquette. It would be likely for long processes of litigation to be carried on. The public purse is there to pay the costs, and two things happen—the lawyer is kept busy with a good refresher in fees out of the State funds and there would be prolonged arguments. You are giving employment to the lawyer on the one hand, and suspending a definite entry in the Registry on the other. It is interesting to note that having agreed, or having voted in this House for voluntary registration, we were brought up against the difficulty of sanctions. On this side of the House we proposed that there should be compulsory registration. For reasons of time compulsory registration cannot be contemplated. It must be voluntary. But it was interesting to notice—and I think the Government were quite logical here—that if you have voluntary registration it is quite impossible to have any form of sanction, because it must be assumed that those who are asked to register under this Bill have not in the slightest degree any idea of what is likely to happen when this Bill is passed. That being so, there is no chance of bringing in a sanction unless it is linked to some definite measure well known to those who are called upon to register.

So if one takes this point in conjunction with a passage in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade in the previous Debate on this Bill one comes to this startling situation: that those who voluntarily enter details in the Register under this Bill, according to what we have been told, may still have a right to have these details revised in the light of new circumstances and the new Bill when it is brought in. What does this mean? It means that when a compulsory registration has been made and completed after a long process of litigation involving the expenditure of public money, legal processes and all the rest will be nullified in view of the major Bill. It means that money spent under this Act will be money thrown away, because all that will be arrived at by registration under the Act will be subject to revision later on.

There is another thing that seems to be missed out. Take certain towns in the north of England. I see that servitudes, covenants and restrictions are to be taken into account. But all over this country, and more especially in the north, you see rows of cottages lying at all angles. In Wales I have seen them. You ask—"Are these miners' cottages? Has there been an earthquake?"—"Oh, no, we are using the coal seams underneath." There is nothing here to stop that kind of thing. In fact, if I am the owner of coal or any right to exploit coal from underneath the entire town, I will be entered in the register as valid for full compensation for coal under public buildings and people's houses. Then what will happen? The Government will be expected in future, after paying compensation for the rights, not to exploit that coal and not to undermine people's houses. The public will feel, and probably rightly so, that when the State is the owner and controller of the coal seams, the State should not do what the private owner did, namely, proceed to undermine public buildings and people's houses. Then you will have a situation in which the State, having paid compensation to the owners, will not exploit the coal.

There is nothing in this Bill to protect the public at the moment; the owners will be compensated and then quite probably whole communities in the country will prohibit the Government from exploiting the coal after having paid the previous royalty owner to clear out. There is no restriction on that point. My own feeling about the Bill is that it will accomplish very little. It may be that a number of flies may be brought into the spider's parlour and openly confess to the country what their holdings are, but even if they do, my opinion is, after the statement of the President of the Board of Trade that all that may be confessed here is subject to alteration later on, that it is utterly futile to go on with the Bill.

Last, but not least, there has been quoted to-night the previous Act under which it was stipulated that all details entered in the register should remain private. I want to say this again, though I have said it before. It has been the characteristic of every Act dealing with land that any details that are given under the Bill shall be kept secret. It was the old trouble with the Finance Act, 1909—an Act which was quoted to-night to support the contention that secrecy should be observed on what was in the register. The Government seem to forget there was a Finance Act of 1931 and that one of the Clause in that Act was that every detail regarding the holding of land and the value to be fixed for the sites, whatever they might be, would have been made public if that Finance Act had been passed into law and not destroyed, and the details so ascertained by the Government would have been open to public inspection in almost every town hall in the country. That was in 1931. Why was not that quoted to-night as a precedent? There is no reason that I know of why this should not be persisted with for the great basis of life and of wealth production, on which we are called upon to spend millions in defending, namely, the land. Why, when we come to deal with that, should no details be made public? I care not for any previous Registration Act—not in the slightest. If it has been the practice in the past, then that practice ought to be broken.

It will not sound very wise to the country when it is heralded abroad that the reason why the details we have asked for to-night are not to be made public is because there might be something intimidating in them in respect of the vested interests of those who own the holdings. Secrecy with regard to registration in this case must naturally follow voluntary registration, but I put a question to the Minister asking if the details given in the register would become public when the registration becomes obligatory. He quoted the President of the Board of Trade to the effect that the details in the register would be public after the royalties had become the property of the State. Surely there is an interim period between the pronouncement that registration shall be obligatory and the time when there shall be the total transfer of the entire royalties to the State, in which the details can be made public but, apparently, it is not to be so. I conclude by saying that I do really consider, in spite of all the indulgence for which the Government may ask—because the Government have asked for indulgence on the ground that there is not time enough to pass the major Act with all its obligations, and therefore they come forward with this Bill to get the preparatory work done before the major Bill is brought in—in spite of that, we have been wasting our time in discussing this Bill at all. You are not ensuring that the facts you want shall be facts which shall be unalterable and you are putting on the State the cost of getting them, and when you have got them they are to be subject to revision when another Act is brought in. Therefore, this Bill is clearly nothing but window-dressing. We have been promised a Bill dealing with royalties, and we see no attempt to deal with them drastically. All that is being done is to put goods in the window.

Remaining Clauses ordered to stand part of the Bill.