HC Deb 05 August 1947 vol 441 cc1345-69

Lords Amendment: In page 78, line 14, at end insert: (5) Any person aggrieved by any assessment or determination of the amount of a development charge may appeal to a Tribunal consisting of a member or members of the panel constituted under Part I of the Schedule to the War Damage (Valuation Appeals) Act, 1945, selected in accordance with the provisions of Part II of that Schedule, and the provisions of Part III of that Schedule shall in so far as they relate to appeals to a Tribunal have effect in relation to appeals under this Act as if for any reference to the War Damage Commission there were substituted a reference to the Central Land Board and as if for any reference to the War Damage Act, 1943, there were substituted a reference to this Act and the Lord Chancellor shall make rules for regulating, subject to the provisions of that Schedule, appeals to a tribunal under this Act. (6) For the purposes of an appeal under the last foregoing subsection the Central Land Board shall at the request of the appellant or of the Tribunal furnish to the appellant and to the Tribunal a statement setting out the particulars of the grounds upon which the development charge was determined by them, together with any facts and contentions relevant thereto.

6 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of this Amendment would be that the developer who was aggrieved by the amount of a development charge assessed on him would be able to appeal to a tribunal set up under the War Damage Valuation Appeal Act, 1945, and he would be able, therefore, to appeal against the Central Land Board's determination of the development charge. This Amendment was carried in another place, and I understand a somewhat similar Amendment was carried into the English Bill as well. The position under the Bill is that the State will acquire the development rights in land and will sell them as people sell any other commodities. Today, for instance, if a person is disposing of a commodity of that kind, he does not grant the right of appeal to any other person against a decision he may make, and why the Central Land Board should be treated differently from any private individual in that disposal, I cannot understand. Whatever may be said about the Central Land Board it has some public responsibility via the Secretary of State, but at present these development values can be disposed of by any private landlord in whatever way he thinks fit—he may dispose of them in the public interest, if he is a public spirited person, or otherwise according to his tastes or desires.

In the case of the Central Land Board we think it should be put, in the disposal of these development charges, in no worse a position than private individuals. It may be argued that the Central Land Board has a monopoly and that there ought to be some right of appeal. Frequently in a particular district a private person may well have that monopoly too, although not a monopoly right through the country. The policy of keeping up' development charges beyond the market price would in itself defeat its own ends, and the Board, like any other person with something to sell, will have to sell it at a price which the market in the ordinary course would have to pay. I cannot accept this Amendment and I trust the House will agree that the Central Land Board, in disposing of development rights, should be treated as a private landlord is now treated—allowed to dispose of them in a market of which it can take the best advantage.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)

I do not like to say so, but I think the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has treated the House with scant respect in advancing such a flimsy argument for his disagreement with this Amendment. He advanced one argument only, that the State is acquiring development rights in land and that the job of the Central Land Board is to sell these rights on behalf of the State and in that respect, he said, it is in exactly the same position as an ordinary private landlord. The hon. Gentleman rested the whole of his case upon that, and I want to argue from that premise because we on this side of the House say that the analogy with a private landlord is not a fair one, and not one which holds water in this case. Why? Because in this case there is an absolute monopoly. The Joint Under-Secretary used that word himself. I am grateful to him for it, though I have not forgotten it.

He and the Government are creating here a virtual monopoly in the holding of land. Any private individual who desires to develop his land in any way, however small, has to go to the Central Land Board and to accept their determination of what the development charge will be without any appeal whatever to any individual or to any body or to the Secretary of State. We say that is a totally un-British thing. It is almost unknown in any of our administrative organisations. It is something which is quite alien to our British conception of what is right and just. If that is doubted, let me quote one or two instances where the State has deliberately, and presumably with its eyes open, recognised the need for an appeal.

When the Railway Rates Tribunal was set up, it was recognised that the railways held a monopolistic position and that, therefore, anyone who is aggrieved with the determination of the railways on what rates should be charged for freight could appeal to the Railway Rates Tribunal. One who is aggrieved with the determination of the Income Tax Assessors with regard to his Income Tax can appeal to the Special Commissioners. Anyone who is in dispute with the Inland Revenue Department about the Estate Duty which is to be charged has a similar right of appeal. There is also a right of appeal under the War Damage Commission. One could multiply instances of the checks and balances there are. Our constitution is built on the idea. I do not need to remind hon. Members, I do not need to remind the hon. Gentleman, who is a great admirer of our constitution, of the theory of checks and balances that, when a monopoly is erected, somehow we find an outlet for the individual to make his voice heard against the possible harshness of that monopoly.

The hon. Gentleman told us in Committee, we were told on Report, and we have been told time and time again, that this Board will not be an inhuman, unapproachable body. We learned that people who are aggrieved with the assessment of development charge which is made will be able to meet the officers of the board face to face, to sit opposite them and to discuss with them. Presumably it follows from that, that the Central Board will not be tied too rigidly by Treasury Regulations, but that they will have power in individual cases to go a little higher or a little lower and to meet the point of view advanced by the individual who is appealing against the determination of the development charge. That is all to the good. We on this side have said consistently that there ought to be a right for an individual to go before the officers of this board to state his case, to say why it is he thinks the assessment they have made is too high and why it should be reduced.

After all, we are dealing not only with the big developer, with rich people who are able to build up, buy great building estates, to indulge in large lucrative opportunities for erecting blocks of flats; we are dealing with the small man too, with the private individual who wants to put a garage by his house or to add a room; with the industrialist who has a little land adjoining his factory upon which he has always intended to expand. That man, when he goes to the Central Land Board and seeks to be told what the development charge will be if he is to carry out that development, will inevitably feel that the Board are in a very strong position, because they know he is the only man who can carry out development on that land. They will know that his factory plant is there, and all his ancillary buildings, canteens, powerhouses, and all the things which make it desirable and more economical for him to extend on that land, rather than go elsewhere and buy land in some other place.

That man will feel a sense of grievance that he is not able to appeal against the determination of the development charge. He not only wants to be treated fairly, but to feel that he is being treated fairly. That surely is the right of every Scotsman, every Englishman, every Britisher, to have a fair deal, and if he feels it is not fair, at least to have the right of appeal against it. The Joint Under-Secretary did not raise any objection to the type of tribunal which was proposed. I am not at all sure that in the case of Scotland it is the right one. The Act of Parliament under which this tribunal was set up does not apply to Scotland. I give the hon. Gentleman that point, although it is hardly germane to the discussion, as he is rejecting the Amendment in any case. There are other tribunals, and one which applies to Scotland is the War Works Commission set up under Section 1 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945.

I do not think anyone on this side of the House would mind very much to which tribunal an appeal is allowed, so long as an appeal is allowed to some tribunal. We say that the Government in setting up this complicated machinery, and placing these monopolistic powers in the hands of a small board of nine or 10 men, ought in fairness and wisdom to allow some kind of appeal against the determination that is made. We feel that very strongly indeed. We have never failed to express our view of the need for the right of appeal, and we will press it to the uttermost lengths today, because we believe it is a question of justice and equity.

Mr. McKie (Galloway)

I join with my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) in deploring the way in which the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland asked the House to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment which, from our point of view, at all events, is very important. I only hope he left my hon. Friend and myself under an erroneous impression as regards the brusque way in which we thought he dealt with the matter. I hope that as the Debate proceeds he, or his colleague, will say that they are impressed by the cogency of our arguments, and that we may be shown to have been at fault in our deductions from the manner and temper of the hon. Gentleman's presentation of his case to the House this afternoon. I am amazed, and I think my hon. Friend is amazed, to hear the Joint Under-Secretary extolling the private landlords of Scotland, and holding them up as an example in the way he did this afternoon. If the hon. Gentleman reflects on his words, or reads them in HANSARD tomorrow—no doubt they will have been taken down with considerable accuracy by the Official Reporters, because he speaks with lucidity—he will see that, in effect, his comparison of the lot of what we think are these unfortunate individuals who want a right of appeal against the determination of development charge, will not be a good comparison. The hon. Gentleman said that in the Central Land Board will be only vested in the future the rights and privileges which private landlords now enjoy. I quite agree. We have pointed out time after time in this Bill that the Government are setting up a new landlord for Scotland, a voracious monster——

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)

indicated dissent.

Mr. McKie

Time will show whether we are right, or whether the right hon. Gentleman and his associates are right. I see that the other Joint Under-Secretary shook his head when I said that it was likely to be voracious. But, after all, there are two sides to every question. Although the hon. Gentleman did not mean to suggest that everything had been so good under the private landlords of Scotland, he has said that by vesting the rights, hitherto vested in the private landlords of Scotland, in the Central Land Board, everything in the garden will be lovely as far as the right of appeal, which we wish to see made certain, is concerned. I hope the Central Land Board will exercise its powers as favourably towards these people as the Joint Under-Secretary thinks they will. I would have had more confidence in private landlords in the way they would have exercised their rights, than in this new great central landlord. We know perfectly well that the social conscience of Scotland would never have allowed any private landlord to act in any way injuriously or prejudicially to the right of any individual large or small——

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)


Mr. McKie

—who might appeal against the determination of the development charges. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) dissents from that point of view. I would pay him the compliment of saying that no doubt as a result of the way in which he would stampede Scotland and put Questions on the Order Paper any private landlord who wished to act unfairly would be prevented from so doing. I make him a present of that. I hope the Joint Under-Secretary will reflect and see the force of what we have been expressing, and that very large numbers of people may be affected by not having the right of appeal which we wish to see inserted against the Central Land Board in certain circumstances. I agree with my hon. Friend that perhaps the proposal outlined in the Amendment about the possibility of an appeal— to a Tribunal consisting of a member or members of the panel constituted under Part I of the Schedule to the War Damage (Valuation Appeals) Act, 1945, —may not be the happiest suggestion that could be made. But I understand from my hon. Friend——

Mr. Buchanan

I think that in fairness to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly to the noble Lords in another place, I ought to say that we knew this appeal was ineffective. I could have used the argument, but it would have been unfair to have done so. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment knew that also. He knew we were going to press our point of view and there was no need for an elaborate change. If the Government were going to accept it they would have brought it into line with modern practice.

Mr. McKie

I quite see that point. It is certainly not my wish to criticise what I think has been the wisdom of another place in this matter. Our one idea is to have some kind of appeal board to which these people, who may feel aggrieved in regard to the way in which they are assessed for development charges, may appeal. That is the position. The intervention of the hon. Gentleman has left me without any hope at all, despite the cogency of our arguments. The position now is like nearly everything else which has been advanced in the two years through which this Parilament has run—the weight of argument has been on this side of the House. So it is tonight. The hon. Gentleman has already indicated that he will not accept this Amendment, even after hearing what we have had to say. I would have hoped that the hon. Gentleman——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

I shall be obliged if the hon. Gentleman, will speak up. Then I can appreciate whether he is Order or not.

Mr. McKie

I hoped that the hon. Gentleman would have softened his rather hard heart on this matter, and acceded to the idea underlying this Amendment by inserting some form of words as an Amendment to the Amendment, which would have given effect to the wishes of another place and to our wishes on this side of the House, by providing some kind of tribunal to which these people might go—people who, as a result of not having such a tribunal, may find themselves seriously prejudiced.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

I intervene with a great deal of diffidence in a Scottish Debate. It is the first time I have ever done so, though I was elected to this House 23 years ago. I can claim to be a Scotsman by birth. I intend to pose a question to the Government which I hope they can answer. The effect of the Clauses which we are now discussing is to provide certain rules which the Central Land Board will have to follow in assessing the amount of charge which they intend to make against a would-be developer. There are three or four sets of rules which they will have to follow in assessing that charge. There is, for example, a clear declaration that they are to have regard to the probable increase in the value of the land by reason of the development. Then there is an Amendment, which has just been inserted, that the Central Land Board are not to give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to one applicant over another.

This is what I wish to ask the Government: Suppose a would-be developer makes an application to the Board and asks for an assessment to be made, and, when he gets the amount of the assessment, believes genuinely that the Board have not carried out their duty. For example, he believes that they are discriminating against him compared with another developer of a similar kind; or, again, that they have charged him an excessive amount, having regard to the probable increase in value of the land; or it may be a purely legal question of the Board having disregarded some regulations which are to be made under the Bill governing the method of their assessment. A developer might be quite genuinely and correctly of opinion that in fact the Board have either made a mistake, or have acted in a capricious manner. What can the developer do in order to get this matter put right, if there is to be no right of appeal? It is all very well to provide that there shall not be discrimination, but we must put some machinery in the Bill to ensure that there will be no discrimination. If there is no right of appeal, what can a developer do in order to protect his rights?

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

I do not share the disappointment of my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie). I feel sure that the Joint Under-Secretary will see the intention of the Lords Amendment, which quite clearly concerns any person aggrieved by any assessment or determination of the amount of a development charge. … I am sure that the Government recognise that there may be some reasonable grievances regarding a development charge. I put it to the Joint Under-Secretary that he would be the last man in the world to deny a right of appeal somewhere. I understand that the appeal will lie with the Secretary of State. I take it that the only appeal will be through the House of Commons.

Mr. Buchanan

indicated dissent.

Sir W. Darling

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, so I take it there will be no appeal. That, I submit, to the hon. Member's fair and just mind, is very harsh. My hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) made it quite clear that the situation is a harder one than it would be with a private landlord. If I am dealing with a private landlord, and he wants too large a development charge, I can go to another landlord. It may not be so convenient, but I can find another piece of land belonging to someone who is more amenable to my needs. Under the Bill there will be no other landlord to whom to go. This is surely the expropriation of the Scots from Scotland. Formerly one could choose among the "bad and wicked" landlords, but there was a choice. Under the Bill I have ho choice. There is to be only one universal landlord, one complete, entire, exclusive monopoly, and under that the citizen has no rights.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen for his lesson on the opportunities of appeal which are given in other circumstances. I submit that under most legislation the right of appeal is the one thing that the citizen has left under the increasing authority of the State. State monopolies are universal. Whether it be an employee or an independent citizen in relation to a State organisation, whether it be the mines or the railways, or any of the multifarious State organisations with which we are increasingly faced, is it the wish of the Government that the individual shall have no right whatever, that the State is to be the supreme final landlord, and that the State's decision is final? That is what we are doing in this Bill. It is creditable to their Lordships that they have been touched by the lamentable situation of the private person, and so have put down this Amendment. I would repeat the wording: Any person aggrieved by any assessment or determination of the amount of a development charge … Does the Joint Under-Secretary seriously tell the House that among the transactions which will inevitably follow the passing of this Bill no one will ever be aggrieved, that no one will ever be rightly aggrieved, that no one will be done a great wrong? Does he tell me that he intends to perpetuate the principle of doing great wrongs without the right of appeal? This long battle for social justice and economic rights surely reaches an anti-climax when the Joint Under-Secretary says that the citizen shall have no right of appeal, that the State is the overlord, the master, the controller of all our destinies, and that it is under that Juggernaut that we must live or die. Can he not find some principle, some machinery, whereby the citizens of Scotland will be free to appeal against what they think is an injustice?

The people of Scotland have never been slow to appeal against injustice. Their history has been a long fight against tyranny, the tyranny of the State, the tyranny of landlord, the tyranny of the Church, the tyranny of the capitalist. The last tyranny has been swallowed up by the greatest tyranny of all, the final tyranny, the tyranny of the State. I beg the hon. Gentleman to find some way out, some tiny space that the mouse might find through which to creep out from under the wheel of the Juggernaut car.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)

I never thought to live to see the day when a leading Scottish Socialist would found the whole of his case on the necessity for following the good example of the private landlord. That was the whole case which the hon. Gentleman made—that because the private landlord has a right to dictate, to say "Yes" or "No" at his own sweet will, it was so good an example that the State must follow it. Accordingly, either the hon. Gentleman was talking with his tongue in his cheek, or else all the tirades that we have heard for generations about the monstrous way in which the ordinary man is subjected to the whims of the powerful landlord were just vote catching devices. The hon. Gentleman can have it whichever way he likes, but one or the other must be the case. I do not want to repeat what has already been said by my hon. Friends but I want to ask the hon. Gentleman why he is afraid of an appeal? What is he afraid of? Is he afraid of there being so many cases that he cannot tackle them administratively? If he is afraid of that, it means that he believes that the whole of this system is fundamentally unjust, because one does not have a multitude of appeals if, on the whole, justice is being done. Then one only has very few appeals. Therefore, if there is any question of his being afraid that there will be a clog in the administrative machine, that means that he has no belief in the essential justice of his scheme.

If he is not afraid of that, what is it? Is it extra expense to the State? I should not have thought so, because on more than one occasion he has reversed a good practice, which was established under a previous Government, of the State bearing the expense of these tribunals, and he has put the expense on the unfortunate person who has to go to the tribunal. If he wants to do that, I would accept it as better than nothing. I would not ask that the expense of these appeals should be put upon the State. But it cannot be that. If it is not administrative inconvenience or expense to the State, what is it—delay? I see the hon. Gentleman shakes his head. It is not delay.

Mr. Buchanan

Really, the right hon. and learned Gentleman must let me move my head sometimes. I am not a prisoner at the bar.

Mr. Reid

The hon. Gentleman is always very good at saving time in these Debates. He frequently indicates when one is on a false point. I always make a point of taking his indication and departing at once. If it is delay, let me examine that aspect for a moment and see what it amounts to. If he was afraid of a vast multitude of appeals, of course there might be delay. If he is only afraid of a few appeals, how can there be delay? He can have his own tribunal sitting there ready to undertake cases, and the cases will come up quickly. What does delay matter to him? It is the developer who is voluntarily submitting to delay by going to the appeal tribunal. It does not matter a bit to the hon. Gentleman whether or not there is delay. What is the alternative? If the developer does not have an appeal, instead of delay probably we will not get the development at all. The developer will say, "I thought I was going to make a little money from this development. I now think I am being treated unjustly and charged too much. The regulations are being applied wrongly against me. What do I do? I just do not develop at all. I stay where I am and take any advantage of any increment values that comes to the property in its existing state without trying to benefit myself and the country." That is what it does. It discourages development.

I have said before that I thought that this Bill would have a most serious effect in discouraging development in Scotland. It will have an even more serious effect if its operation engenders in the minds of those affected a feeling of injustice. That is bound to happen if there is no appeal. It is bound to happen because the best tribunal in the world will never avoid some feeling of injustice in those whom it has assessed. If a person finds that the original tribunal and the appeal tribunal both take the same view, he is much more inclined to think, "Perhaps after all I may be wrong and they may be right," but he will not think that about this tribunal.

I now come to the point which differentiates Scotland from England. This is a reason why I think the hon. Gentleman could very well afford to allow an appeal in Scotland even though this House rejected an appeal in England. The main body of the Central Land Board is an English body sitting in England. There will be something like six or seven members who will deal with these matters. No doubt the difficult ones will be dealt with by the whole Board. Those members will be in touch with English conditions. There may even be a lawyer among them to keep the tribunal right on questions of law. It is possible that the tribunal may—one hopes that it will—in the majority of cases reach a reasonably just decision. But what have we got for Scotland? We have been refused a separate tribunal. We have been told we are to have two members who will come to Edinburgh and give the office there the benefit of their assistance. Observe what that means. Either these difficult cases in Scotland are to be dealt with simply by the official staff in the office, which will hardly be satisfactory, or they are to be dealt with by one or both of these two members in the course of a fleeting visit to Edinburgh, or they are to come down to London for decision. There is no other possibility. All those possibilities, I venture to suggest, are unsatisfactory. If these difficult cases—and I shall show how difficult they are in a moment—are to be dealt with simply by the office staff in Edinburgh, I doubt very much whether the system will work well and I am sure that there will be a great deal of dissatisfaction and a great feeling of injustice in many quarters.

Is it any better to have the two peripatetic members of the Committee or the Board coming to Edinburgh to decide? Are two people a sufficient number to decide very difficult questions of legal interpretation and valuation, and others which I will come to in a moment? Are two people enough? Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the whole development of Scotland should be in the hands of two men and that if they make a mistake then nothing can be done, because I do not think that he is going to give directions on this? What happens if they disagree? Are we to come to England then with the difficult cases to submit them to members of the Board who are not familiar with Scottish conditions? Is that what is to happen, or at the end of the day is the administration of this Bill to be, as we suggested at an earlier stage, really in the hands of an English Board? That seems to be the only way in which the hon. Gentleman will get a decision. I doubt if Scotland realises—I doubt if the hon. Gentleman himself realises—that the only way in which he can avoid constant reference to England in difficult cases is to give an appeal to some body sitting in Scotland.

What are these cases? My hon. Friend the Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) has already referred to the question of undue preference. The Amendment which we have just accepted is completely meaningless unless we have an appeal. No body, large or small, skilled or unskilled, is going deliberately to give a preference if they thought it to be undue or unfair. Therefore, we might as well not have had the Amendment. I cannot imagine that any body, or any single person, would ever grant a preferance which he thought was unfair, undue or unreasonable, to keep to the words of the Amendment. The House will observe that it is not a prohibition against giving any preference at all, but a prohibition against giving an undue or unreasonable preference. That might mean something if there was an appeal from the person who fixes the assessment to somebody who could apply an independent judgment to the question whether the preference was undue or unreasonable, but it means nothing at all if the man who fixes the assessment is the same man who has the final say whether the preference is unreasonable or not. That is of no value at all.

Mr. Buchanan

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman want me to put the thing back as it was before?

Mr. Reid

We have already passed that, but I would not mind a bit if the hon. Gentleman had done, because it means nothing. Obviously, their Lordships in another place put in these two Amendments, and the hon. Gentleman has accepted one and rejected the other, thereby depriving the first of all its value, unless he says that he is going to appoint people to the Central Land Board who would deliberately give a preference which was unreasonable. If he is going to appoint people like that, the Amendment may have some meaning; otherwise, it has none. I now come to the next question——

Mr. Kirkwood (Dumbarton Burghs)

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman know of the case of the crofter's land in which there was no appeal?

Mr. Reid

I confess I do not follow that, but I have myself conducted an appeal in such cases, and the hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that we have a Scottish lawyer presiding in a Scottish land court, and, if they go wrong on a point of law, there is an appeal to the Court of Session. I am afraid the hon. Gentleman does not know the position. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not on points of law."] Very well, I should like that as being better than nothing—if we had an appeal on points of law—if the hon. Gentleman is prepared to give us that.

Mr. Kirkwood

But there is no appeal against the decision of the court.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Reid

As a matter of fact, there are such things as mixed questions of fact and law, and it is the case that, if a tribunal goes so far wrong as to decide in a sense for which there is no evidence at all, one can upset that in a court of law. If they weigh the evidence wrongly, then I agree that there is no appeal, but I would point out that a question of law can very easily arise here, because Clause 66 (3) states: such regulations may in particular provide for securing that the amount of the said charge shall be determined on different principles in relation to operations or uses of different classes, or in relation to operations or uses carried out or begun at different periods. There are at least two different kinds of questions of law that can arise there. We may first have a question of law on what is the meaning of regulations, and, if I know anything about the way in which regulations have been poured out recently, many of them, through no fault of the draftsmen, are drafted rather sketchily, because the draftsmen did not have the time to deal with the job properly. I would make bold to prophesy that there would be a great many questions of law about the meaning of the regulations under this Bill.

There is a further question of law. Different regulations are to apply to different classes of operations, and, therefore, it is a question of law whether a particular operation falls within one class, where one principle applies, or into another class, where another principle applies. Those are questions of law. Is the hon. Gentleman going to appoint a Scottish lawyer as one of the two people who are appointed to the Central Land Board as representing Scotland? I do not know. I should have thought not myself. I should think it would take two practical valuers all their time to do the job, and that there would not be room to appoint a Scottish lawyer. Very well, who is going to advise these gentlemen on the legal questions that will arise? There is no provision for legal assessors in difficult cases. I should think there would be some consultation of some kind behind the scenes, and some kind of a decision for which nobody is really responsible, and that would be a most unsatisfactory state of affairs.

I beg the hon. Gentleman to realise that the position in Scotland, since he has refused us a separate board, is quite different and much more liable to lead to trouble than the position in England. He can prevent that situation perfectly easily if he will agree to an appeal in Scottish cases. It would be going some way to put right the wrong which he has done by depriving Scotland of a proper board or even committee of its own. I would ask him, for those reasons, not to rely on the argument—which I am sure he did not mean as a real argument—of administrative convenience, or on the argument of what this House has done in different circumstances, but to take a line of his own and realise that we have a practical problem here of our own and do something to meet it.

Mr. Buchanan

I must confess that the right hon. and learned Gentleman amazed me with his capacity for attacking what he has even asked me to do himself. For instance, let us take what has happened. In Committee upstairs and on the Report stage, we spent a lot of time on this issue on which it was alleged that there was a difference of treatment between one person and another. We spent far longer on that than on this point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now raising. We spent hours on that matter, and we gave a guarantee, but, when we gave them more than they asked for, the right hon. and learned Gentleman now says, "You should not have given me what we spent hours talking about. You should not have wasted your time. It really does not matter and, if you drop it, I do not care." The right hon. and learned Gentleman's ingenious way of attacking me and arguing is masterly.

Let me take the purpose of the Amendment we are now discussing. I would say to the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) that I rather like English Members to intervene in our Scottish Debates, and I have always taken the view that they might help us very much in our Scottish problems. I do not agree with the remark I heard the other night on the wireless when an hon. Member was saying that it was a Scottish question which the House was discussing and that he took his nose out and walked away. That is not the way in which English hon. Members should treat us, and I therefore welcome the intervention of the hon. Member. What happens if we have no appeal? This Amendment confines itself to one point alone, that is, an appeal against a charge that we will make. That is the only point with which this Amendment is concerned. Appeals on other matters do not arise here; the only thing that does arise is the appeal on the development charge. Even if I accepted the Amendment, the appeal court could not deal with the points raised by the hon. Member. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that if a board breaks instructions laid down by Act of Parliament, there can always be an appeal to the court against it in that connection.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I should like to hear the hon. and learned Lord Advocate on that, because I doubt it.

Mr. Buchanan

If, let us say, a board connected with unemployment insurance does not carry out the law as laid down, one can take action against it in the courts.

Mr. Reid

indicated dissent.

Mr. Buchanan

Oh, yes, action could be taken if the provisions of the law were not carried out. The Amendment with which we are concerned deals only with the setting up of an appeal board to consider the price which the Central Land Board charges.

Mr. Reid

Surely, if, for instance, I say that the price is too high, because there has been an undue preference, or because a regulation has not been followed, or, again, because the wrong regulation has been applied under this Amendment, the appeal tribunal would have to determine this question?

Mr. Buchanan

Despite what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says, this Amendment deals with only one thing—the price of the development charge.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The hon. Gentleman said that there would be a right of appeal to the courts if the Central Land Board disregarded the law, and we now have in this Bill an express statement that the Central Land Board are not to discriminate. Does than mean that there would be a right of appeal in every case by a developer who had received an assessment, on the basis that there was discrimination against him?

Mr. Buchanan

It is not a question of a right of appeal, but a question of court action against anybody who does not carry out the law. On one occasion, the law laid it down that three members appointed by the Minister of Labour should constitute the appeal board to decide a particular matter, and to decide it on certain grounds. Some individuals took the view that the members of this board had not dealt with the matter according to the Act, and, on that ground, they appealed to the court, who heard them. There can always be an appeal to the Court of Session on the ground that the Central Land Board has ignored the Act of Parliament as laid down by this House.

The hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) said that people have a right of appeal in connection with Income Tax, and a number of other matters. But this Board is dealing with an entirely different thing; it is selling development rights, and it is selling those rights in the best possible market. It thinks that it is entitled to charge a fair and reasonable price. If one takes the view that the Central Land Board will constantly be screwing down people to what they consider to be the last penny, then there is the right of appeal, although the right hon. and learned Gentleman carried the matter a stage further. He argued that there should be a right of appeal against the Central Land Board, not merely in respect to the price charged, but in respect of everything it does, because, not being a Scottish body, they could not be trusted to do the work, and that, therefore, another non-Scottish body should be set up to appeal against the Central Land Board. That is carrying the matter too far.

I repeat, without necessarily being ashamed of it, that it is a conflict between the two sides. I say this to the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie)—I will give him something to use at the elections; we have all used certain things at the elections, but, in that respect, perhaps the hon. Member for Gorbals could claim to have used them less than most. If one sits for a comparatively good seat one needs to pledge less than others, who are only dealing with a few hundred votes. I say this, that the Central Land Board is a publicly appointed body, appointed by a public servant, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with his colleague across the Border. It is a responsible body composed, presumably, of people responsible for their job. I say that a public body ought to be trusted to do its work in at least the same way as private landlords have been allowed to do theirs for generations past. Private landlords have had this right for a long period of years without any interference, and without there being any feeling of injustice in regard to it. I believe that the Central Land Board will do its work in a creditable fashion.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)

I had not intended to intervene in the discussion on this particular Clause because I did not hear the hon. Gentleman's opening remarks, as, owing to the absence of a ticker tape in the silence room, I did not know that we had got as far as this. We want to emphasise that an aggrieved person has no appeal. I cannot understand how hon. Members opposite, who represent Scottish constituencies, can sit quiet while this matter is being discussed and not make one word of protest in support of a principle which, I have always understood, they have fought for all their political lives. It is most indicative of what has happened to Scottish Members opposite that they should sit quiet while one of their lifelong principles is swept away under their very noses.

The Joint Under-Secretary, with, his usual frankness and humour, has put a very clear case before us, but I think he has avoided the one thing that matters, which is that a State organisation is being set up against which there is no appeal. That is the very negation of freedom, however big or however small the matter may be. It is the State versus one individual, and that individual has no appeal. I cannot believe that hon. Members opposite are going to put that principle in black and white on recording their votes on this particular matter. Had the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) laid down this principle, I should have said, "All credit to him; he sticks to his Parliamentary and party principles." But I have always understood that his principles were anathema to the Socialists. Is this possibly a new set-up? I think most emphatically that, before we leave this point—and I sincerely hope that we are going to vote on it—we must record the fact that a State organisation—and heaven knows what tyrants they can be—is going to say to an individual, "This is what you are going to do; there can be no argument, and there is no appeal." To my mind, that is horrible, and I make no bones about it at all.

7.0 p.m.

Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)

I am somewhat disappointed to note that we have not had one speech from the benches behind the Joint Under-Secretary of State; there has not been a single remark from them. Surely, the discipline which the hon. Gentleman can impose on his followers is something remarkable.

Most amazing of all is this: I had hoped tonight that we should be listening not only to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, but also to the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). We have not. We have been listening to the Under-Secretary, and his voice is very different from that which we used to hear from the hon. Member for Gorbals. Let me state one thing which struck me as being extraordinarily curious coming from him Here is a great public board to be set up—a public board which, it is said, will always be right and just. If I take my mind back, I can hear the hon. Gentleman using those words in relation to the public assistance boards. Yet he has claimed for another similar board just those virtues which he questioned in relation to the public assistance boards.

Mr. Buchanan

I am amazed at the hon. and gallant Gentleman's impudence. [Interruption.] We in Glasgow understand our language much better than some other people do. A public assistance board, with three members, two of whom sometimes did not turn up, could determine how an old couple had to live, and there was not a single appeal against any decision the board might make

Commander Galbraith

The hon. Gentleman has really proved my point for me. That is exactly what I have been saying. Here we have a public board, and the hon. Gentleman does not know how many people will attend it Will there always be a full number? The hon. Gentleman has repeated my argument, almost word for word. As for misunderstanding the hon. Gentleman's use of words, I quite agree that he used the word "impudence" in a way which, if he and I were talking to gentlemen south of the Border, might cause some ill-feeling. I have no ill-feeling whatever about the use of the word. But the hon. Gentleman must remember his former days and the battles he fought then, and compare them with what he is doing now. He said a moment ago that there ought to have been

an appeal from the public assistance board. Of course, there should have been, and there should be an appeal in this case, too.

The hon. Gentleman also said that we on this side of the House were assuming that the Board would "screw people down." How does the hon. Gentleman know that that will not happen, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer behind him, and that every penny possible will be screwed out of them? The hon. Gentleman said he was amazed at the arguments which I have been using. I am far more amazed and disappointed by the arguments that the hon. Gentleman has used, and, indeed, I am disappointed that hon. Members sitting behind him have not raised their voices as they would have done two years ago, in support of the right of appeal for the people of Scotland. In the circumstances, we have no option but to divide against the Government.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 100.

Division No. 367.] AYES. [7.05 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Brown, T J (Ince) Edwards, John (Blackburn)
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Buchanan, G. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Burden, T. W. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Burke, W. A Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Alpass, J. H. Carmichael, James Evans, John (Ogmore)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Chamberlain. R. A Evans, S N. (Wednesbury)
Anderson, F (Whitehaven) Chater, D. Fairhurst, F.
Attewell, H. C. Chetwynd, G R. Farthing, W. J
Austin, H. Lewis Cluse, W. S Fernyhough, E.
Awbery, S. S. Cobb, F. A Field, Captain W J
Ayles, W. H. Cooks, F. S Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E.)
Ayrton Gould. Mrs B Coldrick, W. Follick, M.
Baird, J Collick, P Foot, M. M
Balfour, A. Collindridge, F. Foster, W. (Wigan)
Barnes, Rt Hon A. J Collins, V. J Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Barstow, P. G. Colman, Miss G. M. Gaitskell, H T. N.
Barton, C. Cook, T. F Gallacher, W.
Battley, J. R. Cooper, Wing-Comdr G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Bechervaise, A. E Corbet, Mrs. F. K (Camb'well, N. W.) Gibbins, J.
Belcher, J W Corlett, Dr. J. Gilzean, A.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon F J. Corvedale, Viscount Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Benson, G Cove, W. G Goodrich, H. E.
Berry, H Crawley, A. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A (Wakefield)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A (Ebbw Vale) Crossman, R. H. S. Grenfell, D. R
Bing G. H. C Davies, Edward (Burslem) Grey, C. F.
Binns, J Davies, Harold (Leek) Grierson, E.
Blackburn, A. R Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)
Blenkinsop, A. Davies, R. J (Westhoughton) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Blyton, W. R Davies, S. O (Merthyr) Griffiths, W D (Moss Side)
Boardman, H Deer, G. Gunter, R. J.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. de Freitas, Geoffrey Guy, W. H.
Bowles, F G. (Nuneaton) Diamond, J. Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Dobbie, W. Hale, Leslie
Braddock T. (Mitcham) Dodds, N N Hamilton, Lt.-Col R
Bramall, E A Donovan, T Hardy, E. A.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Driberg, T E N Harrison, J.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Durbin, E. F. M Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brown, George (Belper) Ede, Rt Hon. J. C Haworth, J.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Messer, F. Skinnard, F. W.
Harbison, Miss M Middleton, Mrs. L. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Hicks, G. Mikardo, Ian Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)
Hobson, C. R Mitchison, G. R. Snow, Capt. J. W.
Holman, P Monslow, W Solley, L. J.
House, G. Moody, A. S. Sorensen, R. W.
Hoy, J. Morgan, Dr. H. B Sparks, J. A.
Hubbard, T. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Stamford, W
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Mort, D L Steele, T.
Hughes, Emrys (S Ayr) Moyle, A. Stephen, C.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Mulvey, A Stross, Dr. B.
Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.) Nally, W. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Naylor, T E. Swingler, S.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Nicholls, H R (Stratford) Sylvester, G. O.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Noel-Buxton, Lady Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Irving, W. J Oldfield, W. H. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Oliver, G. H. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Jay, D. P. T. Orbach, M. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Paget, R. T. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Keenan, W Palmer, A. M. F. Thurtle, Ernest
Kenyon, C. Pargiter, G. A. Tiffany, S.
Key, C. W. Parker, J. Titterington, M. F.
King, E. M Parkin, B. T. Tolley, L.
Kinley, J. Paton, J (Norwich) Usborne, Henry
Kirby, B. V. Pearson, A Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Kirkwood, D Peart, Thomas F. Viant, S. P.
Lavers, S. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Wallace, G D. (Chislehurst)
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J J. Popplewell, E Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Porter, E. (Warrington) Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Leonard, W. Price, M. Philips Weitzman, D.
Leslie, J. R. Pritt, D. N. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Levy, B. W. Proctor, W. T. Wells, W. T (Walsall)
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Pursey, Cmdr. H West, D. G.
Lewis, J (Bolton) Ranger, J. White, H (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Lindgren, G. S. Rankin, J. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Rees-Williams, D. R Wigg, Col. G. E.
Logan, D. G Reeves, J. Wilkes, L.
Longden, F Reid, T. (Swindon) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Lyne, A. W Rhodes, H. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
McAdam, W. Rogers, G. H. R. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
McAllister, G. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
McEntee, V. La T. Royle, C. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
McGhee, H. G Scollan, T. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
McGovern, J. Scott-Elliot, W. Willis, E.
Mackay, R. W G. (Hull, N. W.) Segal, Dr. S. Wills, Mrs. E. A
McLeavy, F. Shackleton, E A. A. Wilson, J. H. J.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Sharp, Granville Wise, Major F. J.
Macpherson, T. (Romford) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Woodburn, A.
Mainwaring, W. H. Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St. Helens) Wyatt, W.
Mallalieu, J. P W. Shurmer, P. Yates, V. F.
Mann, Mrs. J. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Silverman, J. (Erdington) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Zilliacus, K.
Marshall, F (Brightside) Simmons, C. J
Mathers, G Skeffington, A. M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Medland, H. M. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Mr. Hannan.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Langford-Holt, J.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Drayson, G. B. Legge-Bourke. Maj. E. A. H.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.) Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Lindsay, M (Solihull)
Baldwin, A E. Duthie, W. S Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Beamish, Maj. T V. H Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Beechman, N. A. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M Lucas, Maj. Sir J.
Bennett, Sir P Galbraith, Cmdr. T D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Gammans, L. D. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O
Bower, N. Clyn Sir R McCallum, Maj. D
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Grimston, R V. McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Maclay, Hon. J. S.
Bullock, Capt. M. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Challen, C. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maitland, Comdr, J. W.
Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G Hogg, Hon. Q. Manningham-Buller, R. E
Cole, T. L. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Marples, A. E.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hurd, A Marshal, D. (Bodmin)
Crosthwaile-Eyre, Col. O. E Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C) Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Crowder, Capt. John E. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Maude, J. C.
Cuthbert, W. N. Kendall, W. D. Mellor, Sir J.
Darling, Sir W. Y Kerr, Sir J. Graham Molson, A. H. E.
Digby, S. W. Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Morris-Jones, Sir H.
Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead) Vane, W. M. F.
Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Wadsworth, G.
Nicholson, G. Sanderson, Sir F. Walker-Smith, D.
Nield, B. (Chester) Savory, Prof. D. L Ward, Hon. G. R.
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P Scott, Lord W. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Orr-Ewing, I. L. Spearman, A. C. M White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Pickthorn, K. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ponsonby, Col. C. E Sutcliffe, H. York, C.
Prescott, Stanley Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Raikes, H. V. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ramsay, Major S Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Mr. Drewe and Major Conant.
Rayner, Brig. R Touche, G. C.

Question put, and agreed to.