§ Mr. Silkin
I beg to move, in page 56, line 9, at the end, to insert:(2) The rate of interest for any period after the passing of this Act on compensation which fell or falls, in default of agreement, to be ascertained in accordance with the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919 (whether as originally enacted or as amended by any subsequent enactment including this Act), in respect of land compulsorily purchased on which entry has been made before the payment of the compensation shall, in lieu of being the rate of five per cent. specified under Section eighty-five of the Lands Clauses (Consolidation) Act, 1845. be such other rate as may from time to time be 1130 prescribed by regulations made by the Treasury under this Act.(3) Any regulations made by the Treasury under Section sixty-two of the Act of 1944 which are in force at the date of the passing of this Act shall continue in force and have effect as ii they had been made under this Act and shall accordingly apply to any compensation which falls, in default of agreement, to be ascertained in accordance with the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, as amended by this Act.This is very largely a drafting Amendment. It involves a rearrangement of Section 62 of the 1944 Act, which is repealed by this Bill. The relevant portions of Section 62 are reinstated in Clause 50.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
This Clause deals in the main with acquisitions by statutory undertakers. I gather that the Minister's object in moving this Amendment is to make certain that the specification of rates of interest may be varied from time to time instead of being held down to the 5 per cent. instituted in the Lands Clauses (Consolidation) Act, 1845. At the same time, I should like to make this observation on what is proposed. The Lands Clauses (Consolidation) Act, 1845, instituted 5 per cent. and that was intended as a spur to those who were due to pay compensation to be speedy and prompt in paying, otherwise there was this bill of interest running against them. Though I do not object to what the Minister is proposing, there is a point of substance involved, because it is entirely in the public interest that these transactions shall be liquidated as rapidly as possible so that the person who is dispossessed of a piece of property gets his working capital returned as quickly as possible and there is no lag in starting work of production or whatever it may be. I hope that when the Government use the power the Minister now seeks, they will bear that aspect of the matter in mind and make sure that the rate of interest proposed is such as to be a substantial incentive to prompt settlement.
§ Mr. Silkin
It is only right to point out that it was the right hon. Gentleman who reduced the rate of interest from 5 to 4 per cent. in Section 62 of the 1944 Act and also provided machinery for modifying the rate of interest from time to time.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
It is because of that, that I have made those observations. 1131 Although it was right to substitute 4 per cent. for 5 per cent. in 1944, I should not like the Government to go to the other extreme, and imagine that there is no value in the exaction of interest of a substantial character for deferred payments. For that reason I ask the Government to keep that aspect of the matter in mind in administration.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.