HC Deb 13 May 1947 vol 437 cc1341-63

(1) As soon as may be after the development values of interests in all or substantially all land, in respect of- which claims have been made under Part V of this Act, have been determined by the Central Land Board in accordance with the provisions of the said Part, the Central Land Board shall cause to be made out a statement showing:

  1. (a) the aggregate amount of the development values so determined;
  2. (b) the amount by which in their opinion the said aggregate amount would be diminished if the determination had been made on a single claim but otherwise in accordance with the provisions of Part V of this Act, together with the reasons for their opinion.

(2) The statement made under the last foregoing Subsection shall be transmitted to the Minister, who shall forthwith lay copies thereof before both Houses of Parliament if Parliament be then sitting, or if not, within one month after the then next sitting of Parliament. —[Mr. W. S. Morrison.]

Brought up, and read the First Time.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The purpose of this new Clause is to place upon the Central Land Board a certain duty, which the Bill does not impose, to make out a statement showing the aggregate amount of development values and the amount by which, in their opinion, that aggregate amount would be diminished if the determination had been made on a single claim but otherwise in accordance with the provisions of Part V of the Bill, together with their reasons. I think I can show the main purpose of this proposed new Clause very briefly. It has to do with the provision in the Bill of £300 million as a global sum in settlement of depreciated development values. The reason why the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have adopted the global sum method of settling this form of compensation arises from the problem of floating values which is discussed at considerable length in the Uthwatt Committee's report.

I need not worry the House with an elaborate disquisition on the subject of floating values, but the trouble briefly is this. It was stated in the Report of the Uthwatt Committee that while development value is a part of the total value of all land in the neighbourhood of cities, it is nevertheless very difficult to assess its true value. The Committee state that if the portion of the value due to its development right for every separate parcel be taken and the total of these parcels added together this will in fact give a total for development value which is in excess of the value that will be realised by actual development. The reason for that is that every owner of land in the vicinity of a built up area says that his land has a chance of being developed, and until the land is actually developed it is impossible to deny that this chance of development does exist in every parcel of land that is contiguous to a built-up area. But by valuing everybody's chances, say the Uthwatt Committee, one arrives at a total which is greater than the value that would be realised in fact by the actual development which settles on particular plots of land. This amount of excess value which is due to the addition of a number of chances, not all of which can be successful, is what is called the element of floating value.

This controversy about floating value is in itself a very academic one. That there is such a thing there is, perhaps, little doubt, but as to its extent I have always had the greatest misgiving about some of the confident predictions that are uttered on the subject. In the process of valuation of a plot of land no valuer would claim—and no arbitrator would assess—any development value approaching to a certainty that the land will ultimately be developed. He would discount the added value of development by what was considered to be an appropriate factor having regard to the chances involved. I myself believe that the statement in the Uthwatt Report that the total values would amount to three times the actual value of development is somewhat exaggerated and only compatible with a statement that the surveying and valuing profession do not know how adequately to discount the chances of development in the area. In their approach to this matter the Government have adopted the global sum, and the Minister has from time to time given us the reasons which prompted him to assess the value of this figure as £300 million. That has been criticised by hon. Members on both sides of the House—some saying that it was too high, and some that it was too low. What we seek by this new Clause is to charge the Central Land Board with the duty of finding out the truth. It is quite easy for hon. Members on both sides, in accordance with their own views, to give confident predictions as to the truth of what I find a very baffling and complicated question, but we do suggest that if the process which we ask for in this Clause were added to the duties of the Central Land Board we should, after the lapse of some time, be in possession of a mass of information about the real incidence and value of development which nobody in this country possesses at present.

We are therefore moving that the Central Land Board—which will receive all the claims for compensation out of the global sum—should tell the House and the Minister what the total of this sum is, so that we have a factor for coming to a just conclusion on this matter which we have not had before. The Central Land Board will be the first body of its kind to be in a position to collect this information and make the assessment. I think it highly important that we who are trying to solve these difficult problems in this House with the aid of what are, at best, intelligent guesses, should take advantage of the institution of this new body, charged with the duties of the Bill, to make it amass for us or our successors information which we ask it to produce. Then the Central Land Board, having received all these claims for development values, can make a decision and an estimation that no one else can make as to what is the actual float involved in this matter. Then we shall no longer have these guesses, either upwards or downwards.

I will give the House one instance of the widely varying estimates of skilled people on this subject. There is a passage about it in the Barlow Committee's Report which reads to the effect—I speak from memory—that the chief valuer to the Board of Inland Revenue gave evidence and put it as an intelligent guess, and no more, that the total development value in undeveloped land was between £300 million and £400 million. That is the opinion, for what it is worth, expressed in 1937 by a man who had probably a wider conspectus of development valuation than has any of us here. How different that is from the valuation of the right hon. Gentleman. He takes the lower of the two figures, £300 million, and includes in it not only development values in undeveloped land but redeveloped value in developed land, which must be an enormously large sum, much greater, I should have guessed, than the development value in undeveloped land.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

It also includes mineral values.

Mr. Morrison

I was about to add that, as my hon. Friend has just pointed out, in this great mass of £300 million the Minister has also added, under the terms of the Bill, the compensation for mineral values. In addition to that, we are now dealing with this year of Grace, 1947, whereas the chief valuer's guess was made in 1937, and it is common knowledge that the value of money has changed very greatly since then. If one takes all these factors into account—the chief valuer's guess in 1937 for a very much smaller area of development values than is included in the right lion. Gentleman's guess, and the lower guess of the right hon. Gentleman to cover a very much wider area—we can see how large are the discrepancies which honest men can make in trying to solve, by guesswork, this great problem. If this Clause were adopted, we should set out to solve this matter, not by guesswork, but by ascertainment of truth. It may be that hon. Members opposite are quite right in thinking that £300 million is much too great a sum, or that we are right, but I, personally, would abide by the result of whatever the eventual examination indicated.

It is very difficult to express in legal language what is really comprehended by the term "floating value." We are not wedded to the words in this Clause, and if the right hon. Gentleman, with his skilled draftsman, can suggest a better method to achieve the object, I shall be perfectly happy to fall in with his wishes. What we are asking is that during the performance of their duties, the Central Land Board shall tell us the aggregate amount of the development values so determined, and then, with their experience, tell us what is the difference in the total amount, if the determination had been made on a single claim, and the real development values involved. An impartial body of this character, which has access to more information than any body of persons has had before, would be able to make a contribution which would help us to determine this very baffling and complicated question.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

The Treasury have to prepare a scheme for the apportionment of the £300 million between England and Wales, on the one hand, and Scotland, on the other. Not until they have done that, do they proceed to their further task of apportioning the sum in respect of the English and Welsh claimants. They may not do this until they are, in the words introduced by the Minister in Committee, sufficiently informed about the extent of the claims. What we want to secure. is that the data upon which this determination has been made, shall be made public, and we propose, therefore, that the development values should be submitted, and adjusted with the district valuers, as they presumably must be before they can be agreed as approximately correct; that the adjusted claim should then be aggregated and the Board should then deduct an element, if there is such an element, in respect of floating values. It might be said here that there ought not to be any element of floating values after these claims had been discussed and agreed with the district valuer because the valuer should be able to write off the element of floating value in respect of every valuation made. In other words, the two parties, sitting opposite each other and adjusting these things, ought to arrive at a true value, or at least something like it. We want to be quite safe, and so we suggest inserting this Clause as an additional safeguard. If it is found at the end of the day that there is still an element in the aggregate figure which represents floating values, that can be deducted.

After all these processes have been gone through, the Board submit their figures to the Minister, who has to make them available to both Houses of Parliament. I want the Minister to notice that this Clause is specifically designed to eliminate floating values. It is not our desire that there should be an element of floating value in any claims paid to anyone who is being deprived of development values. That is not part of our case. We must not overlook the fact that all the evidence goes to show that the total sum with which we are dealing, this £300 million, is fantastically inadequate.

5.45 P.m.

Mr. Gallacher

It is too much.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

All informed opinion is agreed upon what I say. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) has recounted some of the difficulties which he found when he was in the Minister's place, and he has told us of some of the considerations which then entered into assessments of this kind. He has told us of the intelligent guess which was made, in 1937, by the chief valuer of the Inland Revenue Department as to development values on land outside urban areas. He reminded the House that we are dealing not only with this but with mineral rights, and here I would point out that I am informed that mineral values in this country alone are worth £100 million. I cannot say whether this estimate is right or not, but it is put forward by people who know about these things, and that being the case, the figure of £300 million does not seem to be an over-estimate, to put it no higher than that. In these circumstances, there is bound to be a great feeling in the country about the determinations under Part V of the Bill. For that reason, the Minister would be well advised to make everything as clear and above board as possible, which is the purpose of this Clause.

Mr. Gallacher

When I heard the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) say that £300 million was fantastically inadequate, I felt tempted to protest. I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) talking about honest valuation, and it seemed to me that he made a very peculiar remark, on which I congratulate him, when he said "I believe myself, etc." If he wants an honest valuation, he would have to go into the whole question of how these people came to own the land. The hon. Member for West Aberdeen says that the mineral rights are estimated at £100 million. Who is going to claim the right to these minerals? Is anybody going to say, "Because we putt these minerals under our land we have the right to be paid?" It is fantastic for anybody to suggest that the people should pay for those minerals. Instead, let us make an investigation as to how the land-owners got their land—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Even if the Clause is passed it will not allow for that investigation.

Mr. Gallacher

An ex-Secretary of State for Scotland wrote a book to prove that a!1 the land of Scotland was stolen—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I cannot find that that book is mentioned in this Clause.

Mr. Gallacher

I mentioned it only by way of illustration. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has just reminded me that when we were at a Socialist Sunday school we were always taught that the robber bands had seized our land. It is now being suggested that £300 million is inadequate to provide proper compensation. I say that that sum is far too much, that the people of this country have the right to protest about this system—

Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that without the disclosure of these figures, he cannot be sure that Scotland will get her fair share? Does he not want to stand up for Scotland?

Mr. Gallacher

If I had my way no landowners in Scotland would get a penny; they have had far too much already.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member will not get his way and be permitted to continue this argument. He must keep to the Clause.

Mr. Gallacher

I hope the Minister will not be affected by the appeals which have been made to him from the benches opposite. I hope he will not consider the Clause, and that he will not encourage those who are demanding an increase over and above the £300 million. If there is any way of scaling the sum down he should seek that way, but he should not consider any method of increasing it. The more we discuss this Bill, and other Bills involving compensation, the clearer it is, that in these matters we have to deal with a gathering of highwaymen, and not a gathering of representatives of the people of this country.

Mr. Silkin

I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) and his hon. Friends on the skill with which, under the guise of a perfectly innocent-looking new Clause, they have been able to initiate a discussion on the merits, or otherwise, of the figure of £300 million, which, I thought, had been settled by the House on the Second Reading, and by the Money Resolution. I take it that the main object of the right hon. Gentleman is not to get more information, or one more opinion, but really to try to get a bigger sum than £300 million. Otherwise, such opinion as he would get from the Central Land Board would be of only academic interest. I am sure Members opposite are not concerned merely with the academic opinion of a body which is not yet in existence.

I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his very interesting discussion of the adequacy, or otherwise, of the £300 million. As I have said before, some people think it too much, some think it too little. Probably it is about right. At any rate, the House has decided that it is right, and this Clause could not have the effect of increasing it. Is this new Clause of any value, even from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view? Will it get information, or an opinion, from the Central Land Board? The right hon. Gentleman is asking for the aggregate amount of the development values. That is merely a matter of arithmetic. He is also asking for the amount by which, in the opinion of the Central Land Board, the aggregate amount would be diminished if the determination had been made on a single claim. What will he get if the determination is made on a single claim? He will not get a figure which is the true development value, even if the opinion of the Central Land Board were a valuable opinion. Merely by valuing all the land, as if it were made on a single claim, will not get him the true development value.

To get the true development value you have to ascertain, or forecast, how much development will take place over, say, the next 30 years. When you know that, you can assess the true development value, but you will not know that until the 30 years have expired. That is the difficulty in which everyone who has attempted to ascertain the amount of the float has found himself. All you can do is to make an intelligent guess. A number of intelligent guesses have been made. I have made one myself, and it is as good as the right hon. Gentleman's or that of the chief valuation officer, or anybody else. The right hon. Gentleman is seeking, in this Clause, to get one more intelligent guess to add to the intelligent guesses which already exist. At best, the Central Land Board will be able to give him only an intelligent guess. But, apart from that, is not the Clause itself somewhat contradictory? How do you value the land on the basis of a single claim, but otherwise in accordance with the provisions of the Bill? The whole basis of valuation is the existence of a willing buyer and a willing seller. Without them you cannot carry out valuation at all. If all land is owned by one person, if the valuation is made on the basis of a single claim, you have eliminated the one element which is essential in making a valuation at all. You have no willing buyers; you have no willing sellers; you simply have a monopoly selling to another monopoly. It will not carry the right lion. Gentleman one inch further along the road he is seeking to travel.

I imagine that the main purpose of putting down this Clause has been to get the sort of discussion which has taken place. I cannot think that the right hon. Gentleman seriously believes that the Government will agree to put forward, as an official document, an intelligent guess by the Central Land Board on this basis. It would have no value, and nobody knows that better than the right hon. Gentleman himself. Although I am willing that they should inform the House and the public, through the Minister, as soon as possible, of the aggregate amount of the development values determined which, as I say, is merely a matter of arithmetic, I do not think that any purpose would be served by getting them to express an opinion.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I think the Minister has dismissed too lightly the claims advanced by my right hon. Friend and by the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) in support of this new Clause. I am not concerned to argue, any more than the Minister is, whether £300 million is the correct global sum or not. As he properly says, we are strictly stopped by the decision of the House from arguing that particular proposition; but, even so, I think that the Minister would be prepared to agree that there is this estimate, and there is likely to remain a large degree of doubt in the minds of people as to whether it is the right sum or not. I hope that I shall carry him with me one stage further. I hope he will agree that any reasonable steps that can be taken to diminish that doubt, and to establish the justice of the course that has been taken, are valid and, if practicable, should be put into effect.

The Minister asked the House to reject this new Clause on the ground that it will not add anything other than another intelligent opinion. So far, we have had two major opinions on this point. The first was the opinion given by the Barlow Committee, which was a very large sum for undeveloped land only, and the second was the opinion formed—we still do not know how—by the right hon. Gentleman and the present Government that the global sum should total £300 million. This Clause proposes that there should be made available something rather more than an opinion—a public and reasoned estimate of the float value. That is what we are asking for. It may be that it cannot be precise, but it does not follow from that, that it would serve no useful purpose. I think that if the machinery of this new Clause is put into effect, we shall have a far more accurate estimate than we are likely to get by the assessment of the Minister arrived at by no one knows what political-economic considerations. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman asks, "What will you do?" I take it that the point he has in mind is that, whatever the answer, we cannot affect without fresh legislation the total sum of £300 million. That of course is true; but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree with me, that even though that is so, it is right that the basis of assessment should be before the public. It has been rightly said that—as a lawyer I am sure that he will bear the words in mind—it is no less important that justice should be done than that justice should be seen to be done.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

Suppose it were established that justice had not been done, and that £300 million of public money had been paid for nothing. Since, in any case, we cannot get it back, what possible public service would that be?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Gentleman has put one side of the case. Since he has chosen to introduce this question of whether £300 million is too much or too little, I must take the other and, in my view, much more likely alternative that a public and reasoned estimate would show that £300 million is too low. If that is so—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman cannot discuss that on the new Clause. That has been discussed and settled on the Second Reading.

Mr. Walker-Smith

With great respect, I am not. I thought that I made it clear that I am not discussing the adequacy of the £300 million as a global figure. I began by saying that before the helpful intervention of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman). What I was doing and I submit that I am entitled to do this—is to deal with the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, who put the point: What effect would it have if as a result of these calculations being made public, the sum of £300 million was shown to be too high? I am taking the alternative point: What will happen if it is shown that the figure of £300 million is too little?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I may have been in error in allowing the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne to introduce the point. I certainly cannot allow discussions on it.

Mr. Silverman

I did not introduce any such point. The point I introduced was this: I asked, in an interjection to the hon. Member, what would be the point of having such an investigation, and what would he do, with the result of it, when everyone knows that it cannot affect the decision which the House has already taken that £300 million should be the figure?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Let us leave this controversial topic on this note, that, whatever the answer may be, it is of course true, as the hon. Member knows, that Parliament does not bind its successors, and that there can be some practical action taken if the sum is found to be too low. The practical action which would ensue is, however, only part of the justification for incorporating this new Clause in the Bill. Even if no practical action could result from it, I would still submit that it was right to have this public and reasoned estimate for the guidance of the public, in order that they should see whether this matter had been approached correctly, and whether justice had been done. The right hon. Gentleman said, with his characteristic felicity of phrase, that he was "sitting pretty" and that his estimate must be right because some people said that it was too high and others that it was too low. That, surely, is very rough justice.

What this new Clause is designed to do -is to bring a more precise estimate to bear, and to show to the public how that estimate has been arrived at. In my submission, even if no action were possible on this, it would nevertheless be right to incorporate this new Clause into the Bill in order to provide the machinery for a more precise estimate than has been possible in these sketchy opinions, which is all that we have so far been given by the right hon. Gentleman as the basis of the estimate of the sum at which he has arrived.

Mr. Norman Smith (Nottingham, South)

I would like to give the House reasons why there should not be this public and reasoned estimate for which the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) has pleaded. The show was given away very effectively by the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) who, as will be within the recollection of the House, did in fact say parenthically, but none the less truly, that the value of money in 1931 was very much greater than the value of money in 1947. That being so, I submit that 1947 is not the time to incorporate a Clause of this sort in a Bill of this kind. After all, a public and reasoned estimate would be arrived at by very hard and practical people, not by any means starry-eyed ideologists but people in the habit of assessing these things in the light of experience, and their experience would be based on the prices in the market in this year of grace, 1947. I submit that a public and reasoned estimate, when prices are high and the value of money is correspondingly low, would be a distorted estimate. As the hon. Member for Hertford admits by implication, in the light of the interjection of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) that estimate when we had it could have no effect, and could be of no use to anyone. But it would be on record and would disturb the public and would no doubt be used by the party opposite to prejudice this Measure when it is enacted. I think that my right hon. Friend was right in resisting this new Clause, and I hope that it will not be carried.

Mr. Gammans

There is another argument which one can adduce for the publication of these figures. The £300 million with which we are dealing is taxpayers' money. Is there any reason then why these figures should not be disclosed so that the House and the taxpayers may know the position? There is another reason. There are certain priority claims which the right hon. Gentleman has admitted are to be fixed later. If there is to be general satisfaction with regard to the expenditure of this money, it is reasonable to suggest that the figures for which we have asked should show the public that justice has been done with regard to this matter. The real facts of the case are that the right hon. Gentleman dare not disclose these figures because they would show that the figure of £300 million is inadequate.

Mr. C. Williams

If there was no other good reason for this Clause we can find one in the reason put forward by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. N. Smith). He said that an inquiry of this sort might lead to the public being upset and that it would be against the interests of the Government. Surely if an inquiry is going to disturb the public it is obvious that the inquiry concerns something which ought to have been known a long time ago. To burke an inquiry, as the Minister seems to be doing, because it might do damage to the Government is not an argument. I want an inquiry, because I realise what the object of the inquiry would be—to convey useful information to the public generally.

We do not know what proportion of this money is to go to Scotland and Wales and what proportion will come to England. As far as I am concerned, I have no doubt that Wales and Scotland will combine to rob the poor Englishman. I do not know if we are going to get enough for England. I am not sure if the people of the West Country—the people of Torquay—are going to get enough. Until we see what the figures are and how they are going to work out, I cannot be sure what the Government intend to do, and what amount of the money is going to certain parts of the country and what amount to other parts. That is why I am in agreement with the principle of an inquiry. Naturally, the Government do not want an inquiry; naturally they are trying to burke if because if it were held it would show how awkward and unfair the position is. On the Second Reading, when I was arguing about this matter, I referred to it from another point of view. I put forward that point of view again. After three years, it would be perfectly possible to have an inquiry—even under this Government—from which perhaps we should get some information. I am not saying it is probable but it is possible that even this incompetent Government might get people who would find out something after two or three years. How are we to know whether the sum is not too large? As a representative of the taxpayers I should like to know.

Mr. Gallacher

The hon. Gentleman talks about being a representative of the taxpayers. While it is true that this is taxpayers' money it is also true that is it taxpayers' land that was stolen from them, and there should be no money paid for it at all.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Williams

I will not follow the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman as I might be tempted to do, but I will say quite frankly that I feel more justified than ever in asking for this inquiry because I am looking alter the interests of the taxpayers, which is why I came here and why I am sent here. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is always a kind friend of mine in helping me in what I find are complicated efforts to make a speech.

On the Second Reading of the Bill I asked for a closer estimate not based on Government cases or on suggestions from the front Opposition bench, but on actual facts as to what floating or other values might be. There will be considerable information on this point in Government offices, and there will be even more information during the next two or three years. That information is bound to be acquired during the ordinary conduct of Government business. During that period a considerable number of valuations for Death Duty purposes take place. I stress that point, because it is one which has caused much thought to many of us. I hope that this new Clause will be pressed to a Division because I am sure, judging by the way the Minister refused to accept it, the Government do not want a concise value. I am sure they are trying to avoid having a concise value. They have done it at every stage to which I have been privileged to listen, although I have not been privileged to listen all through. I particularly want to emphasise the words in the last Section of this Clause, where it is laid down that a report should be laid before the House of Commons. I want the House to know what is going on.

Mr. Hopkin Morris

I desire at all times to have reports laid before the House of Commons giving information to the House and to the public, but I do not understand the desire to have the information of a body, however distinguished or competent it may be, placed on the Table of the House. It does not seem to carry us any further and the principle is bad. It gives no information that will have an effect and will really be of little difference and will possibly be irrelevant. No one can question the information being given to the Central Land Board. What this new Clause asks for I cannot support nor to a certain extent do I understand.

Mr. H. Strauss

I only wish to answer two points which were made from the other side, one by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. N. Smith) and the other by the Minister. I cannot think that, whatever may be a good answer to this Clause, that given by the hon. Member can be right. He fears that on account of Government inflation proceeding at an enormous pace the value of money will soon be very different. He may be right, but it does not provide a reason why we should not be informed of the facts. The other matter I wish to raise was one sentence of the extraordinary speech of the Minister. He said there were some who thought that this valuation was much too low and others who thought it much too high. He said he thought therefore that he was right and was sitting pretty. So as not to get out of Order, I will point out this: that those who think that the sum is too large do so on the ground so admirably put by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who thinks it should be nothing. Those who think there should be confiscation believe that the sum is too high. Those who do not believe in confiscation think, and have given reasons for thinking, that the valuation is too low. The Minister finds satisfaction in the fact that the people who believe in confiscation believe he has made one error and those who do not believe in it that he has made the opposite error, and he therefore concludes that he must be right. Such an argument is illogical and unworthy even of the present Government.

Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)

I was very interested in the line taken by the hon. and learned Member for Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) because he of all people on the other side of the House, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison), has argued this subject for a long time. He does not usually simplify a case, but just now he has been simplifying it beyond all recognition. It is perfectly true that there are two extremes. We have that of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), which has the sympathy of a great many other people on this side of the House. Land is a very peculiar and special commodity that ought never to have passed to private ownership. It ought never to have been exploited by private ownership and, in taking it back by any means whatever, the Government are at least moving in the right direction.

Then there is the other side, the question of valuation. I think that broadly it will be agreed by all who have studied the problem that if one were to take all the value that is being taken into the hands of the people, that would represent a sum considerably in excess of £300 million. I do not think there are many people who would argue that £300 million would cover, on a valuation basis, the development values that have been taken away by this Bill. I do not think the Government have argued from the very beginning that we are attempting to make an actuarial calculation and to say to the people whose development value is being taken away that here is strict and legal justice. On the contrary, we have denied, and denied in specific terms, that there is any right in common law and any right in morality to compensation as such at all.

Therefore, the £300 million is, as the Minister himself said in his great opening speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, an ex gratia payment on a very large scale. On that basis hon. Members on this side of the House are prepared to vote for the granting of £300 million. In doing that, we think we are being extremely generous to all the interests concerned. If the Central Land Board does its work efficiently and humanely, we shall be concerned to see that in real cases of hardship the compensation is ample, but in cases where quite obviously compensation would be merely to add riches to overwhelming riches, that compensation can he forfeited.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

In the case of a collier who has put his life's savings into a house and who has retired, does the hon. Gentleman suggest that that man has no right to compensation if his house is taken away?

Mr. McAllister

I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman really understood the Bill a little better than he has now shown. The collier's cottage has nothing whatever to do with development values. If we are getting down to the case of the poor widow and the poor collier, I trust my right hon. Friend and any hon. Member on this side of the House to give them a fairer deal than hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister) has covered a wide field in the course of his arguments. I am rather nervous about following him because, as far as I can see, if I do, I shall be going even further out of Order. He has made it clear that he and certain of his colleagues are really in favour of the principle of confiscation without doing anything by way of compensation though he gives an ex gratia payment on the vague ground of what he calls hardship. He is not in a position to answer the pertinent inquiry put by my hon. Friend the Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) in regard to the position he would adopt in the case of the small landowner who is deprived of his development rights. I do not intend to follow him on that point. I propose to come back to the new Clause.

Mr. McAllister

The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that I am in favour of confiscation. I am not in favour of it nor is the party of which I am a Member. The Uthwatt Report, which recommended the course which my right hon. Friend has taken, was not in favour of it.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

If I followed on this course of argument, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am sure that you would stop me in a very short time. I would like to summarise the matter by saying that the hon. Member's words as he said them will be recorded in HANSARD, and that if he looks at them again he will see that the proper inference is that he was in favour of confiscation.

I return to the discussion of this new Clause. I am astonished at the defence put up by the right hon. Gentleman in seeking to resist our proposal. He drew a distinction between what he called his "intelligent guess" and what he said would be the academic opinion of the Central Land Board. What is the position? We have his intelligent guess that 300 million is the right sum. In passing, I remind him that in the course of one of our discussions he reserved power to make an alteration to that sum in the case of the value of minerals being in excess of the amount he allowed in computing that £300 million. We are asking that that intelligent guess, if it be intelligent, should be contrasted with the actual ascertainment of facts, and that as soon as maybe after the development values of interests in respect of which claims have been made have been determined, the aggregate amount of the development values so determined shall be communicated to the public. Then we shall know to what extent the right hon. Gentleman's guess is intelligent or unintelligent, accurate or inaccurate. If it be the case that £300 million is an excessive sum, that would appear on the return being made. I should think that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) would have been only too glad to have the facts made public to show that he is right in saying that £300 million is too much.

Mr. Silkin

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman has made a slip. Is he seriously suggesting that when we know the aggregate amount of the development values we shall know whether or not the £300 million is right?

Mr. Gallacher

I wish to say that I have sufficient facts in my possession, and I am prepared to show them to the hon. and learned Member, to satisfy him that £300 million is robbery of the people.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I hope that the hon. Member for West Fife will be able to convince the people of Scotland of the soundness of his views, though I think it will be a very prolonged task. I come back to the point mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Surely when we have the aggregate of the claims as determined by the Central Land Board we will be in a far better position to judge of the correctness or otherwise of the right hon. Gentleman's guess. If we do not have these figures, the right hon. Gentleman can go on saying that it was a very intelligent guess, without any possibility of being challenged. We are entitled to know at some time the total amount of these claims. I am dealing with the first part of the Clause. Indeed, I thought from one part of what he said that he was willing to give us that information.

Mr. Silkin


Division No. 204.] AYES [6.31 p.m.
Aitken, Hon. Max Challen, C. Eccles, D. M.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh) Channon, H. Eden, Rt. Hon. A
Amory, D. Heathcote Clarke, Col. R. S. Fernyhough, E.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.
Astor, Hon. M. Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M
Barlow, Sir J. Cooper-Key, E. M. Gage, C.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F C. Ganimans, L. D.
Beechman, N. A. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E Grimston, R. V.
Bennett, Sir P. Crowder, Capt. John E Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)
Bower, N. Davidson, Viscountess Harvey, Air-Comdre, A. V.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Digby, S. W. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C
Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Dodds-Parker, A. D Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P W Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)
Bullock, Capt. M. Drayson, G. B. Jarvis, Sir J.
Carson, E Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Jeffreys, General Sir G

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

in that case, I will pursue the right hon. Gentleman a little further and ask that it should be broken up so that we can see to what extent the aggregate amount of the claims relate to claims in respect of minerals. We should have that information given to us in view of statements that he has made on earlier occasions. With regard to the second part of the Clause, the Minister tried to avoid acceding to it by making particular reference to determination on a single claim. I agree that those words may have difficulties about them, but surely the Central Land Board, who will be concerned with assessing the development values, will have to go into this matter in very great detail and will be in a position to exercise judgment in determining that factor rather than making the guess which the Minister admits he is making, apparently not based on any mathematical calculations or any process of reasoning. If it is on any process of reasoning, it has not yet been disclosed to us.

He made one other very surprising statement. He said that no development value could be determined until the development had taken place. I thought that was one of the tasks that the Central Land Board had to do, because they have to levy the development charge before the development itself takes place. I am really surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should say that he is not prepared to accept this Clause so that the public shall know how the matter is progressing, and unless he can go further to meet us, I am afraid that we shall have no alternative but to divide against it.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, mg; Noes, 281.

Jennings, R. Neven-Spence, Sir B Stanley, Rt Hon. O
Keeling, E. H Nicholson, G. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W H Noble, Comdr. A. H. P Strauss, H G (English Universities)
Lambert, Hon. G. Nutting, Anthony Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H Studholme, H. G.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H Orr-Ewing, I. L Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Linstead, H. N. Peake, Rt. Hon. O Thorneycroft G E. P (Monmouth)
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Peto, Brig. C. H. M Thornton-Kemsley, C N
Low, Brig. A. R W. Pickthorn, K. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A F
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Vane, W. M. F.
Mackeson, Brig. H. R Poole, O. B- S. (Oswestry) Walker-Smith, D
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Price-White, Lt.-Col. D Ward, Hon. G. R
MacLeod, J. Raikes, H. V. Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Rayner, Brig. R. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Maitland, Comdr. J W Reid, Rt. Hon. J S. C. (Hillhead) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Manningham-Buller, R. E Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Marlowe, A. A. H Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Marsden, Capt. A. Ropner, Col. L York, C.
Marshall, D (Bodmin) Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Medlicott, F. Sanderson, Sir F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mellor, Sir J. Savory, Prof. D. L Mr. Drewe and
Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Scott, Lord W Commander Agnew
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S. (C'nc'ster) Spearman, A. C M
Adams, Richard (Bantam) Dames, P Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Adams, W T. (Hammersmith. South) Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hynd, H. (Hackney C.)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Irving, W. J
Allen, Scholefield Crewe) Davies, Edward (Burslem) Janner, B
Allighan, Garry Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Jay, D. P. T
Alpass, J. H. Davies, Harold (Leek) Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jeger, Dr. S W (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) John, W.
Attewell, H. C. Deer, G. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Austin, H. Lewis Delargy, H J Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Awbery, S. S Diamond, J Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Ayles, W. H. Dodds, N. N. Keenan, W
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Driberg, T E. N Kenyon, C.
Bacon, Miss A Dumpleton, C. W Key, C. W.
Balfour, A. Durbin, E. F. M. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E
Barstow, P G Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C Kinley, J
Barton, C Edelman, M. Kirby, B. V
Batt[...], J. R Edwards, A (Middlesbrough, E.) Kirkwood, D
Bechervaise, A E Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Lang, G
Benson, G. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Lavers, S
Bing, G. H C Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Leslie, J. R
Binns, J Evans, John (Ogmore) Lever, N. H.
Blenkinsop, A Evans, S N (Wednesbury) Levy, B. W
Blyton, W. R Fairhurst, F. Lewis, A W. J (Upton)
Boardman, H Farthing, W. J Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Bottomley, A G. Field, Capt W J Lipson, D. L.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Foot, M. M Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Forman, J C Logan, D. G
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Foster, W. (Wigan) Lyne, A. W.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Freeman, Peter (Newport) McAdam, W
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Gallacher, W. McAllister, C.
Brown, George (Belper) Ganley, Mrs. C S McEntee, V. La T
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gibbins, J McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Bruce, Major D W T Gilzean, A Mackay, R. W. G (Hull. N W)
Buchanan, G. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) McKinley, A S.
Burden, T. W Goodrich, H. E. Maclean, N. (Govan[...]
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Gordon-Walker, P. C McLeavy. F
Byers, Frank Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A (Wakefield) Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Callaghan, James Greenwood, A W J (Heywood) Mainwaring, W H
Carmichael, James Grenfell, D. R Mallalieu, J P W
Castle, Mrs. B A Grey, C F Mann, Mrs. J
Chamberlain, R A Grierson E Manning, C (Camberwell, N.)
Champion, A J Griffiths, D. (Rather Valley) Manning, Mrs. L (Epping)
Chater, D. Griffiths, RI. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Marshall, F (Brightside)
Chetwynd, G. R. Griffiths, W D (Moss Side) Martin, J H.
Clitherow, Dr. R Gruffydd, Prof. W. J Medland, H M
Cobb, F. A. Guest, Dr. L. Hader Mellish, R. J
Cocks, F. S Hale, Leslie Messer, F
Coldrick, W Hall, W. G. Middleton, Mrs. [...]
Collindridge, F. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R Mitchison, G R
Collins, V. J Hardy, E. A. Monslow, W.
Colman, Miss G. M Hastings, Dr. Somerville Montague, F
Cook, T. F. Herbison, Miss M Moody, A S
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G Hobson, C. R. Morley, R
Corvedale, Viscount Holman, P Morris, Lt.-Col H (Sheffeld, C)
Cove, W. G. Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Crawley, A. Hoy, J. Morrison, Rt Hon H (L'wish'm, E.)
Grossman, R H G Hubbard, T Mort, D L
Daggat, G. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Moyle, A
Nally, W. Scott-Elliot, W Tolley, L.
Naylor, T. E. Shackleton, E. A. A Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Neal, H. (Claycross) Sharp, Granville Turner-Samuels, M.
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Vernon, Maj. W. F
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens) Viant, S. P
Noel-Baker, Cap,. F. E. (Brentford) Shurmer, P. Wadsworth, G.
Noel-Buxton, Lady Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Walkden, E.
Oldfield, W. H. Silverman, J. (Erdington) Walker, G. H.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Pargiter, G. A. Simmons, C. J. Warbey, W. N.
Parkin, B. T. Skeffington, A. M. Watson, W. M.
Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Paton, J. (Norwich) Skinnard, F. W. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Pearson, A. Smith, C, (Colchester) West, D G.
Pearson, A. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Popplewell, E. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S) While, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Porter, E. (Warrington) Snow, Capt. J. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Porter, G. (Leeds) Sorensen, R. W. Wigg, Col. G. E
Price, M. Philips Soskice, Maj. Sir F Wilkes, L.
Proctor, W. T. Stamford, W. Wilkins, W. A.
Pryde, D. J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Stross, Dr. B Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Ranger, J. Stubbs, A. E. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Rankin, J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Rees-Williams, D. R Swingler, S. Williamson, T
Reeves, J. Sylvester, G. O. Wise, Major F. J
Reid, T. (Swindon) Symonds, A. L. Woods, G S
Rhodes, H. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Wyatt, W.
Ridealgh, Mrs. M Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Yates, V. F.
Roberts, A. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Zilliacus, K.
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Thomson, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Rogers, G. H. R. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Thurtle, Ernest Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Scollan, T. Tiffany, S Mr Hannan.