§ Mr. W. S. Morrison (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
I beg to move, in page 5, line 16, at the end, to insert:(c) the rental compensation shall be assessed on the assumption that the tenancy is limited to expire not earlier than the first day of January nineteen hundred and fifty-four.This Amendment ties up to some degree with the Amendment to Clause 7, page 5, line 26, to leave out Subsection (2). It is taken as to its language out of Section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act of last year, and it raises the question of the assessment of prices for land and of rental compensation by reference to 1939 prices. During the war, when we had rapid and violent fluctuations in the value of property, according as it was or was not subjected to enemy bombardment, it was felt just to fix an artificial standard by which the land values could be assessed as at March, 1939, and that remained throughout the war the standard of values. As events developed, as the value of money changed, the 1939 standard itself was not adhered to rigidly, but in the Act of 1944 and in the Bill which became the Act of 1947, there were included provisions whereby the 1939 level of prices could be augmented by a percentage proportion.
During the rather accelerated progress of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 through this House and Committee upstairs, my hon. Friends and I strove to persuade the Government that it was no longer consonant with sound valuation or justice to refer to a standard which was so remote as March, 1939, then was, and which with every passing day became still more remote and fantastic. The Government in effect accepted this argument, and in the Committee on that Measure the Clauses as drafted were withdrawn, and a new set of compensation provisions was inserted The standard under the Town and Country Planning Act as it finally stands is the market value of the land restricted 934 to its present user. That, I think, is an accurate statement of the position.
For that reason, I observe with regret the retrograde step the Government are proposing in this Bill in seeking to assess rental compensation by our old friend the 1939 standard, even though it is augmented by 60 per cent., because it is the standard itself which matters. If, indeed, the 1939 price is itself impossible to ascertain with accuracy, the percentage addition to it merely becomes a magnification of the original error. The mere fact that we have 60 per cent. on a foundation price, which in my submission is not ascertainable, means that we are building on sand. The fact that we have something so remote and fantastic is no answer at all.
By this Amendment we propose, if the Government accept our proposal, to make them pursue with consistency and perseverance the line they adopted in the Town and Country Planning Act, and to adopt mutatis mutandis the provisions this House enacted, after much argument, in that Act. When the Bill was before the House for Second Reading on 16th December last, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury explained this Clause to us by taking some examples, and said:If the current restricted value was as much as £2,000 a year, then only the £1,600 would be paid."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1522.]I fail to see the justice of that. If it is worth £2,000, what can be the justification for this House refusing to pay the price which it is admitted to be worth? Let the Committee mark well that in this Bill we are asked to adopt the restricted use of the land as one diminishing factor on the price, and if on top of restricting the price which can be got by the user of the land at the time, we introduce another highly artificial ceiling, we are introducing two factors of a character tending to depress the price of the land.
If the current value of the rental is £2,000 one has no right to pay £1,600. It is just as wrong for the Government to do that sort of thing as it would be in the course of business for someone to refuse to pay a man his proper wages or to pay a proper rate of hire for some commercial service. When the Solicitor-General replied to the Second Reading Debate, he said that the reason for this 1939 plus 60 per cent. ceiling was to cut out scarcity 935 values. That argument was used during the passage of the Town and Country Planning Act. It was felt that, especially where vacant possession could be given, there was such a demand in these abnormal times that some artificial check must be superimposed.
The check that was put in that Act was the one I am seeking to put in this Bill. Under the Town and Country Planning Act a notional lease which expired in January, 1954, had to be imagined, so that the added inducement to the purchaser of immediate vacant possession was cut out. Here again exactly the same principle ought to be introduced. That is the way to cut out the scarcity value—the way envisaged in the Town and Country Planning Act. The result would be to have a code of valuation which is coherent. It seems absurd that this Committee should father the proposition contained in the Bill as now drafted, having so lately adopted a contrary attitude.
What are valuers and petitioners to think in view of the force of the argument which led us to abandon the standard based on 1939 prices? Why are we seeking to revive that standard here? That it is artificial I can show the Committee in a moment. When any transaction in land takes place, whether it be a tenancy or a freehold changing hands, valuers set about it by using their knowledge of similar transactions with similar land. Who can say at this stage what the 1939 value is? Not only are the facts of that time becoming more and more blurred in men's memories, but there has been a great change in the value of money. The statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which we listened yesterday—and we wish him well in his great task of currency stabilisation—does not put an end to all fluctuations in the value of money. Why not pay a man who is affected by requisitioning what the requisitioned land is worth at the time it is acquired and leave the matter to arbitration?
That is what is suggested by this Amendment. I claim for it first a gain in consistency, not with some old hoary outmoded standard, but something as recent as last year, which was passed by this House. Let us get rid once and for all of all ideas that a ceiling can be arbitrarily fixed, based on past methods, without the slightest knowledge of what future com 936 mercial transactions may be. I am sure that if the arguments which we put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Town and Country Planning on the other Measure are adopted here, we shall not only get a consistent code, but we shall give the man who is affected by requisitioning a sense that he is being fairly treated. I urge the Committee that if they import an obvious sense of fairness into all these transactions much bitterness and rancour, which inevitably attend the forcible seizure of property, will disappear.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am sorry to say that I feel that we cannot accept this Amendment which has been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. He proposes that in Clause 6, Subsection (2), a third requirement should be inserted, that requirement being that it is supposed that there is an existing tenancy limited to expire not earlier than the 1st day of January, 1954. As I understood the burden of his argument it was largely directed to a criticism of the quantum of the ceiling provided in Clause 7 of this Bill. What we have done—
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I was not criticising any quantum, but the fact that a ceiling will be imposed at all.
§ The Solicitor-General
It surprises me, after listening to the right hon. Gentleman's argument, to think that it was in support of the Amendment on the Order Paper. The Amendment does not remove the ceiling, or alter the amount of the ceiling. It proposes that a notional lease should be adopted—even if there were a notional lease—limited to expire not earlier than January, 1954. What would be the effect? It might be that the rental compensation, assessed in terms of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, might be raised or, according to the type of property, it might be lowered. The Amendment that the right hon. Gentleman proposes certainly would not effectuate what he has in mind. It might even, in certain types of property, mean that the amount of rental compensation, which would be payable in the terms as drafted in Clauses 6 and 7, would be less actually than the amount provided for by the Clauses. His argument is that because, when assessing a completely different measure of compensation for the purpose 937 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, we used the device of a notional lea[...]e for that particular purpose, we therefore should incorporate it in a different context in order to assess a completely different type of compensation. The Town and Country Planning Act embodied the conception of a notional lease expiring in 1954 in order to limit the element of scarcity value in paying a lump sum payment by way of capital compensation.
We are not computing a lump sum payment in Clauses 6 and 7. We are computing a payment in respect of rental compensation under the terms of Section 2, Subsection (I, a) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. The two things are not analogous in the least. If the conception of a notional lease is introduced into the calculation of a rental compensation one does not know what the result will be. It may raise or lower the rates, and that is all that this Amendment would do. Clauses 6 and 7 provide that a person whose property is requisitioned is to be paid rental compensation. That rental compensation is to be assessed at current rates, if the requisition is after the date of the Royal Assent to this Bill, and the rates current at the date of the Royal Assent if it was before the date of the Royal Assent. Then, having provided that the rental compensation is to be assessed on that basis, a ceiling is provided. In the case of rent restricted property it is a ceiling equivalent to the permitted rent; in the case of non-restricted property, it is equivalent to the 1939 rental plus 60 per cent. It may be that that is too much, it may be too little. If it is too little, that will not be cured by this Amendment. What the Amendment seeks to ensure is that in assessing the compensation one must first—as we do —find the current rental value. Then one must say, "What is the rental value of a property of that sort subject to a lease" upon the assumption, of course, that it is not rent restricted property. One must then suppose that the lease, by reference to the terms upon which one is assessing the current rental value, will continue to 1954.
What is the effect? Rent payable under lease which will continue until 1954, might be more or it might be less than rent payable under a lease which will continue until 1950 or 1952. It depends upon the type of the property. The Amendment does not achieve this purpose in the slightest 938 degree. It has very little effect and I advise the Committee not to accept it, not only for that reason, but for different reasons altogether. The reasons which I would advance against the Amendment are these. As the 1939 Act stands at present, there has grown up something like a system of case law. No notional period is provided for in that Act. There being no notional period provided for, there has grown up something like a body of case law which assumes, in the case of rentals assessed under the terms of Section 2 of that Act, that the lease continues so long as the power to requisition exists. That has been found to work well. It has worked for something like eight and a half years. I advise the Committee that there is no adequate reason for disturbing that arrangement which has been found to operate satisfactorily.
Not only is there no reason to disturb it, but there is a very compelling reason why one should not adopt this notion of a lease expiring in 1954 even if it achieved any purpose—which it does not. That reason is that it would mean that one is assuming in the case of requisitioned property—the requisition being simply a compulsory hiring—that that hiring will continue for at least two years beyond the latest date to which it can go. In other words, one is assuming that it will continue until 1954 when we know that the requisitioning cannot continue beyond December, 1952. That is creating a completely artificial situation. It is introducing a conception which is entirely false. It would mean that the Government would be paying a rental assessed by reference to the terms of a letting which in point of fact they have not undertaken and which is much longer in point of time than the hiring which has been undertaken. For those reasons, I submit to the Committee that the Amendment is utterly undesirable. To start, it is useless; to continue, it disturbs an existing practice which has been found to work perfectly well; finally, it is completely and utterly false in conception in that it supposes that a state of affairs exists when in point of fact it does not.
§ The Solicitor-General
There are a number of other things which I could say about it. However, I hope that the Committee is satisfied. I infer from what my 939 hon. Friend says, that he feels at any rate that I have made out something of a case against it so far, and I leave it there for the time being.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. and learned Gentleman has used what, for him, is strong language in describing this Amendment. It seems to me that he has disclosed the fact that really he has not appreciated its effect and, indeed, its purpose. He started by treating this Amendment as being quite dissociated from the Amendments to Clause 7 which he mentioned. He was not really doing justice to his argument when he referred to Clause 7 without any regard at all to the Amendments proposed to that Clause. He said, in summarising his argument, that this Amendment was useless, that it disturbs existing practice and that it deals with a state of affairs which does not exist.
I would challenge each one of those observations as being entirely unjustified. When he says that it disturbs existing practice, is not that what this Bill does—a Bill which alters the whole basis of the assessment of compensation under the 1939 Act? Under the existing practice, on which this valuable case law has been set up, we take no account of the increased values due to the emergency. That is disturbed by the Bill with which the hon. and learned Gentleman is dealing. We make no complaint of that, but when it is suggested that this alteration and emendation that we put forward should not be accepted because it makes a change in existing case law, I would suggest that that argument has no foundation at all. Then, there is the argument that it is useless.
§ Mr. John Paton (Norwich)
Would it not be better to complete the quotation from the Solicitor-General, who said that it would not merely disturb existing practice, but a practice which has worked extremely well?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Whether it be true or not that that practice has worked extremely well is irrelevant to this point, because, whatever the practice was and whether it worked well or badly under the 1939 Act, that practice is bound to be altered by this Bill, whether or not this Amendment is included in the Bill at all. So the argument is completely fallacious if it would seek to represent to this Com 940 mittee that the existing practice, whether it worked well or not, will not be disturbed by this Measure. Of course, it will. The whole purpose of this Measure is to alter the basis of compensation under the 1939 Act. It is quite true to say, of course, that under the Town and Country Planning Act we are not concerned with the assessment of rental compensation, but we are concerned with the values of all the interests, whether they be freehold or leasehold, and it was with a view to avoiding the enhancement of values owing to scarcity that, in our Debates on the Town and Country Planning Bill, this idea of a notional lease was incorporated. I think we are all on common ground there.
§ The Solicitor-General indicated assent.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Where I differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman is in his argument that the existence of the notional lease here in assessing rental compensation would serve no useful purpose at all. In my view, it would. Obviously, if we are going to seek to take a lease of property of which we can get vacant possession now, the rent would probably be higher, and would almost certainly be higher in many parts of the country, then if we were trying to assess what was the proper rent of those premises on the assumption that they had been made the subject of a lease which would not expire before that date in 1954. I should have thought that any valuer would have no difficulty in arriving at that and in eliminating the scarcity value.
§ 9.30 p.m.
The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think that it was an argument against this Amendment, that, if the Amendment were accepted, it would result in some people getting more than they would under the Bill as it stands and some people getting less. I think that was his argument, but, again, I think there is not the slightest force in it. What does it matter, provided they get what is the right value of their property, whether the property has gone down or not? If the correct rental value is less than it is under the Bill as it now stands, upon the assumption that the property is let or subject to a lease expiring not before 1954—if the corrected value is less than it would have been under this Bill, then, in my view, that compensation for 941 requisitioning should not be more than that rental value. If the correct rental value is more—to take the alternative—than the amount of compensation that he would get under the Bill as it now stands, owing to the application of the 60 per cent. ceiling in Clause 7, what is the argument against his not receiving that correct rental value as compensation?
In dealing with this Clause, we cannot ignore the existence of the ceiling, and the injustice it is bound to perpetrate. In his argument, in the course of which he spoke, as I said, with more warmth than is, perhaps, customary to him, the hon. and learned Gentleman never sought to justify that ceiling. If the true rental value of any property at the present time is more than 60 per cent. above 1939 values, what is the justification for paying that man only 60 per cent. above 1939 values when, if he is dispossessed from his farm, from his shop, or from whatever it may be, he will have to pay, on requisition, in order to get equivalent premises, probably something more than 1939 value, plus 60 per cent.?
I really deplore the manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman has sought to deal with this argument. I cannot but believe that he has really not given full consideration to the points that have been raised. I hope that, if this Debate serves no other purpose, it will, at least, cause him to reflect before the Report stage on the arguments put forward, and to realise that there is no justification for the imposition of the ceiling, and that the purpose he desires to achieve can be effected by the incorporation in the Bill of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. P. Roberts
I want to reinforce what my hon. and learned Friend has just said in regard to the arguments about which the Solicitor-General got so excited. It seemed to me that his main trouble was that the Amendment would be different from what is in the Bill. That, in itself, seems to be no argument at all. What we want, as my right hon. Friend said, is to get equity in this matter, to get the fair value, irrespective of whether this be up or down on some artificial value. The second point about which the Solicitor-General got excited was that he did not like an artificial restriction of four, five, or six years to the rent. The answer to 942 that is, take it off altogether and let it be the ordinary rental value.
This seems to me to be a retrograde step altogether. When we had the first nationalisation Bill—the Coal Bill—before us, it at least talked about compensation between a willing buyer and a willing seller of the assets to be taken over. So far as that Bill had any good points at all, that was possibly one of them. I very much object to the Socialist principle of going back and saying, "We are going to penalise the owners of property, whether they be large or small owners."
I want to draw attention to a matter which was raised this afternoon—the question of the Stanford battle area. That is a case where people are being turned out of their homes, and one which seems to have escaped the Solicitor-General in this argument. It is not only a question of dealing with compensation for property, but with turning a man out of his home or his farm, and stopping him carrying on his way of life. Yet he is told, "We are not going to pay you a fair compensation. We are going to penalise you, and put artificial restrictions upon you." That, I consider, at this stage—two years after the war—is quite unnecessary and unfair. In principle, we should get away as far as possible from these restrictive activities, and try to deal with property owners in a fair and reasonable manner. We should deal with them on the basis of what the property is worth. I was astounded at the Solicitor-General's trying to maintain the old 1939 value merely because it worked in the past—which is doubtful. I suggest that the only reasonable way is to deal with this on the basis of what the property is worth when it is taken over.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
I am not concerned with the defence or the expropriation of proprietors of land. What I am concerned with is, that in our compensation arrangements there should be recognisable some clear basis of principle on which we can depend, and which should be applied with even-handed justice to everybody who is affected by it. I affirm—and I affirm this without the slightest hesitation, and with considerable experience of the working of Section 21 of the Act of 1939, which is the basis of the learned Solicitor's proposals tonight—I assert that throughout, from 1939 until today, there has been not 943 coherence, nor principle, nor justice about the various compensation arrangements that have been made from time to time. Even within the terms of the 1939 Act there is the grossest disparity between the treatment of one class of property and another. Ships are dealt with on one basis, land on another, chattels on a third, in a way which makes neither sense nor principle; and certainly it does not make justice. Consider every successive compensation arrangement which we have made, and we find that there is no clearly discernible principle whatever.
In one case—mines—the value is that agreed between a willing seller and a willing buyer. In the case of railways a Stock Exchange quotation at a given point of time was the basis. With another kind of industry there is a third basis. No single one of them corresponds to the elementary justice of the situation. The elementary justice of the situation—and I am entitled to my view about that—is that if we take away a man's property, whether a small house or a big one, whether his chattels or whether his land, we ought to pay him as compensation what that property would realise in the open market as between a willing seller and a willing buyer.
§ Mr. Brown
I have not come to that. I am talking about principles at the moment. If, however, I am invited to deal with the question of scarcity value I would answer with one question. Which section of the community is there which does not use scarcity value when it suits it, including trade union leaders? When I have been arguing on behalf of a category of members of my organisation—
§ Mr. Brown
Let me make my case in my own way, the sensible way. When I have been arguing on behalf of members of my trade union, and could show that the existing conditions of pay were 944 resulting in a scarcity of recruits for that occupation, I have utilised that argument for all it was worth. So does everybody else in this country. The idea that on that side of the Committee there is no one but high-minded idealists who would scorn to use the scarcity value argument, and that on this side there is no one but black-hearted landlords who believe in nothing else but that argument, is a travesty. I affirm that it is not the basis adopted in this Bill. The basis adopted by the Bill is 1939 values with an addition of 60 per cent.
§ Mr. Brown
It does not matter if it is peace damage; that does not affect the merits of the argument. I must say, there is a tendency to verbal diarrhoea in some quarters of the Committee. I am suggesting that, in 1948 and subsequent years, to try to find out the 1939 rental value of a particular piece of property is to start on a wild goose chase. The data simply is not there, and it grows less and less every year, for an assessment of what the rent might have been way back in 1939.
From what does the 60 per cent. derive? Does it derive from anything except the coincidence that it appears in another Bill? On what is it based? Is it based on the assumption that rents have gone up by 60 per cent. where they are not controlled? Is it based on the assumption that the value of land has gone up 60 per cent.? Or is it just a figure somebody thought of and stuck in one Bill, and which must, therefore, be stuck in this Bill? I do not know. There has not been a single argument advanced in this Committee tonight directed to the adequacy or otherwise of the 60 per cent. Not a single argument has been addressed to that point in the Clause. For intelligibility, this Amendment must be taken with the proposed Amendment to Clause 7: In page 6, line 13, to leave out from "tenancy)," to the first "the," in line 18, and to insert:in the case of which the following conditions are fulfilled, that is to say—In effect, the compensation proposed by these Amendments is based on a current rate, with a ceiling eliminating or qualifying the element of scarcity value.
- (a) that immediately before the time when possession was taken of the property or part thereof in question the property or part was being used for residential purposes, or if it was not then being used that it had been used for residential purposes when last used before that time, and
- (b) that if an unfurnished tenancy of the property had been granted immediately before the said time."
If I had any difference at all with the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) it would be in relation to scarcity value. There is only one basis, and the more one plays about with it, and tries to dodge and deviate from it, the more injustice will be perpetrated. The whole basis of the principle is that if the State takes a man's property it ought to give him the fair market price for it. Every time we depart from that basis we do wrong by the individual affected by our decision, and we do harm to our own reputation for elementary common justice. I support this Amendment.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
I wish to say a few words on the last long, dreary trail over which the discussion has roamed. The basis of compensation for property has always been that the family affected depended on the property for their livelihood. On that basis, how is it that the champions of compensation for the loss of property have never considered compensating ordinary working men for the loss of their means of livelihood? In the past, in every case where a concern has been taken over by the Government —even to the office boy in the old parish councils—compensation was paid. But in the ordinary life of the people, from whom taxes were raised to pay compensation, the ordinary workers in industry could be chucked out of their jobs at five minutes' notice with no compensation at all. If hon. Members on this side of the Committee, representing people who received that sort of treatment were to apply the same principle, they would simply take this land—I hope for a better purpose than the one for which it is being taken—and give no compensation, thus applying the same principle which was applied to the working class.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. York
I dare not go too far in answering the intervention of the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan). So far as it was relevant, the principle to which we shall come in Clause 10, and upon which we shall have a good deal to say, is probably the answer, 946 namely, that in most instances the State will refuse to accept the loss of profit as a basis on which to put the compensation value. I dare go no further in dealing with that matter.
I want to come now to the Solicitor-General's defence of the Government's present position. As I understand it, there are three main lines of argument against this Amendment. First, the Solicitor-General did not like the idea that the rate of compensation might be lowered or raised. He seemed to have some objection to that, although I am not at all clear what it was. We, on this side, take no exception to it being raised or lowered. That is not relevant at all. What we want is a fair measure of compensation, and whether it is up or down depends upon the facts of the case. Secondly, he said that the rent compensation over the last 8½ years had worked very well. That is a pure travesty of the facts. It is true that the great majority of owners, both public and private, were prepared to accept the position during the war because of the conditions of the time, but subsequent to 1945 we find an ever-increasing number of quarrels going on with the various Government valuers concerned with assessment and compensation.
We see increasing evidence of interference with the present basis. I agree that long-standing rental compensations settled some time during the war have, not been questioned in a large number of cases, but that is possibly due to laziness both on the part of the agents of the property, as well as on the part of the various valuers. To say that the present method of rent compensation is working well, is completely untrue. The Government valuers, of course, like the old system. They are all fundamentally opposed to any unnecessary change in the method of compensation. They have got into a rut, and, like so many people in secure jobs, they dislike being moved out of that rut, but that is no reason why the whole of the country, or those people who have property, should suffer.
Thirdly, he said that the 1939 valuations had built up a nice collection of case law. I really do not think that that argument is at all relevant. If a system is not working well, or is causing considerable anxiety, to say that it should not be changed because there is a nice file of case law on the subject seems to me to be the most intolerable argument; it is riot only 947 intolerable, but is a bureaucratic argument which should not influence any reasonably-minded man. Let me give one case as an illustration, which will come up later.
Take the case of rental compensation in respect of a farm, part of which has been taken over for opencast coalmining. We know that the rental values of the farms have increased very materially, and particularly in certain areas. It may well be that in order to achieve any degree of solvency the farmer demands a decrease in the rent of the remainder of the farm. Even so, it is going to be extremely difficult for him to get anything like a living out of the land. The owner of that farm, if it is a tenanted farm, has to give to the tenant a rebate of rent, but he is not entitled, under this Clause as it stands, to any increase over and above the 160 per cent. advance from the Coal Board.
The owner-occupier has no redress at all. He has a large part of his farm taken off, and he has to eke out a living on what is left. He is only entitled as rent compensation to 160 per cent. It is patent to everyone that the farmer is being unfairly treated. In particular, I think that it is most unjust in regard to housing property, particularly the medium-sized house. Probably before the war such a house cost £2,000 to build. It will cost anything up to £6,000 or £7,000 to build today. It is not unnatural that a house which cost £2,000 before the war would bear a rent of about £100 a year. A house that cost £7,000 to build before the war, in that proportion, would have a rental value of about £350 a year on building costs. That would have nothing to do with scarcity values, but be merely on the cost of labour and materials for the building of the house. If the owner of the house has the land taken away from him, he gets 160 per cent. of the 1939 value. Is there any justice in that? We on this side of the Committee cannot see that there is.
We accept in theory the argument of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). We realise that under present political conditions, with a heavy Socialist majority, most of whom for inherent reasons are against all ownership of property, it is most unlikely that they will come to a solution based on justice. Therefore, we put forward what I consider to be a reasonable compromise. We give them a method which, despite what the Solicitor-General has stated, is in our 948 view practicable. It is to do away with scarcity value in rental compensation. It would be just as easy—probably far easier —to value on the basis which ends in 1952 as it is to value on the basis of 1939 values. If I were doing a job of valuation and were offered those two alternatives as a basis, I would prefer to take the value in four years' time to a purely hypothetical basis of 1939 values. I consider that the Solicitor-General offered scant argument against the Amendment, and I hope that the Government will reconsider whether or not they can bring rental compensation into line with capital compensation as laid down in the Town and Country Planning Bill.
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I do not want to detain the Committee, but when I find myself in accord with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) and the mover of this Amendment there can be no shadow of doubt that I am right. The point at issue is that we must get rid of this 1939 basis of valuation. It is artificial, it is an anachronism and it is becoming increasingly unworkable. There is no more logical ground for having the 1939 valuation than there is for having the Domesday Book valuation. As a matter of fact, the Domesday Book property valuation with an appropriate increase in percentage values to cover the increased cost of living between now and then would be far more logical and acceptable, because there is a rate of values in the Domesday Book which we never had in 1939. We must get away from that 1939 valuation because in addition it is becoming impossible to apply the 1939 value.
Admittedly there has been little building of houses during the last few years, but there has been a great deal of destruction in the war years which has completely altered the face of large parts of the country. Further, there has been a great deal of agricultural development which has altered the face of the countryside since 1939. More and more there are people coming into the valuing profession who have no knowledge of the 1939 values at all. Unless we get on to the basis of a willing buyer and a willing seller or a willing renter and a willing landlord we shall not be able to get out of the state of chaos and confusion in which the rental position is at the present time.
949 I disagree with the Solicitor-General, who said that this system worked well for the past eight and a half years, because I know from my own locality at the present time of a number of cases of hardship with regard to rentals, and this will be accentuated and perpetuated as long as the Measure remains in force. I know there is a scarcity value, and it is in order to meet that, that this Amendment is introduced, for it is one which was acceptable last year in regard to the Town and Country Planning Act. If the Government do not like that particular way of overcoming the difficulty I would say that they have not suggested any other satisfactory way themselves, because what the Solicitor - General called the selling optimum, which I gather is a maximum limit, does not by any means deal with all the scarcities. I believe firmly that this Amendment deals with scarcity cases, but if it is not considered by the Government to be necessary let it go. One thing I would urge is to get away from the 1939 value.
§ Mr. Assheton
It is a long time since the Solicitor-General delivered his very lengthy reply upon the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) and in the interval there have
§ been many excellent speeches from this side of the Committee. Therefore, I hope he will take the opportunity to reconsider his decision. I do not know whether everyone in the Committee heard what my right hon. Friend said some considerable time ago but he made a case which subsequent speeches have shown to be right. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) put the case in all its stark reality for real justice. The Amendment on the Paper is only an Amendment for half justice, but for my part I would rather have some improvement than leave the matter as it is now. The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) preferred the Domesday Book valuation to 1939. There has been a certain amount of property building since then.
§ Mr. Assheton
Unless the Government are prepared to think again and make some concession in the matter we shall have to divide the Committee.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 256.953
|Division No. 60.]||AYES.||[...]9.59 p.m.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Hope, Lord J.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr N J||Roberts, Peter (Ecclesall)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hurd, A.||Robinson, Roland|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Jennings, R.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Birch. Nigel||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Keeling, E. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Bowen, R.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Challen, C.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R.A.F.|
|Clifton-Brown. Lt.-Col. G.||Mackeson, Brig H. R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Maclay, Hon J. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Digby, S. W.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Maude, J. C.||Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorsal. E.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Drewe, C||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Neven-Spence, Sir B||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fox, Sir G.||Nicholson, G.||York, C.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Odey, G. W.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre A. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Haughton, S. G.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Commander Agnew and|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Major Conant.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Gilzean, A.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Grenfell, D. R.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Grey, C. F.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Grierson, E.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Pearson, A.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Gunter, R. J.||Perrins, W.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Guy, W. H.||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Baird, J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Popplewell, E.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Hardy, E. A.||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Barton, C.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Battley, J. R.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Pursey, Cmdr H|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Herbison, Miss M.||Randall, H. E.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hobson, C. R.||Ranger, J|
|Benson, G.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Rankin, J|
|Berry, H.||Horabin, T. L.||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||House, G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Binns, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Richards, R.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Boardman, H.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Robens, A.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Janner, B.||Royle, C.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Sargood, R.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Scollan, T.|
|Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G.||Jones, Erwyn (Plaistow)||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Burden, T. W.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Burke, W. A.||Keenan, W.||Sharp, Granville|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Key, C. W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Byers, Frank||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)|
|Callaghan, James||Kinley, J.||Silverman, J (Erdington)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Lang, G.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannook)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Coldrick, W.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith. S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Collick, P.||Levy, B. W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Collindridge, F.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Collins, V. J.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Soskice, Sir Frank|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Lindgren, G. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Lipson, D. L.||Stamford, W.|
|Cook, T. F.||Lyne, A. W.||Steele, T.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||McEntee, V. La T||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||McGhee, H. G.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Mack, J. D.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Cove, W. G.||McKay, J. (Wallsond)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Daggar, G.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Daines, P.||McKinlay, A. S.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||McLeavy, F.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merth[...]r)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Deer, G.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Diamond, J.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Thurlle, Ernest|
|Dobbie, W.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.||Tiffany, S.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Medland, H. M.||Timmons, J.|
|Donovan, T.||Mellish, R. J.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Tolley, L.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Mikardo, Ian||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Mitchison, G. R.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Monslow, W.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Moody, A. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Morley, R.||Walker, G. H.|
|Evans, A. (Islington, W.)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamslow. E.)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Ewart, R.||Mort, D. L.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Moyle, A.||Watson, W. M.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Murray, J. D.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Nally, W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||West, D. G.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford. N.)||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Wheatley, J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Oldfield, W. H.||While, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Gibbins, J.||Orbach, M.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Paget, R. T.||Wigg, George|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)||Wise, Major F. J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)||Woods, G. S.|
|Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Wyatt, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Williams, W. R. (Heston)||Yates, V. F.||Mr. Snow and|
|Willis, E.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth||Mr. George Wallace.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ The Solicitor-General
I beg to move, in page 5, line 20, after "right," to insert:not conferred by emergency powers.This is an Amendment of a drafting nature, to correct a slight flaw in Subsection (3) of Clause 6. Section 28 (2) of the 1945 Act enables a Minister to retain possession of land of which he is in possession on the determination of the particular right under which he works. That right might consist of a lease or requisition and by way of correcting a drafting error we seek to insert the wordsnot conferred by emergency powers.The effect would be to remove from the purview of the Subsection cases where a requisition is determined, and the Minister retains possession under Section 28 (2) of the 1945 Act. The reason is that Section 31 of the 1945 Act already covers that case because it provides that, for the purposes of compensation, where possession continues after a requisition, the period of continued retention and the period of the initial requisition shall be considered as one indivisible period. The Amendment is of a drafting nature, and has no significance in terms of priciple.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Wilfrid Roberts (Cumberland, Northern)
On a point of Order. There is an Amendment in my name to Clause 6 in page 5, line 23. There is a somewhat similar Amendment later on to Clause 10 in the name of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) in page 8, line 29. I wonder, Major Milner, if you could give some indication, as you are not calling my Amendment, whether you will be calling the later Amendment?
§ The Chairman
I have not selected the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W Roberts), but I am proposing to accept the later Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr Turton).
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.