HC Deb 07 February 1949 vol 461 cc69-85
Mr. Willis

I beg to move, in page 18, line 5, at the end to insert: In no case shall such compensation exceed twenty years' purchase price of the value of the concession at the time it was obtained by the present holder of the vested interest. The Amendment deals with a question of compensation and the right to supply water on special terms, which received very considerable discussion in the Committee. As the result of that discussion and the fairly widespread concern at the width of the Clause, the Lord Advocate said that he would look into the matter again and see whether he could devise a means whereby the width of the Clause would be limited. I was disappointed not to see upon the Paper an Amendment with that purpose in view. We have therefore tried to frame an Amendment which will limit the amount of compensation in regard to the termination of these rights.

We start with the assumption that not more than 20 years' purchase price of the value of the concession, at the time it was obtained by the present holder of the vested interest, should be paid in, respect of those rights. During the Committee stage, my right hon. Friend argued that we should expect Subsection (3) to have reference only to the present value. He quoted in support of his argument the point that steps were taken under the various nationalisation Acts to compensate the owners of undertakings at present-day values.

The analogy is quite false. In the case of the undertakings we are buying physical assets with a profit-earning capacity, or a potential profit-earning capacity, but in respect of these rights we are paying to abolish a privilege obtained by virtue of the fact that a local authority had probably had to go miles away in order to obtain the necessary water for its population. The owners of these concessions have not created anything. They do not make the rain fall on their ground, although by certain legal processes they have obtained possession of the ground through which the pipes have to pass to the large cities, but they have done nothing——

Sir W. Darling

They have supplied the pipes.

Mr. Willis

They have not even supplied the pipes because the local authorities have usually supplied them. My right hon. Friend also gave the analogy of the owners of the coal royalties. Even that has not been accepted by the Government because we approach the question of other minerals under the Town and Country Planning Act from an altogether different angle. Therefore, those are not good arguments.

We ought to accept the basis of 20 years valuation at the time when the concession was obtained by the present holder. The Amendment suggests that the compensation should not be more than 20 years purchase price. During the Committee stage my right hon. Friend said that it would be impossible to go back and discover what the concession was worth when it was first obtained. Under the Amendment there is no need to go back and find out what the value was if the concession was obtained more than 20 years ago because if the person has enjoyed it for over 20 years, he will not be entitled to compensation. That is the implication. He will only get compensation for that period of the 20 years which he has still to run. That is what we should like to see. We should consider that to be a just settlement of claims.

My right hon. Friend also produced a number of other arguments with most of which we are not concerned today because we are not considering the rights of the owners; all we are considering is the limit to be placed on the amount of compensation payable. My right hon. Friend ought to give this matter further consideration because it has given a number of people concern. The County Councils Association were concerned about it when the Bill was before the Committee and certain members of local authorities have spoken to me about it and the matter concerned the Committee very much. No one can deny that considerable concern is felt about the whole question of compensation. In view of all these considerations, will my right hon. Friend try to find words limiting the amount of compensation, if he will not accept the ones we suggest, and have them inserted in another place?

Mr. Rankin

I beg to second the Amendment.

It is a very mild Amendment, and from what the Lord Advocate said during the Committee stage I am certain that it will win his approval and also that of the Secretary of State for Scotland. They have indicated that they are with us in spirit and the Amendment provides words which will enable them to give body to that spirit. They are simple words and will resolve the real difficulties which the Lord Advocate showed he had from the legal point of view in seeking a solution which would be satisfactory both to himself and to those of us who support him. I hope that from that point of view alone we shall have his support today. We are giving him a solution on a platter and I hope that he accepts it.

It is important that we should realise what we are doing when we pay compensation to the landowners in these cases. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis) said, comparisons had been made with other nationalised services, but no comparison exists with this type of service. A natural physical process is going on. The waters of the ocean evaporate, not by any effort of the landowner who does not even kindle a fire or spark a match to help in that evaporation. To begin with, he did not put the waters where they are. According to the Book of Genesis, they were put there for him. They evaporate and the moisture rises up into the upper air where it is cooled. Again, no effort is required on the landowner's part, and he has no cooling processes of any type in the upper air. In the upper air the moisture condenses. The landowner has no part in increasing the density of the clouds. The clouds fall and hit the hills, which the landowner never put there. The rain then trickles down the sides of the hills, and the landowner has no part to play even in that. We are told that the waters, like the love of God, stream from the hills and flow on to the plains. All the landowner does is to step forward, like the old toll man on the road, and make his charge for something in bringing about which he did not even play the simplest part.

That is what will happen if we agree to compensate these people. It is fantastic that they should even make a claim. I discovered a fortnight ago that in Scotland there is a landlord who gets compensation in respect of the sand on the seashore. If anyone takes away a bucket of sand from the seashore he is compensated for it——

Mr. McKie

Sand from above high water.

Mr. Rankin

Any state of the water, high or low. If even a salmon trout is taken out of the sea at high or low water—I know that I am invading the province of the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) who knows more about these things than I do, but what I am saying is true of a certain landlord——

5.30 p.m.

Mr. McKie

The hon. Gentleman talked about the sand on the seashore. He left out of consideration tidal conditions, and I venture to point out that he may be right, but that it could be only above high water mark.

Mr. Rankin

That was what I always understood until a week ago last Friday when I visited the little village of Lamlash, where I found something different. Even the sand on the shore belongs to the landowner there, and in the little village of Caticol the pebbles are being removed from the beach at 1s. per ton, and thereby endangering the stability of the road and the village.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

The hon. Gentleman is becoming very much out of Order.

Mr. Rankin

Yes, Sir, I am sorry. I realised that I was a little out of Order, but I was keeping near the water. I do not propose to pursue the point any further. We have established it fully, and I feel certain that it will be reinforced by other hon. Members that this is a mild yet effective solution to the problem of compensating the landlord for the loss of these rights.

Mr. Gilzean (Edinburgh, Central)

I join with my hon. Friends in appealing to the Secretary of State to consider this Amendment. I know that my right hon. Friend, and others in a like position, are apt to take a severely practical view of these questions and to ask themselves what is the common practice, and to be governed by that outlook. It appears to us, however, that there is a great deal to be said for limiting the amount of compensation to be paid in this regard. It appears to us, further, that 20 years is a fair proposal. I make no pretence to a tremendous amount of knowledge but I had 21 years of local government experience, and my observation taught me that whenever a local government went into the market for anything, it was invariably assumed that they could be challenged with a fairly high demand, presumably because, the charge being spread over the community, the community would not feel it in the same way as an individual.

In connection with supplying necessary water to large communities, at once it jumps to the minds of those who have bare hills and bare valleys, and all that is associated with carrying water 20 or 30 or 40 miles, "Here is our opportunity, do not let us miss it." Consequently we find that all sorts of extraordinary demands are made. Therefore we suggest, not that these people should be unfairly treated, but that a reasonable limit should be put on anything that might be paid. Generally speaking, in many other connections 20 years is looked upon as being fair average compensation for any change that might take place. It is on those grounds, and in the hope that the Secretary of State will see the sweet reasonableness of this proposal, that I support the Amendment.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I am surprised and a little disappointed that the Secretary of State for Scotland did not intervene before this point to say that he accepted this Amendment, especially after the academic and lyrical explanation of the problem given by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin). We base our Amendment on the words of the Secretary of State on the Second Reading when he said: Local authorities feel, quite naturally that such obligations have become unreasonably onerous. While they continue, those benefiting under them will be freed from the obligation to pay the domestic water rate under this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1948; Vol. 457, c. 1399.] If these obligations have become unreasonably onerous, what justification is there for the Secretary of State for Scotland digging his heels in and saying that we cannot depart from what we have laid down on compensation terms? He has laid down this: The amount of the compensation to be paid … shall be assessed by reference to the value of the rights secured under the obligation as at the date of the making of the order. … Since he has terminated any extension of the privilege, it really means that they have to be compensated at the value of the privilege as at 7th October, 1948. That means that they will be compensated on the very values which he himself admits are unreasonably onerous. I think his failure is that he is only taking one thing into consideration as regards compensation, and that is the present value. In this Amendment we are asking him to take into consideration how long this privilege has been enjoyed. We might have gone much further and asked him to trail through the records, of history and find when these privileges were first exacted, because in many cases they were exacted.

Mr. McKie indicated dissent.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) may shake his head, but he knows that this is actually what happened. Let him consult the books of reference with regard to the efforts of Glasgow to get water——

Mr. Willis

Tom Johnston.

Mr. Ross

I need not go into that. The landlord had on his estate what they wanted for their town, and the landlord, for the simple right of taking that water, exacted from them a promise to supply water free. That, when it was exacted, may have been quite a trivial matter, but the Secretary of State himself instanced a case where one local authority is providing daily free of charge 500,000 gallons of water to five estates. Now he comes along and says that we must compensate them under this high level 500,000 gallons.

All that we ask here is that he should take into consideration, not the value of the privilege when first granted, but to go back 20 years, take the value then, and for that to be the maximum. If someone bought over a new piece of land, and thereby certain privileges, in intervening years, he should get a greater compensation than the person who has held the privilege for all the 20 years. If the Secretary of State looked at it on those lines, and remembered his own insistence on doing justice to the ratepayers and to the local authorities, forgetting this almost unnecessarily touching consideration for vested interests in this matter, as well as in other matters, and concentrated on justice to the ratepayers, he would, without any hesitation, accept our Amendment, or find some means of getting one on similar lines on to the Order Paper.

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I support this Amendment on other grounds. It seems to me to be based on the different value of money at different times, and to take the view that an interest of this kind, acquired long ago when money was more valuable than it is today, should be the subject of compensation at a higher rate, whereas an interest of this kind which was more recently acquired, when money is of less value, should be compensated at a lower rate. I think that is right and just.

Moreover, I think it right that there should be a limit to the amount of compensation. Twenty years' purchase is the purchase price of a fairly well secured ground rent. Why should the owner of an interest of this kind get more compensation than the owner of a well secured ground rent would get? People acquire interests of this kind in one of two ways: either by purchase or by inheritance. Those who acquire by purchase acquire with their eyes open—they know what is the value; and I do not see, in the circumstances, why they should be allowed to get more than 20 years' purchase. On the other hand, persons who acquire by inheritance do so without any expenditure of their own—it is a windfall to them; and I do not see why they should get more than 20 years' purchase. Whichever way one looks at it, it seems to me right to impose this limit of 20 years' purchase. The whole philosophical basis, if I may put it that way, of the Amendment is that it is based on a sliding scale relating to the value of money, which is inherently right and just.

Mr. Woodburn

During the Committee stage of the Bill my hon. Friends behind me raised this question of the compensation that ought to be given in the case of the taking over of these rights. As was stated at that time, when we take something in isolation there seems to be a plausible case for saying why the compensation or the arrangements provided in the Bill might lead to more compensation than my hon. Friends think is desirable or just. Some of them, at least, said that what they wanted was to be fair; but being fair in the matter of compensation is obviously not a matter which can be decided by the buyer without any reference to the seller.

Mr. Ross

And with reference to what is being sold or bought.

Mr. Woodburn

In other words, if those of us who were born before the 1914 war go into shops today we have the greatest difficulty in adjusting ourselves to the prices of goods. It is very difficult for us to think that we ought to pay the prices which are shown.

Sir W. Darling

Fifty-Shilling Tailors.

Mr. Woodburn

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his success in buying his suits for 50s. In any case, there is this difficulty of adjusting ourselves as between the buyer and the seller.

I promised to look into this question, and have done so very carefully. I find that I come up against a principle. The party to which I belong decided many years ago, in regard to the taking over of property of all kinds, that they would give due compensation; but that cannot be measured by the person who takes over the property without reference to the interest or the rights of the person whose property is being sacrificed. My hon. Friends have dealt with one or two types of rights—by inheritance or by the fact that a person is the owner of land—but however that right has been obtained, it is a right which we are taking over; and that right, like every other right, is measured on its value today and not 20 or 50 years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "On, the legal right."] The legal right is what we are dealing with today. On looking into this question I found that if we were to depart from the principles hitherto observed by the Government in compensation for property, there would be a reaction on all future compensation; in other words, we could not alter the principle for this one item alone.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Willis

Would my right hon. Friend say what principle? We are not departing from the principle of compensation. All we are deciding is the basis of the compensation. In each Measure passed during the term of this Government there has been a different basis of compensation.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend realise that under other Statutes similar limits have been laid down?

Mr. Woodburn

My legal advice is rather different from that offered by the hon. Gentleman regarding legal rights. I must confine myself, therefore, to the advice which I have received. We are dealing with a principle of compensation for a right. The principle that it should be fair has been accepted. In the Bill the first principle of fairness is that a local authority can buy these rights from the existing owner by agreement. The terms of the agreement are not laid down. If both sides, in measuring up the circumstances, think that the terms suggested by my hon. Friend are fair, there is nothing to hinder the local authority and the owner accepting these terms as fair. On the other hand, if they cannot agree and if the local authority decides upon acquiring these rights by compulsion, then, of course, failing agreement, the matter would be subjected to arbitration. That method is accepted not only in the trade union world, but in the country generally, as the fairest way of settling a dispute between two parties. It is quite impossible to depart from the principles laid down in the Bill without involving us in a whimsical variation of principles for every type of legislation which involves compensation.

Mr. Willis

I still have not had an answer to my question to my right hon. Friend—to which principle is he referring? Compensation has been based on different principles in almost every Act passed by the present Government. What we are asking now is which principle is to be applied here. We are not suggesting that any new principles should be introduced.

Mr. Woodburn

Methods of assessment have been put into Bills to suit the particular circumstances with which we were dealing. The principles of fair compensation, however, have not been departed from. Let me explain the position to my hon. Friends in this way. Suppose we take the land from which water flows; clearly, the water and the land are almost inseparable. If we are to apply these principles to the water rights, then the same principles clearly might apply to the land rights. My hon. Friends suggested also that nobody had ever done anything to these water rights or to help the water supply. That, of course, is not quite the case. Although there are not a great number of these rights in existence, their variety is almost infinite.

I think it was the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) who described the Amendment as a simple one. It is too simple, as are the examples which have been quoted. The matter is, in fact, much more complicated and complex. In any event, I state quite definitely, on behalf of the Government, that we cannot agree to alter the principles of fair and due compensation for the rights of property when transferred to the State. In our view, and as we are advised by our advisers, the procedure suggested would involve not only this particular variation but a departure from the principles hitherto followed by the Govern- ment in giving due compensation for all rights that have been taken over.

The analogy of coal has been given. Wherever the rights in coal have been proved they have been compensated for; where they have not been proved, they have not been compensated for. Similarly this question also is one of proved rights which are legally identifiable and which can be established either to the arbitrator or to the court. I ask my hon. Friends to regard this not as a whimsical matter dealing with an isolated question like water, but as a matter of principle which applies to the whole attitude of the Government on compensation. We are not prepared, just for the sake of one whimsical instance which may be drawn to our notice, to depart from general principles laid down by the Government.

It is true that local authorities were attracted by the proposal to reduce the compensation to 20 years. Therefore, when I met their representatives, I took the opportunity of discussing the matter with them and pointing out the implications that in the future it would alter the basis of compensation, which might affect them as sellers, as well as buyers. After consideration and discussion, without anyone dissenting, they came to the conclusion that they were prepared to accept the procedure in the Bill as the right procedure and were not prepared to jeopardise the general principles upon which compensation was based, which would, of course, affect them in many matters dealing with property in their areas. I regret that I cannot comply with the desire of my hon. Friends to accept the Amendment, but must ask the House to reject it.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I did not intend to intervene, but I do not think the House can accept the argument which has just been enunciated by the Secretary of State for Scotland. One would have assumed that some kind of broad principle in regard to property holders had been laid down in the Ten Commandments.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

"Thou shalt not steal."

Mr. Hughes

I am coming to "Thou shalt not steal." I think the Government should at least be prepared to learn from experience. The experience of the various nationalised industries does not seem to lead us to believe that the way we have settled compensation for the nationalisation of various industries should be unalterable, or that we should apply to coal, transport, electricity and bus companies the principle applied to water, just because there was an abstract principle and some rights were forfeited. The Secretary of State mentioned the case of the mines, as if the basis of compensation laid down for coalmines should be followed in applying the principle to water supplies. I thought he was most unfortunate in that analogy because the more one looks at the amounts which have been paid in compensation for the coalmines, the more one realises that too much compensation has been given and that the terms have been far too generous.

Mr. Woodburn

I think that if my hon. Friend examines the facts in regard to the nationalisation of coal, he will find that the State made a very handsome profit on the transaction.

Mr. Hughes

Yes, but if the Secretary of State would pursue the matter a little further, he would find that the sum of £164 million paid for the coalmines is excessive and far too generous. I would point to what has gone on in the coalmining industry in the last few months and how shares have gone up since the gentleman who advised the Government on the matter went to one of the companies which have been compensated. If my right hon. Friend considers that he would not be quite so sure that we made such an acceptable bargain. If the Secretary of State for Scotland read the financial columns of the "Scotsman" only last Saturday, he will have seen a paragraph headed "Coal Shares Very Active." I do not see why coal shares should be very active.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)

The hon. Gentleman cannot go too far in that example. It can be taken as an example only.

Mr. Hughes

I was not going to elaborate it too much. The analogy of coal was introduced by the Secretary of State and I would not have dreamt of proceeding on this line of argument unless I had been tempted by that invitation. The analogy of coal has been cited and, without going into detail, I would mention the case of transport and the recent case in which a Question was put in the House about £23 million paid to Scottish Motor Transport by way of compensation for buses. When we look at what has been done and judge of what is to be our line of action in compensation for water supplies based on experience of what has happened in other industries, we should come to the conclusion that we ought to be a little more careful before proceeding to act as generously in regard to water as we have acted in regard to transport and electricity.

I am afraid we are burdening the nationalised industries by too much compensation. Every time the consumer buys a ton of coal, he is paying compensation to the coalowners. Every time he pays his electricity bill, he is paying compensation to the electricity industry, and every time he goes on a bus in Scotland he pays excessive compensation to the bus companies. Now we have a state of affairs in which one will hesitate to turn on a tap in case one is supporting excessive payments to the landlord.

The way in which water supplies have been monopolised by various interests which we are now compensating is a very sorry story. Everywhere in country districts in Scotland one finds a grievance against those who have cornered water supplies. I will not deal with Glasgow, but the case of Loch Katrine is a classical case. The water was sold at an excessive price and another excessive price was asked in order that houses could be built on the side of the loch and the sewage be prevented from entering the loch. If the hon. and gallant Member for Argyll (Major McCallum) were here, he could tell a remarkable story of the negotiations between the Duke of Argyll and Campbeltown Town Council in regard to water. Everyone in Campbeltown and Argyll knows of the scandal of excessive payments the town council had to make for the supply of pure water. In Ayrshire, when the water supply was brought into the district, a pipe was laid along the river. That was in no way due to the enterprise or goodwill of the landlord, but to the town council, by means of a wayleave to the Marquis of Bute of 1s. 6d. a yard.

The time has come to call a halt to excessive compensation to various interests which are nationalised. Let the Scottish Members give a lead to the Government We have heard so much from the other benches about shareholders in various industries not being treated generously, but I should say they are being treated far too generously. Where there is hardship it should be stopped, but the time has come to stop a ramp.

Mr. McKie

I was very glad to find the Secretary of State standing by his guns and I hope he will maintain that attitude, in spite of anything just said by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), or anything which may be said in the course of subsequent Debate from those sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman who were elected to be his supporters. In the Debate upon this Amendment we have seen spectacularly what we have seen for a long time—a clash between Right and Left. The right hon. Gentleman smiles, but it is rather a sickly smile. He knows that my words are true.

6.0 p.m.

Commander Galbraith

Is not my hon. Friend confused? Does he not mean a clash between right and wrong?

Mr. McKie

I am obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend for putting it in that more graphic way. Those who sit on the benches behind the Treasury Bench are often in the wrong. This is a glaring illustration of it.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire who represents a constituency immediately to the north of mine, went out of his way to introduce a number of irrelevancies. He discoursed at great length on the consultation given under the Coal Industry (Nationalisation) Act and he was gently chided by you, Sir, for going some way beyond the limits allowed by this Amendment. Even when he confined himself to the question of water, he drew, as I think he will be bound to agree if he reflects, an exaggerated picture of what might happen when some one in some county or urban district went to turn on a tap. I hope and believe that he is wrong.

I do not deny that in the past there have been cases in which rights to obtain water have been rather unnecessarily withheld, but not for compensation. It was generally due to a desire not to have amenities interrupted and not to any desire to be grasping about compensation. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me about that. The hon. Member gave us one or two illustrations. I could give quite a contrary illustration if I cared to do so, but I do not choose to indulge in personalities or give offence in this House.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will maintain the attitude about this Amendment that he did when he had a very rough passage with his hon. Friends in the Committee room. They exhibited signs of turbulence this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman is most certainly in the right in this Question and his hon. Friends to whom I have referred are most certainly in the wrong. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire talked about the Ten Commandments. There is one which says "Thou shalt not steal." While I do not wish to exaggerate, I consider that the 20 years limit he suggested would be close to stealing. It would be a very grave step in the wrong direction. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman laying it down so clearly that his party had accepted the principle of compensation, for quite clearly no hon. Member behind him this afternoon had bothered to look into the Clause sufficiently to see the point that free negotiations is, in the first instance, open to both sides, and if they cannot agree the arbiter is brought in. How can anyone object to arbitration? The hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis) seems to do so.

Mr. Willis

The Amendment only deals with Subsection (3), which concerns terminating the right by compulsion.

Mr. McKie

I am glad to have that point cleared up, but I do not think what the hon. Member has said detracts from the broad principle which I was endeavouring to enunciate, and which the right hon. Gentleman enunciated.

I was about to deal with the changing values of money. We hear a lot of people on the opposite side of the House who belong to the intelligentsia of the Socialist Party, and this afternoon has been no exception, give vent to a kind of muddled economic thinking. The right hon. Gentleman was quite clear. The Secretary of State himself said that if we were to make this limit of compensation with regard to water we should be touching the land system of this country. The name of Mr. Thomas Johnston has been bandied about. I can remember him as a Private Member of this House in the 1935 Parliament, introducing a Private Member's Motion one Wednesday, which called for the nationalisation of the land of Britain. Mr. Thomas Johnston made it plain—this was in 1936 or 1937—that nothing less than 22 years purchase would be fair.

I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to reflect that such an eminent person would not approve of the kind of economic theories as those put forward from the benches opposite this afternoon. Of that I am certain. When one visualises how values have changed since then, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will maintain and stiffen his attitude. If it is necessary, and if his honourable and so-called supporters desire to carry their Amendment to a Division, I shall certainly give the Secretary of State my support.

Commander Galbraith

I have not previously intervened because I thought it as well that this matter should be thrashed out between hon. Members on the other side of the House. But I wish it to be absolutely clear that we are entirely in agreement with the attitude taken by the Secretary of State for Scotland. I have been rather shocked by the pleas put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who I believe have the highest moral principles, and yet have been completely led away by political prejudice, particularly against one class of persons—landowners.

This matter has nothing to do with physical processes whatever, I would remind the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin). It has to do with the solemn obligation, an undertaking entered into between two parties, and that obligation the hon. Gentleman would now discard.

Mr. Rankin

These rights are in the long run based on simple scientific phenomena which occur in nature.

Commander Galbraith

That is the difference between the hon. Gentleman and myself. Apparently he cannot see the difference between a natural process and a solemn undertaking entered into between two parties. The two are completely different.

I was also completely surprised by words spoken by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), when he said this right was now becoming unreasonably onerous. I know that he was quoting when he made that statement, but he based his argument on that fact—that as soon as one finds a contract into which one has entered is "unreasonably onerous" one is entitled to cast it aside without any consideration whatever. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to consider for a moment where that would lead him or any one else who adhered to principles of that kind.

Mr. Ross

While I agree that this matter is becoming unreasonably onerous, surely in the matter of termination justice for the buyer as well as the seller should be taken into consideration? One cannot ignore the nature of the right, which has been continuous and increasing all the time.

Commander Galbraith

In expressing agreement that there should be justice between buyer and seller I am content to leave the matter there.

Amendment negatived.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 18, line 27, at the end, to insert: (7) An obligation to furnish a supply of water or to grant a wayleave for pipes or to give any other benefit or advantage to a local water authority entered into in consideration of an obligation to which this Section applies shall not be deemed to be terminated by reason only of the termination under this Section of the last mentioned obligation. This Amendment is designed to remove doubts. It is really associated with the type of obligation which we have just been considering in the last Amendment, where there have been obligations to supply water in return for which certain privileges or rights were extended to the granter of the supply. It was felt that doubts might exist that if the obligation were terminated under Clause 26 on payment of the requisite compensation, the person who previously supplied the water might argue that, by the termination of that obligation, he in turn was free and relieved from the obligation to supply water or to grant wayleaves as the case might be. This Amendment is simply to ensure that at the termination of the obligation to supply free water or water at favourable rates the corresponding obligation on the part of the granter of the water will still remain.

Amendment agreed to.