HC Deb 28 February 1951 vol 484 cc2097-104
Mr. Geoffrey Hutchinson (Ilford, North)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provisions of Section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, with reference to the assessment of compensation for the compulsory acquisition of owner-occupied dwelling-houses. The purpose of this Bill can be very shortly stated. The Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, provides that where a public authority acquires an individual's property by compulsory purchase, compensation shall not, for the present, include any payment for vacant possession. Whatever may be the justice of applying that method of assessing compensation to property which is held for investment purposes, quite different considerations apply when it is adopted in the case of dwelling-houses occupied by their owners. In that case, it produces great injustice.

Put in its simplest fashion, a public authority may turn a man out of his house and pay him compensation which is deliberately and expressly assessed at a figure which will be insufficient to enable him to purchase another house with vacant possession. That is what is happening under the Act of 1947. Put in those terms, I do not believe that an hon. Member, on either side of the House—apart from other considerations—would not admit the injustice which the Bill I desire to introduce seeks to remedy.

I believe that some hon. Members may still entertain a lingering suspicion that some special sanctity still attaches to an Englishman's home; but, alas, that has long ceased to be the case. But I am sure that many hon. Members would be surprised to know that, if a local authority happens to take a fancy to a certain house or garden for the purpose of building a new school or, perhaps, for widening a street, the council cannot only have the occupier turned out but can refuse to pay compensation which would be sufficient to enable him to obtain another house with vacant possession. Even Naboth was offered full money compensation for his vineyard before more drastic methods of compulsory acquisition were applied to him.

The House must not imagine that these cases are infrequent or exceptional. I have not been able to ascertain the number of such cases which have occurred throughout the country; but in London alone during the four years from 1946 to 1949, a time when the London County Council were frequently acquiring sites for many different purposes, the council made no fewer than 374 compulsory purchase orders on dwelling-houses occupied by their owners. Of those 374 cases, the Minister of Health confirmed orders in respect of 267. This is not something which is exceptional or unusual. I am told that the projected extension of the London Airport at Heathrow will involve the compulsory acquisition of about 250 owner-occupied dwelling-houses by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and so far as I can make out, this method of assessing compensation is to be applied to these houses.

I should like to give the House some particulars of one or two cases which have come to my notice. The first is that of an elderly man, nearly 70 years of age, living with his wife, married son and two grandchildren. They occupied previously a three-storeyed house with three-quarters of an acre of garden. His advisers estimated the value of the house at about £2,000, and he himself tells me that he could probably sell it with vacant possession for £3,000. The acquiring authority have offered him £925. I should like to read to the House an extract from a letter which he wrote to me. He says: My wife and I, since December, 1947, have not had a moment's peace of mind. We even wake up in the night and talk about it, and wonder how long it will he before we are turned out of our house. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will think that that was a very pathetic letter to receive. It is perfectly true that this man has been offered accommodation in a council house, but a council house is a poor substitute for a man's own home. I want, if I may, to read an extract from another letter which he wrote to me the other day about his council house. This is what he says: We should just have completed our purchase of 'Chestnut Villas '"— that was where he lived before— and were looking forward to paying no more rent. We have to pay 24s, 4d. a week here, so that, at that rate, they will soon get back the £1,000 which they propose to pay us for Chestnut Villas. That is the difference between a home of one's own and life in a council house. I have a number of other cases which I could quote, but my time is coming to an end. [Laughter.] I am astonished that hon. Members should laugh at the misfortunes of these unhappy people. I hope the House will be willing to give me leave to introduce this Bill.

Mr. Ronald Williams (Wigan)

I sincerely hope that the House will reject the Motion which has been proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Ilford, North (Mr. G. Hutchinson). [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame.") Before hon. Members opposite cry "Shame," I really think they should listen to the arguments. The House has listened to the arguments which have been put forward by the hon. and learned Gentleman before today; that is to say, when this matter came up for consideration in 1947, there was a debate in this House for over an hour on the Re-commital Stage of the 1947 Bill, and the arguments were put forward at that time. It was anticipated that this type of objection might well arise. It is right that the House should consider today some of the reasons which prompted the House at that time to decide, by a Division, that it could not accept the point of view which has been put forward today.

Mr. G. Hutchinson


Mr. R. Williams

I cannot give way in a debate on the Ten Minutes Rule.

The first point I want to make as strongly as I can is that, in matters of this sort, there is obviously the public interest to be considered and the sectional interest. In my submission, the sectional interest was fully considered during the discussion on the 1947 Bill, and one of the points which was very clearly established was that the owner-occupier who was then in the position that he was to receive the 1939 value, plus 60 per cent., was to be placed in a better position, and that was the effect of the Section of that Act to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred.

The owner-occupier was placed in a better position by the Act of 1947 than he had been in before, and, in putting him in that better position, Parliament decided that, from that point onwards, the value of the property should be taken at its full market price subject to a deduction; that is to say, the obliga- tion of paying that scarcity value should not rest upon the public authority, but that that value should be subject to a notional lease which had approximately six and a quarter years to run—a lease which would expire on 1st January, 1954. Therefore, this Section not only improved the lot of the owner-occupier but it went further than that, and it made provisions so that, as time went on, the prices which owner-occupiers would receive would increase, and this matter would resolve itself under this Section by 1st January, 1954. That being so, I ask the House to say that the owner-occupier is at present in a better position than he has been previously.

I should like to call attention to a wrong impression which might be given by some of the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Although cases such as those to which he referred undoubtedly exist—and I do not need to enter into the merits of these particular cases—it is a fact that some of the owner-occupiers do not require alternative accommodation. Others can obtain alternative accommodation under the provisions of the Act, leaving a very small number of cases of the type mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite know that I give way easily enough when there is a full debate, but, under the Ten Minutes Rule, it must not be regarded as discourtesy if I do not give way.

The final point I wish to make is this. On the particular cases to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred, if one considers them on the basis of extreme hardship, that sort of problem cannot, in my submission, be dealt with by an Amendment of this Section of the 1947 Act. To deal with that type of case, it would be necessary to engage in retrospective legislation. [Interruption.] I see that the hon. and learned Gentleman nods his head, and I would say to those of his hon. Friends on the opposite side who are not nodding their heads in support of my observations that they should get their hon. and learned Friend to explain to them what is involved. In my submission, the House should oppose this proposal because the remedy that is proposed is much worse than the disease to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred.

Question put, pursuant Order Standing No. 12.

The House divided: Ayes; 222; Noes, 245.

Division No. 44.] AYES [4.0 p.m.
Aitken, W. T Hay, John Perkins, W. R. D.
Alport, C. J. M. Head, Brig, A. H Peto, Brig, C. H. M.
Arbuthnot, John Heald, Lionel Pickthorn, K.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Heath, Edward Pitman, I. J.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Powell, J. Enoch
Ayles, W. H. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Baker, P. A. D. Higgs, J. M. C. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Profumo, J. D.
Baldwin, A. E Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Raikes, H. V.
Beamish, Major Tufton Hirst, Geoffrey Rayner, Brig. R
Bell, R. M. Hollis, M. C. Redmayne, M
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Renton, D. L. M.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Hope, Lord John Roberts Emrys (Merioneth)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Roberts, Major Peter (Heeley)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N,.) Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Bishop, F. P. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Black, C. W. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Robson-Brown, W
Blackburn, A. R. Hurd, A. R. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hutchison, Lt.-com. Clark (E'L'rgh W.) Roper, Sir Harold
Bower, Norman Hutchison, Colonel James Ross. Sir Ronald (Londonderry)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Russell, R. S.
Boyle, Sir Edward Jeffreys, General Sir George Ryder, Capt. R. E. D
Braine, B. R. Johnson, Major Howard (Kemptown) Sandys, Rt. Hon. D
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Jones, A. (Hall Green) Savory, Prof. D. L
Browne, Jack (Govan) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Scott, Donald
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Kaberry, D. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Bullock, Capt. M. Keeling, E. H. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Butcher, H. W. Lambert, Hon. G. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Garr, Robert (Mitcham) Langford-Holt, J. Smyth, Brig. J. G, (Norwood)
Channon, H. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Snadden, W. McN.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Soames, Capt. C.
Clyde, J L Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (llford, S.) Lindsay, Martin Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Linstead, H. N Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Llewellyn, D. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Cranborne, Viscount Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Storey, S.
Crouch, R. F. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood) Low, A. R. W. Studholme, H. G.
Cundiff, F. W. Lucas, P. B (Brentford) Sutcliffe, H.
Davies, Nigel (Epping) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
de Chair, Somerset Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Deedes, W. F. McAdden, S. J. Teevan, T. L.
Dlgby, S. W. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. McKibbin, A. Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.
Donner, P. W. MeKie, J. H. (Galloway) Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Maclay, Hon. John Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Drayson, G. B. Maclean, Fitzroy Thorp, Brig. R. A. F.
Drews, C. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Tilney, John
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Touche, G. C.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Turner, H. F. L.
Fisher, Nigel Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Turton, R. H.
Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Maitland, Cmdr. J. W. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fort, R. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Vosper, D. F.
Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.) Wade, D. W.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Maudling R. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. A. (Pollok) Mellor, Sir John Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Molson, A. H. E. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Gammans, L. D. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Watkinson, H.
Gates, Maj. E. E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Webbe, Sir Harold
George, Lady Megan Lloyd Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Glyn, Sir Ralph Nicholson, G. Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Grimond, J. Nutting, Anthony Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Oakshott, H. D. Wills, G.
Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Odey, G. W. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harden, J. R. E. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Wood, Hon. R.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) York, C.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Osborne, C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S. Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Mr. Geoffrey Hutchinson and
Mr. Derek Walker-Smith.
Acland, Sir Richard Gunter, R. J Oliver, G. H.
Adams, H. R. Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) Orbach, M.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Padley, W. E.
Allen, Schoiefield (Crewe) Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearwe V'lly)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Hamilton, W. W. Pannell, T. C.
Awbery, S. S. Harman, W. Pargiter, G. A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hardman, D. R Paton, J.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Hardy, E. A. Pearson, A.
Bartley, P. Hargreaves, A. Popplewell, E.
Benn, Wedgwood Harrison, J. Porter, G.
Benson, G. Hastings, S. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Beswick, F. Hayman, F. H. Proctor, W. T.
Bing, G. H. C Herbison, Miss M. Pryde, D. J.
Blenkinsop, A. Hobson, C. R. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Blyton, W. R. Holman, P. Rankin, J.
Boardman, H. Holmes, Horace Hemsworth) Rees, Mrs. D.
Bottomley, A. G. Houghton, D. Reeves, J.
Bowden, H. W. Hoy, J. Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Bowles, F. G, (Nuneaton) Hubbard, T. Reid, William (Camlachie)
Brockway, A. F. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Rhodes, H.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Richards, R.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Robens, A.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Brown, George (Belper) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Robinson, Kenneth (St Paneras, N.)
Burke, W. A. Janner, B. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Jeger, George (Goole) Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Callaghan, L. J. Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.) Royle, C.
Carmichael, J. Jenkins, R. H. Shackleton, E. A. A.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Johnson, James (Rugby) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Champion, A. J. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Chetwynd, G. R. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Simmons, C. J.
Clunie, J. Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Slater, J.
Cocks, F. S. Keenan, W. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Coldriek, W. Kenyon, C. Snow, J. W.
Collick, P. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Sorensen, R. W
Collindridge, F. Kinley, J. Sparks, J. A.
Cook, T. F. Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Steele, T.
Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Lang, Gordon Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Cove, W. G. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Crawley, A. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Stross, Dr. Barnett
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Lindgren, G. S. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sylvester, G. O.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, Harold (Leek) McAllister, G. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Deer, G. MacColl, J. E. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Delargy, H. J. McGhee, H. G. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Diamond, J. McGovern, J. Thomas, Iorworth (Rhondda, W.)
Dodds, N. N. McInnes, J. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Donnelly, D. Mack, J. D. Thorneyeroft, Harry (Clayton)
Driberg, T. E. N. McKay, John (Wallsend) Thurtle, Ernest
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.) Usborne, H.
Dye, S. McLeavy, F Vernon, W. F.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Viant, S. P.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Wallace, H. W.
Edwards, W, J. (Stepney) Mainwaring, W. H. Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) West, D. G.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mann, Mrs. Jean Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Ewart, R. Man[...]el, A. C. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Fernyhough, E. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Finch, H. J. Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Mellish, R. J. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Follick, M.
Foot, M. M. Messer, F. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Forman, J. C. Middleton, Mrs. L. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mikardo, Ian Williams, David (Neath)
Freeman, John (Watford) Mitchison, G. R. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Monslow, W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N Moody, A. S. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Gibson, C. W. Morley, R. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Gilzean, A. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Glanville, James (Consett) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Gooch, E. G. Mort, D. L. Wise, F. J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Moyle, A. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Grey, C. F. Murray, J. D. Wyatt, W. L.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Nally, W. Younger, Hon. K.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanefly) Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange) Oldfield, W. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Poole and Mr. John E. Haire.

Question put, and agreed to.