HL Deb 18 May 1896 vol 40 cc1536-9

"(a) Any question of disputed compensation under an Order or Provisional Order made under this section shall be referred to the arbitration of a sole arbiter appointed by the parties, or if the parties do not concur in the appointment of a sole arbiter then, on the application of either of them, by the Board, and the remuneration to be paid to the arbiter shall be fixed by the Board. An arbiter appointed under this sub-section shall be deemed to be a sole arbiter within the meaning of the Lands Clauses Acts, and the provisions of those Acts with respect to an arbitration shall apply accordingly; and the arbiter shall, notwithstanding anything in the said Acts, determine the amount of the expenses in the arbitration, and such determination shall be final; and

"(b) In construing for the purposes of this section any Acts incorporated with, or put in force under, this section, this Act, together with any Order or Provisional Order under this section, shall be deemed to be the special Act.

His Lordship said, that this sub-section was one of the clauses of the Allotments Act, which was made applicable by this clause to all property which was taken for public purposes. At a former stage of the Bill they struck out all the other parts of the clause which were taken from the Allotments Clauses of the Act, and he submitted that this sub-section should also be left out. The sub-section provided that where there was a question as to disputed compensation, if the parties did not agree to the appointment of an arbiter, there was to be one appointed by the Scotch Local Government Board. It was not desirable to interfere with the ordinary operations of the Lands Clauses Act in this matter. In the event of parties not agreeing on the question of compensation, the Bill placed in the hands of the Board, which was, to the extent of half its members, a purely political Board, the absolute right to appoint an arbiter who was to determine the compensation in cases where private property was taken. The noble Marquess the Prime Minister objected to germs. This was a germ of the very largest description, and he could not see that there was any practical reason for the insertion of the subsection.


hoped their Lordships would not agree to the Amendment. There were sufficient precedents for it. Under the Lands Clauses Acts compensation might be settled in one or other of three ways, either by a jury, or by two arbiters who select an oversman, or by a single arbiter if the parties agree. Recourse to a jury was now almost unknown in Scotland. He could find no record of such a case in the last 20 or 25 years. Under several recent statutes the method for providing for the assessment of compensation by a single arbiter had been had recourse to, namely, by the Allotments Act and the Parish Councils Act, though no doubt that method applied to smaller purposes. But under the Lands Clauses Acts themselves, if the two parties did not agree upon an oversman, there was power with the Court of Session to appoint an oversman. They had advanced a good deal since 1845, and precedents were now pretty well established, and he did not think there was any danger at all in leaving the appointment of the arbiter to the Local Government Board for such purposes as were here contemplated.


was sorry the Secretary for Scotland disagreed with his noble Friend, because it seemed to him that, when they had a tribunal set up under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, it was unwise to go outside that well-tried machinery, and to have an arbiter appointed by the Local Government Board.


said, the noble Lord spoke of precedents, but he did not proceed to give a single precedent. The noble Lord said that under certain circumstances an arbiter might be appointed by the Court of Session. If they were to have somebody to make these appointments, he would infinitely prefer the Court of Session to the Scotch Local Government Board. That Board was in its constitution one-half political officers. There was the Secretary himself, the Solicitor General for Scotland, and the Permanent Under Secretary. It was most undesirable to make political changing functionaries the judges of the value of private property. He was afraid he would have to press his objection to the proposed change.


said, the noble Lord was mistaken when he counted the Permanent Under Secretary as a political member of the Local Government Board. That was a misunderstanding. He could not say the present practice was entirely satisfactory. It had been found expensive in practice, and for the purposes of the present clause he thought procedure by a single arbiter was much preferable to that of two and an oversman. However, as he was anxious not to delay the passing of the Measure, and in deference to the noble Lord, he would undertake to have an Amendment moved in the other House of Parliament to substitute appointment by the Lord Ordinary of the Court of Session for appointment by the Local Government Board, in the event of the parties failing to agree.


saw no reason for departing from the ordinary practice. Why should they bring the Lord Ordinary into the matter? If he abstained from dividing the House, it was with great reluctance.


assured the noble Earl that he had taken a deep interest in the clauses which affected the property of proprietors in Scotland, and he could not help thinking that the offer made by the Secretary for Scotland would satisfy every scruple. With a judicial officer like the Lord Ordinary no political considerations would affect the question of the choice of an arbitrator, and expense would be saved.


after what had fallen from the Lord Chancellor, advised the noble Earl to accept the proposed compromise. The Lord Ordinary was far better than the Local Government Board.


Not so bad.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; Clause amended in terms of the compromise offered by the Secretary for Scotland.

Clause 176,—