HL Deb 11 October 1909 vol 3 cc1007-66

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Earl Beauchamp.)


My Lords, I would ask your Lordships' indulgence while I say one or two words with respect to this Bill, because I had intended to put down an Amendment on the Paper and by some accident it has not been circulated with the other Amendments, not through any fault of the officers of the House, but by some unfortunate accident caused by myself. But I understand that in consequence I should not be entitled technically to move this Amendment at the present stage. I will, with your Lordships' permission, explain what it is I wish to do, and if His Majesty's Government raise any technical objection, the matter in so far as the Amendment itself is concerned must, of course, drop; but when I explain it I think it possible that His Majesty's Government may not wish to press that point.

When the Bill was in Committee an Amendment of mine was carried embodying what is now Clause 56 in the Bill instead of subsections (4) and (5) of what is now Clause 55 of the Bill. Your Lordships will remember that the effect of the clause which I asked your Lordships to substitute for subsections (4) and (5) of Clause 55 practically removed what we thought were the extreme powers of the Local Government Board with respect to many matters under the town-planning part of the Bill and substituted the procedure of Provisional Orders in these respects. I do not propose to go further into that question than to explain it that far. Objections, I understand, have been taken to the Provisional Order procedure on two grounds—one ground being the question of its cost, and the other the question of the delay necessary for carrying out Provisional Orders. I will not disguise from your Lordships that I rather think both those views have been somewhat exaggerated. The noble Earl the Lord Chairman gave some very interesting and instructive figures in Committee with respect to the question of cost, and I think the question of delay has also been perhaps made rather more of than need be. But we on this side of the House have no desire whatever to set up any obstacle to the efficient carrying out of this part of the Bill. We are quite as anxious as His Majesty's Government are that these town planning schemes should be effectively and reasonably quickly carried out; but our view has been, and is still, that though rapidity and freedom from excessive cost are very desirable, there are other things in these clauses of the Bill that require protection and careful consideration, and our view has been that the powers proposed to be given to the Local Government Board were far more than those which Parliament ought to authorise. We, therefore, asked your Lordships to include in lieu of those powers to the Local Government Board the procedure of Provisional Order.

We now hear that there is considerable objection raised to that upon the grounds that I have already stated to your Lordships, and therefore we have endeavoured to consider in what way we can suggest a method by which the delay and cost of Provisional Orders can be avoided and by which at the same time there can be a judicial authority as apart from an executive authority to deal with these matters as they come up from the local authorities. We have had to criticise, and I think we criticised with absolute justice, certain methods of certain Departments of the State, and this has made us look somewhat askance at giving extra powers indiscriminately to Government offices; but I am bound to say that one discriminates very much between the heads of and the action taken by certain Departments and others, and I have not a word to say against the President of the Local Government Board for the manner in which he has administered his Deparment. So far as I have been as an outsider able to match his procedure, I believe he has endeavoured to carry out faithfully the duties placed upon his Department by Parliament, and I should be very glad to strengthen his hands. But, my Lords, we are not dealing in these matters with individuals but with Departments of the State, and we are bound to guard ourselves against what may be unfair action in the future, although the present head of the Department may be one of those whom we would most readily and fully trust.

In looking to see what we could do in order to ease the position of objection to the Provisional Order procedure, we have turned our minds to the clause which is printed under my name although it is not amongst the marshalled Amendments to be moved to this Bill. We suggest in that Amendment that, instead of the Provisional Order procedure we should adopt the procedure under the Commissioners whom it is proposed, we understand, to create under the Development Bill, which has just come up to your Lordships' House. We propose, in the words of the Amendment, that, in Clause 56, page 32, after line 7—that is, at the end of the subsections of the clause I asked your Lordships to insert (Clause 56) should be inserted these words— If and so long as Development Commissioners are appointed under any Act of the present session, every order of the Local Government Board, which under the foregoing provisions of this section would require before coming into force to be confirmed by Parliament, shall be referred by the Board to the Development Commissioners, and if after holding an inquiry the Commissioners are satisfied that an order should be made, they may confirm the order either without modifications or subject to such modifications as they think fit, and an order when so confirmed shall, notwithstanding anything in this section contained, have effect as if it were an order, not being a Provi- sional Order, made by the Commissioners in the exercise of their powers under any such Act as aforesaid. That would give us a judicial body, as I said before, as compared with an executive body, for we understand—and I assume we are right in understanding—that these Development Commissioners are to be a judicial body in the strongest sense of the term. Therefore we suggest this as a method of easing the situation, and as a clause which we hope would be more satisfactory to His Majesty's Government than the Provisional Order procedure which now stands in the Bill.

I think there are two points that would require further consideration at your Lordships' hands. One is the question whether by this procedure it might not be said that these Development Commissioners would be able to override the decision of the Local Government Board. I think there is something in that contention, and I would suggest that it may be met in this way—that if the Development Commissioners, under the powers we propose to give them by this clause, should not concur with the Local Government Board, the Board need not necessarily be set aside by the Commissioners, but that the Local Government Board might in such a case as that claim that the town-planning scheme which was under consideration should not be set aside by the Commissioners themselves but should go through the Provisional Order procedure. It could, therefore, only be set aside by Parliament itself. We should be ready on this side of the House to accept some suggestion of that sort, and it appears to us that in that way you would get rid of the objection—and I think is some ways reasonable objection—to a Government Department being overridden by the Commissioners.

I have words to that effect which I could read to your Lordships if necessary, but I only put forward the suggestion as one which I trust His Majesty's Government will consider. I hope they will consider all the suggestions we have made as an endeavour to meet what we thought were objections on their part and with a view to meeting them fairly and making the Bill work, as we think, better than it would otherwise have done. I am entirely in the hands of the House as to moving this Amendment. If His Majesty's Government raise any objection, I must admit that they are quite within their rights and I should have no complaint to make; but if it is the pleasure of His Majesty's Government not to raise any technical objections, and if technical objections are not raised in any other part of the House, I will proceed with this Amendment when we come to the proper stage of the Bill.


My Lords, although His Majesty's Government are unable to agree to the Amendment which the noble Earl has intimated to your Lordships, I can assure him that the last thing in their minds would be to wish to take advantage of any technical error as a reason for objecting to the insertion of these words. I venture to hope that His Majesty's Government may even be successful in persuading your Lordships that there are good reasons against inserting the noble Earl's Amendment. The fact of the matter is that since the noble Earl inserted his Amendment to this part of the Bill the opinion of the Local Government Board has been if I may say so, that the bite of the noble Earl is a great deal worse than his bark, and while he, I am sure, has been genuinely anxious not to impede the operation of town-planning schemes, the result of the Amendment which he moved, is, in their opinion, such as will make it very much more difficult to operate in the future.

But may I point out to the noble Earl one consequence at any rate of the Amendment which he has placed on the Paper to-day. It would be this, that there would be an appeal from the decision of the Minister in charge of the Local Government Board to this new body to be set up under the Development Bill—a body which will have no Parliamentary responsibility of any kind, and whose action, therefore, would not be subject, at any rate in the first instance, to any control. That, of course, stated in that way at any rate, is not a course to which you Lordships are very likely to give assent without further proceedings, which I think were adumbrated by the noble Earl. One of the taunts with which we have become most familiar on this side of the House is the anxiety of the Local Government Board and of His Majesty's Government to-set up a bureaucracy. This suggestion of the noble Earl opposite seems to me to go some way in that direction, because the position of the new Development Commissioners would be under this Bill exactly opposite to that which they would occupy in relat on to the Treasury and the other Government Departments under the Development Bill. Under that Bill they will make recommendations to the Treasury and other Departments concerned, but under the Amendment of the noble Earl they would review the action of the Government Department concerned, and your Lordships will see that that is putting them in a very different position.

But the other argument which I hope will appeal to noble Lords opposite is this—that the Commissioners are not really a suitable body to approve of town-planning schemes. The Development Commissioners will be concerned with the development of agricultural life. Town-planning is concerned with the development of town life, with the due increase of the areas in which there will be buildings, and with matters of that kind. The duties of the Development Commissioners will be almost exactly opposite. They will be concerned with forestry, land drainage, rural transport, and a variety of matters which have relation to the development of country life and have very little indeed to do with the matters which really come under town-planning schemes. Although, therefore, His Majesty's Government are unable to accept this Amendment, I hope I may say that the desire of the noble Earl opposite to meet the Local Government Board in this matter must give great satisfaction to His Majesty's Government, and I hope that it foreshadows on a future stage an agreement which will be if not satisfactory, at any rate not unsatisfactory to both sides of the House.


My Lords, there is, it must be admitted, a certain difficulty, but I do not think at all an unprecedented difficulty, in discussing anything like the details of the Development Bill at the same time as we are discussing this Bill. It is a very common procedure to embody in a Bill on its passage through Parliament an additional clause which depends upon another Bill which is also pending. There are precedents for that, But I am driven to make this one observation in connection with what the noble Earl said, because I do think he might have made himself familiar, if I may say so without offence, with the leading provisions of the Development Bill when he offered his observations to the House. He says, for example, that the Development Bill has to do with nothing except rural life. What relation have the construction and improvement of harbours with rural life? The noble Earl will see at once that he will have to reconsider a little the view he takes of one of the principal measures of this session.

Then the noble Earl said our proposal at the present moment was a wonderful inversion because there was to be a reference from the Local Government Board to the Commissioners, and that was exactly the contrary of what happens under the Development Bill; but I find words that the Treasury, having, I presume, considered an application under the Development Bill, are to refer it to the Development Commission. That is what happens in the Development Bill. I do not mean to press it too far; but certainly upon the face of it this does not seem so diametrically opposed to the procedure suggested under the Development Bill. It is common knowledge that the Development Bill underwent very serious development itself in the course of its passage through another place, and that whereas at one time the whole of the development was put in the absolute hands of a political Department—namely, the Treasury—to do as they liked or as the Parliamentary Minister under the influence of Party Government wished them to do, later on there was substituted a perfectly independent, almost a judicial, authority, who were to be supreme in their decisions—that is to say, not to be subject to the review of the Treasury, and who were to be appointed, if not for life, at any rate for a long term. In those circumstances I think the noble Earl will see that although master of the Housing Bill, he is not yet a master of the Development Bill.

I hope that your Lordships and the Government, especially the Government, will consider very carefully before rejecting the offer which we have made to them in respect of this clause. It is a perfectly bona fide offer; it is an offer founded upon experience, and it is an offer which I believe would lead to a statesmanlike settlement of this very difficult question. It is not that we distrust the Provisional Order system, but we do recognise that it is long and that it is in some respects unsatisfactory. It is not so unsatisfactory as the proposals which the Government themselves made, because those proposals subjected the whole of the ad- ministration of town-planning to the will of the President of the Local Government Board for the time being. I desire, if I may, to re-echo what my noble friend has just said as to our sincere appreciation of the great and substantial efforts which the present holder of that office has made in the cause of local government. We do not desire in anything we do to suggest that he is not worthy of trust, and for my own part I shall be very glad, if and when the Development Bill comes before us to be considered in Committee, to see whether the Local Government Board is properly represented in the Development Bill. Considering that the Development Bill has to do with local government and nothing but local government, I think the Local Government Board are treated with rather scant courtesy by the framers of the Bill, and it may be the duty of your Lordships to strengthen the position of the Local Government Board in the machinery of the Bill. So far, therefore, are we from desiring to put any slight upon the Local Government Board that, on the contrary, we should, if possible, desire to promote it to further honour.

But as regards this present proposal, we do think that the objection to the Provisional Order procedure is amply met by such a system as we propose. The objection to the Provisional Order system is not so much an objection to the expense, although there is something in that, but it is an objection on the ground of time, for it is a rather cumbersome system. The system of Commissioners would enable the work to be got through rapidly and would lead to the establishment of a set of precedents of a very valuable kind which would be accepted by those interested in town-planning schemes and would enormously shorten the proceedings and stop litigation, because when it was known that the Development Commissioners after having tried case after case of town-planning had come to certain conclusions, it would not be necessary to try those proposals over again. The difficulty, of course, of the Provisional Order system is that there may be a certain variation of treatment as between Committee and Committee. No doubt that is a blemish, but, as I say, it is not so great a blemish as leaving it to a Government Department. There may be great differences of opinion as between Presidents of the Local Government Board, as the holder of that office changes, but the Commissioners would be a permanent body, and appeal might safely be made to them with the knowledge that they would act on certain well-defined rules. We believe this is a very good system. My noble friend Lord Cawdor entrusted me with the duty of seeing that this Amendment was placed on the Paper, and it is my fault that it is not there and I take all the blame. We think that really the important matter is not what one or two noble Lords on this Bench think, but what your Lordships as a whole and above all what the Government in another place think, and we say in the strongest possible way that this is a reasonable and bona fide offer which, if they cannot accept now, they should accept before the proceedings on this Bill conclude.


My Lords, when we were discussing the original Amendment proposed by Lord Cawdor, the noble Earl who leads the House said that the Provisional Order system would naturally be to the Chairman of Committees of your Lordships' House the leather of the cobbler and that there was nothing like it. If I have got any leather, I think it would rather be the Private Bill which brings in fat fees to both Houses of Parliament, though that is undoubtedly an expensive method of procedure. Next to that I confess that I am enamoured of the Provisional Order system as a means of establishing an independent tribunal, but the only object I had in urging your Lordships to adopt the Provisional Order procedure was that it would give us an independent tribunal. I want to say, in common with the noble Earl opposite and in common with noble Lords behind me, that I desire to see this Bill on the Statute Book before the present session closes, and whatever tribunal I might myself prefer, I say at once that I am ready to accept any tribunal provided it is independent and not likely to be governed by political considerations. That is also what is sought by my noble friend behind me.

The noble Earl opposite said that this was another form of bureaucracy. I do not know quite how the noble Earl opposite would define the word bureaucracy. If it means that the decision of these matters would be in the hands of a bureau consisting of independent commissioners, I say that is a form of bureaucracy to which I take no exception; but I should object if it is to be in the hands of a Government Department at the head of which is a member, a distinguished member in every case, of the Party which for the time being is in power, and who, whatever may be his own desire to act with perfect impartiality, cannot avoid from time to time being influenced by those who support the policy of the Government and who sit behind him, whether he be in this House or in the other House. That is the danger which we see and which we want to avoid. I venture to think that the scheme which my noble friend now proposes is quite as good as, and less expensive than, the scheme which he proposed to your Lordships in the Committee stage of the Bill. The noble Earl in charge of the Bill said that these Development Commissioners would not be a suitable body because they would be charged with rural rather than with urban matters, but I venture to ask your Lordships are Committees of Parliament specially suited to decide either rural or urban or any other question? Are they not as a rule chosen because they are men of common sense and of business and likely to exercise an impartial judgment? Therefore whatever may be the main duties of these Commissioners, they are quite as likely to be possessed of those qualifications as a Committee of either House of Parliament.

But there is one thing I do not see in the Amendment of my noble friend, and as to which I think the House ought to be a little careful. Where land has been specially set apart by Parliament for a particular purpose, ought anybody except Parliament to come in and say that that land is to be devoted to another purpose? I think that in those cases it is right that Parliament, and Parliament alone, should decide whether its original decision ought to be set aside. With that exception, I confess that if it is likely to be accepted by His Majesty's Government, I should be very glad to see the proposal become part of the Bill, but whether it is accepted by the Government or not, I am perfectly certain it will be regarded by those outside this House as a real and honest endeavour on the part of noble Lords who sit on this side of the House to secure an impartial tribunal acceptable, if possible, to the Government, with the one and only object of seeing this Bill placed on the Statute Book.


My Lords, I am sure we all recognise the admirable intentions of noble Lords opposite in expressing, as they have, this modification of their views with regard to the sanction which is necessary for a town-planning scheme. When we were debating it before we gathered from noble Lords opposite that they considered that the proceeding by Provisional Order was perfect for this purpose, and they would not admit our plea that it was both an expensive and probably a cumbersome process, and for this reason. In this particular matter of town-planning I am afraid we must look forward in almost every case to some degree of opposition from some owner or another. It is not likely, I think, at any rate in town-planning schemes where a number of owners are concerned, that some owner will not, particularly before the idea has sunk into the public mind that town-planning as distinct from private development is a good thing—until that idea has been generally received we must look forward to some opposition in most cases, and that, of course, would add in no small degree to the trouble and expense of securing the Provisional Order.

Now noble Lords think that this modification of the Provisional Order system may be desirable. I do not deny that there is a certain attraction in the notion of a permanent board superintending these operations, but I think force must be attached to what my noble friend said about this proposed enlargement of the scope of the Commissioners work. It is quite true, as my noble friend the Lord Chairman has said, that so far as the competence of the tribunal is concerned, there is no reason why it should not be just as able to cope with a town development scheme as with those schemes of general economic development with which it is entrusted; but if this addition were made to their labours it would be an enormous addition, because I think it cannot be disputed that if you are to entrust these three gentlemen with supervision of the planning of the suburbs of every town in England at one time or another, you will add very largely to the labours already to be laid upon them by the Bill which has just come before your Lordships. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I think was not quite accurate in his description of the relations between the proposed Development Commissioners and the Treasury, because if I remember rightly every scheme that the Commissioners make has to be reported to the Treasury and sanctioned by them, and that is not the proposition, or anything like it, which Lord Cawdor makes in this proposed Amendment.

I think we need not try to split hairs over the term bureaucracy. I am not otherwise than surprised at the same time that noble Lords opposite should be prepared to give these great powers to an irresponsible body set up in this way. For some days of late we have been discussing the proceedings and the possible powers of a body of a similar nature—the Irish Estates Commissioners—and we have heard a great many criticisms levelled at them, and a strong indisposition to furnish them with any powers that can be kept away from them without the control of some Court of law. After all when noble Lords opposite talk about the advance of bureaucracy and the encroaching powers of Departments, at any rate those Departments are responsible to Parliament, and the Minister who is in charge can be called to account in either House by question or by debate, and if his action is so desperately bad as to deserve public censure, he may in the last resort lose his office, or the Government of which he is a member may be removed from power. At any rate, whether you think that the control of Parliament over the Public Offices is sufficient or not, it is far greater than any which can exist over a body of this kind once appointed, and we may assume, as we should always venture to do, that sensible and reasonable men will be placed upon this body. I hope that is always sure to be the case, but there again the treatment of these matters by the Commissioners will and must depend in some degree upon their personal idiosyncrasies, and, therefore, if it is a question of a safeguard against a particular point of view being too much pressed by the deciding body, I cannot feel myself that you are in reality so safe with a permanent body of this kind as you are with a responsible Department. That, however, is a matter of opinion, and, of course, noble Lords opposite are entitled to take the opposite view if they choose. I need not say any more until we come to the Amendment. My noble friend behind me has stated in general terms that it is not possible for the Government to accept it, but, of course, it is open for noble Lords to insert it in the Bill if they so desire.


My Lords, I listened with much interest and with a certain amount of hope to the suggestions made by the noble Earl opposite. When this Bill issued from Committee, in the interests of my own neighbourhood I read it through carefully, and I confess I came to this House with the feeling that a great number of the restrictive Amendments which had been added to the Bill were such as would tend to make it largely inoperative in the places with which I am acquainted. But if I am right in my impression I welcome the suggestions of the noble Earl because they seemed to me to indicate a desire in some degree to modify what was done in Committee so as to make this Bill a really more effective Bill for the purposes for which it was intended than it could possibly be if placed on the Statute Book in its present form. I am not speaking at all from the point of view of His Majesty's Government. I have a feeling that His Majesty's Government, in declining to receive the two useful Amendments which I put before the House, did not give those Amendments that consideration which they intrinsically deserved.

It is from an entirely different point of view that I desire to address your Lordships for a moment—from the point of view of such men as the medical inspectors in our districts who are doing a most valuable service in the interests of the people. If your Lordships would care to look at any of the health journals you will see that a great amount of disappointment is prevalent among that body of men, who have the very best of information on these subjects, as to the probable effect of the Amendments which have been passed in Committee in this House. Then, again, I venture to say we are concentrating our attention, as we are apt to do, far too exclusively on the subject of property. We have failed in some degree to give adequate weight to the interests of those who have to occupy these cottages, the men and the women and the children who have to live and to die in them; and therefore I most sincerely hope, in the spirit indicated by the noble Earl, that when the opportunity arises, as I trust it will arise, very considerable modifications may be made in this Bill with regard to the Amendments that were inserted as it passed through Committee. In the abstract, we are all equally desirous that the working classes should live in healthy and suitable homes, and your Lordships, like the rest of us, lament the tendency to depopulation there is in the country districts. But the general result of what has been done in Committee on this Bill, so far from remedying that which we lament, would tend to intensify it, because the Bill would be, as I have said, largely inoperative just in those districts and places in which it is specially needed.

Some reference has been made to the difference between town and country. I do not venture at this moment to say anything about city slums or pit villages, or such like. What I desire to draw your attention to is the great need which prevails in many parts of our country districts. I speak only of my own experience and with regard to my own diocese. I feel that if this Bill could be brought into active and unhampered operation it would meet very pressing evils. We are suffering in many parts from the great want of cottages, and I desire to say something on the point of giving an adequate supply of cottages in our country districts. As your Lordships know very well, in many parts of the country we have admirable cottages under the greater landlords, but there are many other parts in which the working classes find it almost impossible to acquire cottages in which to live. Not long ago I had myself an appeal on behalf of a postman who had to make his long round day by day, and who was obliged to add to that round about six miles of walking to get to his cottage. That excellent man, after several years of service, applied for a higher position under the Post Office, and the medical officer who had to examine him said that he could not recommend him for this higher position in his occupation because the excessive walking which had been laid upon him had so impaired his health that he was no longer fit for it.

Then, again, every year, time after time, I have had it brought to my notice that young men and women up and down my diocese desire to be married but are unable to be married because they can get no cottage to live in in the places where their work lies. Thus there are not only economic objections to this state of things, but moral objections. Your Lordships can hardly be surprised if, under such circumstances, illegitimacy prevails. Moreover, in spite of all that is done by the excellent landlords—and there are many of them—we have a great many cottages scattered all over the country which are in a very bad condition. I hold in my hands a Diocesan Report from my various incumbents, containing all sorts of references to the objectionable conditions in cottage life. I will not detain your Lordships with any extracts from it, because I desire not to intervene needlessly on your Lordships attention; but I do hope that when the opportunity arises some of those restrictive Amendments which have been added to the Bill may be modified by the aid of the noble Earl opposite. Not otherwise, as I believe, will this Bill have a really fair chance to do the good for our working classes which it was intended and framed to do.


I rise for the purpose of thanking His Majesty's Government for not raising any objections to my moving this Amendment. I propose to move it when we come to the proper place in the Bill.

On Question, Bill read 3a.

On Clause 15 (Condition as to keeping houses let to persons of the working classes in repair),

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND moved to amend subsection (7) so as to define the term "landlord" as meaning a person who lets a house "to a tenant for his own habitation." He said the Amendment was one which he had put down before, and it raised the point which the noble Earl the Leader of the House was good enough to say he would consider. He thought the point was a simple one, and he was supported in that view by his noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice, who told them on the last occasion that as the Bill stood a case of this sort might arise—the owner of cottages might let a large number of them to a colliery or some other company for the habitation of their workmen on the understanding that the firms on whose property these houses or cottages were let should be responsible for their upkeep. But under this Bill these houses might suddenly be thrown on to the landlord, and he might be told that it was his duty to repair them. That, of course, would be a very serious matter, especially if there was a large number of these cottages.

Amendment moved— In page 10, line 7, after the word 'lets,' to insert the words 'to a tenant for his own habitation.'"—(The Duke of Northumberland.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said that, as he had previously remarked, in the opinion of the Local Government Board this Amendment was not really necessary, because the position was already sufficiently covered by a reference in this clause to the definition in the clause before; but if the noble Duke was anxious to have these words in, the Local Government Board would not object. He might, however, point out that there was an addition made in Clause 14 by some noble Lord opposite on the Report stage which would also quite cover the Amendment. But His Majesty's Government would not object to this Amendment being inserted.

LORD ALVERSTONE said he was much obliged for what the noble Earl had just said, but he pointed out that Clause 15 did not refer to Clause 14, and that was the difficulty. He had not overlooked Clause 14, but if the noble Earl did not think this Amendment necessary probably the noble Duke would not press it. He thought, however, that the words made it plainer.

LORD HYLTON did not know whether he was in order in referring to Clause 14 while they were on Clause 15, but he would like to draw attention to the last three lines of Clause 14.


It is a printer's error.


They are out of their place; is that not so?


May I ask the Lord Chancellor to look at Clause 14, I assume that the printer's error has been put right. The noble Duke moved "there shall be implied a condition that the house is at the commencement of the holding in all respects." That came in after the words "sixteen pounds," but by a printer's error the words "the condition aforesaid," etc. have been put before it. I presume that has been put right at the Table?


Speaking on the spur of the moment, I recollect that on the Report stage I suggested to the noble Duke that the words "but the condition aforesaid" and so forth, should come in at the end of the clause.


And you so put it.


Yes, I put it that way.


It is purely a clerical error. If the last sentence is put in in front of the word "but" I think it will read quite correctly.


That is quite so. We are all agreed that it is purely a printer's error. There are others in the Bill, and I have no doubt noble Lords opposite will assist us by pointing them out and we will have them put right.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Clause 17 (Duty of local authority as to closing of dwelling-house unfit for human habitation),

VISCOUNT HILL moved an Amendment to secure that the owner of a dwelling-house should receive at least one week's notice from the local authority prior to a closing order being issued, and that he should be entitled to be heard when the matter was considered. He said that his attention had been drawn to the fact that under subsection (2) of Clause 17 the owner seemed to be rather neglected with regard to these demolition and closing orders. At present a closing order had to be given by a magistrate and an owner had an opportunity of appearing and being heard against the complaint, but under subsection (2) of this clause there seemed to be no opportunity for an owner to lay his case before any one until a closing order had been finally given, although an owner had an opportunity of appeal to the Local Government Board or to the County Court under subsection (3).

Amendment moved— In page 11, line 32, after the word 'purpose,' to insert the words 'Provided that before making a closing order the local authority shall give every owner of the dwelling-house notice of the time (being some time not less than one week after the service of the notice) and place at which the question will be considered and any owner of the dwelling-house shall be entitled to be heard when the question is so taken into consideration.'"—(Viscount Hill.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he had rather hoped that having finished with the Committee and Report stages, they would not have been called upon to deal on Third Reading with Committee Amendments, but that noble Lords would have been satisfied with the various qualifications and safeguards they had put into the Bill on previous occasions. He did not think that the proviso suggested by the noble Viscount would be sufficient. It would be necessary without any doubt to alter the procedure under the course which the noble Viscount suggested. It would involve another meeting of the authority—a second meeting, that was to say, at which the owner would be heard; but a good many local authorities did not meet more than once a month, and that would involve very considerable delay. If anything was to be done in this way, it would be better done by making it the duty of the clerk to the authority to send a copy of the representation to the owner as soon as he received it. He would like the noble Viscount to look at subclause (3) of Clause 17 wherein he would see that the owner was sufficiently safeguarded. One of the main objects of His Majesty's Government in this Bill had been to try and make the procedure less expensive and less dilatory than in the past, and that object would, he felt sure, be very largely defeated if the noble Viscount pressed his Amendment. In subclause (3) it would be seen that notices had to be served upon the owner when a closing order was issued, and then the owner had the option of appealing either to the Local Government Board or to the County Court. Under those circumstances he hoped the noble Viscount would not press his Amendment.

*LORD AVEBURY was sorry to hear that His Majesty's Government could not see their way to accept the noble Viscount's Amendment. He had been asked to support the Amendment on behalf of the Building Societies Association, of which he had the honour of being president. This association comprised all the building societies in the United Kingdom; they had seventy millions of money invested in houses for the working classes, and they were very anxious that the local authorities should not make a closing order without informing the owner. Surely it was not right to make an order against a house without hearing the person to whom the house belonged or his agent. The noble Earl in charge of the Bill had called their attention to subclause (3) under which he said to some extent the grievance was met, but all that it did was to enable the owner after a closing order was made to appeal either to the Local Government Board or to the County Court. Surely an owner ought to be heard before the closing order was finally made. The noble Earl said that this would involve delay, but, after all, the greatest delay that could be possibly involved was a month; but if there was to be an appeal to the Local Government Board that would probably take much more than a month. On behalf of this association, which had an immense interest in this matter, he earnestly appealed to His Majesty's Government to reconsider this question. It was certainly a great hardship that a local authority should make a closing order against a house without hearing those to whom the house belonged.


I do not wish to press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

EARL BEAUCHAMP moved an Amendment in Clause 17 providing in the case of rooms habitually used as sleeping places that if they did not comply with the regulations of the local authority in respect of ventilation and lighting and the protection against dampness, effluvia, or exhalation, a closing order might be made, "provided that if the local authority, after being required to do so by the Local Government Board, fail to make such regulations, or such regulations as the Board approve, the Board may themselves make them, and the regulations so made shall have effect as if they had been made by the local authority with the consent of the Board." This subject was familiar to those of their Lordships who had followed the debates on this Bill. It might occur that a local authority would not make any regulations at all. That obviously was not a position contemplated by their Lordships, and it was therefore necessary to make some provision in case an authority did not make regulations. The Amendment was designed to meet that case. The Local Government Board would only come in in such cases if a local authority had not made any regulations proposed under the Bill, and the Board would only make these regulations where there had been a failure on the part of a local authority. He hoped in these circumstances that their Lordships would agree to this Amendment being added to the Bill.

Amendment moved— In page 13, after line 12, to insert the words 'Provided that if the local authority, after being required to do so by the Local Government Board, fail to make such regulations, or such regulations as the Board approve, the Board may themselves make them, and the regulations so made shall have effect as if they had been made by the local authority with the consent of the Board.'"—(Earl Beauchamp.)

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND pointed out that the noble Earl ought to insert the word "also" after the word "provided" in his Amendment. It would run, "provided also that if the local authority," &c.

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he had no doubt that was so; and as the noble Duke's suggestion was merely a drafting one it was one of those matters which the Clerks at the Table would see to.

*LORD ELLENBOROUGH said that after looking at the original wording of Clause 17 he dreaded the idea of giving absolute power to the Local Government Board to set at naught all the decisions and the opinions of the local authorities. It could not have been drawn up by a sanitary engineer, a builder, or a medical officer, for no member of those professions would have ignored the existence of skylights as a means of ventilation. The framer of this clause could not have read any elementary work on hygiene or made a tour through England on a bicycle or in a motor-car, otherwise he would have learned that buildings varied much in material, construction, shape and surroundings. Indeed, the framer was unfitted to dictate to the local authorities on such a subject as this, and he hoped that the House would not accept the Amendment, or if it did that the proviso would be amended by leaving out the words "such regulations as the Board approve.' That would leave the Local Government Board power to make regulations if none were made and the power to veto the regulations made by any local authority, but it would deprive the Local Government Board of absolute power, and of an initiative which, in his opinion, it had shown itself unfit to exercise.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said he thought the noble Lord who had just spoken had not perhaps fully realised the great modification which this clause had undergone since it was first presented to their Lordships by His Majesty's Government. A good many of the noble Lord's strictures, he thought, would have been well deserved if applied to the clause as it at first commended itself to the Government, but in the course of the proceedings in that House, in Committee and on Report, the clause had undergone very great changes. It was agreed, he thought, on all hands that the rather meticulous provisions of the clause were much more adapted to by-laws than to an Act of Parliament, and therefore they were all struck out with the exception of one, which was carefully modified, and the whole of the procedure under the clause was left to be covered by regulations primarily made by the local authority. That he believed to be a much more workmanlike method of procedure; but His Majesty's Government had brought under their notice the fact that it was possible that an authority might not make regulations, or, if they did make them, that they might be insufficient. He must say he thought that was a case which required to be met, and as far as he was personally concerned he would not be prepared to resist the noble Earl's Amendment. He did not think it was likely to be misused. In the first instance, undoubtedly, the duty lay upon the local authority, and though this was giving a certain measure of confidence to the Local Government Board he hoped they deserved it, and therefore he hoped the House would agree to the Amendment.

*LORD ELLENBOROUGH said that although the noble Marquess had replied to one of his points, he had said nothing about the second suggestion he made about leaving out the words, "or such regulations as the Board approve." If they did not approve, it gave the Local Government Board a free hand to make any regulations. They could do exactly as they chose. That was what he gathered was the meaning of the clause, if it was accepted in its entirety. He urged that the words "or such regulations as the Board approve" should be struck out of the Amendment.

THE EARL OF ONSLOW could not help thinking that the noble Lord who had just spoken had misread the Amendment. The Government did not propose to give the Local Government Board the initiative, but merely if a local authority, after having been required to do so, failed. A local authority might make regulations which were perfectly impossible. If they knew that they could only be compelled to make regulations, they could easily ride off by making some impossible ones, and they could claim that they had made them, and therefore the Board would have no jurisdiction.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND moved to amend subsection (2) of Clause 18, which ran— (2) If upon any such consideration the local authority are of opinion that the dwelling-house has not been rendered fit for human habitation, and that the necessary steps are not being taken with all due diligence to render it so fit, or that the continuance of any building being or being part of the dwelling-house is a nuisance or dangerous or injurious to the health of the public or of the inhabitants of the neighbouring dwelling-houses, they shall order the demolition of the building, by leaving out the words "any building being or being part of." He said it was merely a drafting Amendment. The words in the Bill were extremely awkward and absolutely ungrammatical. What he proposed was grammatical.

Amendment moved— In page 14, line 11, to leave out the words 'any building being or being part of.'"—(The Duke of Northumberland.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said that this Amendment was something more than a mere drafting Amendment, and it was a little bit complicated. This part of the clause followed Section 33 of the Act of 1890, and there was that authority therefore for it. Supposing the Amendment were carried, this would be the result: In line 14 the words appeared "they shall order the demolition of the building," but if they turned to the qualifying words in line 11, they would see that it appeared "any building being or being part of the dwelling-house." If those last words were not left in the Bill it would be necessary for the authority to order the demolition of the whole of the building, and that was not always necessary.

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND said he meant "any part of."

EARL BEAUCHAMP agreed, but said the noble Duke proposed the Amendment in the wrong place. He thought if the noble Duke would trust the Government draftsman it would be the best course.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF ONSLOW moved a drafting Amendment in Clause 37, to insert, after the word, "provided," the words "for the working classes," so that the clause would read, "In the administration of the Housing Acts it shall be the duty of the local authority to secure as far as practicable that dwelling accommodation provided for the working classes under those Acts is occupied exclusively by persons of the working classes," &c.

Amendment moved— In page 20, line 15, after the word 'provided,' to insert the words 'for the working classes.'"(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Consequential and drafting Amendments to Clause 54 agreed to.

EARL BEAUCHAMP moved an Amendment to subclause (15) of Clause 54, which read— In the application to Scotland of Section 14 of this Act the limit of rent shall be eight pounds. He proposed to substitute the word "sixteen" for the word "eight." He said this brought the Scottish cases into line with the English, and he did not think, therefore, that their Lordships would object. He was afraid they ought to have seen that it was done on the Report stage, when they were dealing with the subject, in response to an appeal made by the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn.

Amendment moved— In line 34, to leave out the word 'eight,' and insert the word 'sixteen.'"—(Earl Beauchamp.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD HYLTON moved an Amendment to Clause 55 (Preparation and approval of town-planning scheme) providing that a scheme might be made as respects any land which is in course of development. "or is required in order to further such development," instead of "or appears likely to be used for building purposes," the words contained in the clause. He apologised to the House for putting down again at this stage an Amendment he had brought forward in Committee but which he had not pressed to a Division. His reason for putting it down again was that he did not think the point he wished to deal with had been adequately considered by the House. The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, when they were on Report, pointed out that the tribunal had been altered since the Bill was introduced, by substituting a Provisional Order scheme for the decision of the Local Government Board, and on that ground the noble Marquess rather urged those who sat on that side of the House to take the view that, having altered the tribunal and secured a different one, it did not matter so much what was brought within the purview of that tribunal.

They had not yet arrived at Clause 56, but he understood that his noble friend Earl Cawdor was going to move on that clause that the Provisional Order scheme be struck out, and they would then be asked to put the decision of town-planning schemes into the hands of the Development Commissioners. He submitted that although the tribunal was a very important point in these questions of town planning, the matter that had to go before the tribunal was a still more important point, and was not exactly the same point as that deal with by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition the other evening. Several noble Lords agreed that the words "appears likely to be used for building purposes" was throwing the net very wide, perhaps rather wider than, any legitimate scheme of town planning demanded. Noble Lords on that side of the House were just as much in favour of any legitimate town-planning scheme as those on the other side, but whatever tribunal had to decide these questions, whether it was the Local Government Board or a Committee in the case of a Provisional Order, or, as was now suggested, the Development Commissioners, obviously the first thing they would do would be to take the Act of Parliament and look at the wording of it. If they looked at the clause as it stood they would see that it read "a town-planning scheme may be made in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Act as respects any land which is in course of development or appears likely to be used for building purposes," and so on. That clause would be, of course, their vade mecum, and the tribunal would say that any land which appeared likely to be used for building purposes must be included. In the neighbourhood of large towns it would affect an enormous area; and as any tribunal must be fallible, if the land were not at the end of a certain time released from the bar put upon it, grievous injustice might be caused. He still thought that the words he proposed to substitute—namely, "is required in order to further such development"—would really meet any legitimate requirements. The other night more than one noble Lord pointed out how difficult it would be for any tribunal to say what land was likely to be used and what was not. He thought his Amendment would be an improvement on the Bill, because if at the end of a certain number of years, say a quarter of a century, the land was not used, it was possible to apply for another town-planning scheme; but he did not think it was fair that the present occupier or owner of land within a great distance of a town should for ever have this bar put upon his land.

Amendment moved— In page 29, lines 5 and 6, to leave out 'appears likely to be used for building purposes,' and to insert the words 'is required in order to further such development.'"—(Lord Hylton).

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he would take first the question which the noble Lord had put to him. There was power to vary a scheme, but he was afraid he was unable to give the reference, as he had not been able to find it while the noble Lord was speaking, but if the noble Lord would look at the Fourth Schedule, page 50, paragraph 16, he would see that amongst the matters that should be dealt with by general provisions prescribed by the Local Government Board would be "limitation of time for operation of scheme." So the noble Lord might rest assured that the matter had not been entirely lost sight of This was the third time on which their Lordships had been asked to discuss this Amendment. On the first occasion it was withdrawn, because he thought in the view of the majority of noble Lords opposite the matter would be sufficiently safeguarded by the new clause which was moved by Earl Cawdor. If the noble Lord would look at subclause (7) of Clause 55, which defined the land likely to be used for building purposes, he would see that it did not involve any very large proposition. It was quite true that a considerable area might be involved, but that was just one of the points which His Majesty's Government had in view; in any town-planning scheme they wanted to effect improvements in regard to land which was likely to be developed for some years at any rate, and there were a number of safeguards in addition to those to which the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition made special reference on the last occasion. There was a provision that nobody's land would be included in the scheme without his being consulted, and the Local Government Board, before they approved of any scheme, would hear anything he might have to say, and if his property was injuriously affected by the operation of the scheme he would be able to claim compensation. He admitted at once the intention of the Local Government Board and also of His Majesty's Government to anticipate the actual development by anticipating the best lines which the development would take. The Amendment would very greatly hamper any town-planning scheme, and might prevent a piece of land being included in a scheme which really ought to be included. He was sure, after the willingness which had been expressed by noble Lords on the other side of the House, that they would see that it was desirable to give the Local Government Board and the local authority power to include land which did appear likely to be used for building purposes, and not to limit it in the sense desired by the noble Lord.

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND said he had heard that the Local Government Board was an infallible body, but he thought the argument of the noble Earl upset that theory. Even a Government Office was not infallible, and it might, with the very best of intentions, make a mistake in planning out a scheme. He would ask the noble Earl whether a case of this sort had been contemplated? They were to take under this clause a very large area of land and include it in a town-planning scheme. Part of that area which now belonged to A was to be devoted to a particular purpose. Supposing that the Local Government Board imagined that that purpose would be carried into effect in, say, three to five years time. The whole settlement of the scheme, any compensation to which the owner might be entitled and so forth, would be settled upon that basis, upon the con- sideration of that probability. Supposing the scheme was a miscalculation? Supposing that for this particular purpose the land was not required? Supposing it had been intended for workmen's houses and that certain works were no longer carried on and that for certain other reasons the working classes did not go into that part of the area. That land might remain for an indefinite period absolutely sterile, and the effect of the town-planning scheme, instead of bringing more people on to it, would be to sterilise the area. There should be some provision for meeting a contingency of that sort, and if there was none already in the Bill the Amendment of his noble friend became a very reasonable one, that they should not include an indefinite amount of land in their scheme. It did not seem to him that the limitation of the scheme which was contained in the schedule met the point. The limitation spoken of there was a limitation of the scheme as originally contemplated. He did not see any clause which would enable the Local Government Board to say to an owner, "Well, we thought your land would be developed for working-class houses in five years time; it has not been developed in ten years; there is no probability of its being wanted for workmen's houses, but it may be used for some other purpose, and we will now give you leave to use it for that purpose."

*LORD SANDERSON asked the noble Duke to look at subclause (10) of Clause 56, which ran—" A town-planning scheme may be varied or revoked by a subsequent scheme prepared or adopted and confirmed in accordance with this Part of this Act on the application of the responsible authority, or of any other councilor persons interested." That was, he thought, the provision which the noble Earl had referred to.


My noble friend on the Cross Benches is quite right. I think this meets the point which was raised by the noble Duke, but I hope, at any rate, that the House will not accept the form of words proposed by the noble Lord opposite. I cannot conceive anything which would more hamper a town-planning scheme than those words. The words proposed by His Majesty's Government are, "A town-planning scheme may be made in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Act as respects any land which is in course of development"—that is to say, land which is laid out, and other land which is required in order to further such development, while all you could do under the noble Lord's town-planning scheme would be to take land which a builder would call ripe for building; that is to say a few acres, and just that amount of land which would be required for access to it, or, perhaps, to make an open space for it. But as to laying out anything on a large scale which it is hoped may be done, looking years ahead to the ultimate development of the town, the noble Lord's Amendment would make anything of that kind impossible. In fact, the words of his Amendment go further even than he has any intention of making them go. I confess I do not see the risk that is involved in the words as they stand in the Bill. I should be very glad if anybody would take land of mine which is not likely to be used for building and include it in a town-planning scheme, because I am convinced it would add largely to its value from the moment it was done. I have been trying to consider cases in which any hardship could fall upon an owner by the fact of his land being so included. I could understand a number of cases in which it might be a hardship for a particular piece of land to be included, owing to its position or something of that sort, but that is safeguarded by various restrictions. I do not see under what circumstances an owner could be damnified by the inclusion in a scheme of this kind of land, even if it was not likely to be used for building purposes. For what more profitable purpose could he use it? The fact of its being earmarked in a scheme could not surely do him any harm.


A park. Supposing it is for a park?


I was under the impression that parks were specially safeguarded.


Look at subclause (7) of Clause 55— The expression land likely to be used for building purposes shall include any land likely to be used as, or for the purpose of providing open spaces, road, streets, parks, pleasure or recreation grounds. The noble Earl asks for what more profitable purpose this land could be required. It could be sterilised instead of being converted into a public park. Supposing you mark a man's land out and say "That is to be a park"; he can do nothing with it until it is a park.


He can use it for the same purposes, for agricultural purposes, that he has used it for all along; but if the noble Duke means that he ought to be allowed, instead of permitting it to be turned into a public park, to at once put twenty-five houses upon it, the whole object of this Bill is to prevent his doing that. The point is this. He is told it is to be turned into a public park. There will be an arbitrator, or whatever the tribunal is The man would say, "I could have sold that land now for building houses at so much an acre, and practically that is the compensation I must have in respect of the scheme." After that his interest in the matter has gone and it does not matter how soon or how late the land is turned into a public park. Until it is so converted, he can go on using it for market gardens or for whatever purpose it is occupied at the moment. I venture to think, therefore, that there is no danger in leaving these words in and I trust the House will do so.

*LORD ST. LEVAN thought the noble Earl rather assumed that the whole interest in this matter was the interest of the landlord, but it might also be to the interest of the community as a whole that this land should be applied to some other purpose. He could not help thinking that the main object of Lord Hylton in moving the Amendment was to prevent the land being held up for a very long time. As was said, the land might be held up from thirty to fifty years. He would like to know from the noble Earl in charge of the Bill whether under a town-planning scheme such a thing was possible. A town-planning scheme nobody could object to, but if when it was carried out it would have the effect of withholding land from all public purposes for such a long period they ought to know. Nobody wished to hinder a town-planning scheme or to interfere with the provision of parks when a town-planning scheme was begun, but if the scheme would have some such effect as he had spoken of, he hoped the noble Earl would explain what would happen under those conditions.

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he thought subclause (10) of Clause 56 would meet the case, because by it a town-planning scheme could be varied or revoked under certain circumstances.


But not revoked by a private individual.


It says, "revoked by a subsequent scheme."


Shall I read it out? It runs— A town-planning scheme may be varied or revoked by a subsequent scheme prepared or adopted and confirmed in accordance with this Part of this Act on the application of the responsible authority, or of any other council or person interested.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND moved an Amendment to subsection (5) of Clause 56— (5) If within the prescribed period no objection has been presented to the Local Government Board by an authority or person interested, or if every such objection has been withdrawn, the Board may confirm the order unless the scheme contains a provision suspending any statutory enactments, in which case, or if such an objection as aforesaid has been presented and has not been withdrawn, the order shall not be of any validity unless and until it has been confirmed by Parliament, to add, after the words, "If within the prescribed period," the words "not being less than three months." He said there was nothing in the clause about the period in which notice could be given. He was not particular to three months, but some time should be stated, or else clearly a hardship might be done.

Amendment moved— In page 30, line 33, after the word 'period' to insert the words 'not being less than three months.'"—(The Duke of Northumberland.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

*EARL CAWDOR then moved the insertion of the new subsection to which he had referred earlier. He did not propose to dilate upon it now at any length, but there were three points that he would like to refer to. The first point was with respect to an interference with statutory enactments. As the clause stood in the Bill with respect to the procedure by Provisional Order, the clause he asked them to introduce at an earlier stage of the Bill, previous statutory enactments were guarded. He thought it would be only right that in this subsection some provisions should be also inserted in order to guard statutory enactments, and he understood his noble friend Lord Clinton would move words to carry that out. There were two other points to which he desired to refer. He had already mentioned that it might be desired to protect a Government Department from being overruled by the Development Commissioners, and he suggested words to be added to his Amendment which he thought would meet that objection—namely, "Where the Development Commissioners do not confirm the order referred to them, the order shall not be operative unless and until it has been confirmed by Parliament, and the Local Government Board may, if they think fit submit the order to Parliament under the provisions of this section." He understood that it was the view of some noble Lords that by this Amendment they would be giving too great and too large powers to a body of Commissioners of whom at present they did not know very much. That might be true and he supposed they must profess to know nothing of what the Commissioners would be in the Bill which they would have to discuss at a later period. But he suggested that if it was felt that they were proposing to give powers too great and too sweeping to these Commissioners, it might be well worth while to consider whether any orders which were confirmed by these Com missioners might not be laid before both Houses of Parliament, so that there would be an absolute check by Parliament on the proceedings of the Commissioners, and their decisions would not be in that case absolute.

Amendment moved— In Clause 56, page 32, after line 7, to insert the following new subsection: '(12) If and so long as Development Commissioners are appointed under any Act of the present session, every order of the Local Government Board, which under the foregoing provisions of this section would require before coming into force to be confirmed by Parliament, shall be referred by the Board to the Development Commissioners, and if after holding an inquiry the Commissioners are satisfied that an order should be made, they may confirm the order either without modifications or subject to such modifications as they think fit, and an order when so confirmed shall, notwithstanding anything in this section contained, have effect as if it were an order, not being a Provisional Order, made by the Commissioners in the exercise of their powers under any such Act as aforesaid. Where the Development Commissioners do not confirm the order referred to them the order shall not be operative unless and until it has been confirmed by Parliament, and the Local Government Board may, if they think fit, submit the order to Parliament under the provisions of this section.'"—(Earl Cawdor.)

LORD CLINTON said he desired to move an addition to this Amendment. The words he proposed to add were "other than an order which contains the provisions in any statutory enactment." If this Amendment were carried without the addition of these words, schemes containing statutory enactments could be suspended by the Commissioners, and would not come under the purview of Parliament. He believed that was entirely contrary to the practice of Parliament. In all cases dealing with the compulsory taking of land for public purposes it had been provided that land which had been under a Provisional Order given to persons or companies for certain purposes should not be again taken away from them. That was a principle which they ought to affirm. He had an Amendment for this purpose during the Committee stage of the Bill, but he withdrew it because the clause the noble Earl inserted should have covered the whole matter; but as he believed it would be contrary to practice that bodies other than Parliament should deal with lands taken under a Provisional Order, he suggested the addition of these words.


May I ask the noble Earl, does he move the Amendment as it is in print?


Yes, but with the addition of the words I read out.

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he did not know that he could add very much to the discussion which had taken place earlier in the evening on this subject. He could only say that His Majesty's Government did not approve of this alteration which was suggested by the noble Earl, though, of course, they would not put their Lordships to the trouble of a Division. He might, however, say that this addition foreshadowed by the noble Earl would, in the event of a disagreement between the Development Commissioners and the Local Government Board, add considerably to the complexity of the Bill, because what would happen then would be this. First of all there would be an inquiry by the Local Government Board. Then supposing there was some objection to it, the matter would go to the Development Commissioners, and if they did not agree, then it would come before Parliament. That, of course, would mean a further stage. He confessed he did not fully understand it, but as far as he could understand it, it would add another and a somewhat expensive stage to a town-planning scheme. With regard to the Development Bill, upon his ignorance of which the noble Marquess opposite had twitted him—


Very respectfully.

EARL BEAUCHAMP suggested that they should defer discussion of that subject to a later stage, when he hoped he would be able to persuade the noble Marquess that his ignorance was not so great as he thought. With regard to the actual Amendment, he could only repeat now that they had discussed the matter already, and His Majesty's Government would not oppose it but could not be said to agree to the introduction of the proposed new subsection.

LORD ALVERSTONE said he found himself in a very difficult position. He had been so far in entire agreement with the Amendments made in the Bill, but with every desire to be loyal to his noble friend Earl Cawdor, he was bound to say he did not approve of this Amendment at all. He had always been keenly interested in this Bill and approved of it, and, notwithstanding the most ridiculous and absurd things that had been said outside with regard to the action of their Lordships' House, he believed they had substantially improved the Bill and made it much more workable than it was before. In the earlier part of the Bill they had protected private interests by giving them the benefit of a legal tribunal. They had guarded against any suggestion of hardship or unfair conduct by Local Government Board officials by having an independent arbitrator, and the Amendment of the noble Earl which the House had adopted imported in certain cases a Provisional Order. Now it was asked that if there was an order which required to be sanctioned by Parliament, it should be referred beforehand by the Local Government Board to the Development Commissioners. One did not know what the practice of the Commissioners might be. They were not in existence at present, and a great deal might depend upon what functions were given to them. Desiring as he did to see this Bill a workable Bill and a good many of the schemes going through without opposition, it seemed to him they had sufficient protection in the matter. This Amendment was importing into the procedure an unknown step, and giving powers to an unknown body which were very like the powers originally asked to be entrusted to the Local Government Board. Having, as he had said, desired honestly to have this Bill and to make it a better Bill according to his own lights, it seemed to him a retrograde step to give these powers to this unknown body. It would be safer to rely upon machinery which was not expensive and of which they had knowledge. Unless he were satisfied by argument that the insertion of this subsection would be advantageous, he would be under the painful necessity of voting with the Government.

LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH said he felt considerable diffidence about this Amendment, which was brought forward at a late period and which proposed to entrust very considerable power to a body not yet formed. It was also an Amendment which the noble Earl who had moved it had found it necessary to add to at the last moment. It seemed to him rather rash and hazardous to substitute for the machinery of the Bill, which had been carefully considered, other machinery of the working of which they knew nothing.

*THE EARL OF CROMER said that he was disappointed at the course of the debate. This was surely a case for compromise. There were evidently two sides to this question. The noble Earl the Leader of the House said that on the Opposition side they appeared to be all enamoured of the system of Provisional Orders. He (Lord Cromer) hardly thought that was the case; a good many noble Lords like himself recognised that the system was open to considerable objections. He dared say they were exaggerated, but unquestionably the procedure was rather cumbersome and it was costly. He had drawn attention to that before, but there was no reason why they should run to the other extreme, and take away all the guarantees now afforded by the procedure. The people interested in these private Bills looked with very great confidence to their Lordships' Committees, and he thought it very likely, if they took that guarantee away, they would run the risk of introducing a method of procedure which might be likely to lead to electoral manipulation. There should be some compromise between these two extremes. He did not say that Earl Cawdor's Amendment was perfect. It might be open to the objections referred to by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice, but he would appeal to His Majesty's Government whether the Department concerned could not show sufficient elasticity and resource to find some middle way between these two extremes.


It is satisfactory to us to know that the motives which prompted this Amendment are not misunderstood in any part of the House. We really desire to meet the criticism, to which we did not attach so much force as was attached to it by those who made it but which was nevertheless entitled to some weight—that the procedure by Provisional Order suggested by my noble friend Lord Cawdor was open to the suspicion of being somewhat cumbrous and somewhat tardy. In order to meet that criticism my noble friend made this proposal, under which in certain cases resort was to be had to the Development Commissioners to be appointed under the Bill which was read a first time in this House this evening. I must say that those Commissioners seemed to me, for many reasons, to be admirably qualified for the duties which my noble friend proposed to assign to them. The Commission will be, we understand, a judicial body; it will be a permanent body, and a body which as time will go on will accumulate a great deal of extremely valuable experience. Perhaps that is the answer to what was said by the noble Earl opposite when he told us that the effect of this Amendment would be to increase enormously the burden of work on the Development Commissioners. In time, when the practice of the Commissioners comes to be fully understood, and when their decisions have created a body of valuable precedents, it would become less and less necessary to appeal to them. I confess I have heard nothing that seriously shakes my belief in the proposal made by my noble friend Lord Cawdor, but I think we have to consider this. The Amendment, owing to an unfortunate mistake, was only in your Lordships' hands this evening, and since we have had it in our hands it has been found necessary, as was pointed out, to amend the Amendment itself. In my experience of this House, which has been a pretty long one, I have observed that when proposals are thus sprung upon the attention of the House there has always been some scruple in pressing them unless they received the general support and concurrence of your Lordships. Enough has been said this evening to show that some notes of dissent have been struck, and under the circumstances I believe that my noble friend will not press the House to accept his proposal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Drafting Amendments in Clause 57 agreed to.

LORD BELPER moved to add to Clause 57 (Contents of town-planning scheme) the following words—"Provided that no local authority shall be authorised, except as a constituent of a joint body constituted as aforesaid, to enforce the observance or the execution of a town-planning scheme under this part of this Act in respect of any land within the area of another local authority unless such other local authority is not prepared to carry out a town-planning scheme for the area in question." He said he moved the Amendment in pursuance of a question he asked on the Report stage, and he did not think the answer of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill quite covered the point which he wanted to raise. The point was that where a scheme had to stretch over the boundary of one authority and went into another authority's district, it was laid down in this clause that the scheme might be prepared by one of the local authorities, or for certain purposes of the scheme another local authority, or a joint body constituted specially for the purpose by the scheme. What was intended, he took it, was that in ordinary cases there should be a joint body to prepare a scheme, or in particular cases, where it seemed desirable, one authority should act for certain purposes for the other authority. But was it intended—he did not think it ought to be—that one local authority should be called upon to do the work in the area of another local authority while the authority which had jurisdiction over that area was willing to do it themselves? That would be a perfectly novel idea and he doubted very much whether the Local Government Board ought to give power to any authority to do work outside its own area and in the area of another authority without consent. Of course, if a local authority refused to take part in a scheme, there was very good reason for the Board having power to over-ride them, and allowing another local authority to do the work. As far as he could see, his Amendment was entirely in conformity with the scheme in the Bill, but he thought it made it clearer than as it stood now; at all events, it would prevent a local authority being over-ridden and another local authority being allowed to have jurisdiction within their area.

Amendment moved— In page 33, after line 13, to insert the words 'Provided that no local authority shall be authorised except as a constituent of a joint body constituted as aforesaid to enforce the observance or the execution of a town planning scheme under this part of this Act in respect of any land within the area of another local authority unless such other local authority is not prepared to carry out a town planning scheme for the area in question.'"—(Lord Belper.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP agreed with the noble Lord that the matter was not an unimportant one, but the reason why the Local Government Board were anxious to retain this power was that a big scheme might include a small portion of land within the boundary of some small rural authority and it was desirable that the larger authority should be enabled to do what was necessary to be done within the smaller area. The proposal of the noble Lord would prevent that unless they brought in the rural authority. That authority might act in an obstructive way, and might not be disposed to help the larger scheme in the way that perhaps they ought to do. He thought the noble Earl would see that under those circumstances there might be a real danger, and the small local authority might cause a good deal of inconvenience and also expense to the larger authority in carrying out a town-planning scheme. The matter was however, not an important one, and the Government would not think of asking their Lordships to divide.

LORD BELPER asked whether the case referred to by the noble Earl was not covered by the words of his Amendment. If a local authority objected orders could be given to the others to do the work.

THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND could not help thinking that this was a somewhat more important question than either the noble Earl or the noble Lord who moved the Amendment seemed to think, and he fancied it assumed additional importance from what had just fallen from the noble Earl. It turned out that the object of the Bill as it stood was to impose upon small rural authorities the jurisdiction of a large town authority on its borders. Which was most likely to go to the wall, the scheme of a great and important public body like that of the corporation of a big town, or the council of a rural district? He would remind the noble Earl who had spoken of expense that the expense was going to fall upon the rural district. The corporation would do the work within the rural area, but, as he understood, the bill would fall upon the rural district, and yet the rural district was not to have any say in the matter when once the scheme was sanctioned. Surely that was not fair. He quite admitted that a rural authority should not obstruct a scheme which was for the benefit of a large town area, but if the words of the Amendment did not meet the case, let them put in words that would. Surely it could not be right to do away altogether with the power of a local authority over its own area within touch of an important town council.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Drafting and consequential Amendments agreed to.

On Clause 61 (Exclusion or limitation of compensation in certain cases).

THE EARL OF MALMESBURY moved to amend subsection (2), which provided that property should not be deemed to be injuriously affected by the operation of any provisions in a town-planning scheme prescribing the space about buildings or limiting the number or height or character of buildings. The noble Earl moved to omit certain words and to insert—"Provided that if it shall appear to the arbitrator that such provisions are unusual and impose excessive restrictions upon the use of the property, and that under all the circumstances compensation should be awarded, he may, notwithstanding anything in this subsection contained, award such compensation as he may think just." He felt that he owed their Lordships an apology for bringing up this Amendment at this stage of the Bill, but his reason for doing so was that in the first place this particular subclause had never been properly discussed. It was brought under a closure resolution in another place, and although he had twice made attempts to amend it in their Lordships' House, those attempts had unfortunately fallen through. If they would turn to Clause 61 of the Bill, subclause (2), they would notice that that subclause imposed upon the owners of land conditions which he could only describe as unnecessarily arbitrary and excessive. He would not have brought up this Amendment again had he not been under the belief, possibly misplaced, that their Lordships had not entirely realised the danger of passing this clause with this subclause in it. He believed there were provisions in Clause 59 where an owner of property, if he thought himself aggrieved, might recover compensation. But subclause (2) of Clause 61 expressly and once and for all excluded from any hope of compensation a landowner whose land was thus injuriously affected. He hoped their Lordships would see the injustice of allowing this Bill to pass with this subclause remaining unaltered. His Amendment would not materially affect the provisions of the Bill or the object which His Majesty's Government had in view and with which noble Lords on that side of the House were so much in sympathy, but it would provide in certain extreme cases which he could well imagine that compensation should be payable if the arbitrator should think that compensation just.

Amendment moved— In page 36, line 4, to leave out from the word 'affected' to the word 'by' in line 6; and in page 36, line 13, after the word 'purpose' to insert the words 'provided that if it shall appear to the arbitrator that such provisions are unusual and impose excessive restrictions upon the use of the property and that under all the circumstances compensation should be awarded he may, notwithstanding anything in this subsection contained award such compensation as he may think just.'"—(The Earl of Malmesbury)

EARL BEAUCHAMP thought their Lordships had already discussed the Amendment of the noble Earl once, if not twice, during the various stages of the Bill. He had taken part before in those discussions and he was reluctantly forced to speak on the Amendment again by what had fallen from the noble Earl opposite. He hoped he might congratulate their Lordships on the fact that it was not a frequent practice in their Lordships' House to propose on Third Reading Amendments which had been negatived on previous occasions without a Division. He would point out to the noble Earl that there were ample provisions in the Bill for the compensation of any owner whose land was injuriously affected, and the Amendment, he thought, went a great deal further than the noble Earl probably understood himself, because it would allow an arbitrator to go behind the facts which had been considered by Parliament and award compensation which a Select Committee did not think necessary. Under those circum- stances he hoped their Lordships would once more negative the Amendment without a Division.

*LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH said the Amendment of his noble friend was certainly an important one, but he must confess that it appeared to him to be of rather a drastic nature, because as it stood it was against the entire object of the subsection. He did not know whether it would make any difference to the acceptance of the Amendment by His Majesty's Government if instead of "excessive" restrictions, the word "unnecessary" was put in. That, perhaps, might not be so strong an expression. There might be cases where certain restrictions as to the building went in excess of what was really necessary to carry out a reasonable and proper scheme.


This is an Amendment which should not be put on one side without, at any rate, very careful consideration, and in reply to what the noble Earl in charge of the Bill said a moment ago, I am certainly under the impression that on the last occasion the Amendment was not discussed at all. The hour was a rather late one; I think the pangs of hunger were being felt in many parts of the House, and if I remember aright the discussion was somewhat abbreviated on that account. Now we should, I think, bear in mind in considering the proposal of my noble friend that what this subsection deals with is cases where private property is interfered with for the sake of the "amenity" of the area included in the scheme, and surely there is a great difference between an interference with private property in order to produce conditions of amenity, and such interference when the health and well being of the public are involved. I gather that what is intended here is that in order to lay out a particular area in a picturesque and agreeable manner private property may be taken possession of in a somewhat ruthless way. Is it the case that the Bill as it now stands does contain anything which would secure adequate compensation for the sufferer in such circumstances? Might it not, for example, happen that the Committee, thinking entirely of the question of amenity and picturesqueness, would decree that the ground was to be laid out in a particular manner. The person njuriously affected would go before the arbitrator, and is it not conceivable that the arbitrator in his turn would say that he could not go behind the scheme approved by the Committee and that although the detriment was undoubtedly great he had no p wer of decreeing compensation in respect of it. I should like to know whether His Majesty's Government really are satisfied that in a case of this kind the Bill as it stands does provide for adequate compensation being given.

THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN thought that the Amendment ought not to be set on one side quite so lightly as the noble Earl in charge of the Bill treated it, because the clause as it stood was, in his opinion, of a very despotic and absolute character. It said that property should not be deemed to be injuriously affected—that was to say, it excluded a man from even attempting to put forward his case to the arbitrator; and, as Lord Lansdowne had just remarked, it was with a view to securing the amenity of the area included. Earl Beauchamp had said that the noble Earl who proposed the Amendment had proposed it twice before. The noble Earl in whose name the Amendment stood was very unlucky in regard to the time it came forward on the first night; it was very late, if he remembered aright; and on the second occasion he did not think it was even discussed at all. The matter itself was really one of very considerable importance. Surely nothing could be milder than the remedy proposed, that if it should appear to the arbitrator that the provisions imposed excessive restrictions upon the property he might award such compensation as he thought just. What was there unreasonable in that? He could not see anything. On the other hand he thought a great deal that was very unreasonable might happen under the clause as it stood, because the whole of a man's property might be taken; on account of amenity he might be told that he was only to erect buildings of a certain height; he might be told that he was only to place a certain number of houses upon the property; and he might be restricted in a way in which his neighbours were not restricted. Why should that be done in the case of A and not in the case of B? Also the whole of his property might be affected in another way. He did not wish to put forward any excessive or unreasonable claim for an owner, but he did think it seemed very hard that an owner was to be absolutely prohibited from placing his case before the arbitrator in any shape or form. If the noble Earl went to a Division he should certainly vote for the Amendment.


I think the noble Earl who proposed the Amendment is certainly to be congratulated on the amount of support he is receiving for what is his third attempt to induce your Lordships to accept an Amendment of the kind, and that fact certainly cheers us all in endeavouring to change the minds of your Lordships on this matter. I have been trying to do the same thing myself for five and twenty years but seldom with the success which the noble Earl has met with. But I cannot help feeling that this is a very serious matter, and I am bound to say, and to say at once, that if this Amendment is to be pressed and is to form part of the Bill it will be absolutely impossible for His Majesty's Government to proceed with it. This subsection forms the central idea of town-planning, and if your Lordships have been under the impression all this time that every landowner who in consideration of a town-planning scheme has to give up building thirty houses to the acre is to be compensated for the remaining twenty because he is only allowed to put up ten, I am afraid you have formed a complete misapprehension of what has been intended by His Majesty's Government by this Town Planning Bill.

THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN pointed out that the Amendment of the noble Earl did not ask for compensation for an owner because he was only allowed to put up ten houses instead of thirty; all it asked was for the Government to say that he should be allowed to bring the matter before the arbitrator.


An arbitrator in a particular case might be of opinion that thirty houses to the acre was a reasonable number, and he might point to various suburbs in which that number and even more might be found. I am afraid it has not been entirely understood that the provisions of this Bill undoubtedly compel owners of building land to sacrifice some possible profits which might be gained from that land in consideration of the public good. In the days in which we now live that sentiment will, perhaps, be regarded as a Socialistic one, but I am afraid it is absolutely at the bottom of this Bill, and if it is to be understood, after a scheme has been passed, especially under the extremely careful safeguards which as the Bill stands at present surround the question, an arbitrator is to be permitted to award compensation, which may be on a very large scale indeed if the arbitrator happens to hold those peculiar views, then, as I say, your whole system of town planning is entirely killed. The creation of wide roads, of houses with gardens, by a scheme of such a kind would be made almost impossible, because if the arbitrator happens to be a person who thinks gardens are not necessary, he can undoubtedly point to the fact that three houses of a kind could have been erected on the ground where it was only proposed to put one, and if the landowner is to be compensated for the absence of the remaining two, it may be the proper defence of property, but you must give up town planning, and it would have to remain a luxury for the millionaire. Nobody has ever supposed that you can carry out town planning on strictly commercial lines any more than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens exist on those lines, and if it is to be made a matter, even a possible matter, of compensation that the uttermost farthing is not being screwed out of any particular acre of land, then, my Lords, I say, do not let us have the Bill.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said the noble Earl had used language of singular exaggeration in the speech he had just addressed to their Lordships, and he doubted whether he had even read the Amendment which he had condemned in such scathing terms. The noble Earl did not appear to see that the proviso was only intended to operate where it appeared to the arbitrator that there were unusual terms in the scheme or terms of excessive severity. The noble Earl said that the Amendment touched the very centre and heart of the Bill, and that unless the clause passed precisely in the form in which the Government had submitted it, town planning was impossible. He entirely protested against any such reading of the Bill. No such consequence would follow in the least. He quite recognised, according to modern ideas, of town planning, that it might be a very proper proceeding to restrict the number of houses to the acre, and he certainly never imagined for a moment that such a restriction as that would come within the terms of his noble friend's Amendment as being either unusual or imposing excessive restrictions on the landowner. The clause as it was drawn went a great deal further than that; it prevented the arbitrator from giving any compensation whatever terms were imposed by a town-planning scheme. Supposing the proposal was that there should be only one house to the acre, did the noble Earl think it reasonable or equitable that a landowner ought to be compelled to put only one house to the acre and get no compensation?


It depends on the character of the land. I certainly could not conceive that only one small cottage to the acre would be considered reasonable, but it might suit the landowner and everybody else in certain conditions to have only one house to the acre.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said that it might or it might not. Supposing a scheme came before a Parliamentary Committee, as it would do as the Bill stood, and there were terms imposed of a very drastic character such as he had indicated, it might be for the amenity of the district. The Committee would say, "We should like to pass this scheme as recommended by the local authority; we think it would be for the amenity of the district." The wretched landowner would say, "If you do that you will ruin me. I bought this land some years ago, intending to make money out of it in a perfectly legitimate and just way. I have raised money on it and mortgaged it, and unless I can develop it on reasonable terms I am ruined." The Committee would reply, "We have nothing to do with the money part of it, we have only to arrange what the scheme is to be and we are told by the Act of Parliament that we are to consider the amenity of the district. We have considered the amenity of the district and we say that one, or two, houses to the acre would be to the amenity of the district considering the particular town." Then the landowner would say, "I must go before the arbitrator." He then went before the arbitrator and asked for compensation. "Oh!" the arbitrator would say, "I do not dispute that you ought to have compensation, but I cannot give it to you; I am prevented by the terms of the Act." It would have a retroactive effect because the Committee being reasonable men would have to consider it, and knowing that the unfortunate landowner would not get compensation, although they knew it was for the amenity of the district they would have to throw the scheme out because they would not like to do anything so palpably unjust.


Why should they throw out the scheme and not amend it?

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said he meant they would have to throw out that provision of the scheme otherwise they would ruin the man, whereas if Parliament allowed the possibility of compensation being given in extreme cases they would pass a scheme which otherwise they would be bound in mercy to throw out.

Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Drafting Amendments agreed to.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY, in moving to insert at the end of subsection (2) of Clause 63 a proviso that no order made should compel the authority to erect houses which they could not be ordered to He did not know what his noble friend would say, but he was quite sure he would not adhere to the strict letter of his Amendment if the Government liked to propose some better words, but that there should be some elastic provision so that the Committee should not be absolutely compelled to pass a scheme under duress knowing that the poor man would not get compensation was, he submitted, eminently demanded by the equities of the case.

On Question, whether to agree to the said Amendment?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 80; Not-contents, 14.

Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.) Pembroke and Montgomery, E. Cottesloe, L.
Northumberland, D. Plymouth, E. Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)
Wellington, D. Powis, E. Dunalley, L.
Waldegrave, E. Dunboyne, L.
Bath, M. Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)
Bristol, M. Churchill, V. Forester, L.
Cholmondeley, M. De Vesci, V. Harris, L.
Lansdowne, M. Falkland, V. Hindlip, L.
Salisbury, M. Falmouth, V. Hylton, L.
Goschen, V. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Abingdon, E. Hardinge, V. Lawrence, L.
Camperdown, E. Hill, V. Leith of Fyvie, L.
Cathcart, E. Hood, V. Lovat, L.
Cawdor, E. Monck, L. (V. Monck.)
Cowley, E. Alverstone, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Cromer, E. Ashbourne, L. Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)
Dartrey, E. Barnard, L. Rathdonnell, L.
Derby, E. Basing, L. Rothschild, L.
Devon, E. Belper, L. St. Levan, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Blythswood, L. Sanderson, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Sinclair, L.
Fitzwilliam, E. Calthorpe, L. Stalbridge, L.
Fortescue, E. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.) Templemore, L.
Halsbury, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Ventry, L.
Lauderdale, E. Clinton, L. [Teller.] Waleran, L.
Lindsey, E. Clonbrock, L. Walsingham, L.
Malmesbury, E. [Teller.] Cloncurry, L. Wolverton, L.
Mayo, E. Colchester, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Onslow, E.
Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.) Carrington, E. Lucas, L.
Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.) Liverpool, E. O'Hagan, L. [Teller.]
Pentland, L.
Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Armitstead, L. Pirrie, L.
Colebrooke, L. [Teller.] Saye and Sele, L.
Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.) Courtney of Penwith, L.

erect under the Housing Acts, said that his Amendment was designed for a very simple purpose, there being a danger that the demands ultimately made upon a local authority to execute works might run to an undue length under that Part of the Act. There was apparently no limitation as to what the works were which a local authority might be called upon under a scheme to execute. He did not know whether the noble Earl with his knowledge of the Bill could point to any limiting words, but he knew of none, and they could of course conceive very extensive works being imposed on a local authority. For that reason his noble friend, Viscount St. Aldwyn, in whose name the Amendment also stood, thought that the best way of limiting it would be to limit it to the works which could be imposed for the purpose of housing under the housing part of the Bill. He thought that limitation would be sufficient, but he did not for a moment desire to press the Amendment if the noble Earl did not think it necessary.

Amendment moved— In page 37, line 40, after the word 'execute' to insert the words 'Provided that no order made under this section for enforcing the execution of a scheme shall compel the authority to undertake the erection of houses which they could not be ordered to erect under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts, as amended by this Act.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he was quite willing to admit that there might be a danger on the one side and on the other. There might be the danger which the noble Marquess had just called their Lordships' attention to, but supposing a local authority had agreed to erect a town hall, or a public library, and had failed to carry out their duty. The Amendment of the noble Marquess would prevent them from being compelled to carry out the undertaking which they themselves had agreed to. The local authority having given a public pledge that they would build a public library in a particular place, or a town hall, or surveyors' office, speculators in the neighbourhood might erect houses of a character suitable to surround such public buildings on the understanding that the public buildings would be erected; and supposing those people on the faith of the agreement entered into by the local authority had invested their money and the local authority refused to carry out their agreement, the Amendment of the noble Marquess would prevent them from being compelled to do so. He thought that throughout the discussion there had been a certain confusion in the minds of noble Lords opposite between two kinds of execution—to execute it themselves directly, or to give the work out to contract. A great many noble Lords he knew had a prejudice against local authorities executing these works themselves, but the Amendment of the noble Marquess would also prevent them from letting the work out to contract, and it would therefore be quite impossible for the Local Government Board to secure the proper carrying out of the scheme to which the local authority had agreed perhaps a year or two years before. His Majesty's Government recognised that there was something in what was urged by the noble Marquess, and with that object they had put in an Amendment in subsection (2) of Clause 57, and regretted that they were unable to go further than those words implied. The noble Marquess had asked him whether there was any limitation. He thought that what limitation there was was implied in the various safeguards put into the Bill and the consents which would have to be obtained from the various authorities, and he was of opinion that they might safely rely upon the fact that with the Bill standing as it did at the present time it was very unlikely that a local authority would erect unsuitable buildings, or even if they wished to do so that they would be allowed to do so.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Drafting Amendment in Clause 72 agreed to.

The MARQUESS or SALISBURY moved to amend subsection (1) of Clause 76— 76.— (1) Where any land proposed to be included in any scheme or order to be made under the Housing Acts or Part II. of this Act, or any land proposed to be acquired under the Housing Acts or Part II. of this Act, is situate within the prescribed distances from any of the royal palaces or parks the local authority shall, before preparing the scheme or order or acquiring the land, communicate with the Commissioners of Works, and the Local Government Board shall, before confirming the scheme or order or authorising the acquisition of the land or the raising of any loan for the purpose, take into consideration any recommendations that may have received from the Commissioners of Works with reference to the proposal, by omitting the word "acquiring" ["before preparing the scheme or order or acquiring"] and inserting the words "submitting the order for the acquisition of."

Amendment moved— In Page 44, line 10, to leave out the word 'acquiring' and to insert the words 'submitting the order for the acquisition of.'"—(The Marquess of, Salisbury.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP pointed out that if land was acquired by agreement there would not be any order at all, and the opinion of His Majesty's Government was that the clause was really better as it stood than with the addition which the noble Marquess proposed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment moved— In page 44, line 12, to leave out the word 'confirming' ["and the Local Government Board shall, before confirming"] and to insert the word 'sanctioning.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said that if the noble Marquess would agree they would leave in the word "confirming" and add the words "or sanctioned" after "confirmed."

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY accepted this suggestion.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved two new clauses after Clause 76 (Provisions as to land in neighbourhood of royal palaces or parks), applying the provisions of the Bill to land belonging to His Majesty in right of the Crown and in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, but safeguarding them from affecting any royal palace, park, garden, or any right or privilege enjoyed therewith. He said that his Amendment was a very important one, but the position was that it could not be inserted in the Bill without the consent of His Majesty's Government. The noble Earl opposite had very courteously corrected him as to his knowledge of Constitutional practice on the last occasion when the matter was under discussion, and had explained that it was open to him to move the Amendment, and that he was not right in saying it could only be moved by a Member of the Government. Although the noble Earl spoke the truth when he made that observation, he did not speak the whole truth, because it appeared that in substance there was something to be said for his (Lord Salisbury's) humble knowledge of the Constitution since, although the Government might not move it, their assent was essential to an Amendment of the kind. Therefore it lay with His Majesty's Government to assent or otherwise. He would not trouble their Lordships with another speech on the subject, because he had already addressed them on a former occasion and had been listened to with great patience. He would only add to what he said before that he thought it would be a great mistake if the answer of the Government should be to the effect that his proposed clauses were unnecessary. Would their Lordships throw their minds back for a moment to a discussion which took place a few minutes earlier? The noble Earl who led the House, speaking with great gravity, explained to their Lordships that sacrifices were called for from the owners of land in this country. He said that they would make a great mistake if they imagined that the Bill had been submitted to Parliament and to their Lordships with a view of imposing no sacrifice upon the owners of land, and that at this time of day landowners must be content to make sacrifices in the public interest and that the rights of property must yield to the public interest, as if any of their Lordships had ever contested such a point. The noble Earl dwelt upon that with great emphasis, but there was one class of property in this country which in the opinion of the noble Earl was not going to make any sacrifices, or at least not so far as Parliament could insist upon it— that was the property which was administered by the Government themselves. All their Lordships and the landowners throughout the length and breadth of the country were to make sacrifices, but the land administered by the Government was to make none That was the contention of the noble Earl. Did he think that the Government were always ready to make sacrifices when called upon to do so in respect of Government land? Did he think that his colleagues who had the various Crown lands to administer were willing to make sacrifices when sacrifices were called for? Had he any grounds for thinking so? Not long ago at a conference presided over by the President of the Board of Agriculture, a question arose as to small holdings on Crown, lands. There was no clause such as he was submitting in the Small Holdings Act. In that Act, whatever sacrifices were imposed upon property-owners in England were not imposed by law upon the Crown lands, and at that conference it was suggested that some small parcel of land, he thought 150 acres, should be taken from a large Crown farm of some 3,000 acres for the purpose of small holdings. That application was refused, and the matter was brought before the President of the Board of Agriculture, who reminded the deputation that no land could be taken compulsorily from the Duchy of Cornwall or from the Duchy of Lancaster, so that the noble Earl, Lord Carrington, at any rate appeared to be fully conscious of the privileged position in which Crown lands stood; and he gathered from that authority that the 150 acres were not given up by the Duchy of Lancaster for small holdings. He suggested that the same mistake should not be made again, and that it should be admitted by the Government themselves in the Bill they had brought forward in the public interest that the land they administered should be under the same obligations as the land belonging to other people. Of course, the Crown lands he was referring to were not the lands in the occupation of His Majesty, because His Majesty st od absolutely in a position apart. The Crown lands he was speaking of were the lands administered by the Government, and had nothing to do with the Crown except in name. He submitted the proposed new clauses to His Majesty's Government, and if they refused to accept them the responsibility would lie upon the Government and they would hear of it from every part of England.

Amendment moved— After Clause 76, to insert the following new clauses: '77.— (1) This Act shall apply to land belonging to His Majesty in right of the Crown and in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, provided that nothing in this section shall affect any Royal Palace, or any park, garden, or appurtenance thereof, or any right or privilege enjoyed therewith.

(2) Where any land proposed to be included in any scheme or order to be made under the Housing Acts or Part II. of this Act, or any land proposed to be acquired under the Housing Acts or Part II. of this Act belongs to His Majesty in right of the Crown or in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, the local authority shall before preparing the scheme or order or submitting the order for acquisition of the land communicate with the Admiralty and the Army Council, and if the Admiralty or the Army Council represent to the Local Government Board that it is contrary to public policy that the scheme or order should be sanctioned or that the land should be authorised to be acquired, the Local Government Board shall not sanction the scheme or order or authorise the acquisition of the land.

(3) With respect to any land belonging to His Majesty in right of the Crown, for the purposes of this Act, the Commissioners of Woods or other the proper officer or body having charge of the land for the time being, or in case there is no such officer or body then such person as His Majesty may appoint in writing under the Royal Sign Manual shall represent His Majesty.

(4) With respect to any land belonging to His Majesty in right of the Duchy of Lancaster for the purposes of this Act the Chancellor of the Duchy shall represent His Majesty.

78.—(1) This Act shall apply to land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall.

(2) With respect to any such land for the purposes of this Act, such person as the Duke of Cornwall or the possessor for the time being of the Duchy of Cornwall appoints, shall represent the Duke of Cornwall or other the possessor aforesaid, and may do any act or thing under this Act, which the owner of land or a landlord is authorised or required to do thereunder.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


My Lords, the noble Marquess concluded his speech with a threat at which I must confess I am not terrified. The matter is not altogether so simple a one as he appears to think, and even his object, which he has frankly admitted, of attempting to make some Party capital out of it may not prove quite so easy an achievement as he imagines. There is much to be said as regards a certain part of the lands which are lumped together under the designation of Crown lands for making the provisions of this Bill applicable to them in some form, although, as your Lordships will have gathered from the speech of the noble Marquess, there is no precedent for doing anything of the kind. But we are in a somewhat special difficulty in this instance, in that we do not know what form this Bill will ultimately take if it ever passes into law, as to which I confess I am somewhat sceptical. If it ever does, it will pass after the Bill, as amended by your Lordships, has proceeded to another place and after the Amendments have been considered there. Therefore, we on this Bench cannot say in what form the Bill will ultimately become law, and to what authority or tribunal we should be submitting the Crown if we were to accept the noble Marquess's Amendment. In, practice, there has been no difference in treatment as between the different kinds of Crown lands, and for that reason I think Clause 78 as proposed by the noble Marquess relating to land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall is not necessary. It has never been the custom, I fancy, to treat the lands of the Duchy of Cornwall otherwise than as part of the Crown lands pure and simple, and there is no reason for making a special provision with regard to them. But when the noble Marquess says that the Crown lands have no reference to the occupant of the Throne, or the Heir to the Throne, I think he is not speaking with complete accuracy, because, so far as the two Duchies are concerned, those Duchies and the income derived from them undoubtedly form part of the arrangement which exists between the occupant of the Throne on the one hand and the country on the other.


I agree; I overstated the matter.


Therefore this, I think, would of itself account for the fact where leave has been given, as, for instance, in the Act which the noble Marquess mentioned of last year, to lease land, power is given in the one case to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster acting on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and in the other to the Duke of Cornwall to proceed under the Act. What the noble Marquess proposes is to place all Crown lands, not merely those which I have mentioned, but all others, in precisely the same position as lands in private ownership. But it has occurred to him that it would not be wise to allow lands needed, for instance, for the defence of the country to be treated precisely as if they belonged to one of your Lordships. Clearly if there was a question of taking Dover Harbour or Salisbury Plain for some purposes of improvement, it is right that the Admiralty and the Army Council should have some voice in the matter. The noble Marquess has considered that, but with this curious result; that wherever in any part of England it is proposed to take any piece of Crown land, say in the very heart of the Midlands, the leave of those Departments has to be asked in any particular case for fear of interfering with something which at one time or another they might require. The noble Marquess has forgotten that there are other Government Departments also concerned. There is, for instance, the Post Office. It would be a very serious matter, I think, if the Postmaster-General were placed in precisely the same position as any private owner if it were a question with regard to some land which he may require, or believes that he might require. The fact is, and I quite admit it, it is not easy to draw a marked line of distinction between what ought to be the ratepayers' interest pure and simple, of which the noble Marquess is thinking, and, on the other hand, the interest of the taxpayers in matters of this kind, and if there was any means of holding an absolutely fair balance between the two it would be desirable to arrive at it. But, my Lords, I cannot think that in practice any hardship or difficulty will arise if these proposed new clauses do not appear in the Bill. After all, the administration of Crown lands, part of them represented by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, is worked in the light of day; and what, for instance, did the somewhat invidious matter raised by the noble Marquess mean? Everyone knows that the President of the Board of Agriculture has devoted the Crown lands so far as he could to the purposes of the Agricultural Holdings Act, and yet the noble Marquess has brought forward one single instance, mentioning it simply ad invidiam, where for some reason a particular slice of a particular Crown farm could not be given for the purpose of small holdings, and he makes the best case he can of it. Although I quite admit in theory that it might be well if Crown lands were all subjected to the same rule, yet in practice I do not believe that any difficulty or detriment to the objects of the Bill will occur from their not being placed under it. I say the same with regard to the administration of the lands of the Duchy of Lancaster and of the lands of the Duchy of Cornwall. Both those great estates are, I believe, admirably administered, and if a case should arise where the managers of either one of them were called upon to join in a town-planning scheme, I think all your Lordships will agree that it is altogether inconceivable to suppose they would place in the way of such a scheme the kind of obstruction which some private owners of land, though I think but few, might be disposed to place in the way. Therefore, although as a pure matter of theory, I am not without sympathy for the noble Marquess's objects, yet we see such difficulties in practice, whether it be in the relation between the particular Departments and Parliament, or particular Departments one with the other, that His Majesty's Government do not feel able to advise His Majesty to give his assent to the Amendment proposed by the noble Marquess.

LORD ALVERSTONE said that their Lordships were, of course, powerless in the matter, and although he had listened with the greatest respect to the interesting speech of the noble Earl, he confessed with great humility that it did not seem to him to have anything to do with the merits of the particular matter their Lordships were discussing. He did not admit that any uncertainty as to the ultimate form the Bill would take need deter their Lordships from dealing with the matter. What they desired to know was whether, if the Bill stood in the shape in which it left their Lordships' house, there was any reason why Crown lands should not be included. The object of the Bill was, first the housing of the working classes, and they could not include a bit of Crown land in a scheme or proposal for the housing of the working classes under the Bill because the Bill did not apply.


By compulsion.

LORD ALVERSTONE agreed; but no Crown land could be included or scheduled for the purpose of a town-planning scheme. Could anybody suggest that any Government Department could be injured or jeopardised, or the interest of Crown lands jeopardised, by a power to include Crown lands in the scheme and to propose to bring them under the working of the scheme? The noble Earl had told them he did not suppose that there would be the same sort of obstructions placed in the way or objections raised by Government Departments to town-planning schemes as would happen in the case of, he said at first private owners, but corrected that and said, by a few private landowners. He believed that it was not a question of objections being raised; it was a question of the inability of the machinery in the Act to include for the purpose of consideration Crown lands; and it appeared to him, that being so, that all the beneficent provisions of the Bill with regard to the housing of the working classes and town-planning schemes would in many parts of the country be crippled and fettered by the fact that the proposers of them could not include Crown lands. If the Bill stood, much improved as he believed it to be to-day, he saw no reason why Crown lands should not be included, and he would therefore ask the noble Earl, even at the eleventh hour, to consider whether His Majesty's Government could not themselves frame a clause which would remove what would be a very great blot on the Bill. There were large areas in towns and in other districts— he could name some to his own knowledge—where Crown lands could be usefully brought under the Bill and great public advantage be thereby derived.


His Majesty's Government are, of course, masters of the situation, but I venture to say that we are by no means satisfied that a conclusive case has been made against my noble friend's Amendment. We are, of course, talking not about Royal parks and palaces but of Crown lands administered by public Departments very much in the same way as other lands are administered by private owners, and we can see no reason why such lands should be exempted from the operations of such an Act as this. What were the reasons adduced by the noble Earl opposite for so doing and against the Amendment of my noble friend? He suggests to your Lordships that this Bill is not likely to become law as it leaves your Lordships' House and that certain Amendments which might affect the position of the Crown lands may be expected. What Amendments has the noble Earl in his mind? What Amendments could make it desirable that Crown lands should not be placed under restrictions similar to those which affect the lands of private owners? I fail to conceive what the noble Earl has in his mind. Then he said, "If you add this clause to the Bill you will find yourselves in a difficult position with regard to certain classes of Crown lands, lands owned by the Admiralty or by the War Office, or by the Post Office." I am quite sure that my noble friend would have been delighted to insert words in his clause which would have provided exceptional treatment for lands in those particular categories. The noble Earl suggested that our proposal was without precedent. I should like to refer him to the 30th section of the Small Holders (Scotland) Bill of last year. The section is a very short one, and I will read it in full:— This Act shall apply to all Crown lands. That seems to me to be a case in point. We are, of course, helpless in this matter, and if noble Lords opposite cannot see their way to accept this Amendment we must bow to their decision, but we think the refusal is eminently unreasonable.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD of AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (EARL CARRINGTON) said he could not at the moment remember the conference to which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, had referred, but he hoped he would be excused as he had 60,000 acres under the Small Holdings Act and 5,000 acres of Crown lands. Through the courtesy of the noble Marquess he hid been given particulars of it, and he saw that it did not refer to his Department at all, but to the Duchy of Lancaster. He would look into the matter, however, and as there would be a discussion on this subject in two or three days he had not the smallest doubt that he would then be in a position to give a perfectly satisfactory answer with regard to the point.


It has been suggested by the noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chief Justice) that town-planning schemes would be frustrated by reason of there being no compulsory powers in the Act to deal with Crown lands. Of course, schemes can be brought forward so far as all other lands are concerned including Crown lands subject to the consent of the Department concerned, and everybody knows perfectly well that no public Department, unless for some imperative public reason, would withhold their consent, and the assumption that all schemes would be frustrated unless Crown lands are included in the Bill is, I am afraid, rather a dismal one. My noble and learned friend in nearly every speech he has made in the course of the discussion on this Bill has assured your Lordships of his sincere and earnest and anxious desire to further this Bill. I always accept everything my noble and learned friend says with full confidence in its sincerity, but I must say we have found views in every way opposed to ours and in a way that we think is really not in favour of supporting the principles of the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment moved— In the First Schedule, page 47, line 30, at the end of line to insert the words provided that for the words "where the Board has declared a local authority to be in default" there shall be substituted the words "where the Board has made an application to the Court of Session."'" —(Earl Beauchamp.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The EARL OF MALMESBURY, in moving to insert "and service" after "publica- tion" in the Fifth Schedule, said he would be pleased to withdraw his Amendment if he had the assurance of His Majesty's Government that there was an obligation already on the Local Government Board to serve notices on owners of land before the scheme was approved.

Amendment moved— In the Fifth Schedule, page 50, line 20, after 'publication' to insert and service.'"—(The Earl of Malmesbury.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said he was glad to be able to give the noble Earl the assurance he desired. The obligation in question was imposed by Clause 58.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Moved, That the Bill do pass.—(Earl. Beauchamp.)


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships more than a minute or two, but there is one matter which I think is one of the most important matters in the Bill to which I want to call your Lordships' attention. I think insufficient attention has been paid to it in this House up to the present time. I refer to the cost which is going to be thrown on the ratepayers by this Bill. I believe if the Bill is really worked out it will prove the most expensive one to the ratepayers that ever has been passed by Parliament. Of course, it is impossible to say what this expense will be. It is not more than possible to conjecture to what an extent the Bill will be carried into effect, but, at all events, it will make a very heavy charge upon the rates, and it will make a much heavier charge than has been made by the Housing Acts up to the present time. The reason of that is that this Bill for the first time makes Part III. of the Act— or what may be called housing schemes and town-planning schemes— compulsory in every part of the country. How far those schemes may be carried out of course it is impossible to say at present, but as the Bill was originally introduced it was proposed to place in the hands of the Local Government Board an absolute control over the expenditure of rates— an absolute power to order county councils to do anything that might seem good in the pleasure of the Department, and, although your Lordships during the passage of this Bill have placed a certain control upon the Department, yet, at the same time, great powers of enforcing expenditure on local authorities are still to be found in the Bill. That is one point.

Another point is the manner in which this charge is going to be spread over all the districts. The charge as stated in Clause 30, save in certain exceptional cases at the discretion of the Local Government Board, is to be spread over the whole area of the district, quite irrespective of the needs for schemes in particular parts of the district, quite irrespective of the outlay made by different owners and of the conditions of various properties. It is quite possible that a housing scheme may be proposed in a district a considerable portion of which is already in a very good condition, but which will nevertheless be charged for benefits which will be reaped by their neighbours alone, and who very likely themselves have entirely neglected their duties in regard to matters of housing. That seems to me a very serious thing; but, more than that, it is, of course, very unfair to what one may describe as good owners— men who have laid out large sums on their cottages. I am speaking mainly of the rural districts, which will now be called upon to pay for their neighbours who have neglected their duties.

But let me point out one result which is quite certain to happen, and that is that all private trade in building cottages will be stopped for good and all. I am not now speaking of owners, but of the private trade of building, because builders will say, "This is not a very lucrative business, and now that houses are to be built on the security of the rates and at the expense of the rates, on terms and conditions which cannot manifestly be remunerative, it is impossible for us to enter into competition, and therefore we shall withdraw altogether and have nothing whatever to do with the business." Even private landowners will be discouraged very much from building cottages, because they will say, "Suppose I build my cottages, I shall in addition be called upon to contribute in the rates to the building of other people's cottages." I think that these circumstances are really very deplorable, and your Lordships may depend upon it that these effects will follow as sure as your Lordships pass this Bill.

In conclusion, I cannot help saying one word with regard to the absolute carelessness of this Government as to expenditure on the rates. This Government have been more regardless of expenditure generally than any Government I can recall. It is quite sufficient for them that an object in itself is good, and as to where the money comes from they do not seem to care. In one or two instances, such as old age pensions, they did not even attempt to consider beforehand where the money was to come from, and as to their calculations we know what they came to. But in regard to this matter of rates they have been, and are, especially careless. It is quite sufficient for them that housing and town planning are good things. They do not seem to have paused to consider what the effect upon the rates will be. I could give your Lordships plenty of instances. Take such a case as that of the medical inspection of children. Well, that is a very good thing, immediately it is placed on the rates, but when you attempt to get anything from the Government you are unsuccessful—at all events, up to the present time we have got nothing. Take such a case as the tuberculosis case which your Lordships had before you the other day. Everybody knows it is very desirable to get rid of tuberculosis. Immediately the Government proposed to place the cost upon the rates, but as soon as it was represented to them that some of it ought to come from the taxes, then at once the Government admitted they had not thought of the thing, and really for the present could tell us nothing. I am not going to detain your Lordships any longer, but it seems to me these charges are increasing until they become almost intolerable, and if this Act is really carried out— and, remember, the burden will be so heavy that that is a circumstance which will weigh very heavily against the Act being fairly carried out— but if it is carried out the ratepayer will suffer a burden heavier than any he has hitherto been called upon to bear.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Bill passed accordingly, and returned to the Commons, and to be printed as amended. (No. 193.)

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