HL Deb 23 December 1920 vol 39 cc913-6

Clause 9, page 16, leave out lines 15 to 19.

The Commons disagree with this Amendment for the following Reason:

Because the Amendment would involve an additional charge on public funds. And the Commons consider it unnecessary to offer any further reason hoping the above reason may be deemed sufficient.


If your Lordships will look at the Commons Reason you will see that they say this Amendment would involve an additional charge on public funds, and they consider it unnecessary to offer any further reason, hoping that the above reason may be sufficient. It places a charge on the naval, military or Air Force authorities, and in addition might apply also to certain landlords—private landlords who resume possession of allotment land for building or industrial purposes. But it has appa- rently been taken as a breach of privilege in another place, and the Commons have refused to waive their privilege. I beg to move that this House doth not insist upon its Amendment.

Moved, That this House doth not insist upon the said Amendment.—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)


This is a very remarkable decision of the House of Commons and the Government.


Of Mr. Speaker.


It is quite possible for the House of Commons to waive their privilege if they please. What your Lordships tried to do was to protect these allotment holders when they were turned out primarily by certain of the Government Departments. It seems that if an allotment holder is turned out by an ordinary landowner he is to have compensation, but if he is turned out by one of the Government Departments he is to have no compensation. That is actually the decision which is offered to us. If you go on to the latter part of the proviso it says— or for building, mining, or other industria purposes, or for roads necessary in connection with any of those purposes. There is no breach of privilege in that case. But possibly these allotment holders, who are very humble people—one would have thought that the House of Commons would have been specially carefully of their interests—are to be turned out without any compensation if the land is required for building, mining, or other industrial purposes, or for roads in connection with any of those purposes. I shall not ask your Lordships on the present occasion to enter into a controversy with the House of Commons on a question of privilege, but I desire to place it on record that if these people are ill-used it has not been done by the House of Lords.


Would it not meet the noble Lord's objection about privilege if we re-inserted the Amendment without the last two lines "or for building, mining, or other purposes, or for roads necessary in connection with those purposes." Let it go "if the land is required for naval, military or Air Force purposes," but not for the other purposes.


It would appear that if you were to leave out the last part of the clause "for building, mining, or other industrial purposes" it would be very difficult for any landowners to let any land at all for allotment holding, because I think the omission of the clause would give compensation for what might be obtained from the allotment, and I imagine that the compensation would amount to at least £150 an acre.


Quite apart from the question of the "naval, military or Air Force purposes" I am thoroughly in agreement with the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, because I think it is most important that for industrial purposes, for the making of roads, mining, and building, the allotments should be capable of being got hold of easily and quickly. Otherwise it means that in future no landlord can let for allotments any land near a town. We want land near a town to be let for allotments, but we want to be able to get hold of those allotments for building, mining and road-making at the earliest possible moment. Therefore, for the moment, putting aside the question of a Government Department, I hope that this proviso will be re-inserted.


I would make a brief observation on that point. I cannot think that your Lordships would deem it prudent to adopt this course, because you must face the circumstances under which we deal with matters in which Mr. Speaker has taken a decision which he is empowered by law to take. I have always refused when I have been asked to offer advice as to whether or not a particular Amendment was in violation of a rule which prevents this House interfering with proposals which involve additional charges on public funds, and I have refused for the simple reason that I did not think it consistent with the position which, for the moment, I occupy in this House, that I should give advice upon a technical or legal point which by Statute can be over-ruled by somebody else sitting elsewhere. It was as disagreeable to me as to any one sitting here and listening to me that this power, under circumstances with which we are all familiar, should have been placed without appeal where it has been placed, but we must realise plainly the conditions under which, as the law stands, we must deal with the matter. I do not think your Lordships would be well advised to attempt to deal with a matter which the law has removed beyond our power.

On Question, Motion agreed to.