§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (EARL STANHOPE)
My Lords, I have it in command from His Majesty to signify to the House that His Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Coal Bill, gives his consent, as far as His Majesty's interest is concerned on behalf of the Crown and on behalf of the Duchy of Cornwall, that the House may do therein as they shall think fit. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD MAUGHAM)
My Lords, in supporting this Motion I do not intend to take up a great deal of your Lordships' time. The Bill is no doubt one of great complexity, and involves the interests of a great number of people. The provisions are difficult to understand without close attention. The measure therefore calls for careful examination and criticism in every detail, which I am glad to say it has received. For my part I wish to say quite clearly I welcome every criticism that has been made in reference to this Bill, and I admit at once that the noble Lords who are in many respects opposed to the measure, and who have moved Amendments, have been fair and reasonable in their proposals, and that those Amendments in practically every case had substance behind them, even in those cases where in the view of His Majesty's Government the Amendments were ill founded and the Government were unable to accept them. The result is that at this stage of the Bill I, for my part, have no 321 complaints to make as to the way in which the Bill has been received, and I would add that I have some ground for thanking your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to some rather prolonged speeches from me and to a number of interventions in debate which were so numerous that I was sometimes ashamed.
After a long and interesting debate, your Lordships will remember, the Second Reading was passed without a Division. This House realised, I think, that the measure came from another place with very strong support from the members in that place, and that it gave effect to successive King's Speeches promising to deal with the problem of the organisation of the coal industry by a comprehensive measure. Moreover, those who most imprecated the measure, and in particular that Part of it concerned with the compulsory acquisition by the Coal Commission of the fee simple of all the coal and mines of coal throughout England and Scotland—namely, Part I of the Bill—could not and did not fail to realise the true facts and the great importance of the point of view of the Government. The first was that the unification or the compulsory acquisition either by the State itself or by an independent body was approved by the unanimous Report of the Coal Commission of 1925, which contains the most elaborate account of the problem in question, and by the Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission of 1933. Your Lordships could not fail to recognise that, with all these independent bodies in favour either of the whole Bill or, at any rate, that Part of it which has been principally attacked, the Government had no option but to take some such step as they have taken in putting forward this Bill.
Secondly, your Lordships could not escape the realisation that with regard to the matter which was mainly concerned in reference to Part I of the Bill—namely, the global figure of £66,450,000—the Government really had no option, in the circumstances of which your Lordships are now fully aware, except to act on that figure and place it in the Bill as the sum to be paid for the property in question. The sum, as your Lordships well know, was ascertained by an independent and eminent Tribunal working upon an estimate which had been agreed between persons representing the Government and the 322 Mineral Owners' Joint Committee, after lengthy consideration of all the factors which had to be taken into account in arriving at that figure. I do not propose to weary your Lordships by again going through the whole of the history of that negotiation or the reasons which made it quite impossible for the Government to depart from that figure in the circumstances of the case. I only want to say once mote that I fully appreciate, and have appreciated from the start, that those persons who were not represented on the Mineral Owners' Joint Committee were, and are, perfectly justified in saying mistakes have been made, that they do not agree with the result arrived at, and that accordingly they think that the total global sum is an inadequate representation of the value of the property in England and Scotland.
That I have always admitted, but what I think your Lordships realised when you had to vote on the Second Reading of this Bill was this, that, whether that be so or not, the Government, at any rate, were constrained to accept the figure as having been fairly arrived at and that they would have been unworthy of their position if they had then purported to add substantial sums to what had been ascertained in a perfectly reasonable and fair manner. I think in another place and throughout the country there would have been most serious, damaging and justifiable criticism if the Government had said: "Well, we know more about it than an independent tribunal or than the persons who agreed upon the global figure, and therefore we are going to add substantial sums to the compensation which will have to be paid to the owners of coal throughout the country." It was no doubt for those reasons that this House, taking a sensible view of the matter, whatever the convictions of noble Lords were, gave the Bill a Second Reading without a Division.
Having taken that view I cannot conceive that there can be any doubt remaining in the minds of your Lordships as to the course that should be taken now that the Third Reading has come up for consideration; for, faulty as you may think the original Bill was when it came here from another place, it is certainly less faulty now according to your own views and your own contentions. In other words, this House, as has happened in a great number of cases since I have been a member of it, has greatly improved the 323 measure, and many of the objections which were most seriously felt by those of your Lordships who were opposed to the Bill have been largely removed by the Amendments that have been made to it. At any rate, some of your Lordships' objections have been removed, and it may be right that I should here give your Lordships very shortly a statement of the main features, both in substance and in form, in relation to which the Bill has been greatly improved.
The first one I have to mention has reference to Clause 5 of the Bill. As your Lordships know, that dealt with what we call copyholders' rights, or what more accurately have been called ex-copyholders' rights, because, as your Lordships know, part of those rights has now ceased to exist. In regard to those matters, after your Lordships' objections had been under the consideration of those members of the Government concerned with this subject, it was agreed to insert a new clause which provided that excopyholders' rights are not to be acquired except in the few cases where the copy-holder has the right to work the coal under his copyhold without the consent of the lord of the manor. That was, I think, a beneficial clause for the owners of the coal, and increased the amount they would receive from the global figure. I do not say that was the reason of it, of course it was not; but the Government, for reasons I did my best to explain, acceded to the criticism with regard to those particular rights, and now that part of the Bill is, in my opinion, in a more satisfactory form from the point of view of the opponents of it.
The next clause which I recall to your Lordships' recollection is the present Clause 13, which we argued for many days. That relates to the rights of freeholders in possession of coal to a lease. There was a battle over that clause, and it was much considered both in the House and outside it. In the end, as the result of a great deal of consideration, an Amendment was made which provides that persons who are freeholders in possession of coal will get leases which will secure that their financial position in respect of their business of working coal shall be neither adversely affected nor improved by the fact that in lieu of remaining owners of the coal they will receive compensation, become liable to a 324 periodical rent fixed by reference to the time requisite for enabling the coal to be worked out, and cease to be liable as proprietors to pay Mineral Rights Duty and Royalties Welfare Levy. That is the second alteration in substance in the Bill.
There is a third which to my mind is one of substance, though I agree not of such great substance as the other, and that relates to a considerable alteration that has been made in the Second Schedule of the measure in reference to the withdrawal of support from the surface. There a reasonable arrangement was come to with certain noble Lords, and I think the Bill as it now stands in regard to that matter is fair and will be found to work out with reasonable justice to the persons concerned. The consent of the surface landowner to the making good of any damage done is not to be unreasonably withheld, and subject to that, proper compensation will be paid for damage arising from the working in cases in question. What is perhaps of more importance is that in the case of the coal which is referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Schedule the landowner is to be entitled, in respect of any damage to his land due to the exercise of the right for the withdrawal of support, to enforce against the Commission any liability to make reparation for damage which the lessee has failed to discharge. That, as I have already stated, I think is a reasonable but substantial concession on the part of His Majesty's Government, and will be found to prevent any injustice which otherwise might be occasioned to surface owners whose rights the Board interfered with and who suffered substantial damage and were unable to get redress.
There are a number of other improvements, but I now wish to remind your Lordships shortly of the matters in which the form of the Bill, and in a lesser degree the substance of the Bill, has been improved. First I claim on behalf of the Government that Clause 5 is now recast in a so much simpler form that it may be intelligible, I hope, to the majority of your Lordships. Secondly, that Clause 10 and the Fourth Schedule are now replaced by a new Clause 11, falling in with the idea of a number of your Lordships that it was sufficient in the case of apportionment of rent to have a simpler system than that which appeared in the Bill as it reached your Lordships' House. Then there is a new Clause 10 by which twelve months 325 arrears of rent may be acquired by the Coal Commission at the request of the owner of the coal. In the Third Schedule, in paragraph 20, there is an entirely new provision dealing with the division of compensation between diverse beneficial interests, a provision which I may say has occasioned a great deal of thought not only on the part of the Government but of the noble Lord who interested himself in this particular branch of the Bill.
There are a very large number of other Amendments which I will not take up time by enumerating, some of which will be of considerable value to the persons who are going to be affected by this Bill. Many of them, as I have said, are very considerable improvements, and I think it right to acknowledge the assistance which we have received from quite a number of your Lordships in relation to these Amendments. There are a few which will have to be dealt with on this stage of the Bill, but I think in substance they are matters of drafting and will not take up much of the time of your Lordships' House.
Before sitting down your Lordships perhaps will allow me to express my regret that in the first important measure in which I have had to take anything like a large share, it turns out, as it has happened, that we have been engaged in a combat which is rather of the nature of a civil war. There have been skirmishes, marchings and counter-marchings on both sides, and two pitched battles, but, I am glad to think, no bombing. I think it is fair to acknowledge that in this civil war the combatants have done their best from their point of view. In the old days, when war was conducted in a very different manner to that in which it is conducted now through the unfortunate and misapplied assistance of science, it was not unusual at the end of a battle or contest for a citadel for the conquerors to allow their opponents to march out with the honours of war, drums beating and flags flying. For myself I would say that I should be very glad if something of that nature could be done for those who I think must admit that in the end this measure must pass through Third Reading. In more prosaic language I would say that I hope when that metaphor is exhausted noble Lords will march to the right side of this House and take up their accustomed places.
§ LORD SNELL
My Lords, we have now spent much time and labour in trying to alter for the greater comfort of the royalty owners the provisions of a Bill which was based upon the careful research and findings of an expert and impartial Commission, findings which, before they came to this place, were submitted to a close and prolonged scrutiny by another place. We have now arrived at the stage when this Bill must be either accepted or rejected. Your Lordships will be well advised if you agree to pass the Bill. In any case I fear your Lordships must be prepared to hear some quite plain speaking as to our experience during the passing of this Bill. I desire to make only a few general remarks on this occasion. The Bill recognises a principle which we on these Benches have often commended to your Lordships' House. That principle is that wherever the interests of a section of the community appeared to clash with the interests of the whole community the interests of the nation and not of the section must be served. Now we feel ourselves, having listened carefully to the discussions on this Bill, rather scurvily treated, for whenever we have ventured to put forward this proposition we have been answered with a shrill chorus of wrath from those who thought we were undermining the very basis of the Constitution. We were accused of confiscation and spoliation and of tampering with the sacred institution of private property, and indeed of thwarting the struggle for existence, that beneficent capitalist principle which prompts one man to climb on to the shoulders of his neighbour and remain there as long as he possibly can.
During the passage of this Bill we have seen those who so admonished us rise to defend the provisions which it contains. What from us was red ruin and the breaking up of laws, from them is mere sensible and overdue reorganisation. This, however, is not a unique occasion. The first public flirtation with this menace of confiscation was when the Petroleum Bill was before your Lordships' House two years ago. We then had the pleasure of listening to the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, defending the provisions of that measure. He said that certain preconceived ideas of property were infringed by any proposition which contains an element of nationalisation, which is the acquisition by the Crown of property 327 hitherto held by individuals. The noble Marquess went on to show how inevitable, after all, and indeed how almost sublime, was this theory of nationalisation which has received such support from my noble friends and myself. On that occasion we felt that the capitalist classes had been delivered into our hands by the concessions which had been made.
During the debate, this Bill has received a most searching criticism, and some changes have been made which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack is generous enough to say have been improvements. Whether that view will be accepted in another place we must wait to see. At any rate, the discussions on this Bill will draw once more the attention of the nation to the composition of your Lordships' House. One interest in this matter has from my standpoint been over-represented, whereas other interests have not been represented at all. The royalty owners, with their lifelong experience and immediate personal interests, have been able to make a case for themselves which no one with equal experience was in a position to rebut, and as I listened to their speeches I became aware of the many injustices that I have escaped through not being a royalty owner. The miners, who, after all, are equally interested in this issue, are not represented in your Lordships' House at all. There has not been at your Lordships' disposal one working miner whose experience could have assisted you in your deliberations. My noble friends Lord Strabolgi and Lord Addison have been good enough to devote considerable attention to the details of the Bill and to criticise Amendments which have been very timidly resisted by His Majesty's Government.
I should like in passing to pay a tribute of very sincere and disapproving admiration to the pertinacity and the skill of the small group of members of your Lordships' House who have conducted the opposition to this Bill. They have shown what a few determined men who know what they want and mean to get it can do in adverse circumstances. I have during my lifetime, without receiving the slightest sympathy from other people, seen my own income reduced for the assumed good of the community, and I know how painful the experience is. But 328 I remember that whenever I have pleaded from this Box that the interests of the wage earners should be remembered, that their poverty should be considered and their needs not forgotten, I have not received any vocal support from those who have been so vociferous in their protests during these discussions. It would almost seem that they have only now become aware that there are injustices in the land. Like Shylock, they said, "The curse never fell upon our nation till now."
So resentful were those who have been criticising this Bill that they deserted the rich pastures which had for so long nourished them and trekked across the wilderness to pitch their tents as far as possible from the contamination to which they thought they were subjected. It reminds me of the old Fourth Party, which was created over fifty years ago, and the resemblance is all the more striking because of the presence in the group of my noble friend Lord Balfour and because of his great namesake, who was a member of that small Party. I have very great sympathy indeed with my noble friend Lord Arnold, who found his carefully-selected virginal territory invaded and occupied, thus depriving him once more of those opportunities for undisturbed meditation that he loves so much. But I should like to encourage him. It is not the habit of Fourth Parties to endure. They renounce and they denounce, but I venture the prediction that they will be unable to sustain the bitter winds of political adversity and will fold up their tents and silently steal back to the protection of the old fold. There were moments when they swelled over on to these Benches, and I had a thrill at the thought that I was going to receive new support, but I was in some doubt how I should induce them to become models of that good behaviour and modesty of which we are such striking examples. I should only like, in passing from that, to say that in comparison with this group of noble Lords we, who have some real grievances, are miracles of moderation, and our criticisms of His Majesty's Government ought really to make us accepted as angels of sweetness and light. The names they called His Majesty's Government have shocked us profoundly. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, said that we had saved His Majesty's Government. If that grave accusation is correct, may 329 Heaven forgive us for what we have done! But I cannot feel that the alterations which have been made in this Bill will be accepted generally as improvements.
I do not propose to deal with the provisions of this Bill to-day. They are perfectly well known to your Lordships and there is no point in wasting your time debating them. The Bill appears to us to contain two main things: the royalty owners are to be compensated, and the coalowners are to retain possession of their mines. On the other hand, there is no direct benefit to the working miners in this Bill, and the indirect benefits are at least problematical. It is very doubtful whether any compulsory amalgamations will be possible when these provisions come to be carefully examined. I regard this Bill as badly founded, and very bady drafted. I do not remember any Bill, in my political experience, that has had to be so altered to make it apparently intelligible. Whole clauses have had to be recast, and the number of Amendments that His Majesty's Government have themselves introduced show either that the measure was produced in haste, or that attention to its wording had not been sufficient. I regard it as a timid, inefficient and probably futile measure, which in the end will leave things much as they are at present. We could have produced a far better Bill, and one of these days we shall be in a position to do so; but the Bill does contain at least a recognition of a problem of very great importance, and I beg to ask your Lordships to give it an uncontested Third Reading.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I have no desire to prolong proceedings which have been riot without an element of distaste, but I feel it would be impossible for me to permit this Bill to enter into its last stage without offering some further comment upon it. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack gave to the House a brief résumé of certain of the more important alterations which had been effected in the Bill since its arrival here, and I would propose, with your Lordships' permission, to follow him in that particular matter for a few moments. The Bill will return, if it does return, to another place almost unrecognisable in form. The number of Amendments which have been inserted in it here is very great, and in those particular matters the House has performed its particular function of a revising 330 Chamber with—I have the Lord Chancellor's own authority for saying it—great efficiency.
But an analysis of these Amendments is, from the standpoint of the mineral owner, well worth while. The great bulk of those Amendments have been inserted in the Bill in most cases as a tardy and somewhat reluctant recognition on the part of His Majesty's Government of the bad drafting of their measure as it came up to this House, and it is to be assumed that Amendments of that character will not be questioned when, and if, the Bill returns to another place. Certain other Amendments of great importance have been agreed to by His Majesty's Government, particularly in regard to those matters which affect the actual position of the colliery proprietors of this country; but when it comes to Amendments affecting the interests of the mineral owner, it is true to say that the only Amendments which have been inserted in this Bill of major importance to the amelioration of the position of the mineral owners, are those which have been inserted through the medium of the Division Lobby.
The mineral owner has no occasion to be grateful to His Majesty's Government for what they have done for him during the prolonged proceedings on the Bill in this House. His position at the end of the period is identical with his position at the beginning of it, except in so far as Amendments have been inserted in the Bill by the aid of the Division Lobbies, to which I have already referred. It will be within the recollection of the House that His Majesty's Government have assented to a very great change in respect of the position of the freehold coalowners. From the lips of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, the coalowners, or more properly the colliery proprietors, had the felicity of learning that it was the intention of the Government that this Bill should leave them no worse off after its passage into an Act than they were before. The House will not suppose for a moment that I grudge to the colliery owners that concession. On the contrary, I regard it as a concession to nothing more than elementary justice, and I welcome it on their behalf as cordially as they could welcome it themselves. But what manner of treatment has been meted out to the mineral owners? What is elementary justice to the colliery owner 331 is apparently weighed in a different balance altogether when the interests of the mineral owner are concerned.
He, throughout the proceedings on this Bill, has been treated as a public enemy, whereas in fact he is both in this House and in the constituencies one of the mainstays of His Majesty's Government, and is, moreover, a contributor to national revenue on an unprecedented scale. But he is not powerfully organised, he is not very numerous, and therefore the treatment meted out to him has been of a different character from that which has been given to other sections of the industry. Let me call to mind that which was done in this House when the concession on the old Clause 12, now Clause 13, was granted. On that occasion the Government missed a golden opportunity. There was presented to them a chance of ameliorating the position of the royalty owner without greater cost to the State. They could so easily, had they desired it, have permitted the valuation of the freehold coal to have been foregone, and the sum of money allotted in compensation by the Greene Tribunal to have been made available to those unfortunates who did not happen to be what is termed freehold owners. But almost before it was suggested the Leader of the House leapt to his feet and gave an assurance to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that by no possibility would the royalty owners be permitted to profit by this concession and that the greatest care would be taken to see that they did not. The noble Earl's eagerness to give that assurance will not be so readily forgotten.
With that opportunity thrown away, the chance of ameliorating the mineral owners' position went for all time. There remained no hope whatever of improving the Bill to the advantage of the royalty owner, who, on all hands it has been admitted, has received a very raw deal in this matter. There remains nothing to be done other than to prevent the Bill from taking more out of his pocket. In that particular connection I should have been very glad to have heard from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack some indication as to how in another place His Majesty's Government propose that certain vital Amendments should be treated, for, whereas the Division Lobbies assisted us to place in the Bill quite a number of Amendments of importance, 332 there are two in particular which have a financial tag hanging to them of very great importance.
I have already seen it misrepresented in the Press that your Lordships' House has postponed the vesting date. It has done nothing of the kind. It was neither the intention nor the purpose of those of us who were advocating some change in that particular clause to postpone the vesting date. What your Lordships have assisted us to do is this. We have it now in the Bill that, should the valuations not be completed by the date which was anticipated, then the vesting date shall not occur until those valuations have been so completed. There is at the present time no expectation that the valuations will not be complete by July 1,1942. But certain circumstances may arise beyond the control of all of us which may delay the completion of those valuations, and if such circumstances should arise then the vesting date will not occur. That is what your Lordships' House has done in this matter; and to say that the vesting date has been postponed is not a correct statement of the fact.
In this particular matter, bear in mind—and I do not think His Majesty's Government would deny this—that the royalty owners, owing to one cause or another, which we have debated at length and I do not propose again to go into, have received a very grave shock, and have been very gravely ill-treated. In view of those facts I would appeal to the Government to permit, without further discussion in this House at a later stage still, that particular Amendment to remain in the Bill. And there is another one; in the matter of expenses an Amendment has been inserted which means very much to the surface owner of the future. The mineral owners have really nothing to thank the Government for in what they have done for them in the course of the passage of this Bill through this House. What little they have been able to achieve has been achieved by their own efforts. If there is any attempt in another place to alter the little that they have achieved, I can assure the Government that it will meet with the strongest resistance here.
Leaving discussion of the Amendments, I would like for a moment to return to the more general subject. The Lord Chancellor, in his most moderate speech 333 just now, claimed in effect that this Bill was inevitable. Inevitability usually arises from a demand which is irresistible, but in connection with this particular Bill it is impossible to discover or envisage the demand. It seems clear that no Party in the State desires this Bill. The Labour Party, realising that it contains within it nothing for the working miner, have cold-shouldered the Bill from the start. The Liberal Party have shown no enthusiasm for it, and it would be impossible to discover any individual Conservative in or out of Parliament who did not privately express his opinion upon this Bill in terms not complimentary to His Majesty's Government. The royalty owners, who are to be deprived of their property upon a basis of compensation which in effect is confiscation, have made their views known in this House and elsewhere. No mineral owner has risen in his place, or written to the Press, or addressed a public meeting advocating, or even supporting, any part of the measure which is now before the House. To the coal trade itself, the colliery proprietors, the Bill holds out nothing but an expectation of interference with their trade, and the Bill is as much anathema to them as it is to the royalty owners. To the working miner who is to get nothing out of it the Bill offers no advantage.
Where, then, does the demand, the inevitability of the Bill, arise? Sundry Royal Commissions have reported in favour of parts of this measure. Royal Commissions do not create demand. Demand arises from the public itself, and there has been, and is, no demand for this measure. How, then, does it come to be passed into law? I have discovered but three elements in the community who wish for the passage of this Bill. One of them would appear to be His Majesty's Government, another would appear to be The Times newspaper, and the third would appear to be the Civil Service. In so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned I suspect that they regard the Bill as something of a damnosa hereditas, which nothing but an unfortunate lack of courage has disabled them from throwing overboard. The newspaper in question, I feel, has been filled with compassion for the state to which His Majesty's Government have been reduced in argument, and out of pity has offered such support as it was able to give.
§ LORD HASTINGS
As for the Civil Service, there is a different story to tell. This Bill fulfils everything that the Civil Service hold dear—jobs arid power. The Coal Commission and its Chairman-designate must have reason to be grateful to His Majesty's Government for the creation of the Commission. General managers, managers, secretaries, assistant-secretaries, will be required in large numbers. What could be a more happy prospect for the Civil Service than this Bill? And when His Majesty's Government have at the same time given them a licence to interfere in the coal trade itself, their cup of happiness must indeed be full. No, I feel that when the inevitability of this Bill is pleaded the case is not made out. There is no case for this Bill, in so far as the Party supporting and providing the main support to this Government are concerned, and as I have said before and now repeat, both in this House and in the constituencies the reactions to this measure will be prolonged and severe.
The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack terminated his speech with a very generous reference. He hoped that those of us who have had the temerity to oppose this Bill throughout would be permitted to march out with the honours of war. Whither shall we march? Things can never be quite the same again. For those of us who have been so shocked by the introduction of this measure and its passage through the House as to compel us to adopt the, to me at any rate, distasteful form which opposition to friends must always bring to us, it will be exceedingly difficult to accept the future as if the past had never been. I do not propose to delay the House for another moment, but I would not like the Bill to enter on this last stage of its passage through the House without once more expressing my abhorrence of it, my firm belief that it is contrary to the best national interests that it should pass, and my hope that it will do less damage than I anticipate it will.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken has presented to us the view that this Bill in the country has little or no support in any quarter. In that analysis of the situation I for one cannot concur. All those who 335 have taken interest in the coal question will remember how prolonged, and often how bitter and sometimes how dangerous, have been the controversies which have racked the country from time to time on the question of the coal mines, and although in these days we live in times when this issue is quiescent, our memories go back to earlier days in which the attention of the whole nation was concentrated upon this industry. Those who in those times studied the matter came to the conclusion that the troubles in the coal industry were largely due to the bad planning and bad organisation of that industry, and that one of the main remedies was to be found precisely in the various proposals which are embodied in this Bill. Therefore, differing from the noble Lord who has just spoken, I would rather say that the general body of informed opinion in the nation of all Parties is in favour of the principles which are embodied in this measure.
But the House will feel troubled that the noble Lord and his friends have urged so strongly and with so much conviction as well as with such eloquence, power, and persistency that this Bill commits an injustice against them. All of us would have an uneasy conscience if we felt we had assisted in passing a measure which committed an injustice against any section of the community. Therefore, perhaps, your Lordships will allow me for a few moments to review once more the reasons why those of us who support the clauses of this Bill dealing with the nationalisation, or unification as it is called here, of mining royalties—
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
I regard it as, in effect, nationalisation except with regard to the ultimate disposition of the revenue that may come in. I would, as I say, endeavour to review the attitude of those of us who regard this measure for the purchase of royalties as not unjust. In the first place, the reason why it is claimed to be unjust is that the owners regard their present property, in the words of my noble friend Lord Lothian, as one of the most gilt-edged securities in the world. They consider that they have an absolute property which brings in an assured, stable, and continuous income, and that if they are compelled to surrender their 336 property they ought to receive in exchange for it an equal income, also stable, secure, and continuous. That proposition is disputed. The largest owners of mining royalties in the country are the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the most reverend Primate told us this on the Second Reading. He said:For the last thirty years the Commissioners have set aside from their mineral income a sum of no less than £80,000 a year. That, I must point out, has been not in order to meet any possible expropriation of royalties but to meet any possible exhaustion of coal.The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have ample uses to which to put all their revenues in the beneficent purposes with which they are charged. They would not have put aside £80,000 a year for thirty years wantonly or unnecessarily. They did it because their present income from mining royalties is not secure, stable, and continuous, but is a temporary and wasting income, and therefore they have been obliged to put aside this immense sum for that purpose.
If this is one of the most gilt-edged securities in the world, why should the largest owner of that security, year after year, put aside £80,000 for the purpose to which the most reverend Primate referred? I should mention that, of the £80,000, I understand £70,000 is in respect of coal royalties and £10,000 in respect of other minerals. Furthermore, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, having put aside that sum of £70,000 a year for thirty years, now have a capital of £2,100,000 so accumulated. The most reverend Primate told us that that was put aside in order to meet any possible exhaustion of the coal. That sum therefore is provision against any cessation of their income from coal royalties. Consequently the interest upon that £2,100,000 is properly attributable to the function for which that sum was originally set aside—namely, to replace income from coal royalties. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners therefore have got the interest on that sum, which is nearly £70,000 a year at 3¼ per cent., plus the saving of £70,000 which they previously had been putting by and which they need no longer put by. They therefore should have under this head an income of £140,000 to replace their reduced income from coal royalties of £120,000. I cannot see that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have really any grievance on financial grounds 337 against the provisions of this Bill. Furthermore, if this is a continuous, stable and sure income, how is it that the law requires that in any parish in which there is a mineral income for the benefit of the glebe of the parish, that income is never to be looked upon as income at all, because the whole of it is required by Statute to be put aside and accumulated as capital?
This is said to be an assured, permanent gilt-edged income. When the Royal Commission of which I had the honour to be a member was sitting in 1925 the net income of coal royalties was £6,000,000 a year. Now in 1937 we are discussing a state of things in which the net income is £4,500,000. If this is a gilt-edged, assured, stable and continuous income, how is it that in twelve years it has been reduced by one quarter? Simply because the demand for coal is less. How do we know what the position will be twelve years from now? Suppose the demand for coal continues to decline, and coal continues to suffer from the competition of other fuels, or from the more economic use of fuels, it may well be that twelve years from now the same percentage of decline as in the last twelve years will have continued, and if this Bill were to be rejected now and brought up again twelve years hence after another long delay, it might be found that the annual figure to be multiplied by so many years' purchase was not £4,500,000 but £3,500,000. That would be another reduction, and if that were the case then the successors of the noble Lords who now complain of the injustice of this measure would bitterly regret that the more propitious moment of 1938 had not been seized when the income was £4,500,000.
There is a third reason why this income cannot be regarded as a gilt-edged security for which fifteen years' purchase is an inadequate compensation. I mentioned this on the Second Reading and there has been no adequate reply. If there is a continuous, stable and assured income, how is it that when it is valued for Death Duties it is only valued at ten or eleven years' purchase, or something of that kind? The noble Lord who has just spoken said on a previous occasion that the reason is that the Board of Inland Revenue cannot get out of the owners a larger sum than one based on 338 ten or eleven years' purchase, or whatever it may be in a particular case. That argument is ingenious but not convincing, for no one suspects the Board of Inland Revenue of having any bowels of human compassion, and no one has suggested that in any other of the branches of our public finance any such consideration as that is allowed to operate. No, for many years past it has been the established custom to value this security at a low number of years' purchase precisely because it is not gilt-edged but is a wasting security of comparatively short life.
The independent Tribunal that was appointed to go into this very matter assessed the figure at fifteen years' purchase. Now since then—I must repeat this because those who have accused the Government and Parliament of injustice are inclined to ignore this fact—the Government have gone beyond the award and have consented to the coalowners receiving three and a half years of the present income after the passing of the Bill. I assessed the value of that as the equivalent of a lump sum of £7,500,000 to be added to the £66,000,000. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack gave a figure of £7,000,000. Now here I think my noble friend Lord Hastings, if I may call him so, scored a point against me and against the Lord Chancellor. He pointed out that we had not made allowance in that figure for the fact that this additional income, if received during the three and a half years' interval, is liable to Income Tax and Surtax, and that therefore it is not fair to him and his friends to regard it as though it were a complete addition. I think that is true. I had omitted that consideration. Therefore, the figure that I took of £7,500,000 should be very considerably reduced, perhaps to something like £4,000,000, but even that £4,000,000 is very nearly an additional year's purchase, and if this is taken into account the royalty owners are receiving not only the fifteen years' awarded to them by the independent Tribunal but sixteen years'.
Then, again, during the course of the passage of this Bill through this House that period of three and a half years has been made extensible. I do not say that it is actually extended by the terms of the Bill, but there is a new provision in the Bill to the effect that if the valuation of 339 every holding in the country has not been certified by the end of the three and a half years, there is to be an indefinite extension until it has been certified. Thus, if there is litigation on particular points, that date might be postponed for a year or for two or three years, and during the whole of this time this bonus over and above the award of the Greene Tribunal will go to the royalty owners. That is an addition which, in my opinion, ought not to have been made by this House, and I sincerely hope it will not stand in the Bill when it passes into law.
With regard to what was Clause 12 in the Bill, dealing with the purchase of the freehold coal, I agree that there is much to be said for the change, and that there is no reason to demur to that particular Amendment in the Bill. The point that I wish to make under that head relates to one that was raised by the noble Lord who has just sat down. He suggested that following upon that Amendment the Government ought to have seized the opportunity, as one-eighth of the coal—that belonging in freehold to the mineowners—was being taken out of the purchase, of saying that the global figure should be left as it was, and distributed amongst the seven-eighths of the coalowners who remained. Consequently they would have got one-seventh more than the award allotted to them by the Greene Tribunal or another two years' purchase over and above that award. It seems to me quite impossible that the Government could have assented to that proposal. The matter having been referred to what was in fact an arbitration tribunal, and that tribunal having allotted fifteen years' purchase, the Government by a side wind have already given another one year, and to add another two years and make it eighteen years would have been intolerable to public opinion.
Furthermore, let it be remembered in this House when we are considering whether this measure is unjust to the royalty owners, that the figure of fifteen years' purchase is not the maximum but the average. There is nothing in this Bill to say that no one shall get more than fifteen years' purchase, and certainly a considerable number of the royalty owners will get less. Obviously a royalty owner whose property is going to be worked out in two, three or ten years, cannot expect the valuers to give him 340 fifteen years' for that property; consequently a large number will get less than the fifteen years'. The sum so saved will go to the other royalty owners and those whose properties have a longer duration will certainly get more than the fifteen years' purchase.
I am sure the House is very grateful to those members of the Government who have conducted this Bill during the debates we have had. The Lord Chancellor has trod with a sure tread through the intricate mazes of the legal technicalities and has been of immense assistance to those of us who are interested in the Bill. He has been most ably supported, if I may say so, by the noble Earl the Leader of the House and by the noble Earl the Paymaster-General. I would congratulate the Government on having shown a very large measure of courage, resolution and firmness of purpose in resisting the terrific onslaughts to which they have been subjected by noble Lords who now sit below the gangway on this side of the House—a welcome contrast to the conduct of the Government in other departments of politics, for example in foreign affairs, where apparently they are firm only in their determination to be weak.
The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, has indeed threatened them with the most dire penalties. He said once in this House—and I confess I heard his words with great surprise, for I never expected to hear such language in either House of Parliament—There may be relatively few mineral owners, relatively few persons up and down the country affected by the Bill at all, but they arc, in the; majority of cases, people of some influence, people upon whom this Government are dependent for good will in the constituencies and they are very essential from a practical point of view. You cannot deliberately, with your eyes open, go and drive your own supporters into the Bankruptcy Court.Your opponents, presumably, you may drive into the Bankruptcy Court, but not the supporters upon whom you are dependent for electoral support in the constituencies! I congratulate the noble Lord upon his frankness and candour, but not upon his political morality. I do congratulate the Government upon having withstood both those threats and those influences from the noble Lord, who in this case represents the Bourbons of property.
341 With respect to amalgamation I am very glad that those provisions that were so seriously threatened from some quarters have been retained in the Bill, and in that connection perhaps I may take this opportunity of mentioning a slight animadversion upon something which I said on a previous occasion that fell from the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay. I said that one of the benefits of amalgamation was that emphasized by the Lewis Committee—the Committee which sat under the Chairmanship of Sir Frederick Lewis, now Lord Essendon—that amalgamations would make more feasible good arrangements for the selling of coal. The noble Earl opposite said that there was nothing in that point because nowas things are, it is impossible for a company to sell an ounce of coal without the approval of the selling agencies set up in the various districts, so that in that respect amalgamations will be of no assistance.I think on considering the matter the noble Earl will find that his point is not a sound one. In certain districts—and some of the most important districts—it is true that selling is vested in a central organisation, but in a large number of districts that is not so. In those districts collieries sell their own coal through their own salesmen to their own customers, subject to the requirements of a permit issued by a controlling authority for each sale. Therefore selling arrangements of individual collieries are of importance in this connection. That applies to Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, South Wales, Warwickshire Cannock Chase, North Staffordshire, Somerset, Bristol, Kent, North Wales and Cumberland. I ought to have made it clear that I was not speaking of the country as a whole but only of certain districts, but to those districts my observation did apply.
Noble Lords opposite who object to compulsory amalgamations seem to have a profound suspicion of the Commission under whose auspices they are now being brought about and of the successors of that Commission in future. Indeed the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, seems to hold in abhorence the Civil Service, whom he described as bureaucrats and parasites eating up the national income. The present Coal Commission which is endeavouring to effect these amalgamations consists of Sir Ernest Gowers, who indeed is a civil servant, and one of the highest character and capacity, but the other Commissioners, who are part-time officers, 342 are Mr. Laurence Holt, director of the Blue Funnel and other steamship lines, and an ex-Lord Mayor of Liverpool; Mr. Joseph Jones, President of the Miners' Federation; Sir Felix Pole, Chairman of Associated Electrical Industries and formerly General Manager of the Great Western Railway; and Sir William Whyte, a Scottish solicitor who has taken a prominent part in local government activities in Scotland. They are not in the least the type of hide-hound bureaucrats knowing nothing of industry who have been described by the noble Lord who has just spoken. There is no reason to think that the new Commission which will be constituted will not consist of men of the same character and capacity.
One special regret I have in relation to the discussions in this House on this Bill arises from the fact that the only Amendment with which I myself troubled your Lordships was defeated by a small majority. It was an Amendment which dealt with the ultimate allocation of any surplus revenues that may remain after the specific requirements in the Statute have been disposed of. I urged that that surplus should be at the disposal of the State as a whole and not, as indicated—although not enacted in the Bill—he at the disposition of the mining industry itself. It appeared to many people that it ought to be regarded as national property and not as the property of any particular industry. That was defeated by forty-nine votes to thirty-five, and the minority were a most remarkable Lobby, including noble Lords on the Front Bench representing the Labour Party, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, and many of his associates, some of those who sit on these Benches and many noble Lords from the other side. There never has been such a Lobby in which lions and lambs entered so amicably together.
If we were not successful in this matter, which does not deal with any immediate or any early issue but with an ultimate and perhaps distant issue, at any rate we have placed it on the records of Parliament that a number of members of your Lordships' House, belonging to various Parties and expressing various points of view, are of opinion that this revenue should ultimately belong to the community as a whole and not to any particular industry. That is placed on record for the information of those who come after us. 343 The aim of this measure, I believe, is to promote better planning and better organisation of this great national industry, and I believe it will redound to the welfare of those engaged in it and of the country as a whole.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just sat down has traversed a good deal of the ground which was traversed on the occasion of the Second Reading debate on this Bill. If I may say so, a large portion of his remarks was founded on what was a totally false premiss. He began by saying that the demand of those of us who have represented to your Lordships that the purchase price of this coal is inadequate is that royalty owners should receive on the transfer of their property to the Coal Commission an equal income to that which they had before, as well secured, as stable and as continuous. I think you can search the speeches which have been made from this quarter of the House with the greatest assiduity and you will never find that claim. We have never claimed that the royalty owners were to be put in the same position on the transfer of their property to the State as they were in before. What we have said, and what we continue to repeat, is that the number of years' purchase which is given is inadequate.
The noble Viscount was at pains to explain to us that these mining royalties are a diminishing asset, and he instanced very forcibly the figures given on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. One might have thought, from what the noble Viscount said, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had no feeling of grievance about the Bill which is now before Parliament. I have here the remarks which fell from the most reverend Primate, and he made it very clear to your Lordships that he was grievously disappointed. He explained that most reluctantly he was not able to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. He said he was greatly disappointed with the award, which would inflict grievous loss upon the Church, upon people who were very ill able to afford the loss. If the most reverend Primate did not feel able to oppose the Bill, it was because the Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had been intimately connected with the working of the Mineral Owners' Joint 344 Committee and the most reverend Primate therefore felt himself bound.
Then the noble Viscount referred to some remark of my noble friend Lord Hastings and mentioned that he—the noble Viscount—was of opinion that the Government had made a great concession to the royalty owners in regard to the vesting date. What the noble Viscount did not remind the House of was the remark of my noble friend when he suggested that, if to continue to receive one's royalties was in fact to receive additional compensation, then the Government might well postpone the vesting date for fifteen years. Let the royalty owners, he said, enjoy their royalties during those years, and full compensation would have been paid. The noble Viscount did not remind us of that. Of course, with great respect to the noble Viscount, it is rubbish to say that postponing the vesting date for three and a half years is an addition to the compensation. All that it is doing is to postpone for three and a half years the date at which this injustice will be perpetrated.
Then there was the Death Duties argument. That, one must admit, is a good debating point, and that is about all that it is. Death Duties, upon any scale which hurts, have not been levied for more than a comparatively few years, and only a small proportion of existing royalties have fallen under the Death Duty levy. A large section of the royalties—we know now it is one-eighth, or 12 per cent.—are accounted for by the freehold coal which is the property of the colliery companies. Colliery companies do not die, in the sense that they do not become liable to Death Duties; therefore that section of the royalties has never been tested in the Death Duty test. Nor has a great deal else. It is not fair to present the Death Duties argument as the complete answer which superficially it may appear to be. There are other considerations. In assessing Death Duties there is a large element of buying and selling. This ground has been gone over before, and it is quite untrue for the noble Viscount to say that the Death Duty argument has never been answered. It has been answered and it has been traversed.
I do not think this is the time to go all through the Second Reading debate, but if the noble Viscount is so concerned to 345 tell your Lordships that the price is a fair one, I think I must repeat once more, very shortly, the reasons why I maintain that the price is not a fair one. The Greene Committee were instructed to value royalties in terms of a number of years' purchase of the global figure of £4,300,000—
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
No, it was £4,430,000. The noble Lord has made the same mistake as he made before.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I am most obliged to the noble Earl, who has now corrected me twice and altered the figure from £4,300,000 to £4,430,000. I do not think it is a matter of such importance as to require two corrections, but I will try to remember it for another time. At all events the global figure—perhaps I had better refer to it as "the global figure," and then I shall not make the same mistake again—was valued at fifteen years' purchase, and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack told us—I do not dispute it; it is perfectly correct—that the coal as a whole represents a perpetuity. The holding of the individual royalty owner represents a terminable annuity. The Greene Committee were instructed to value the whole coal, and they said fifteen years' purchase. I believe it to be admitted—at all events it is the assertion of a number of experts whose authority would be very difficult to dispute—that there is a perpetuity in the existing leases which are being worked to-day and under which royalties are paid. If that is so, then fifteen years' purchase is being paid for the perpetuity in the existing leases, and it leaves separate and unaccounted for the whole of the reserves of coal which are not in lease to-day, which are undeveloped, and which are quite clearly additional to the coal in leases which is being acquired by the Government. Nothing, I should have thought, could more clearly demonstrate the fact that this property is being taken over at less than its real value.
I find myself in agreement with so much that was said by my noble friend Lord Snell that I am very sorry to have to express disagreement on just one of the things which he said, and which he said only in passing. The noble Lord referred to his Party and its devotion to the principle of the interests of the nation as contrasted with the interests of one 346 particular class. Your Lordships, I understand the noble Lord to mean, are devoted more to the interests of a particular class than to the interests of the nation as a whole. The only comment I have to make upon that is that in my opinion there never was so obvious a class Party as the Party of my noble friend. Why, they call themselves the Labour Party; they never, or seldom, call themselves the Socialist Party. They call themselves the Labour Party in an attempt to maintain that they, and they alone, represent the working men of the country, I only mention that in passing; otherwise I find myself in very happy agreement with most of the things which the noble Lord said.
The noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack said some very gracious things about the small Party down at this end of the House, who have had, I am afraid, all too much to say on this Bill. First of all he said—and I was delighted to hear it—that the Bill had been greatly improved. That is indeed a satisfactory announcement. From the way in which the noble and learned Lord spoke, one would think that this was a Private Member's Bill which had been picked up by the Government and out of which all the amateurishness, irrelevancies and inaccuracies had been removed by a paternal authority who had put the thing into order and were now going to offer it for the Royal Assent. Nobody could have imagined that this was the Government's own Bill, which had survived the whole of its stages in another place, and which nevertheless was found to contain so many of these important matters which have been left to your Lordships to put right. The noble and learned Lord concluded with a reference to the civil war which has been conducted here, and was kind enough to express the hope that the party, the vanquished party I suppose, should be allowed to march out with flags flying and drums beating. I was glad to hear that, because that is what should happen at the termination of hostilities, and I conclude from that that we are now dealing with the final stages of this Bill, and therefore there is no intention of sending it back to another place. Otherwise how can the hostilities have terminated and the flags fly and the drums beat? Perhaps my conclusion on that heading is a little premature.
347 I do not want to keep your Lordships, but I must traverse one thing that the noble and learned Lord said, and that is with reference to the competence of the Mineral Owners' Joint Committee. Surely by this time it must be realised that the competence of that Committee is very seriously inpugned. The noble Earl, the Leader of the House, said that they represented some 70 to 80 per cent. of the value of the royalties, but no one knows what proportion of the number of royalty owners the Committee represented, and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack admitted that in the work before the Greene Committee there was no independent representation of the owners of undeveloped coal, as such. Therein resides the greatest objection to the method by which the compensation was arrived at.
The noble and learned Lord asked what were the Government to do. They submitted the matter to a competent Tribunal and by the result of that investigation they were bound to abide. I should have thought there was a course open to the Government. It was suggested, I thought, that we had pressed the Government to increase the compensation. We have never done anything of the kind. We never asked your Lordships to reject this Bill on the Second Reading, and there is no Motion for its rejection on the Third Reading. What we have been seeking to do is iron out some of the minor injustices and examples of bureaucratic departmentalism which disfigure the Bill. We have never asked for more money. What could the Government have done? I should have thought that from the moment when they discovered that the Mineral Owners' Joint Committee was not a representative Committee, that nobody had taken the trouble to refer to the individual mineral owners, and that this Committee had not a constitution which enabled it to bind its members, and no express power to bind the whole of the royalty owners in the country, they might have thought again, and thought twice and thrice, before bringing before your Lordships and another place this measure which we have claimed is manifestly unfair, and treats the royalty owners in a way which they had no reason whatever to expect from a Government which contains so 348 great a Conservative, and therefore justice-loving, element.
I must remind your Lordships that at an early stage of the debates on this Bill I asked the noble Earl who leads the House whether he, as a reasonable man, could recommend this Bill to your Lordships as reasonable men. He has never felt himself able to give that assurance. He has always sheltered himself behind the Greene Committee, oblivious of the fact that there is the best reason for feeling that the Greene Committee's award covers but a very small part of the Bill, and that inadequately. I wonder whether there has ever been a major measure of any Government of which the Leader of the House of Lords did not feel able, before the Third Reading in this House, to say that as a reasonable man he presented it to your Lordships as reasonable men, for acceptance.
Now I suppose the campaign is not yet closed. I suppose that this Bill is going back to another place, and that another place is going to be asked to make some alterations. If that be so all I have to say to your Lordships is that we need not fear the issue of any controversy which may ensue. The merits of this case have never been before the country. It so happens that the Press of this country is divided more or less into two sections. One section supports the Government; another section does not. The section which does not support the Government has no love for the royalty owners. It has not been to the interest of that section to let the country know that there is a case against Part I of this Bill. The other section of the Press supports the Government, and it has not been to the interest of that section to show that the Government have done the shameful thing which they have done; with the result that the debates in this House have never been reported. We have had Division after Division, and they have been passed over without mention, whether in newspapers of the Left or of the Right. But if this is going to lead to controversy between the two Houses it will become an issue such as the public have a right to be informed of, and I repeat that we in this House have no reason to fear the light of public opinion on the alterations that we have made in his Bill. I hope that the campaign is ended, and that we shall not have to fight again the battles that we 349 have fought during the last few weeks, but if we do I have no fear of the result. For myself I should be willing to go on public platforms in any part of the country and to justify these Amendments, and I feel that that is what it will come to if the Government try to reverse the decision of your Lordships in another place. This matter will then have to go before the forum of public opinion.
§ VISCOUNT HORNE OF SLAMANNAN
My Lords, I presume to utter one sentence only at this stage in the progress of this Bill. As we have been gratified to hear, the Lord Chancellor has been good enough to say that this Bill has been very much improved in its progress through this House, and he paid a handsome tribute to those of us who are temporarily occupying these Benches. As it seems to me, that sentence from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack completely justifies all the criticisms that we have put forward from these Benches. But it does riot merely do that, it does something which perhaps in one sense, from the point of view of what my noble friend has just said, is much more valuable, that is to say, it sweeps away in their entirety the kind of ignorant criticisms to which your Lordships have been subjected in some portions of the Press. Before sitting down I should just like to pay my own personal tribute to the Lord Chancellor for the patience and courtesy with which he has listened to our arguments.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I should also like to pay my own tribute to the Lord Chancellor for the good humour with which he has debated this Bill under very difficult circumstances. It is a technical subject, and with great legal acumen he has argued it from the legal point of view, especially in connection with his main contention that the global figure which was established by the Greene Committee had to be accepted. I do not want to express any very strong opinions on the Third Reading, although I still maintain that this Bill will serve no good purpose in the coal trade. It certainly will not benefit the miners, and in my opinion it will not help to improve the organisation of colliery operations.
But there are one or two statements which have been made by my noble friend on my left (Viscount Samuel) on which I think I ought to express a contrary view. He alluded to the output 350 of coal, and he regarded the global figure, £4,430,000, as a fair figure. In the speech which I made on Second Reading I pointed out that it was a very unfair figure, because during the period of seven years before 1937, which had been taken as the average, great concessions had been made voluntarily by royalty owners, abatements made not in accord with their lease terms, but the figures were accepted by the Treasury as accurate figures. No doubt they were accurate figures at the time, but I pointed out that even the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to my knowledge had given 25 per cent. abatement of their revenue in certain cases in order to help the coal industry and to help the miners to be employed, in this period of great depression through which we have passed. I further pointed out that if they had taken the year 1937, instead of the previous seven years, it would have been a very considerably larger sum than £4,430,000 upon which to base their fifteen years' purchase, and a much higher figure would have been justified at once as due to the royalty owners.
I therefore have contended all the way through this Bill that whilst the Greene Tribunal was an excellent Tribunal in itself, the points that were put before it upon which they were to base their fifteen years' purchase were not a fair indication of the condition of the coal trade. And I further contend that we ought not to assume that the output of coal which is now to be handed over to the Commission is going to diminish in quantity. I believe the amount of coal which will be produced under the Commission will be greater in the future than it has been even in the past. There is no reason why the output of coal should diminish. Although there are many saving appliances in connection with its use, at the same time the demand in connection with electricity is enormous, and the demand for small coal is much bigger than it ever was before. We are on the verge of establishing a system of obtaining oil from coal in increasing quantities, and there is no reason to apprehend that the property which has been taken over from the royalty owners has not got a very much greater value than that which will be paid for it.
My main desire this afternoon, however, is to thank the Government because 351 in one particular they have tried to be fair and to give a fair deal in connection with the working proprietors' coal. They have told us that we will not be in a better or worse position owing to the transfer of our freehold coal. We accept that, and although they have refused a system of peppercorn rent as a better method of securing that object, at any rate they have tried to meet us. I want to acknowledge that in my final word in connection with the passing of this Bill.
§ LORD ADDISON
My Lords, there are one or two comments which I would like to add in support of what my noble friend behind me has said with respect to this Bill, because we note that it contains one very remarkable innovation, and I think the Third Reading of the Bill is a stage at which one might appropriately say a word about it. It is also accompanied by another and exceedingly unfortunate characteristic. As to the Bill being badly drafted, I cordially agree with what the noble Lords, Lord Balfour and Lord Snell, have said. For my part, with a fairly long and intimate experience of Bills passing through Parliament, I have never known a Bill which had to be chopped about so remorselessly as this one; and I must say that I felt a glow of pleasure when I heard the Lord Chancellor speak with satisfaction of the increased clarity which had been introduced into some of the clauses, mentioning particularly as the subject of his eulogium Clause 5.
I would commend to your Lordships this example of conspicuous and improved clarity:Where a direction might be given both as respects interests arising under a lease and as respects interests arising under a lease derived out of that lease, a direction shall not be given as respects the former unless a direction has been given or is to be given as respects the latter also.I confess that I had that paragraph in mind, and when I looked it up I felt a glow of satisfaction that the noble and learned Lord was pleased.
But, apart from the clumsiness of the Bill, there are two features of it which are of first-rate importance. The first is with regard to the principle of compensation. On another occasion in a friendly aside I said that as the result of listening to three days' debates more or less I thought the mineral owners had had 352 rather a raw deal, and I do. And may I just say a word on that matter, because it is very important? We Socialists—I accept the correction in title—believe that minerals should belong to the nation, and for that reason, apart from all the other trimmings and criticisms, we shall support this Bill. We believe, for example, that land should belong to the nation, particularly agricultural land, in which I myself am interested—we may be wrong, and I am not saying whether we are wrong or right—and the proposals which we have elaborated and talked about with great care are to the effect that the land should be purchased at a fair valuation for what it is worth, and that as a Party we are committed to recommend the nation to pay whenever that happy day arrives. But this Bill introduces quite a different principle in compensation. I am not saying whether the global figure is too little or too much: I express no opinion upon it.
This Bill embodies this principle: you say, for example, that the agricultural land of this country is worth x millions —£800,000,000 if you like—and you allot so much out of a lump sum to Lincolnshire. In this case you allot so much out of a lump sum to Yorkshire and you say, "We will allow that to be allotted to Yorkshire for the payment of all the mineral rights in Yorkshire." The plea on which that method is adopted is that it was not possible to value the different properties, but the case itself enshrines the necessity of so doing before you can distribute any of the money. Everybody, even if he owns a little bit of land, gets a buff paper on Schedule A some time or other which is based on a valuation, and to pretend that, with the existence of this fact, you cannot value all the different coal-mining properties for the purpose of paying the owners whatever their properties may be deemed to be worth is a pretence, I say with great respect, which has no support in actual daily experience. To value these royalties would be a bagatelle as compared with, for example, valuing all the agricultural land in the country. What the royalty owners have been inveigled into doing is acceptance of a lump sum as allotted to the whole district, to be paid, not on the value of their property, but in so far as that property is affected by the value of somebody else's property. That is a remarkable and novel method of paying 353 compensation, and we Socialists note it with surprise as coming from a Conservative Government. We, no doubt, will read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. But I am quite sure of this, that when the royalty owners, however the Committee may have been constituted—I know nothing about that—embarked on this process, little did they calculate that they were committed to this extraordinarily novel form of payment of compensation. That is what I meant when I said they had had a raw deal, and the ricochet of this raw deal, I can prophesy with much confidence, will not be pleasant.
There is another feature of the Bill, and the only other one on which I will comment at any length, and that is the disregard displayed with reference to the tens of thousands of miners who will be affected by the operation of the Bill. I would like to say that we on these Benches acknowledge the support we received from noble Lords, below the gangway on that. The country knows the attitude of the Government with regard to the protestations of some of the noble Lords, extraordinarily skilfully presented, I know; but all sorts of concessions have been made. Copyholders have got off scot free. How much that concession amounts to I do not know, but before the Government made that exemption they ought to have been able to give us some indication of how much coal this exemption will apply to. The reason they have not clone so, I am quite certain, is that they do not know themselves. But it must be a considerable amount.
There have also been other concessions. I am not saying that the cases were not good cases. Some I am sure were good cases; but all kinds of allowances have been made for mortgagees and others, and for those represented by my noble friend below the gangway, the freeholders. They seem to have got off with a very extraordinary deal. It is not for me to say—we are merely members of the Opposition—but how a person who was previously his own landlord, and could put aside what he liked for rent, will still be in as good a position when he is the tenant of somebody else, and cannot do so, I cannot understand. If it works we shall be surprised. At all events, it was a concession, and I am not saying that it was not a right concession. But no single concession of any sort or 354 kind has been made to the workmen involved in this change. These amalgamations will undoubtedly affect miners. They must affect miners. If an amalgamation is economically sound—and that is the reason for making it—I take it that often it will mean that fewer men will be employed. It sometimes may well mean the dislocation of the social life of a whole district.
All we got in respect of that were some very friendly, nice words from the Leader of the House to the effect that he was quite sure they would take account of all these things. I hope they will. But that was no reason whatever for refusing to put into the Bill somewhere that when schemes of amalgamation were being worked out regard ought to be had to the extent to which they will dislocate or probably destroy the social life of the district, to the extent they will put miners out of work, and that sort of thing. There ought to have been an obligation somewhere or other in the Bill on those who draw up these schemes of amalgamation to take account of these important considerations. We are exceedingly disappointed that whilst the Government, no doubt out of political necessity—I am not denying it—perhaps out of a full and frank recognition of the justice of the case, have made very many concessions, some of them big concessions, they have not made a single concession in the whole Bill to the tens of thousands of workmen whose livelihood depends upon this industry. We have noted that with much regret. But for all that, because the Bill does bring these minerals under national ownership—I disregard the word "unification," it is national ownership of these minerals—the Party to which I belong will give it their support for what it is worth. At the same time we note the two outstanding features of the Bill so far as we are concerned—firstly, the introduction into British law and practice of an entirely different method of compensation for the acquisition of property by the nation; and, secondly, the complete disregard, so far as the Bill itself is concerned, of the livelihood and interests of the men who do the work.
§ LORD CROMWELL
My Lords, had there been a Motion for the rejection of this Bill this afternoon I should have hesitated to intervene in the debate because I feel that the speech to which we 355 have just listened would have been quite enough to take every reasonable member of your Lordships' House into the Lobby in support of the rejection of the measure. We have had from all quarters of the House universal condemnation of the Bill except from one voice, and though that voice does not sit in the wilderness it is nevertheless still only one voice. If the Government had been sincere in their desire to return this Bill to another place improved, workable, and equitable, one can see that very little, if any, would have been left of the original wording which appeared in the Bill when it first came before your Lordships' House. It is doubtful whether even the title itself would have been able to remain, because in fact from the title it is now very difficult to understand what is contained in the Bill. Very early in our proceedings, in discussing this Bill, the Government said they were prepared to consider any Amendment which might improve the Bill. I was glad to hear the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack say that the Bill had been very much changed, and that it had been much improved. One can fairly say that the majority of the Amendments put down were put down with the object of improving the Bill, but in spite of that none of the Amendments of any importance were conceded by the Government without very great moral pressure or, in most instances, without resort to the Lobby.
Perhaps it is a waste of time for me to continue the discussion any further, so much has already been said, but if I may crave the indulgence of the House for a few moments I should like to inform the Government—not that they mind—but for my own satisfaction, that there are members who have loyally supported them who sit on these Benches and have not migrated and who have their own view of this measure. The whole basis of the acquisition of the coal was to be that of a transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer. No one who has listened to these debates can have thought that either party could be thus described. Certainly the present owners are not willing to sell upon any consideration. Sale has been forced upon them. It is equally obvious that the Government are not willing buyers in the sense that they are prepared to give a proper price for the coal. If I may, I 356 will again refer to a statement made by the noble Viscount, Lord Horne. I am not going to use his exact words but to paraphrase them. In effect he said that whereas the royalty owners were bound by the award of the Greene Tribunal the Government made it quite plain that they themselves were not so bound. The noble Viscount, as your Lordships know, has a vast experience on which to draw. He also said that no reputable firm would have entertained this proposal for a moment. If one substitutes the word "Government" for the word "firm" that expresses my opinion. The much maligned Mineral Owners' Joint Committee did, it is true, say they would be bound by the award of the Tribunal, but I think one can say with confidence that they certainly would not have placed themselves in such a position if they had been negotiating with any party other than the Government, and the Government have, I think, used their privileged position to get a very one-sided bargain in their favour. They have been both judge and advocate all in one.
One word as to the future. With the possible exception of just one Amendment, I think that if this Bill comes back from another place with any of the Amendments which your Lordships have seen fit to insert in it deleted, their deletion should be resisted to the uttermost. If your Lordships are going to be asked to sacrifice your principles in order to avoid a clash between the two Houses, and if even the revising which is about all your Lordships can now do for a Bill is to be taken away from us—if the threat is to be held over us of a clash between the two Houses, then I say the sooner the clash comes or the sooner we shut up shop altogether the better. There is one notable omission which I must mention before I sit down. Both in the Committee and Report stages some of us made a very earnest attempt to ensure that the Government would insert in this Bill some clause that might alleviate the position of those people who will be put out of work owing to the effect of this measure when it comes into law. During the Committee stage we were defeated by one vote, and during the Report stage, when the Amendment was in a slightly different form, we were defeated by two or three votes. I do not think, personally, it is a very pleasant reflection for the Government, when there is a 357 large body of opinion in this House determined if they can to help the people whom this measure is to put out of work, to know that they make no gesture of any sort in that direction.
My Lords, I cannot let this Third Reading debate pass without saying a few words, and I do so because of the precedent which has been set up by this Bill, a precedent that was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Addison, in the speech he has just delivered. From the very beginning I have admitted that the Government had no option but to proceed with the unification of the coal royalties. I think that is a matter on which most members of your Lordships' House are agreed. But as to the other parts of the Bill, I have felt very strongly indeed from the commencement: I cannot see that a case has been made out for compulsory amalgamations, especially as the President of the Board of Trade in another place specifically said that he hoped these amalgamations would in spite of the Bill be upon a voluntary basis. And when it comes to the question of compensation, I feel that that particular issue has been dealt with in a manner that one could hardly have believed possible by any Government in this country, whether a National Government or a Socialist Government. Indeed we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Addison, this afternoon, repeating what he said on a former occasion, that the coal royalties owners have had a raw deal. We all know they have had a raw deal, but what I cannot understand is how this basis of compensation was allowed to go forward by the present Government.
We are told that the Greene Committee reported in favour of it, but we have not been favoured with their Report, nor are we able to judge for ourselves how they arrived at the basis of compensation. It comes to this, that in the future any Government desiring to acquire private property, whether it be land or the undertakings of electrical companies or anything else owned by private individuals, have merely to set up an arbitration Committee, ask that Committee to report on what they consider to be the value of the properties the Government wish to take over, and, having received that Report, say: "We must abide by the advice of the Committee." What 358 may not that lead us to in the future? If you have a Government not altogether nice in their ways of doing things, if I may put it in that way, they may appoint a Committee on which there are gentlemen all of whom think like the Government, or perhaps think even in a little more advanced way than the Government themselves, so that the Government have only to give a hint to that Committee that they wish compensation to be assessed on this or that basis. Then will arise a case once more in which it will be said: "The Committee have advised the payment of compensation on such and such a basis, and therefore we must pay it on that basis." It seems to me that that has been the result in this case and that is why we have this raw deal to-day. It is not because they have regarded it from the point of view I have just expressed, but because the Government themselves have not examined the Committee's Report in the way in which in my judgment they should have done.
We have listened in this House for several days and several nights to speeches made by noble Lords who understand this subject better than many, or perhaps most, other people in the country. Their criticisms have proved, at any rate to myself, even if I thought otherwise before, that the basis of compensation to the royalty owners is not a fair basis, that the payment which they will receive under this Bill does not compensate them fairly and squarely. I have spoken these words because I visualise other measures of this kind coming forward in the future, and if that should happen I wish it to be made quite clear as far as I am concerned that I will do all I can to defeat them if they are based on compensation methods such as have been incorporated in this Bill. It is really because a precedent may be set for the future, and quite apart from the question of justice for the present, that I have spoken these words and that I shall reluctantly see this Bill go on the Statute Book.
I would like to make one further remark with regard to what the noble Lord, Lord Cromwell, said about this measure going to another place. He said something about a clash with another place. I do not think he was speaking with absolute consideration when he made that statement. I do not think there is any one in your Lordships' House who would welcome thoughtlessly a clash with 359 another place, and I do not see a clash arising on this occasion with another place. I hope and believe that these Amendments that have been passed after long discussions and great thought and great deliberation, when they get to another place will be received in the spirit in which we send them there. That there should be any clash between this House and another place I hope will never come into question.
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, I think no one will deny that this Bill has received adequate consideration by your Lordships. Practically the whole of ten Parliamentary days have been devoted to the Bill and the speeches made filled more than 85o columns in the OFFICIAL REPORT before we began to-day's proceedings. At the Second Reading stage I said that the Government would be ready to listen to any proposals and Amendments put forward which would improve the Bill. I think no one will deny that the Government have more than fully met that promise. We considered more than 120 Amendments on the Committee stage and over one hundred further Amendments on the Report stage. Many of those Amendments were moved on behalf of the Government and many others were accepted by us.
One remark I would like to make at once. There has been considerable criticism from various parts of the House with regard to the drafting of this Bill. I am assured by my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack that this is perhaps one of the most complicated measures which have come before your Lordships' House during the last one hundred years. Certainly there has never been a Bill which I have found so difficult to understand or one within my experience which deals with such complicated questions of chancery law, the law of property and other things which are extraordinarily difficult to put into a Bill. When it is suggested that Amendments have been necessary because the draftsmanship was bad, may I remind your Lordships that the mere fact of accepting one Amendment means very often that a whole series of other Amendments have to be put into the Bill? Therefore when we talk about pages of Amendments do not let it be said that they were necessary because of bad draftsmanship, but because we have accepted Amendments of very considerable 360 importance which have necessitated other Amendments.
The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition remarked that a few determined men who know what they want can achieve much. I suspect that he was rather breaking the tenth Commandment when he said that, and that he was hoping that the few and determined men whom he leads would also be able to achieve much if they had the same cohesion as the noble Lords who sit, as they say, on Olympus. But we know from past experience that when his forces are increased by those who attend our debates rather infrequently, they by no means speak with one voice but with almost as many voices as there are people sitting behind him. Only to-day the noble Lord, Lord Addison, got up to make an explanation of what he meant by a "raw deal." I suspect that not all of his Party took the same view as regards a raw deal as he did when he expressed it and in the ingenious explanation he gives now he tries to ride off on the question of how the whole of the valuation is arrived at.
§ EARL STANHOPE
Then I am mistaken, but I understood that; a large number of members of the noble Lord's Party, so far from thinking that fifteen years was too little—
§ LORD ADDISON
That was not what I said, if I may be allowed to interrupt. I do not care whether fifteen years is too much or too little. The point was that they had been let in for this method of division whereby the amount a man will receive for his property is not dependent upon its value but upon the value of some one else's property.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I quite understand the noble Lord's explanation now, but if he looks at their letter in The Times he will see that that is not the way in which it was accepted by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, or the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, nor is it the interpretation which I think will be put on it by the ordinary man in the street who reads what the noble Lord said. However, I am quite prepared to accept the noble Lord's new interpretation. I am not going over the full story again, because it has been debated at almost 361 interminable length in your Lordships' House. I would, however, remind your Lordships that no one has contested that these proposals were originally put forward on behalf of mineral owners—I do not say all mineral owners—that there should be a global figure, that the global figure would be the best system of valuation, that it should then be divided up into regions and then into individual properties, and that if it were found impossible to agree on a figure between the owners and the Government the matter should be sent to arbitration. The arbitration Tribunal was agreed by both sides. It was only when the final figure came out as the result of the Report of the Greene Tribunal that we began to hear objections.
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, challenges me to say whether as a reasonable man I think this a reasonable measure, and he said that I hide behind the Greene Committee. On this question I do hide behind the Greene Committee to the extent that I have not read the evidence before that Committee, that I have not read or seen the papers put before them before they arrived at that decision. If I set up to say that this is the right figure or the wrong figure, I should require to read and study the whole of those papers, and I have not clone so. I am satisfied that this matter was put before reasonable men for a decision and that they were given ample evidence on which to arrive at that decision, that that evidence was put before them by both sides and that they arrived at a decision. In my opinion—it can only be an opinion —I think that in years to come noble Lords who now oppose this Bill will see that they have by no means had such a raw deal as they now think that they have had, and I should not be at all surprised if the Government are not then accused of having made a bad bargain and of having given too much. I do not in the least agree, so far as I can see the trend of what is happening in business and in regard to the coal industry in particular, with what Lord Gainford has told your Lordships: that he thinks that the amount of coal which will be produced will be increased. Of course, the amount of coal produced may increase and can increase, but can it be sold? That is the only thing that matters. As I have said more than once in the course of these proceedings, we have realised over and over again how 362 easy it is to flood the whole market with coal. That is why the whole of this inquiry has had to be held and these bodies set up to regulate the output of coal.
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, said that he saw very little difference between a global figure of £4,300,000 and £4,430,000. It is only a small point, but of course, when you multiply that figure by fifteen years, it is £1,950,000. Therefore I should have thought that would have been an addition to the global figure which at any rate would not have been refused by the royalty owners. The Government would have thought it a very material increase indeed. He said that they had never asked for more money. I agree; it is true that he has never mentioned a particular figure of what the value of this property should be. But I must point out to your Lordships that over and over again, from the heights of Olympus where, so they claim, those four noble Lords sit, there have been bitter complaints of the amount of the global figure and of royalty owners not receiving the value for their property to which they are entitled. That obviously means that the price is too low and ought to be much higher. Therefore I think it is hardly fair to say that they have never actually asked for more money.
Two noble Lords opposite both said that no alteration had been made except for the benefit of the royalty owners. Of course this Bill deals almost entirely with the royalty owners except in regard to the amalgamation of coal companies. But I must point out that, as we have made the amalgamations more easy, so of course the profits of coal, if our expectations are fulfilled, will increase, and a very large proportion of the increase is devoted to an increase in the payment of wages of those engaged in the coal industry. The noble Lord, Lord Gainford, again raised the question of the seven years that were chosen for the global figure. May I again remind him that those years were themselves chosen by the Mineral Owners' Joint Committee, as appears in that pamphlet which I showed to your Lordships before, circulated with a preface by my noble friend Lord Hastings? And, of course, so I am informed, the fact that there were bad years in these seven years was very fully represented before the Greene Commission, and no doubt it was 363 argued on the other side that those were average years and therefore should not be discounted too much.
Lord Cromwell remarked that no Amendments had been accepted by the Government except under pressure or as a result of Divisions. I do not quite know where he has been during the course of our proceedings. I heard some very long speeches from him more than once; I suppose that after he delivered them he left the House.
§ LORD CROMWELL
If I might be allowed to say so, I have not missed one single speech or minute of these debates.
§ EARL STANHOPE
All I can say is that the noble Lord cannot have followed it with the care which I should have expected from him, because a very large number of Amendments were accepted without any hesitation by the Government. In consultation with my noble and learned friend, we came to the conclusion that various improvements could be made to the Bill, and though sometimes those suggestions came from various quarters of the House and not from the noble and learned Lord or myself, I think that noble Lords would agree that we were by no means slow in accepting those Amendments when they were put forward. I do not propose to weary your Lordships by going through the many Amendments which have been accepted. They have been referred to by my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, though I think perhaps he was too kind in shortening his remarks unduly by not putting in various Amendments which I thought were of considerable importance but which he did not mention. I recognise, however, that he feels that he has filled many columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT with the speeches which he has made to your Lordships, and I am only glad that from several quarters of the House great tribute has been paid to him for the immense help he has been to your Lordships, the great knowledge which he has of all these matters, and his patience and consideration in putting them forward to us.
That leads me to this point. It has been said outside in many quarters that your Lordships have taken a great deal of time over this Bill because it affects your private pockets. It is true that there have been a number of speeches made to meet 364 the arguments which have been put forward with great skill and force by those who have opposed this Bill from beginning to end, or who at any rate dislike practically the whole of it. But a very large amount of your Lordships' time has been spent in improving, clarifying or rectifying the extraordinarily difficult provisions which have to be included in a Bill of this character. It is for this reason that I should like to impress, not only on this House but also on the public outside, that once again this House has fulfilled its duty, in the way in which it always does, of improving and clarifying measures, whether they come up from a Government Department or from a private Member of Parliament. I trust that in the criticism which is made of our proceedings on this Bill, it will be remembered that on behalf, not by any means of the mineral owners only but also on behalf of the public at large, we have endeavoured to improve this Bill and we have taken up a great deal of your Lordships' time in considering it with the care and attention which it has received.
There is only one more remark which I am afraid I must make in my duty as Leader of this House. That relates to the bitter attack that was again made by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, against the Civil Service. We who are in public life are quite prepared to have things said against us, whether we deserve them or not. That is part of our lot when we are in public life. But an attack such as he again made this evening on the Civil Service is one that I hope will not be repeated in your Lordships' House. Those who have the privilege of working with civil servants know how extraordinarily able they are, how loyal they are, and, whatever their political convictions may be, how they endeavour to carry out their duty to the State without fear, without favour and without affection. Therefore I trust that we shall not again have an attack of that kind. I would close by saying that I trust that the care which the House has given to this Bill will be recognised as being not merely in support of any individual's rights but for the improvement of legislation, and that your Lordships will prove that you accept the general principles of this Bill, whatever you may think about the detail, by passing it without any further Division.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a.365
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, I do not know if it be your Lordships' wish to go on with the Amendments. Most of them are of a drafting character, and they ought not to take more than half an hour or forty minutes, so far as I can judge.
§ Clause 2 [General provisions as to functions of the Commission under Part I]:
Page 2, line 23, leave out ("and performance").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause II [Apportionment of rent and determination of questions on severance of subsisting leases]:
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, this is also drafting, and its purpose is to correct an obvious slip. It is really a printer's error.
Page 12, line 40, leave out ("valuation") and insert ("vesting").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 28 [Purposes for which the Commission may borrow]:
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, this Amendment is consequential upon a new Clause 10 which was assented to on behalf of the Government.
§ Amendment mived—
Page 28, line 3, at end insert—
("(f) the payment of any sums payable by the Commission in respect of assignments to them of debts due in respect of rent payable before the vesting date;").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 34 [Restriction on working of coal vested in statutory undertakers]:
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, there are four Amendments to this clause, and each of them is a purely drafting Amendment.
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 30, line 24, leave out ("commencement") and insert ("date of the passing")
§ Page 30, line 42, leave out ("commencement") and insert ("date of the passing")366
§ Page 31, line 8, leave out ("commencement") and insert ("date of the passing")
§ Page 31, line 24, leave out ("to the making good or paying proper compensation for") and insert ("or the payment of proper compensation for, or the making good of,").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
Page 34, line 26, leave out ("commencement") and insert ("date of the passing").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 41 [Persons to act for purposes of valuations, etc., in case of death or incapacity]:
Page 33, line 4o, leave out the first ("to") and insert ("Fourth and").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 45 [Interpretation of Part I]:
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, there are two Amendments to this clause, and both are merely drafting.
Page 41, line 18, after ("and") insert ("any")
Page 41, line 19, after ("or") insert ("other").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 46:
§ Application of Part I to Scotland.
§ 46.—(1) The provisions of this section shall have effect for the purpose of the application of this Part of this Act to Scotland.
§ (6) For references to the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act 1845, and to Section eighty thereof there shall be substituted respectively references to the Lands Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act, 1845, and to Section seventy-nine thereof; for references to the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, and to Sections seventy-eight to eighty-five thereof there shall he substituted respectively references to the Railways Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act, 1845, and to Sections seventy-one to seventy-eight thereof; for any reference to the High Court there shall be substituted a reference to the Court of Session.367
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, at the end of subsection (6), to insert "and for any reference to a receiver of the rents and profits of premises there shall be substituted a reference to a judicial factor." The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this is a necessary addition to the clause relating to the application of Part I to Scotland, consequential on the new Clause 22 (Power of the Court to appoint a receiver and manager on the application of the Commission). I see that the noble Viscount, Lord Horne, is present, and if anybody wants to make any query with reference to this Amendment he can probably be referred to the noble Viscount.
Page 43, line 37, at end, insert the said words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
VISCOUNT HORNE OF SLAMANNAN moved to insert:
("(15) The aggregate of the values of (a) any coal or mine of coal and any property and rights vested in the Commission by virtue of this Act, and (b) any erections or structural improvements used exclusively for the purpose of working or cleaning such coal, entered in any Valuation Roll or Supplementary Valuation Roll for any period eliding after the vesting date, shall not exceed the value or values at which such coal, mine of coal, property and rights and such erections or improvements would have been so entered if this Act had not passed, and, notwithstanding anything contained in Section six of the Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1854, as amended by any subsequent enactment, no entry shall be made in any such roll in respect of erections or structural improvements used exclusively for the purpose of working or cleaning coal by reason only of the fact, that in consequence of the vesting of the coal in the Commission under this Act, the land on which the said erections or structural improvements are situated is not included in the lease of the coal.
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I do not propose to inflict upon the House again a disquisition upon the Scottish law of valuation. Luckily I am absolved from that duty because I have discussed this matter with the Lord Advocate, and he has met me in a most reasonable spirit. In fact, when two Scotsmen get together reason generally triumphs. Accordingly I hope the Government will be prepared to accept this Amendment.
Page 44, line 42, at end insert the said new subsection (15).—(Viscount Horne of Slamannan.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 49 [Powers of the Commission as to obtaining confirmation for purposes of Part II]:
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the first of the Amendments to this clause is a drafting Amendment. The second is required to carry out a promise given by the Government on Report that the Commission, in giving notice of inspection, should also specify beforehand what information they wished to obtain. I do not think it is controversial.
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 47, line 8, leave out ("giving notice to") and insert ("serving upon")
§ Page 47, line 9, after ("undertaking") insert ("a notice showing the general nature of the information required,").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.