HL Deb 24 May 1938 vol 109 cc340-455

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion made by Lord Hastings on Thursday last, That it be an instruction to the Committee to leave out so much of the Bill as relates to the unification of coal mining royalties, that is to say, Clauses 2 to 41 and Schedules two to six.


My Lords, in the course of the debates in another place the position has been taken up by the Government that Part I of the Bill, referred to in the Motion before your Lordships' House, is justified by the award which was given by the Greene Committee. When, as a royalty owner, I have had occasion to discuss the question with any other person, I have always met with the objection that the royalty owners can take no objection to what is proposed in the Bill because the whole matter is chose jugée, having been impartially considered and decided by the Greene Committee; that that Committee had the matter referred to it by agreement; that the terms of reference were agreed; that the whole of the relevant evidence was considered by that impartial and weighty tribunal; and that a decision was given which the royalty owners are now bound to accept. Further, it is understood that Part I of the Bill contains nothing but what was approved by the judgment of the Greene Committee.

In the course of the debate on the Second Reading I ventured to suggest to the Government that we should like an assurance, as from reasonable men to reasonable men, that Part I of the Bill was such as could in that spirit be recommended and adopted. The noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, in his reply felt unable to give us that assurance. I am not quoting what the noble Earl said; I am paraphrasing him, but I do not think I am misrepresenting him. He said that this matter of the purchase of royalties was of such a technical character that no member of the Government was competent to judge what the proper solution should be, and that therefore they adopted the finding of the Greene Committee. What I want to do this afternoon is to show your Lordships that the mantle of the Greene Committee can by no means be thrown over the whole of Part I and that that mantle has in fact been vitiated, has been exploded, by matters which have come to the notice of your Lordships in the course of the debate on the Second Reading and on this Motion.

The principal point to which I wish to direct your Lordships' attention concerns the undeveloped coal. It is the point to which I referred in my speech on the Second Reading, and which was referred to with greater force than that of which I am capable by the noble Marquess opposite, Lord Lothian, and has, I venture to say, not received from the Government the attention which it deserves. There were points which were not before the Greene Committee. First of all there is the question of duress. I suggested, without knowledge of the facts, that duress must have been applied to the mineral owners prior to the appointment of the Greene Committee. Lord Stanhope poured scorn on the suggestion. Since then, your Lordships have heard what the noble Lord, Lord Cromwell, had to say. He challenged the Government to deny it, and unless they can deny the facts produced by Lord Cromwell the point is established that duress was in fact applied. That fact was not mentioned to the Greene Committee, so far as I am aware.

Then there is the question of the global method of calculating the compensation. In speaking of the global sum I am not now referring to the £66,000,000, but I am referring to the global figure of revenue, which was adopted as a basis of the evidence before the Greene Committee. That global method was a departure from any principle of compensation which has ever been applied in this country before. The analoged which I offered to the Government of compulsory purchase for housing still stands. No argument was produced to show that a global valuation is any more fair for royalties than it is for houses. I grant you that it may be easier and more convenient, but if it is fundamentally unfair then that is no argument for its adoption.

The fact that the global method was not approved by all the persons whose interests were to be affected was never put before the Greene Committee, so far as I know. The global method was treated, as the figures were treated, and the figures no doubt were genuinely agreed. The global method was treated as agreed and the Greene Committee took it for granted. Now the figures were agreed, and the global method was agreed, in circumstances of duress which I think have not been completely revealed, but in making my point about undeveloped coal I would ask your Lordships just to think who the Mineral Owners' Committee are. The noble Viscount, Lord Home, has asked the Leader of the House for particulars as to the constitution of this Mineral Owners' Committee, and we shall no doubt hear what proportion of the royalties they represent, and what proportion in number of the royalty owners also they represent. But, whatever figures may be given by the noble Earl, I venture to predict with some confidence that amongst the members of that Committee was no single man representing the undeveloped coal and the undeveloped coal alone.

It may be said, of course, that the big royalty owners are also owners of undeveloped coal. So they are, but the value to them of their asset of royalty-producing coal is infinitely greater than the value to them of their undeveloped coal, which has not yet come into bearing. The whole matter, therefore, in the absence of fair representation of the owners of undeveloped coal, was unfairly swung before the Greene Committee, and the interests of the owners of undeveloped coal were never properly represented. Your Lordships will perceive the unfairness of the procedure from the moment you postulate the difference between the owners of royalty-producing coal and the owners of undeveloped coal. Had the ownership of the whole of the coal developed and undeveloped been equally divided amongst the owners, that unfairness would not have been so acute, but when you have owners of undeveloped coal of immense potential value who have not received royalties it is unfair that they should not receive representation before the Greene Committee. It seems to me monstrous that the Government should have taken no steps—and I wait to hear what they have to say on the matter—to make sure that the Mineral Owners' Committee was fully representative of the owners of undeveloped coal as well as of the big owners of royalty-producing coal, to whom the arrangement by the Greene Committee might conceivably not be so distasteful.

I have been in touch with some of the persons who were not represented by the Mineral Owners' Association, and I am going to read two sentences of a letter put into my hand just before I came into the house. It is as follows: Up to the time of the publication of the award of the Greene Tribunal, we have never even heard that such a body as the Mineral Owners' Association existed. A glance at the list of Committee enclosed will show all but one are Peers and many of these are 'duds'. I hasten to add that the list enclosed was not in fact that of the Mineral Owners' Committee, but was that of the Vice-Presidents of the Mineral Owners' Association. I take no responsibility for the description.

There are some other points which were not before the Greene Committee. It surely is a fundamental part of the defence of Part I that not only should no asset be taken away which was not valued by the Greene Committee, but also that no expense should continue, the capitalised value of which was deducted from the compensation. Part I fails in both these respects. The additional asset which is being deducted is in the matter of the surface rights which has been already mentioned to your Lordships, and which therefore I will not spend time in developing. I have not the terms of the letter in my hand but I think it is undeniable that the Treasury letter said "Value the coal as a perpetuity. The Coal Commission will buy it and we will be responsible for surface damage." What is in the Bill is that the responsibility for surface damage is severely limited, limited in a way to which I hope your Lordships will direct attention when we get into Committee.

Now with regard to the expenses. A sum of £200,000 was deducted as the capitalised value of the expenses. To illustrate to your Lordships what I mean, I will postulate a royalty owner who has the misfortune to have a bad mineral tenant. We will say that this unsatisfactory mineral tenant is working coal fairly near the surface. He is bound under his lease to leave satisfactory pillars, or stoops as we call them in Scotland, for the protection of the buildings which already existed when the lease was granted. This mineral tenant, in pursuit of a particularly valuable seam of coal, infringes his lease. He takes away coal which in fact is necessary for support, and damage ensues to the buildings on the surface. That damage may not become at once evident; moreover, the infraction of the lease is disputed. It cannot be denied that the expenses of management in the past have included such legal and other expenses as are involved for the owner of the surface in obtaining redress against his mineral tenant. Those expenses are not going to come to an end with the passage of this Bill. It will still be necessary for the owner to protect himself by pursuing the mineral tenant who is refractory, and it has never been my experience that you could get letters written by lawyers without expense. Lawyers have to live, like other people, they charge for writing letters; and I believe I am correct in saying that the Bill has a provision that redress can only be obtained against the Coal Commission if the coalowner can prove that the Commission knowingly permitted an infraction of the lease. I do not see how it can be denied that that is a continuing expense which will go on for the surface owner, which has, in fact, been capitalised and which has been deducted from the compensation which he is to receive.

Again, the Greene Committee was not told anything about the regional allocation.


I think the noble Lord said the capitalised value was £200,000. That is the annual value for expenses; the capitalised value is about £3,000,000.


I accept the correction. The principle, I think, remains unaffected by the noble Lord's correction. I take it that he does not disagree with what I say?




Very well. I turn to the question of the regional allocation. The method by which this regional allocation is to be made of the total of £66,000,000 remains one of the secrets of the oracle. There is nothing in the Bill to tell us on what principles that allocation is to be made. Nevertheless, that is a matter which is fundamental to the justice or otherwise of the compensation which the individual owner will receive. Apply that to my main thesis of the conflict of interests between the coal now subject to royalties and the undeveloped coal. Just regard for a moment the conflict of interest between a coalfield such as Kent, in the early stages of development, and a field such as that of Durham, which I suppose is more nearly approaching extinction than any other field in the country. How are the various allocations of the £66,000,000 to be divided among these different fields? I suppose the Government will say: "Oh, that is a technical matter; we are not competent to decide" it." I suppose they will say that is a matter for the regional valuation, or the Central Valuation Board. There are eight Regional Valuation Boards. I conceive that it would be inconvenient and embarrassing if they all adopted different methods, or if the Central Valuation Board did not adopt some scientific and justifiable division of the compensation. It seems to me that that is a matter of such importance that it is hardly reasonable for the Government to expect Parliament to let the Bill go without some indication being given of the lines on which those allocations are to be arrived at.

Turning to the award, when that award—fifteen years' purchase—was announced, I think it is fair to say that every expert in the country said: "What this means is this. The owner who has sufficient coal in working to form a perpetuity will get fifteen years' purchase. Everybody else with less life in sight will be scaled down and will get less. And in the gap which will result between £66,000,000 and the total so arrived at there will be room for the undeveloped coal, the reserves of coal of the future." That proposition gave rise to the question, "When is a perpetuity not a perpetuity?" to which the ribald made answer, "When it is valued by the Greene Committee." But nevertheless there it was; that is what the Committee said and it has to be accepted. But if the thesis of the Government is correct, if the valuation is fair, then the total of the regional valuations when made must be equivalent more or less to £66,000,000. The regional valuation must be assumed to be a fair one, indeed the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, I was glad to see, in the course of his speech referred to the regional valuations as impartial valuations.

I am therefore entitled to assume—and I shall be glad to be contradicted if the Government deny it—that they anticipate that the total of the individual regional valuations will in fact amount to £66,000,000 or thereabouts. If not, then the Government are wrong, and the Greene Committee are proved to have been wrong. I am reminded in talking of this matter of the two different categories of coal, the developed and the undeveloped, of the sort of sum that we did at school when we had to add up the value of different kinds of commodities—dozens of this and hundreds of that—and bring out an answer in £s. d. Those of us who were not very experienced in arithmetic sometimes added together things which were not alike, with the result that we sometimes got rather fantastic answers. The Government's sum was not a sum in addition but a sum in valuation, and I think what the Government have done is to value, we will say apples in terms of oranges, and therefore it is not altogether surprising if the answer turns out to be a lemon.

There is one other matter in connection with the fifteen years' purchase which I must confess puzzles me very much. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, after his speech in introducing the Second Reading of the Bill, received very many well deserved compliments. I am bound to say that I thought the noble Earl resembled a figure skater cutting elaborate figures with very great grace and skill, but on some exceedingly thin ice. Anyway the noble Earl said: It seems only reasonable to believe, even after taking account of compensation for undeveloped property, that some developed areas will secure far more than fifteen years' purchase of their expected future yield. That was a rather guarded statement, and I did refer to it in my remarks, and it was not contradicted.

Now, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack dealt with the same point in his speech on this Motion. The reference is to the Official Report of May 19, and this is the first point: In ascertaining the global figure you treat the annuity as in perpetuity and not as a wasting asset, but in ascertaining the interest of a particular mine owner that is not true. His interest is a wasting security. I agree. That is as I understand the position, and it was on that basis—the basis of annuity in perpetuity—that the Greene Tribunal awarded fifteen years' purchase. A minute or two later the Lord Chancellor said: …whereas those who have coal in a mine which is going to last for anything over fifty years are going to get put upon the value of their interests something substantially greater than fifteen years' purchase. If the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had said there may be exceptional cases in which a coalowner will get more than fifteen years' purchase I could have understood it, because it is easy to postulate a case in which there is coal rapidly coming into development and the royalty at the valuation date may be x, but within a few years may become very much more. Clearly that royalty owner is entitled to expect more than fifteen times x, but the statement I have quoted is a categorical and universal statement. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack says that those who have more than fifty years' expectation are going to get substantially more than fifteen years' purchase. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord would like to modify that statement.


I was speaking of the normal case. I quite agree there may be cases in which the royalty payable may be diminishing in amount, or it may be the reverse.


I thank the noble and learned Lord. If the noble and learned Lord was speaking of the normal case, how can it be that the perpetuity in the case of the individual is going to get more than the perpetuity in the case of the total? That seems to me to prove quite definitely in this case that the part is greater than the whole. And if the noble and learned Lord is right then from the point of view of the undeveloped coal the outlook is worse than ever. The gap between the total of £66,000,000 and the royalty bearing coal is going to be even smaller than it was supposed, and smaller than it still is, with great deference to the noble and learned Lord, in the opinion of every expert whom I have had the advantage of consulting about this Bill. There are many factors which show that this idea that the mineral owners have got no grievance because of the Greene award is entirely unfounded. That theory is what I may call the Greene Tribunal myth, and it was not until the Bill came to your Lordships' House that any serious attempt was made to explode that myth and to give to the country the true facts and the true aspects of the situation. The noble Lord opposite, Lord Snell, in the course of his remarks, which he made, if I may say so, with that courtesy, amiability, and gentleness which he always shows, referred to the spirit of personal injury which had manifested itself on this side of the House in the course of the debate. The noble Lord seemed to think that that was a reason why the Government's Bill must be right and should be supported. I do not understand that.

Once again, if I may refer to my own case—not because I think it is any way peculiar, but rather because I think it is representative of many others—let me tell your Lordships that the surface under which the coal lies which is going to be taken under this Bill has been in the possession of my family for upwards of twenty generations, in direct succession from father to son, and without any form of entail whatever. For the last ten or twelve generations, since the date of the legal decision which has been referred to, that coal has been the undisputed property of the owners of the surface. Perhaps it is not out of place to say that the family in question, at all events since records are available, have had no reputation other than that of being decent landlords; and perhaps I might add that, at all events up to and including the last generation—my father—there was a tradition in the family of public service. That coal is just coming into development. No royalties have hitherto been drawn from it, and, so far as I can see, that coal is going to be taken away in return for compensation which is going to be utterly inadequate in relation to the real value of the asset.

Were it possible to establish the criterion which this Bill talks about—the price which would be received by a willing seller—the inadequacy of that result would be more manifest. But of course you cannot establish the analogy of the willing seller, because there is no market in this commodity. It is not like land, which can be put up for sale and sold.

That of course is a fundamental difficulty in arriving at a fair valuation of this property and is the reason why the Government should have been careful not to depart from the universal principle of individual valuation. That property is going to be taken away for inadequate compensation and, into the bargain, we have been told in another place, and up and down the country, that we are no better than those, as the noble Lord said, who live on immoral earnings, that we have no right whatever even to argue about the price we are to receive, and that if we venture to protest we are thinking of our own interests and our own interests alone. Is it surprising that there should have crept into the speeches of some people a note of personal injury? I do not think either that it is surprising or that it at all diminishes the force of the case which we are seeking to present to your Lordships.

I hope I have shown that merely to say "the Greene Committee" is not an argument which will justify the Government in recommending this Bill to your Lordships' House. I consider that the course of the two debates has riddled this Bill from the first page to the last, and more particularly Part I. In the course of the Second Reading debate and the debate on this Motion, there have been thirty-two speeches. I have had the pleasure of listening to them all. Two speeches from the Front Bench, from the noble Earl, Lord Munster, and the noble Earl who leads the House (Earl Stanhope) gave unqualified support lo the Bill, as did the two from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. Three speeches from the Front Opposition Bench gave support to the Bill on grounds which were totally incompatible with the objects which the Government are seeking to attain. One speech from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, gave a certain support to the Bill, but not without criticism. The remaining twenty-four have been condemnatory of this Bill in degrees ranging from severe criticism to inveterate hostility.

If those speeches represent the feeling of the House, and I think they do, I do not think it can be denied that my noble friend Lord Hastings was fully justified in putting down this Motion which we are now debating. I venture to say that that Motion has served a very good purpose; but before I sit down I am going to ven- ture to make an appeal to my noble friend. It seems to me that were he to press this Motion to a Division there can be no reasonable doubt as to what the result would be. We just have to consider a little whether that result is one which we all of us desire. These are critical days. I do not think that we can want to see the Government weakened in a way which would diminish their position in the eyes either of the people of this country or of countries abroad.

Again, for a practical reason, I think my noble friend might be wise not to press his Motion. Were it to be accepted we should be deprived of any immediate opportunity of amending this Bill. Part I would disappear. Lastly—this I think is the strongest reason of all—my noble friend must consider this, unpleasant though it is. What I have called the Greene Committee myth has got a long start. It is accepted by the country as a whole. If your Lordships now throw out Part I it is inevitable that, even without the misrepresentations which may be expected from certain quarters, the country sincerely, and quite mistakenly, would think that your Lordships had acted from interested motives. My Lords, anything which will tend to diminish the influence and stability of your Lordships' House would be a disaster. Your Lordships' House has a position very high in the estimation of the people of this country and it has an important role to play. I think my noble friend, therefore, must consider whether damage would not be done which might in some sense be irretrievable. I am inclined to suggest to my noble friend that the proper course is that he should not press his Motion, and that those of us who have to make sacrifices should be prepared to make them with dignity and with restraint. Then when we go into Committee my noble friend will have the opportunity, with the assistance of every quarter of the House, of moving and passing Amendments of such a kind as to improve this Bill and do something to make it less abhorrent than it is at present to the sense of justice of your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I should like in a few moments to draw attention to one or two points which have net already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, in his very excellent speech. I do not think there can be any doubt in your Lordships' minds that the Government made a very good bargain with the royalty owners on the basis of the Greene award, but I do not believe that anyone, looking at it from an unbiased point of view—and I cast no reflection on the members of the Greene Tribunal—can say that the compensation to be awarded is either fair or unfair in relation to the probable value of the coal to be taken over by the State. We do not know yet if the valuation when completed will be £100,000,000 or £50,000,000, but I feel sure that the royalty owners would be quite satisfied if compensation was paid on actual values and not on an arbitrary figure of so many years' purchase of royalty income.

The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack has told your Lordships that on the valuation basis it would be impossible, but in the Bill it is already laid down that valuation must be made. The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, will, I hope, forgive me for referring to a passage in his speech during the Second Reading debate on the Government's Coal (Registration of Ownership) Bill, in which he used these words: If there is ever a clash between the interests of the State and the interests of individuals, the interests of the State have a prior right to consideration but on one condition only—namely, that the individual is afforded just compensation for his property. Now here we have one of the main planks of democracy, and it is a statement of the utmost importance to the community. But I would venture to suggest that the proposal to purchase the royalties by the State is the first time, certainly on any large scale, that it has been proposed to exercise the prior right of the State without reference to the actual value of the property involved; and I do not see how it is possible to arrive at a figure of just compensation before the vesting date as set down in the Bill when, of course, the true value of the properties will be disclosed.

The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack referred in his speech last week to the purchase of a grocery business and used that purchase as an analogy. Let us examine this for a few moments. The usual method of purchas- ing such a business is to take the actual profit and multiply it by an agreed number of years' purchase. But in addition to this the stock is taken over at valuation. In the case of the proposed scheme for the purchase of royalties by the State the stock is coal and this stock is to be taken over by the State not on the basis of valuation—a stock which it is admitted will last five hundred years. Whereas in the case of the grocery business the purchaser would have continually to replenish his stock at his own expense, the State will not have to do so in this case, because it will be in possession of almost unlimited stock.

Like my noble friend Viscount Home, I am not a royalty owner, and in common with all of your Lordships I have tried to consider this Bill on its merits. I think the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, has done a very great service in raising the whole question of Part I in your Lordships' House. The noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, in his speech on Second Reading, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, drew your Lordships' attention to the necessity of supporting the Government during the present critical time in foreign affairs. It is on this ground alone that I would hesitate to support the Motion of Lord Hastings. But on the merits of the Bill—I repeat, on the merits of the Bill—I have no doubt at all into which Lobby I should go in the event of a Division.

On the other hand, I was very pleased to hear the generous way in which the Leader of the House, the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, admitted during the debate on Second Reading that there might be certain unfair conditions in the Bill and that Amendments to remove them would receive sympathetic and careful consideration. This Bill has grown up over a period of years and if the Government, in the light of their present knowledge derived from the Greene Report and otherwise, were to draft the Bill now, I cannot help feeling that a good many of the clauses would be substantially different from those in the present Bill. I venture to suggest that we must be quite sure before the Bill passes through the Committee stage that the royalty owners will not be called upon to make a very grievous sacrifice in order to provide what may well be, not a benefit but a hindrance to the industry.


My Lords, I do not know whether the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, to the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, will be accepted by him or not, but I, and I believe very many other Peers, are in a somewhat difficult position in connection with this Motion, and that is attributable very largely to the attitude of the Government in regard to the criticisms put forward during the Second Reading debate and during this debate. The Bill passed through another place without a great deal of enthusiasm, but at the same time the House did not divide against the Bill on Third Reading. Even Mr. Shinwell, the Member for Seaham, one of the Durham Divisions, who is perhaps one of the most extreme members in another place, found it very difficult to say very much in support of the Bill, although he with other people have regarded the principle of unification as not necessarily unacceptable.

The proposals in Part I with which we are dealing in this debate are put forward in order to assist the industry. There is not a single colliery owner in the country who believes that this proposal as it stands in the Bill is going to assist the industry, but quite the reverse. There are three other Parts in the Bill and there are eight Schedules with 250 clauses and subsections of a very technical character. I do not believe any part of this Bill is going to be really an advantage to the industry, and I am very anxious that if this Bill passes through your Lordships' House it shall be thoroughly amended. The matter which has been discussed in this debate is whether the true value of coal is going to be given to the mineral owners for the property which a Commission is going to acquire, and I think it must be obvious to every one of us that the proposals in the Bill are inequitable and should be amended. We are on the horns of a dilemma. If this Motion is carried and Part I is sent back to another place and returned to us again we shall be unable to amend it. If, on the other hand, the Government take the opportunity to amend the Bill and to bring forward other proposals during the interval between the passage of the Bill through this House and the consideration of our Amendments in another place, it is possible that we might obtain a Bill which would not do very much harm to the industry and which would be acceptable to your Lordships' House.

The Government, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, said, have relied so far upon the Greene award, the arbitration. He has referred to it as a myth. I think it a great pity that the Government have so far made it appear that that is their last word in connection with the defence of these proposals. A fair valuation would be accepted in all parts of your Lordships' House. If the Labour Party had brought in proposals of this kind—which I believe the Labour Party would never have done, because their leaders have all along, in connection with their desire to see the State acquisition of property, said they were in favour of fair payment and not in favour of confiscation—if the Labour Party had brought in a Bill of this kind which did not give fair and adequate compensation, I am sure that noble Lords whom I see opposite me would have dealt with their proposals in a way which would make it impossible for a Labour Government to pass such a measure into law.

The only concession which has been made in this debate by the Government so far has been made from the Woolsack by the noble and learned Lord Chancellor. He made a reference to the fact that the authorities of the Church were at present subject to limitations in connection with investments. He is going to propose, he informed us, an Amendment to extend the power of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in regard to putting their money into more speculative investments. That means that he admits that Church revenues are going to be depleted and that he is anxious to diminish the losses. But he is not going to remove them. The losses to the Church will remain undoubtedly and the impoverished clergy will suffer in consequence. The noble and learned Lord Chancellor went on to say that he thought the losses were exaggerated. I have been in communication with one firm who told me that during the years 1928 to 1934, the years which are referred to as the years upon which the global figure should be based, they were in very difficult and straitened circumstances, owing in many cases to the fact that the cost of production was more than the price realised. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners in eleven cases in connection with this particular firm abated their royalty rents by 25 per cent. If they have done that for one firm I am quite sure it is not an isolated act and that they must have done it for very many others. Therefore, when the most reverend Primate alluded to the losses which were anticipated by the Church, he would have in his mind the royalty rents which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have been receiving and not their normal rents.

I venture to suggest to the noble Lord on the Woolsack that instead of losses to the Church under this Bill having been exaggerated, they will be even greater. If the Church is to lose, surely there are many royalty owners who will be ruined if this Bill passes through in its present form. The Government have refused up to the present to give your Lordships an opportunity of feeling that they are prepared to carry out their intention of giving a fair deal. The intention to be fair will not be realised unless something is done by the Government behind the scenes. My interest, however—and it is not a great one—in collieries is on behalf of the freehold coal owners. I am rather like Lord Middleton in that, in the event of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, going to a Division, and no redress being given to the freehold coal owners, I shall find it rather difficult not to go into the Lobby with Lord Hastings. The Government, however, have consistently refused—the Cabinet Ministers, at any rate—to hear or see the royalty owners who own freehold coal. No concession has up to the present time been indicated by anything said by the Government. I am going to appeal to the noble Earl to indicate in his speech this afternoon that he is prepared to consider reasonably such Amendments when we come into the Committee stage.

The chairman and manager of one firm came to me last week all the way from the North of England and said: "This is a monstrous proposal, that our freehold coal should be taken from us. My firm started in 1791 to buy freehold coal from the owners of the surface who possessed the coal under their land. Since 1791 we have purchased coal from four hundred different individuals in order to carry out the very objects of this Bill, to consolidate the coal and be able to work it without a great variety of lease provisions; and yet we are not given an opportunity of having our case arbitrated upon in regard to valuation under the provisions of the Bill." Another firm came to me last week and said that they possessed 3,500 acres of coal. They asked me what I was going to do about it in the House of Lords, and whether I thought it fair that the whole of that 3,500 acres of solid coal should be taken over by the State in return for an inadequate pittance. Another firm came to me and said: "We have 60,000,000 tons of freehold coal in our possession, which we have gradually acquired. Are we not going to get any compensation for it? Is it all going to be acquired by the State without fair payment?"

Many of these firms possess a large number of shareholders and a large number of debenture holders who are interested in this property and have not realised that their property is going to be confiscated in the way proposed in this Bill. It is not only to be a charge against the Government that they are going to be exspoliators of the Church, but they are also going to deprive a great number of poor shareholders and a great number of debenture holders of the main property into which they have put their savings. I know it is very difficult to value this freehold coal which is un-worked. Its valuation depends very much upon the date at which it will be worked and brought to the surface. I will, however, take five firms, and they are not the biggest in the country, of which I have some little knowledge: one in Yorkshire, one in Wales, two in Lancashire and one in Durham. The capital invested in those concerns, which has been in many cases reduced very largely owing to the depressed times through which they have passed, amounts to £20,000,000, either in shares or in debenture stock. Those five firms if they possess something like 60,000,000 tons of freehold coal apiece, would not sell it to anyone if they could help it, but if they had to sell I do not think they would sell for under £5,000,000. After all, 17,000 applicants are looking forward to getting a fair return for the coal which the State is going to acquire, and have lodged applications in order to have their coal registered. Yet the five firms which I have picked out would probably absorb, if they got a fair valuation, five-eighths of the total sum.

Is it not monstrous that a proposal of this kind should be put forward to the country, and that the country should be ignorant of the extent to which their property is going to be confiscated? I feel very strongly on behalf of those for whom I speak. I am not much interested myself in colliery shares, but I am the representative of a large body of coalowners in connection with a great number of coal matters which have to be dealt with in London. I feel that I have been obliged to take this opportunity of appealing to the Government to indicate forthwith, if they possibly can, how they propose to meet the grievances which otherwise will be created under the provisions of this Bill.


My Lords, I must crave the indulgence of the House in speaking on a subject of which I venture to think I have some little knowledge. I do so with considerable hesitation, but I feel that I may permit myself to address your Lordships on "his important occasion. I was born and bred in the coal industry and I served my time in it—in the literal sense of the words. I qualified and worked for years as a colliery manager and colliery surveyor under the Coal Mines Act. I qualified and worked also as an inspector of mines, and have had experience of most of the coal mining districts of England, Scotland and Wales. I also served as Professor of Mining in the University of Birmingham. In the course of this practical experience I saw, considered, and sought remedies for the many difficulties which this Bill is designed to eliminate. I trust that my views may help the House to a right conclusion on this important but difficult measure, which I wish to support with all the force I can. I feel sure that your Lordships will be well advised to give it your approval.

The working of a coal seam on a scientific and economic basis is, in itself, an extremely difficult process. The nature of the seam, the geological conditions, the complications arising from faults and distortions of underground strata—all these have to be taken into consideration in the forward planning which is essential to proper operation. At the present time, moreover, other complexities are superimposed upon those which are inherent to coal mining operations themselves. Not only must a mine be developed in relation to underground conditions, but also it must conform to surface boundaries which bear no relation whatever to the conditions below.

If your Lordships would imagine for a moment the surface of the land removed—no fields, no fences, no rivers—and peep down on the coal, with faults and distortions of the strata below, you would appreciate the difficulties and the expense involved in working to surface boundaries and the unscientific methods which have to be followed, due to these irregular boundaries. Such methods not infrequently involve working conditions difficult to plan, and are partly responsible for numerous accidents and loss of life—the most serious problem which the colliery manager and miner have to face. It cannot, I think, be contested that the Government has the right, if it is in the national interest, to take measures for the unification of royalties. The point then arises: Is the Government right in so doing, and are the means which it proposes to adopt equitable means? We are all well aware of the troubled and difficult times through which the coal industry has passed in recent years. The industry is now reaching upwards from that period of depression, and it is the duty of us all, whether directly concerned with coal or not, to do everything in our power to facilitate the upward trend. We shall not do our duty it we concentrate upon the maintenance of vested interests. The present is a time for broad views and for foresight. Action taken now will have a profound effect upon the whole future of the coal industry, on which depends much of this country's prosperity and all the future well-being of hundreds of thousands of our people. This Bill will, I believe, do much to help the coal industry and those employed in the mines.

Great progress has recently been made in the application of science to the British coal mining industry. The technique of its operations is now reaching a commendably high level, and all praise is due to mining engineers and colliery managers, whose difficult task is by no means appreciated at its proper value by the people of this country. These advances, however, cannot yield their full benefit unless the operational circumstances of the coal industry are freed from encumbrances. From my personal knowledge of the industry, I am aware that there have been cases when private ownership of royalties has acted as a barrier to efficient working. Moreover, I think I am right in saying that royalty owners themselves have urged unification in the past, and that their present objection is based on matters of valuation and, perhaps, on the policy of amalgamation for which a later part of the Bill provides.

If this Bill becomes law, the measure of its possible effects may, perhaps, be deduced from those on oil operations of the Petroleum Production Act of 1934, to which it is a logical sequel. Between 1919 and 1934, there had been virtually no attempt to seek oil in this country. Since the passing of the Act, licences covering 13,500 square miles have been issued by the Board of Trade and several substantial corporations are now spending great sums of money in the search for British oil. The primary reason—in fact almost the sole reason for this activity—is that there is no doubt about the ownership of any oil which may be found. Only one royalty owner, the State, has to be considered. In future years this Bill—when it has become an Act, as I hope it will shortly become—will be regarded as a great milestone in the history of the coal industry. Coal, as well as oil, if we find any, will be owned virtually by the State, but will be developed by private enterprise—a combination giving us the best of two possible worlds.

I now come to the second point: Are the means which the Government proposes to adopt equitable means? The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, claimed that coal had a value because it was known to exist, and that those who were parties to the terms of reference to the tribunal were wrong in advancing market probabilities as the main factor in deciding value. My Lords, the market for a commodity is the only thing which gives it a value. Coal in the earth has no value unless someone has spent a lot of money in bringing it to the surface and a lot of human energy also has been expended. Even then it has no value until a market has been found for it. Your Lordships are aware that, on many occasions, herrings have been caught and put back into the sea. The fishermen, when they made their haul, had every reason to think they had a valuable property. We sympathise with their disappointment, but why was it that the property they thought to be valuable turned out to be valueless? The herring had not changed, so the answer is that it had become valueless merely because there was no market for it. Many of your Lordships have no doubt had a house, producing a welcome addition to income. Assume for a moment that it has become empty. No tenant can be found for it, and it becomes not a source of income, but a source of expense. If no tenant can be found, it will never again have a value. Although that house cost a lot to build, its value depends entirely on whether or not it has a market. As it is with herrings, houses and every other form of property, so it is with coal. It does not matter how many thousand millions of tons of coal there may be beneath the surface of this country, it has no value where it is. Value is given to it by finding a market for the coal and producing enough to meet that market. The Government was, therefore, right in advancing the probable future market for that coal as the main factor in determining its value.

I hope that I have done something to help your Lordships to make up your minds that the Government is right in putting forward Part I of this Bill as a measure in the national interest, that the principles embodied in this Part of the Bill should receive your Lordships' approval, and that the method of arriving at the value of the property was quite a correct method. Up to this point I have praised the Bill. There is, however, one criticism which I should like to make. Paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule to the Bill vests in the Commission the right in certain circumstances to withdraw support from land, subject to appropriate compensation. The second sub-paragraph of paragraph 6, however, provides that the compensation in the case of all buildings whose construction began after the publication of a notice by the Commission shall be limited to damage which could not have been avoided by reasonable precautions, etc. It appears to me that this provision is unfair to the surface owner, who might be deterred by it from making appropriate and profitable use of his land. I hope that the Government will reconsider this point.

I should also like to express the hope that the Government will prevent the advantages of the Bill from being lost in other directions. The coal industry should not be saddled with bureaucratic control effected by large numbers of inspectors, officials, etc., bringing new and unaccustomed difficulties into the already complicated business of mining coal. The need of the industry is for fewer restrictions, for improved status and for better conditions. At this point also, I would put in a plea for all those whose employment may be lost through this Bill. Mineral agents and others whose livelihood has depended on the management of royalties will not, I hope, be cast aside; and I would ask the Government to see that they are fairly treated.

May I express my thanks to your Lordships for the patient hearing you have been good enough to give me and again to urge you to pass this measure. I am sure many of your Lordships will recollect the occasion when they first stood before this august body and attempted to utter their thoughts, and perhaps did not bungle it as much as I have done. I do trust, however, that your Lordships will approve this measure. It will help very much towards the development of better and safer mining methods in this country, and in a generation or two it will be looked back upon as one of the really big benefits conferred on the community by our generation.


My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the noble Lord on his maiden speech in this House. I am quite sure that those of us who have had the privilege of listening to speeches here will realise how valuable his abilities are to this House, and will hope that he will be heard on many occasions in the future. I should like in the first instance to refer to the speech made by the noble Lord opposite, when he mentioned the Ecclesiastical Commission. I happen to be the representative on the Estates Committee of the most reverend Primate, and I would like to say a few words on this matter. I think there has been some little misconception in regard to it. The noble Lord who sat down a few moments ago spoke of greater powers being promised for the Ecclesiastical Commission with regard to investment. Well, we have very wide powers at the present time, and I am quite sure I am speaking for my colleagues when I say that we have no desire for wider powers. I think our powers are as great as we ought to have, considering the position which we occupy.

If there had been no Bill the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would have been able to look forward to an income in perpetuity of £230,000 a year in respect of royalties from coal, which is the amount of the revenue from that source at the present time. The amount receivable from compensation under this Bill is £110,000 a year. Therefore the real loss is £120,000. Some noble Lords seemed to think that the most reverend Primate exaggerated. In my opinion he rather understated his case. As to the money we place to reserve every year, it really does not affect in any way the question of the value of the minerals which we possess, and I really think it is only reasonable to suppose that the question as to whether the money goes to an ad hoc account or to the corporate fund of the Ecclesiastical Commission does not matter as far as this question is concerned. It is perfectly true, as the most reverend Primate says, that the less well endowed benefices in England will suffer. I believe it has been said that the Church will not have a serious loss, but it is quite certain that it will, and the money in many cases would have been used for the new housing areas, the new parishes in the great dormitory districts and for other purposes. I do not think it really much matters whether you call this Bill unification, expropriation or nationalisation. When the arbitration took place I attended several meetings, and I was very much struck by the great ability of the Lord Advocate. The fact remains that when the award was made the Government had the right to refuse it, and the other party had no right.

For a good many years I went electioneering in the country and some people used to pretend that the owning of royalties was rather immoral. I have heard nothing about that in this House, and very little in another place. But it always seems to me that the simplest way of putting that matter is this: The royalty owner has a commodity which he sells to another man on condition that he takes it away. There does not seem to be anything immoral about that, and if the word "sand" were used instead of "coal" there would be no argument about the matter at all. I only want to make this appeal to the Government. I hope that if many of us vote with the Government on this question they will really try to concede certain points on the Committee stage and soften the blow, which has been a grievous surprise to many of those affected, and may have serious results for them. The noble Lord, Lord Gainford, made a very strong and almost unanswerable point with regard to freehold coal. It does not affect me at all personally, but I really feel great sympathy for those who have large interests in coal, and who have a mortgage on the coal, and very likely have to pay out money to others.


My Lords, the debate on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Hastings has been the equivalent of an extension of the Second Reading debate on this Bill, with the result that your Lordships have spent a great part of five Parliamentary days and I am afraid have had to put up with hearing five speeches made on behalf of His Majesty's Government from the Government Bench and from the Woolsack. Although my noble friend Lord Munster received compliments from all over the House for the way in which he presented the Bill, and my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack spoke twice, with a clarity of language which I at any rate envy, I am afraid that there are still a number of your Lordships who do not really understand how the value of this coal was arrived at.

I am doubtful whether I can make it any clearer after what has been said, but I am going to make the attempt, encouraged all the more by the remarks of my noble friend Lord Cadman, who was the first person really to deal with the question that coal is only of value when it is mined and put on to the market. I think all of us welcomed that speech of his. We are inclined to remember him as a great authority on oil and on air matters, and so busy has been his life that we have forgotten how great an expert he is on coal also. I think the contribution he made to our debates shows what wide knowledge he has, and I hope that this is only the first of very many occasions on which he will address your Lordships' House. He will find that subsequent occasions are much less frightening than the first, and therefore I hope he will be encouraged to speak often and soon.

Now as to this question of value. Actually it is not the coal that is valued but, as I said, it is a question of the value of the coal which can be mined and sold. Many of your Lordships may have coal, perhaps, ten thousand feet under the surface, but not one of your Lordships would say there is any value at present in that coal.


Then why are you paying £66,000,000 for it?


If the noble Lord will wait I hope I shall make it quite clear. The noble Lord, Lord Cromwell, took up the analogy of the grocer's shop which was mentioned by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack.


It was not I.


I apologise to my noble friend Lord Cromwell, but another noble Lord did so. Quite obviously you do not value a grocer's business by the stock in his shop. What you value and give a price for is the turnover. It is exactly the same in regard to coal. What happened was this. They said to the Greene Tribunal: "The amount of coal which is sold annually comes to a net value of £4,430,000; that is the average value for seven years. Some of these years were bad years, and some were moderate years—that we shall argue before you. We want you, the Greene Tribunal, to say what is the present value of that property, taking into consideration that the net value of coal sold for these years is £4,430,000, and taking into further consideration whether the value of that coal and the amount of coal you will sell in future years is likely to go up or down." That was argued before the Greene Tribunal. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack must have convinced every one of your Lordships that, of course, it would have been quite impossible to go into the bowels of the earth, measure all the coal there, and put a value on it.


Is that not precisely what is done under Clause 7 of the Bill?


No. If my noble friend will allow me to develop my argument, he will realise how it comes out. Even if you could value the whole of that coal, its value must depend on the date it is put on the market. If it is to be put on the market sixty or one hundred years hence, the value of that coal to-day, I am told, is nil. Let us see what happens. Some owners are owners of collieries which have a very short life to run. Their value will very soon be worked out. Obviously such owners are going to get less than fifteen years' purchase for their mines. There are other owners who have got mines which have been already worked, but which have a very long life in front of them, and, as my noble and learned friend indicated, their value may be more than fifteen years' purchase. There are other coalowners, such as my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who have coal that is not yet being worked, but which may be worked this year or next year or, at any rate, at a very early date. Although such an owner has never received royalties yet, he will receive compensation for that coal because it already has a value on to-day's market; it will come on the market at such an early period and be available for sale. But in the case of people whose coal is a long way in, and who will be unable to put the coal on the market within a reasonable period of years, obviously the value to be put on that coal will be nil. For all these different classes the Tribunal had to decide whether the average net annual income of 1928–1934 was likely to increase or decrease in future years. The noble and learned Marquess, Lord Lothian—


Not learned!


I always look upon my noble friend as learned, although perhaps he is not technically entitled to the compliment. He asked if we could put all these arguments and all these papers before the House. Frankly I should like to do so, but I am afraid it is impossible. In the first place the Government gave a pledge that such evidence given before the Greene Tribunal should be confidential and secret and should not be published, and until we can have the approval of those to whom the pledge was given it would be quite impossible to publish the evidence. There is a further reason. It was argued before the Tribunal that not only our home market, but possibly also our foreign market, might tend to go down. As regards the home market that perhaps does not very much matter. I do not think my noble friend Lord Horne would disagree that, looking to the future, it is quite possible that the great railways such as the one over which he presides might use less coal in the future, as modern invention allows coal to be used more economically than was done in the past, and there is more electrification, and things of that sort. When you come to foreign countries, and say that there, too, sales may go down on account of financial or other reasons, if you publish that, it might do great harm to the coal industry. My noble friend Lord Gainford and others would agree it would be a disadvantage to the coal industry if that kind of evidence were published. Therefore the Government are opposed to doing so, although, as I say, I frankly regret that that is so.


Is it in order to quote from a Report which is not before the House? Should not such a Report be laid on the Table if it is to be used as the basis for argument?


I am not quoting from a Report. I am only saying there are two arguments put forward. The Government are arguing that the coal sales may go down, and, on the other hand, the coalowners say they may go up. To publish the fact that coal sales may go down might lead to a disadvantage to the coal industry. I was asked by several of your Lordships what was the Mineral Owners' Joint Committee. I am informed that it represented the Mineral Owners' Association of Great Britain, the Monmouthshire and South Wales Mineral Owners' Association, the Scottish Land and Property Federation, and also large but independent mineral owners. They claimed that they represented at least 75 per cent., in value, of the productive coal properties in this country. I can give the names of those who attended some of the meetings if your Lordships desire. For instance, there were Sir Rhys Williams, Mr. Brian Bailey, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Booking, Mr. Westgarth Forster-Brown, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Pym, and so on. Obviously those of your Lordships who know these gentlemen will recognise that that Committee consisted of experts. Does anybody suggest that these experts were incompetent? Does anybody suggest they were not sufficiently acquainted with the coal industry in this country? Does my noble friend Lord Hastings suggest that if he had gone and argued that case before the Tribunal he would have got better terms than those who represented the coal industry?


May I say that I never ventured to criticise the competence of the persons who represented the Mineral Owners' Association? The noble Earl may search the whole of my speech, and he will not find anything of that kind in it.


I understood my noble friend to say that he thought the price was inequitable, and that the case could not have been properly put before the Greene Tribunal otherwise they would have got a better price.


That is not in my speech.


The point is whether they were accredited to agree, on behalf of the mineral owners, the terms upon which the coal should be transferred, and whether the Government made any inquiry as to how-many owners there were outside the persons with whom they were negotiating and who had given them no sort of authority at all.


They represented 75 per cent, of the value of the coal.


How many in numbers?


I am afraid I cannot give my noble friend the number, but obviously they did represent the bigger value, and they, naturally, were not going to let down those whom they were representing. If they were making a good case for them they were making a good case just as much for the small man as for the big man, because they are all in exactly the same boat and their interests are identical.


May I ask the noble Earl if they had agency powers? Had they definitely any agency powers to complete the sale which in fact they did on behalf of their own members?


Of course they had not. They were an association of owners, who then put up these experts to consider the case put forward by the Government and to enter into negotiations with them. Then those negotiations, as I understand it, were submitted to a large body of mineral owners who, apparently, did not object to any of the procedure. I quite agree that the noble Lord is entitled to say that he is not bound by the agreement that was reached, but he is not entitled to say that he did not know these negotiations were going on. It was common knowledge, it was published in the Press; it was given in answer to a question in another place. I am told that there was even a meeting of members of your Lordships' House and others in the precincts of Parliament where these things were discussed. If the noble Lord will allow me, I will continue for a minute. If the noble Lord objected to these negotiations going on, or felt he ought to have been consulted, why did he not go and consult the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary for Mines? They are not gods in Valhalla. They are extraordinarily approachable people. He might have approached them and asked them what was happening, or whether he could not represent his own case. After all, the noble Lord and my noble friend Lord Hastings have the privilege of seats in this House, and they could perfectly well have got up in their places and asked my noble friend Lord Munster what was happening and whether they would be allowed to put their own case.


We naturally thought the preliminary conversation between the Government and the Mineral Owners' Association was quite in order, but we never thought for a moment that the Mineral Owners' Association were going to assume agency powers, which indeed only our own mineral agents possess, to complete a sale without the production of a single plan or any evidence from any of the individual members.


They have done nothing of the kind.


Will not the noble Earl admit that at any rate the freehold owners of coal, the people who work the coal, were no parties whatever to the Greene Committee proceedings?


I am not in a position to say. Of course freehold coal and all coal was put into the same pot for valuation purposes. The actual consideration of the position of the freehold owners was not a matter that was put before the Greene Committee at all, as has been said both by myself and other noble Lords speaking on behalf of the Government. The noble Lord complained that the Government had made no sign of concession. May I remind him that we are just at the Second Reading stage, when it is not customary for any Government, or anybody responsible for a Bill, to do other than discuss the principles of the Bill. We are not at this moment prepared to throw away those principles. When we get into Committee and go into the question in detail then, as I have said already on the Second Reading stage, if it is found that we have done anything unjust and inequitable we shall be more than glad to consider it. If your Lordships satisfy us that you are right we shall do our best to put that into the legislation before your Lordships and return to another place a better Bill than the one which came to us. I cannot say more than that at this stage.

I was asked by several noble Lords: "You have set up machinery of valuation in this Bill; why did you not accept it; why did you not simply carry out that form of valuation instead of accepting the figure of the Greene Tribunal?" There are a good many reasons against it. In the first place, of course, it entirely throws over the award given by this independent Tribunal. As I remarked to some noble Lord who complained of the injustice of the award, it was not a price fixed by the Government at all; it was one fixed by the three independent gentlemen who, as I have said, had no connection with the Government and no interest in the Bill. But let that pass. What would happen if you carried out your regional valuation? Each region would assess its coal as far as it could, quite oblivious of the amount of coal that could be put on the market, and everyone of your Lordships interested in the coal trade knows only too well what happens to the coal trade when the market is flooded and prices go down. The whole of that market valuation of coal, which was considered by the Greene Tribunal and was the whole esssence of this valuation, would be thrown overboard.

Something further happens. Those who are going to make that valuation are representatives of the mineral owners.

They are the valuers for the sellers, and there is no one on the other side making the valuation for the purchasers. Obviously that is impossible. Some noble Lord mentioned that my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack described these Regional Valuation Committees as being fair. So they are as between one individual and another in their region, because all of them there are sellers together, and it matters not whether the whole of that region puts a low price or a high price on its coal. That price is then put against the value set against that region and is scaled up or scaled down accordingly, but the valuation, provided it is fair as between one individual and another, will work perfectly fairly as regards the individual and does not affect the total price.

A further thing would of course happen. The Government would be quite unable to say how much capital would have to be found for the purchase of this property. Until the whole of that valuation was completed about the vesting date four years hence, we should not know whether we were to find £55,000,000 or £66,000,000 or £106,000,000 or whatever the figure might be, and, obviously, the Government could not be permitted to buy coal at an unknown price. That was the reason why it was decided that the valuation should be done under the principle of the global figure where everybody would know at once whether the Government were going to buy the property or not. I think your Lordships will realise that to take each individual property and value it and get an unknown total would leave everybody in the dark as to whether in the end the Government were going to buy it or not.

Several of your Lordships mentioned the question of mineral agents. It is really a matter I should prefer to go into in Committee. But may I just say this, that if anybody is going to do well out of this Bill it will be the mineral agents. For the next four years they are going to carry on the work which they do now, and receive the fees which they received before. In addition, during three and a half of those years, between the valuation date and the vesting date, they are going to do a valuation of the whole of these properties, and they are going to receive fees for that valuation paid by the Coal Commission—better years than they have had through the whole period in which they have been engaged in the coal industry. What happens at the end. Several of your Lordships said it is only fair that the Coal Commission should pay compensation after, since you deduct from the price you are paying to the royalty owners the cost of running this business. Do not your Lordships realise that this coal will still have to be measured, that royalties will still have to be paid—not to the present owners but to the Coal Commission? Royalties will have to be paid to somebody, and you will have to measure up the coal and do the same amount of work as is being done to-day.

Who will do it? It will be done by the experts. Who are the experts? I cannot see whom the Coal Commission are going to find other than those who are doing the work to-day. My right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade gave a pledge in another place saying that he would ask the Coal Commission to give a preference to these gentlemen who have been engaged in connection with the coal industry and see that as far as possible they should receive employment. Obviously a number of them are only part-time employees. Therefore they might lose that part-time employment. But others who are getting part-time employment will prefer to switch over and take on full-time employment and will become servants of the Coal Commission because, remember, the servants of the Coal Commission are not civil servants. They are engaged as separate experts and as far as I can see the people the Commission employ will be these coal agents.

It may be said that not so many will be employed. If that is said, there are two answers. One is that too many are being employed to-day, and therefore the coalowners are not running their property as well and in as businesslike a way as they should; and the other is that once you unify the coal royalties you can do with fewer people than now. If that is so, you have given away the whole case for unification. Indeed, that has been already done, because I think the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, said he was rather inclined to oppose the abolition of the private ownership of coal. He then gave two or three extremely telling instances of colliery companies who have found it to their advantage to buy out separate coal interests in order to unify them and get them under one management. That is exactly what the Government propose to do—although not, perhaps, to pay such an extravagant price as some private owners may have done.

There are many other points I could make, but we have had a long debate already and I think many of your Lordships want to make up your minds. May I, as is my duty, point out what would be the effect if your Lordships support the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, in the Motion before the House? Suppose you cut out the whole of Part I of this Bill, suppose you cut out no fewer than forty out of fifty-four Clauses and five out of eight Schedules. The Bill when we have finished with Parts II and III will go back to the House of Commons, and what will happen in the House of Commons? Have any of your Lordships any doubt that the House of Commons will put Part I back into the Bill? Your Lordships know that the House of Commons passed Part I, and in fact passed the whole of the Bill, on Third Reading without a Division. Of course, they will put that Part back.

What will happen when the Bill comes back to your Lordships' House with Part I put in again? The noble Lord, Lord Gainford, was wrong in saying that there could be no discussion at all. You will be able to discuss it clause by clause, but it will be as your Lordships deal with a Bill on Report stage. You will be able to propose Amendments and to make one speech on each Amendment, but only one. Of course, there will be no Committee stage and no Third Reading stage. There will be no chance of developing the question of the freehold collieries, which noble Lords opposite want to raise, nor those many other points which have been mentioned. That can only be done properly if we have a Committee stage, when the matter can come up again on Report and then on Third Reading, if necessary.

Suppose that, when the Bill comes back, you turn out Part I for the second time, what will happen then? Does any one of your Lordships think you are going to get any support from any Party in the House of Commons or any section of any Party in the House of Commons? Does any one of your Lordships think that when it is represented before the country you are going to get wide support in the country? I do not know whether there are 17,000 royalty owners, or whether, as I believe, there are some 4,000 and that many of them have a number of claims each going into one hand. At any rate, the number of royalty owners must be very small and the number of those who have interests in the coal royalties question must be very small. In addition to that, as was said by one or two of your Lordships, royalty owners have for a very long period of time been grossly misrepresented throughout the country. I have no hesitation in saying that that is so. I believe that royalty owners are just as good as any other citizens, and I believe a great many of them have managed their properties with extraordinary skill, and, I might add, with extraordinary generosity, by cutting down the royalties due to them when times have been bad and by helping the coal industry. But that is not what will be given out in the country.

What will be said is that here was this subject which came up, which was considered on behalf of the royalty owners, that no price was ever mentioned by the Government, that a price was put up by the royalty owners and refused by the Government, that a second price was put up and refused by the Government, that then they agreed that the question should go to a tribunal of three independent gentlemen, that those three gentlemen put on the price that they believed to be right and that then your Lordships, not liking that price, threw out the Bill because you considered you might suffer from it. I quite agree that it is unjust, and I quite agree that your Lordships will consider the public interest and not your own, but do you imagine that the public will believe it? It exposes the whole House to gross misrepresentation and puts it in an extraordinarily difficult position. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh was abundantly right when he put that point of view before your Lordships, and I do implore my noble friend Lord Hastings, who I know values the great work which this House does and the position it has in the country and who appreciates the immense responsibilities which lie ahead of us, and which this House can do so much to help forward, not to put this House in a false position by pressing his Motion to a Division, but to think over what has been said and consider whether the wisest thing would not be to withdraw his Motion from the Paper.


My Lords, it falls to me not only as a right but as a duty to reply to this debate. If I may recall to the mind of the House the reasons which on Second Reading I gave to the House for venturing to put down a Motion on the Paper such as we are now discussing, and recall also to the House the reasons which I developed when I initiated this debate, your Lordships will remember that I divided the Part of the Bill which we have been discussing into two parts, and that I told the House that in my mind the proposal of His Majesty's Government to transfer this great mass of private property into the hands of a Commission responsible to the State was embarking upon an adventure fraught with very grave immediate consequences and even greater future perils. I said that for those reasons I desired most particularly to know if the House was in accord with my view or if it felt that the times were such that acquiescence in such a proposal must be granted. After having postulated that I then proceeded to develop the secondary purpose for which I had ventured to put down this Motion—to enable the House to give consideration to the case of the royalty owners such as had not been possible to ventilate and debate before.

In so far as the second proposition is concerned, I think it must be admitted that the case as presented to the House has met with a degree of approval such as would be gratifying to anyone who had ventured to put down such a Motion as I put down. I think it would be agreed that, in spite of the courteous manner in which those few Government spokesmen who have replied to it have answered the questions put to them, their efforts though well intentioned have quite inadequately met the criticisms which have been made upon the Bill. That one or two points of substance have been dealt with, I agree, but they were of relatively minor importance, and we are left at the end of the debate without indication of a concession of any kind and with no expectation of receiving consideration for the case which we have put forward in twenty-four speeches, as my noble friend who sits below me reminded the House. To describe that as disappoint- ing is to use a moderation of language which perhaps is hardly justified; it is bitterly disappointing. And if that were all, I would most certainly ask the House to go into the Division Lobbies and register its dissatisfaction with the attitude taken up by His Majesty's Government to the almost universally-expressed opinions of this House.

I do not know that I should be justified at the end of the debate in taking up my noble friend the Leader of the House, but there are certain points to which I ought to refer. For instance, when he defended the action of the Government in negotiating its proposals with the representatives of the Royalty Owners' Joint Committee, he did not really attempt to deal with the case of the owner of undeveloped coal, put to the House by my noble friend below me, or with the case of the freehold coal owner, put to the House by the noble Lord, Lord Gainford. It surely must be obvious that a partially representative Committee was not really qualified to deal with the Government in respect of properties with which it had no concern. Surely it is reasonable to say that the Government ought to have taken the precaution, by advertisement or otherwise of acquainting all the persons concerned in the coal industry of their intention to negotiate with the committee with which they did negotiate. There is no occasion or need to criticise the constitution of that committee, but there were so many persons outside its purview and jurisdiction that the Government should undoubtedly not have accepted that committee as the sole representatives of those who owned the coal in one form or another.

Then, my Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the House questioned the impossibility of changing the method of valuation, and said that as the Bill is at present drawn the valuers would be valuing a property on behalf of their employers, and that such a valuation could not be accepted by the State, involving as it would an unlimited liability. My noble friend spoke nothing but the truth. It would never be suggested by anybody proposing to change the method of valuation that the method by which the valuers are appointed should not be changed also. That would be only fair and proper; and if we were to go into Committee, Amendments in that sense would be found on the Paper already. The suggestion made by the noble Earl that it is improper to risk an unlimited liability to the State will surely carry with it also the admission that it is unfair to impose upon the seller the uncertainties which this Bill imposes upon him, and to limit the value of his property, not by its value, but by the price which the State is prepared to pay for it. That is not valuation; it is partial confiscation.

One other point which I think I should answer was made by the noble Earl when he pointed out to us, with perfect truth, that this Bill went through the other House of Parliament with a degree of concurrence which it has not received here. That other House of Parliament had not the opportunities of being apprised of the facts that your Lordships have had during the course of these prolonged debates. I have, and I hope it will not be taken as an impertinence on my part to say so, the certain conviction that the other House of Parliament is as just a body as is your Lordships' House, and had they been apprised of the facts in the way that your Lordships have been apprised of them, there remains no doubt in my mind that the Bill would not have come up to your Lordships' House in the form in which it has come.

I admit the complete and absolute truth of what my noble friend the Leader of the House has said about the possible, probable and certain consequences of action taken in this House in respect of the Motion which is before us. I admit all that. I am not by any means unmindful of what my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh said in the matter. But I am not sure that in point of fact I should have been over-influenced by any of those arguments if it were not for what I myself said both on the Second Reading and in the debate on this Motion: that I attached prior importance to the principle of the transfer of this property by compulsion, by expropriation, call it what you will, into the hands of the State. I asked for the opinion of the House on that question. I cannot delude myself into thinking that the House has been with me on that. I have listened with the greatest care to these speeches, always looking for an expression of opinion upon that particular point. I desire to be consistent. It was in order to test opinion upon that point that I ventured to put down this Motion, and I have not, in my own estimation, received that degree of support from the House in respect of that point which would justify me in thinking that I could win a Division upon it.

I am not uninfluenced either by the appeal made by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh or by that of my noble friend the Leader of the House. Both of those appeals have had their weight. But I am primarily influenced by the lack of support which I have received in respect of the question which I put to the House. If lack of expression of dissent is to be taken as agreement in principle with the proposals of His Majesty's Government that this great block of private property must now be transferred into the hands of the State, and if that is the opinion of the House, it is not for me to oppose the opinion of the obviously great majority. By if I do not go to a Division now it will, I think, be the duty of His Majesty's Government to meet in Committee the many points which have been brought up and which have up to date been unanswered. I would warn His Majesty's Government that, as we have not divided upon the Second Reading, and as we shall not divide upon this occasion, on the Committee stage the Division Lobbies will be constantly in motion! I beg to withdraw the Motion which stands in my name.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Order of the day for the House to be put into Committee read.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on the Bill.

Moved, That this House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl Stanhope.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The Earl of Onslow in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

General provisions as to function of the Commission under Part I.

2.—(1) The Commission shall not themselves engage in the business of coal-mining or carry on any operations for coal-mining purposes, other than searching and boring for coal, but shall be charged with the duty of controlling and managing the premises acquired by them under this Part of this Act, by granting coal-mining leases and otherwise, in such manner consistently with the provisions of this Act as they think best for promoting the interests, efficiency, and better organisation of the coal-mining industry.

(2) The Board of Trade may give to the Commission general directions as to the exercise and performance by the Commission of their functions under this Part of this Act in relation to matters appearing to the Board to affect the national interest, including all matters affecting the safety of the working of coal, and the Commission shall give effect to any such directions.

LORD FARINGDON moved, in subsection (1), to leave out all words down to and including "otherwise" and insert: The functions of the Commission shall include the business of coal-mining, any operations for coal-mining purposes and the treatment of coal, and controlling and managing the premises acquired by them under this Part of this Act, and such functions shall be carried out.

The noble Lord said: I hope that your Lordships on the other side of the House, since this Amendment is moved from these Benches, will not automatically conclude that its object is nationalisation. It was suggested in another place that a similar Amendment was nationalisation by a back door. That is not the case. This Amendment is only intended to give to the State, when it acquires this property in coal, the rights now possessed by the owners of royalties, for which in the opinion of myself and my friends on these Benches the State is paying, in spite of the cries of agonised extortion that we have heard from the other Benches during the last two debates, a very adequate price. What we consider incorrect in this matter is that the State in paying this price, and taking over this property, is not at the same time taking over the same rights as private owners have possessed until this time. It is the object of this Amendment to give to the State the right to exploit that property in coal which up to this time its private owners have had.

The Commission which is to be set up is given the right to bore and prospect for coal. Having done this, having located the coal, it is then forbidden to proceed with the business of coal mining, but must then lease out the coal which it has discovered to private exploitation. This is, in our opinion, entirely wrong, and in point of fact is extremely undesirable. I consider that His Majesty's Government, who are evidently of the opinion that this property should pass from private ownership to public ownership, are showing a curious pusillanimity in not accepting this Amendment, because if they are, as the introduction of this Bill indicates, persuaded of the desirability of public ownership in coal, then it seems only reasonable that in acquiring this ownership they should acquire the other rights which hitherto have gone with it.

I do not intend to detain your Lordships very long, although in this debate an example of long speaking has been set which is unusual in this House, but there are certain considerations which I think should have some weight with your Lordships. I would like to suggest that were the power given in this Amendment given to the Commission it would become possible then for the Commission to do work which at present it is impossible for them to do, and which is very unlikely to be done by anybody else. They will be able to undertake the reconstruction of derelict areas, which have fallen out of use for one reason or another. In another place an example was given by one speaker which particularly struck me. It was the case of a basin in which, owing to the fact that the water would drain to a lower level, the whole cost and expense of pumping would fall upon the company which was exploiting, as it were, the bottom of the basin. It having proved impossible to come to an arrangement with the company exploiting the lip of the basin to share the expense, a large part of the basin became derelict, because the company exploiting the bottom was unwilling to bear the whole cost. I suggest that were the powers suggested in the Amendment given to the Commission this national loss would not take place, as it would be within the competence of the Commission to work that basin as a whole, and thus to enrich the community with the coal that is undoubtedly there.

There are equally other mines which are at present uneconomic. There are mines where, owing to the fact that the mine is situated far from the sea, although the coal may not be more difficult to work than in other places, the freights are too high to make the coal remunerative. Were these powers given to the Commission it would be possible for the Commission to work those mines and at the same time undertake treatment of the coal, such as carbonisation for the production of oil or other purposes, which would allow these mines to continue to be worked and prevent them from becoming derelict, as they have become in so many places.

I think in this question of coal consideration should be had not only to the profitableness of the mines in themselves, but also to the reaction upon those who are working in the mines. There is a social benefit which could and should be considered as well as the mere price and production of coal. I believe that were the Commission given these powers it would be found that it could work mines—which at present, for one reason or another, are not being worked—merely in order to give employment in areas where at present there is no hope. There are many villages in coal-bearing areas where the villagers have had no work for years upon end. I suggest that from a social point of view, from the point of view of the community as a whole, the community which is acquiring this property in coal, the interests and rights and health of these people are as important as anything else.

I suggest that were these powers given to the Commission it would be able actually to effect for the nation as a whole an economy. It would be possible for it to keep mines, which on the face of it appear unprofitable, at work for the social benefit entailed. I can see that carried to a certain limit there are objections to this practice, but I believe it would be for the benefit of the community as a whole—for at present we are paying unemployment benefit—to keep these communities at work, and in good health, as working communities are. This Commission which is being set up is, I believe, an entirely suitable body to carry out the work which this Amendment would put upon them. It is a Commission which is directed to bore and prospect for coal, to advise and supervise the activities of the owners. Such a Commission must, it seems to me, consist of experts whose ability further to treat the coal, to mine it and if necessary treat it for various objects when brought to the surface, should be entirely adequate. I believe that this Commission could and should do this work.

Finally let me try to persuade your Lordships on another ground. We on this side of the House of course do not greet this Bill with unbridled enthusiasm. It is very far from being what we consider desirable or even necessary for the coal industry, but we do consider it to be a step in the direction of nationalisation, which we have for years maintained to be the only solution of the coal problem. Were this Amendment accepted it would be an admirable opportunity of testing out the theory of my noble friends on this side, and of discovering whether it is not practicable and desirable for this country, which is now at long last taking this belated step in the right direction, that that nationalisation should be extended further. I hope that the coalowners in this House will not resist the proposal as being a further step towards nationalisation. I should expect them rather, since no doubt their opposition to nationalisation is based on no selfish interests, but only on what they from their experience believe to be the most desirable way of operating one of our national assets, to support this Amendment; for were national mining of coal to prove unsuccessful their case would be conclusively proved. We, on the other hand, are so satisfied that such national mining would prove successful that we should be only too pleased were the Government prepared to accept this Amendment and allow a small experiment in the direction which we believe the whole coal industry must take. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 8, leave out from the beginning to ("in") in line 14 and insert the said new words.—(Lord Faringdon.)


To save the next Amendment 1 will put the Motion that lines 8 to 11 stand part.


During the War and for some little time after it the State did make the small experiment which the noble Lord now advocates. The whole of the coal industry was controlled by the State. The rate of wages was imposed on every coalfield from London. We were not allowed to order a new pulley rope or a new coal waggon without the permission of Whitehall. This was at a time when the demand for coal was unparalleled, when the prices of coal were higher than ever before in the history of coal, when the demand was such that it was impossible for coal- owners and producers to overtake it, when a better rate of wages was paid than ever before or ever subsequently. That was the small experiment made by the State. The result was a loss to the State at the rate of £1,000,000 per week. I think the results of that experiment were not encouraging, and I hope your Lordships will not start on a new experiment, which I believe would be even more disastrous than the first.


I did not intend to intervene in this discussion, but I think a word needs to be said in answer to the presentation of the case by the noble Earl. He is well aware that the conditions at the time of which he speaks were wholly exceptional, and that the coal was deliberately made available by the State at prices not based merely on the cost of getting it, the extravagant and inflated cost that prevailed at that time, but in order to assist the industries of the State for quite other and greater purposes. Therefore it is not fair, and it is not in any way a guide as to what would happen in peace times, to take the accounting procedure as adopted at that time as a reply to my noble friend's Amendment. All he has asked is that under normal and rational conditions the Commission should be competent to make this experiment.


The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, explained to your Lordships that he did not propose the complete nationalisation but a partial and, as he said, necessary nationalisation of this industry. From the speech to which we have just listened I have no doubt that the direct issue before your Lordships is as to whether this Commission should be given the right to enter into the business of coal mining, in other words, to take possession of working coal on behalf of the State. It has never been our intention that the Commission should enter into the business of coal mining, with the many financial risks attached to it which have been referred to by my noble friend Lord Crawford. In all our conversations and discussions we have never proposed for one moment that whatever body was set up to acquire the coal should be allowed to enter into the business of coal mining or in any way to disturb the practice which has prevailed from time immemorial of working the coal by private enterprise. With our knowledge of the past, and after the remarks that fell from the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, we cannot for a moment believe that this Commission would be a good body for carrying on the business of coal mining. When all is said and done the issue is extremely clear: Should the Commission be given the right to work coal in the way that is done by private companies now, or should they be merely charged with the duty of controlling and managing the premises acquired by them under this Part of the Bill? The Government believe that the Commission should merely exercise the control mentioned in the Bill, and leave the business of coal mining in the hands of private owners. I hope that my noble friend will withdraw his Amendment.


I am afraid I cannot accept the answer of the noble Earl. He has not, it seems to me, answered my main contention, which was that the Government in taking over these powers is at the same time limiting itself in the exercise of them. On this side of the House it seems that a point of principle is involved, and, without any wish to detain the House, it will be necessary for us to divide on the Amendment.


Since the noble Lord is not withdrawing his Amendment I would not like to give a silent vote with regard to it. I must in a sentence or two explain why I for my own part, and I think other noble Lords on this Bench, would not be able to support the Amendment. This is a measure for the nationalisation of royalties. It is fairly clear that if this provision were put into the Bill any Government that might be in

power in this country which favoured nationalisation as a principle could give directions to this Commission to extend, on every opportunity that might occur, the direct working of the mines by the State. This is a much larger matter than a mere Committee point. The Royal Commission of which I had the honour to be Chairman reported unanimously in favour of nationalisation of royalties, but against the nationalisation of the mines. Therefore this Amendment, as now proposed, appears to me to be contrary to the intentions that were then held by that Commission. Finally I would suggest that if an Amendment of this importance had to be introduced into the Bill, it ought to be really in the Bill as passed at Second Reading, because an Amendment so wide as this makes it a different Bill. If the Bill as introduced had contained a provision enabling the Coal Commission, whenever it thought proper, to conduct mining as a business, the Bill on Second Reading might have had a different reception in the other House and certainly in your Lordships' House. For this reason, since my noble friends are going to divide the Committee, I must vote against them.


Unless we divide the Committee on this question, which is one of high principle, we should not be doing our duty by those whom we are sent to represent in your Lordships' House.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided: —Contents, 108; Not-Contents, 5.

Maugham, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lindsay, E. Cobham, V.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Falmouth, V.
Northumberland, D. Liverpool, E. FitzAlan of Derwent, V.
Somerset, D. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Halifax, V.
Malmesbury, E. Hampden, V.
Bath, M. Mar and Kellie, E. Hereford, V.
Dufferin and Ava, M. Midleton, E. Horne of Slamannan, V.
Midlothian, E. (E. Rosebery.) Ridley, V.
Airlie, E. Munster, E. Samuel, V.
Ancaster, E. Onslow, E.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Plymouth, E. Addington, L.
Bathurst, E. Powis, E. Allen of Hurtwood, L.
Bessborough, E. Radnor, E. Amulree, L.
Birkenhead, E. Sandwich, E Balfour of Burleigh, L.
Bradford, E. Scarbrough, E. Basing, L.
Cawdor, E. Stanhope, E. Belper, L.
Dudley, E. Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Belstead, L.
Fitzwilliam, E. Bingley, L.
Grey, E. Bertie of Thame, V. Cadman, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Bridgeman, V. Camrose, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Hastings, L. Roun[...]way, L.
Hindlip, L. Rushcliffe, L.
Clinton, L. Holden, L. Saltoun, L.
Cromwell, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Sandhurst, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), L. Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L. Sherborne, L.
Daryngton, L. Jessel, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
De Saumarez, L. Kenilworth, L. Stafford, L.
Digby, L. Ker, L. (M. Lothian.) Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)
Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Lamington, L.
Lawrence, L. Stanmore, L.
Eltisley, L. Leconfield, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Fairfax of Cameron, L. Marks, L.
Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.) Merthyr, L. Strickland, L.
Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.) Middleton, L. Templemore, L. [Teller.]
Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.) Mowbray, L. Teynham, L.
Gainford, L. O'Hagan, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Gerard, L. Phillimore, L. Windlesham, L.
Greville, L. Redesdale, L. Wolverton, L.
Hampton, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L. Woodbridge, L.
Addison, L. Faringdon, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Arnold, L. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)[Teller.]

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

LORD GAINFORD moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "controlling and managing the premises acquired by them under this Part of this Act, by." The noble Lord said: Clause 2, as noble Lords will see, deals with the functions which are to be given to the Commission. The object of my Amendment is to limit these functions to the object which I think may now be given to them—namely, the granting of coal-raining leases. To extend that, as this provision does, to the controlling and managing of premises which can be acquired by the Commission, seems to me to be outside the proper functions of the Commission, and I hope your Lordships will realise that it is essential that the management of collieries should be left to the management and the mining engineers and should not be transferred to the Commission. The first two Amendments down in my name deal with the same point—namely, the functions of the Commission. I am proposing to omit first of all the words "controlling and managing the premises" and later to omit "promoting the interests, efficiency and better organisation of the coal-mining industry" and to insert "performing such other functions as are prescribed by this Part of this Act." These two duties of controlling and managing seem to me to be entirely foreign to a Commission of this kind, and I think it is essential that they should be left out in the interests of the safety of the miners as well as of the proper conduct of colliery operations. To leave those words in would give the Commissioners enormous powers of interfering with colliery management. If that were done it would lead to a great deal of friction as to which duties belong to which body, and the responsibility which now rests upon the owners of the colliery and their officers and mining engineers would possibly be transferred to this Commission which, thereafter, might assume great powers.

If your Lordships will look at the definition of premises you will see that it means all underground workings and shafts, and it seems to me, and I think it will also to your Lordships, absurd to hand over the control and management of shafts to a Commission of this kind composed of people who are not competent or certificated mining engineers. Autocratic powers of this kind ought not to be given to this Commission. Whenever such a body does get powers it is always trying to exceed them. I know that very well, because I have been the head of one or two Government Departments and Government Departments are always trying to extend their own influence and powers. So would a body of this kind, and it ought to be restrained by Parliament. There are two or three different ways in which powers can be exercised by the Commissioners if these words are not omitted. They might strive to withhold all leases, and try to force the acceptance of amalgamations which are dealt with in quite a number of parts of the Bill. If they were left with powers of this kind they might also try to interfere with the system of management underground in connection with mechanisation, with electricity, and such matters. Those are things, of course, which ought to be left entirely to the mining engineers. Moreover, all matters connected with safety in the mine ought to be left to the responsible mining engineers. Really these words, if left in the Bill, will mean the possibility of official interference with the conduct of mining operations, which, I am quite sure, was never entertained by the Government when they introduced the measure.

Although a great number of other countries have obtained control of the minerals, there is not a single case in any other country where such powers are given to the State enabling it to interfere with mining operations. The noble Earl in his speech on the last Amendment dealt with the importance of this Commission having the control and management of premises. That is exactly what I contend ought not to be given to the Commission. The President of the Board of Trade in another place indicated what the main objects of the Bill were. He alluded to the importance of private ownership, of the long-standing nature of the royalties, of the finance provisions, of the development of new sources of coal by this Commission, and a number of other matters, but he never alluded to this matter of the controlling and managing of mines by the Commission. I hope therefore your Lordships will accept the Amendments that stand in my name.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 11, leave out from ("of") to ("granting") in line 13.—(Lord Gainford.)


I want very warmly to support this Amendment. The Commission are, in any case, going to have very much wider powers than those possessed by the present private owner. They are going to have a complete monopoly in regard to leases, and we maintain that the Commission's power should be confined entirely to leases. They should not be given the extremely dangerous and wide powers that they are going to get under this clause, which might be very much abused by future Governments. At the present moment it is possible for colliery owners to play off one landlord against another in regard to leases. But that will not be possible in future when all the coal is in one hand. Therefore they are going to be in a very much stronger position in any case. This clause is going to put into the hands of people who are not experts in coal mining powers which will enable them to refuse permission to use such things as underground cutters and so on, and restrict the proper underground working of the pit as against those who are experts in coal mining and have been at it for years. I cannot believe that your Lordships will think that is right.

I have no doubt that the reply of the Government will be that these words are necessary in order to give the power of Parliamentary control over the Commission and to enable Parliament to address questions to the proper Department in regard to the working of the Commission. But, to begin with, the Commission is surely not in the same category as a body such as the British Broadcasting Corporation or the London Passenger Transport Board, and in any case it seems to me that Parliament would have full powers in regard to addressing such questions, which naturally I think are entirely right. It is only right that Parliament should have full control and access to the right Department over this Commission and be able to ask questions. But I would like to submit to the Government that there is no reason whatsoever why these powers should not exist even if the clause is amended as the noble Lord proposes. Therefore I hope your Lordships will insist upon this Amendment because colliery owners view these powers which the clause proposes to give with very great and real apprehension.


Perhaps it would be to the convenience of your Lordships if I take this Amendment and the next Amendment standing in the noble Lord's name together. In the first place I would like to remind the noble Earl that the question of the power of Parliament arises in subsection (2) of this clause and not under the subsection we are now discussing. Therefore, no doubt, he will raise that question at a later stage.


I only raised my point because in another place the reply was given by the Minister of Mines in regard to this particular subsection.


I think it will be more appropriate, if my noble friend has no objection, to raise that point later. The object of these two Amendments, as I see it, is; to delete the Commission's function of "controlling and managing" the property which is vested in them and to limit their functions to those of merely "granting coal-mining leases." The noble Lord said that he felt that the power of control and management might imply also a power to control and manage collieries. He also had the fear that the words "efficiency and better organisation of the coal industry" implied the use of powers by the Commission for the purpose of forcing amalgamation upon the coal industry. That is not the case. My right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade gave an assurance that the Board of Trade would not issue general directions to that extent to the Coal Commission in carrying out their duties under this Act.

The first point which the noble Lord raised, that of deleting the functions of controlling and managing property which is vested in them, is, I think, erroneous for it relies upon the fact that one class of property to be vested in the Commission is "mines of coal"; but I think it hardly needs to be pointed out that "mines of coal" as used in this Bill are not coal mines in the sense of working collieries but only the landlord's rights in "mines" in the conveyancing sense. And to vest property in a Commission without any express rights to control or manage the property which is so vested would be a strange and very incomplete transaction. It is essential, with a statutory owner of the character of the Coal Commission, to prescribe in express terms the general object with which they shall exercise their landlord's powers—namely, for the good of the coal industry. A private landlord naturally aims at what is best for his own property. A private owner of several properties might well look to what is best for each separately. The Coal Commission, as universal landlord, is directed to look to the good of the industry as a whole. I think my noble friend has not realised that if we accepted these two Amendments, subsection (3) (a) of Clause 21, which refers to the reduction of rents, could not be put into effect at all, and that therefore the particular object for which I understand the Mining Association was pressing in another place would be completely destroyed by the action of my noble friend. I hope the noble Lord will realise that his Amendment is really one which we should not accept under any conditions whatever.


I am afraid a little more must be said about this. It is no good going on with this until the noble and learned Lord below me tells us what "premises" means. If he will say that, we shall know if the Minister is correct in saying that Clause 2 only gives the Commission what he called "landlord's rights in the conveyancing sense." He said, moreover—I am quoting again, as far as I can, the Minister—that to say more would be a strained interpretation of the words. Let us have that quite clear. If "premises" does not mean mines of coal—as the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, seems to think, and as I think—conferring upon the new Commission the rights already enjoyed by the present lessors of coal, I am satisfied. But we must have a very exact assurance on that point from the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, and if necessary make sure that the words are clearly defined in the Bill because this clause is the first example of an uncertainty which your Lordships will frequently find. If these Commissioners have, as the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, says, and I agree with him, the right and power to say "You have to do something with your coal shaft," you will not get a responsible mine owner, or agent, or manager to accept a lease because there will be dual responsibility as regards safety. I therefore press the Government to give an exact definition of the word "premises." All sorts of definitions are given in the Bill of what is meant by coal mines, or leases of mines, and an existing owner, but this term at the outset of the Bill is not definite.


I will do my best to answer my noble friend. I venture to think that this Amendment is really based upon a misconception of Clause 2 (1). The difficulty is not as regards the word "premises." "Premises" means everything that will be acquired by the Commission, all the coal and mines of coal. Where the misconception comes in, in my respectful submission, is that the words have not been read to the end of the sentence. All the draftsman wanted to do here was to show that, as landlords, they have to follow a certain principle of acting—in whose interest? That is what he is going to tell you at the end of the clause: the interests, efficiency, and better organisation of the coal mining industry. That is what the draftsman is trying to do, and the way he does it is this. The Commission is to be charged with the duty of controlling and managing "— instead of "premises" I will say, "all that they acquire under this Bill "— by granting coal-mining leases and otherwise"— Now you must not stop there; you have to go on— …in such manner consistently with the provisions of this Act as they think best"— for the benefit of the industry. And the only way, when the premises are in lease, that they can control and manage the premises is by seeing, presumably, that the lessees carry out their duties. The way in which they are told to do this is that in the granting of a coal-mining lease they are to have regard for that purpose to …the interests, efficiency, and better organisation of the coal-mining industry. That is, in other words, telling you that they are to act as good landlords for that purpose.

Now I have left out two words, the words "and otherwise." You may ask me why they are put in, and I do not think there is any difficulty about it. If a lease comes to an end, either because it is surrendered or because, as sometimes happens, the lessee has to be turned out, or because the lease has come to an end by the effluxion of time, the Commission's duty is to look about for a tenant. That is why you want to put in "controlling and managing the premises." They may be not at that moment granting coal-mining leases, but they may be looking out for a lease, looking out for a lessee, doing their duty as regards the premises. They may, for instance, have to pump, and do various things to preserve the premises; not to work the mines, but they may have to act as a prudent landlord would with regard to salvaging the property. To the best of my knowledge and belief there is nothing whatever in Clause 2 (1) other than what I have said. The clause has been misunderstood, and I can quite understand how it has been misunderstood, because there are a great many things which I myself started by misunderstanding when first I read this Bill!


I am not at all satisfied with the explanation of the noble and learned Lord Chancellor. I have, of course, had legal advice in connection with the interpretation of these words. I do not at all object to the words "or otherwise" being left in if they merely mean that the Commission might, between two lessors, be able to carry on their duties and negotiate terms in connection with the lease. That is no doubt the duty of the Commission. But to interfere with the shaft—and you cannot get away from it—is not part of their duty. The definition of a mine of coal is a space which is occupied by coal or which has been excavated under ground for a coal-mining purpose, and includes a shaft and an adit made for a coal-mining purpose. Those are matters which ought not to be left, I submit, to a Commission of this kind. They are matters relating to management, and ought to be left to the management and not handed over to the Commission. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, says, forsooth, that reduction of rents would not be possible if these words were inserted.


I am very sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but is not there here a misconception? The shaft by which the mine is going to be worked is one of the things that is acquired by the Commission. They have the shaft, but anything that is included in the lease is, as soon as the lease is granted, a thing that the Commission will have no right to interfere in. They cannot touch it; they will be in just the same position as any other landlord. It is only in reference to the granting of a lease that they are to have regard to these interests, or on the occasion, as the noble Lord says, between two leases. I am quite convinced that I am right.


The noble and learned Lord Chancellor may be quite convinced that he is right, but I have a large body of legal opinion on my side to say that these words would interfere with the management of the shaft if they were left in; and the management of the shaft is a matter for the mining engineer and not for a Commission of this kind. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, said that it would interfere with the reduction of rents under another part of the Bill. That can easily be made right by amending the words when we come to that clause. Then the noble Earl said that the Board of Trade had no intention whatever of giving directions which would enable such interference to take place. But another Board of Trade may come and take quite a different view, and it might give directions to a Commission of this kind, and autocratic powers, which the Commission might exercise. As long as these words are in I think that autocratic powers would be exercised by the Commission, and I hope that the Committee will support me in moving the omission of the words.


I venture with some diffidence to intervene in this discussion. Clearly, those who are represented here by my noble friend on my right are uneasy as to the future operation of this clause. Although, if the intentions expressed on behalf of the Government are carried out, there is no reason why they should be uneasy, yet intentions do not count in the long run; it is the wording of the Act of Parliament that counts. It might be possible to clarify the wording of the clause so as to make it consistent with the objects which both the Government and my noble friend have in view. There is no difference of opinion between them on the purpose which is to be served; the only question is whether the wording of this clause properly expresses that purpose. It appears to me—again I speak with great diffidence—that we have concentrated our attention upon one part of the subsection which is not the part which is really relevant. We are concentrating our attention on the words "and otherwise." Those words may seem to be necessary, for their omission might place the Commission in great difficulty and undoubtedly curtail their powers.

The words upon which we really ought, perhaps, to concentrate our attention are those at the beginning of the subsection which tell us what the Commission may not do: The Commission shall not themselves engage in the business of coal-mining or carry on any operations for coal-mining purposes. What my noble friend has in view, so far as I understand it, is that they should not only be precluded from engaging in the business or carrying on operations, but also from controlling operations that are carried on by their lessees. Possibly the Government might consider, between now and the Report stage, whether that part of the subsection might be a little modified and enlarged so as to make it clear that the Commission are not to have such powers as would enable them to intervene in mining, powers which are so properly deprecated by my noble friend who moved this Amendment.


I feel that perhaps this clause might be clarified. I am quite convinced of its true legal construction at the moment, but I am all in favour of making things clear. The noble Lord, Lord Gainford, thinks that something might be done to make it clear and to show that the dangers which he apprehends are really not intended by the clause. The Government will be very happy to consider whether some words cannot be added, or altered in the subsection, to make the matter perfectly clear, and I should be very glad to have any draft which the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, would like me to consider.


I recognise the spirit in which the Lord Chancellor desires to meet me, but I am afraid that my opinion, for what it is worth, does not really depend upon the interpretation of the word "controlling." What I dislike is that a Commission of this kind should have powers beyond those of preparing a lease, and here in this clause the Commission is to be given power to do whatever it thinks best in the interests and better organisation of the industry. The coal owners, colliery firms and managers think they know far better what can be done in connection with collieries, and in the interests and better organisation of the mines, than a Commission of this kind, and therefore while I shall be very glad to consider any words later on which the Lord Chancellor might like to introduce, I do feel inclined to press my Motion to a Division, and take the sense of the House thereon.


I think it would be rather a pity to divide on this, because the Lord Chancellor has undertaken at a later stage to suggest words. He conceded rather, towards the end of his remarks, that the words used by Lord Gainford were substantially correct, and he has asked that he should have sugges- tions from those who criticise the clause. All I want to be sure is that nothing of the control or management or supervision by His Majesty's inspectors of mines shall in future be under the control of the Commission. If he will put that in, and give us a definition of "premises," I, for my part, should be satisfied.


There is no difficulty at all about the meaning of "premises." As I have already said it means everything that is to be acquired by the Commission.


Of course I recognise the position occupied by Lord Crawford in connection with coal-mining affairs, and I do not want to press the Amendment on this occasion, but if I am not satisfied on the Report stage, of course I shall claim my right to raise the matter again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD GAINFORD moved to leave out subsection (2). The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with what the Board of Trade may do, and I suggest that the Commission have got a definite job to perform. There was inserted in another place these words, because it was thought that Parliament should have an opportunity of considering what the Commissioners did under any direction which might be issued by the Board of Trade. I do not think it is desirable that the Board of Trade should give these directions. I have already pointed out that the Board of Trade might belong to one Party at one moment and another at another moment, and in my opinion it ought not to be able to give directions such as are suggested in this subsection. One of the powers which I think is suggested relates to the question of safety, and, as Lord Crawford on another occasion pointed out, it is most undesirable that matters of safety should be taken away from the proper authorities and be subjected to the Commission.

This Amendment is to prevent the Board of Trade issuing what, I believe, will be absolutely superfluous directions to the Commission. The Commission have a definite job, which it is their duty to perform, and it is not necessary for the Board of Trade to give them further directions, especially in connection with safety and the other matters referred to in the subsection. In another place the President of the Board of Trade stated that there was a similar precedent in connection with the Forestry Commission, but that is a very different body from a Commission of this kind. The Forestry Commission has not only duties connected with taking land, but in connection with the working of forests, etc., and all the arrangements of those matters might very well come up for revision in the House of Commons; but anybody who wants, at any time, to raise questions connected with this Commission can do so quite well without these directions being required to be inserted in the Act of Parliament. Under the Electricity Act the Electricity Commission have got to do their own work. It was not necessary to insert such a provision in that Act, nor do I think it is necessary in this Act. The general ground that the Commission have got their own work to do and should not be interfered with by directions from the Board of Trade stands good, and I move that this subsection be omitted from the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 18, leave out subsection (2).— (Lord Gainford.)


In order to save the next Amendment I will put the Question that the subsection, as far as the word "interest" in line 22, stand part of the clause.

THE EARL OF CRAWFORD, who had on the Paper an Amendment in subsection (2), to leave out "including all matters affecting the safety of the working of coal," said: I attach the very greatest importance to this Amendment, and I have put down on the Paper an Amendment to omit the words "including all matters affecting the safety of the working of coal." On the Second Reading I ventured to express my great surprise at the little attention which was given to this question of safety in the speeches made by responsible Ministers here and elsewhere. I now revert to the subject. This clause authorises the Board of Trade to give instructions to the Coal Commission to deal with "all matters affecting the safety of the working of coal." I think that is a most dangerous provision, and if I can get a Teller I am going to divide against it.

I asked on Second Reading what the object of these words was, and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was good enough to reply, but he indicated that the matter was one which could more appropriately be dealt with in Committee. Now that we are in Committee and directly dealing with these words I come back to the point. What is the object of giving to this Coal Commission powers to deal with safety when, in the opinion of every responsible man connected with the coal trade, safety is a matter for the Ministry of Mines and for His Majesty's inspectors? Here you introduce into the relation between the landlord and the tenant, between the coal lessor and the coal lessee, a theory which was prevalent thirty or forty years ago, when landlords used to put into their leases a provision that the lessee should work his coal in accordance with the provisions of the Mining Acts, which sounded all right but which was in itself a source of danger.

It is not necessary that anybody should say in a private lease that the provisions of the law have to be observed. The duty of ensuring that is placed in well denned hands under the various Mines Acts, and that provision in private leases has accordingly disappeared. It was otiose—more than otiose, it was dangerous, because it produced a vague and equivocal situation. Who was to settle it—the Minister of Mines or the lessor of the coal? According to these words the lessor of the coal has a right to say, "You have to tub this shaft or you have to introduce mechanical haulage," or one thing or another directly connected with the safety of the mine and of the coal. I venture to say that these words are not only superfluous but they are positively dangerous. They introduce an element of doubt as to who is responsible. For the first time this is really effectively putting into a Mines Bill a statement that somebody other than the Ministry of Mines and the officers of the Ministry of Mines are responsible for safety—of course, with the manager and the agent of the pit. That is a very serious thing indeed. We must insist upon knowing what the explanation is.

These words are put in because it is thought they sound well: the new Commission will see that the mines are kept safe! The safety of life and limb is one of the most solemn and terrible responsibilities that any man can carry. He is liable for manslaughter if he does some- thing stupid or wrong; and yet we are to allow five gentlemen, whose qualifications are set out in a long and wordy and ridiculous Schedule, to receive orders from the Board of Trade, through the Minister of Mines, that they are to do this or that about the safety of the mines. It is intolerable. It is an intolerable injustice to the agents and managers of pits. I will engage to say this, knowing something about these matters, that if this provision were in an ordinary lease it would be impossible to get a good mine agent or mine manager to take the responsibility, because he would not know where the responsibility ultimately rests. I feel very strongly about these questions of safety of life and limb. I greatly resent the levity with which these matters are being played with in this Bill, and I must beg the Government to give a concrete answer as to why this is put in. Unless they can give a satisfactory answer I shall divide the Committee.


I should like to support the view of the noble Earl. If, as he says, there is a danger of the inspectorate powers of the Ministry of Mines being handed over en bloc to this Commission I should protest as strongly as he does. One of the things that we have most cause to be proud of in this country in connection with mining is the very good relations that have existed between the inspectorate and those responsible for running the mines, and the very good results that have been obtained by the system that has prevailed. I am not quite clear, and I hope the Government will make it clear, whether these directions are merely meant to point out to the Commission certain things which they would not otherwise discover, or whether it is intended to give them practically the control of matters of safety in the mine. If it is a question of giving the Board of Trade power to get rid entirely of their responsibilities in the matter of health and safety in the mines, and of handing over their powers of inspectorate and so on, then I shall support the noble Lord if he divides.


I hope I may relieve the anxieties of my noble friends, because the intentions of the Government are entirely those which have just been stated to the House. There is no intention whatever of reducing the statutory duties of the Ministry of Mines and its in- spectors. All that this really means, as I understand it, is that the Coal Commission shall exercise the powers of a good landlord and that in giving a lease of an area of coal they will see that safety is attended to—naturally, advised in this particular by the inspectors of the Mines Department. They may say that it would be better that there should be a shaft here or a shaft there, and should have regard to the safety of the mines. It does not in the very least withdraw the responsibility for safety from the inspectors nor from the Department itself; it merely says that the Coal Commission have been put into the position of landlord, and that is one of the things they have to take into their consideration.

As regards the rest of the clause, there all that is intended is that there should be a general direction of this kind. If the Coal Commission are considering the opening of another area, then the Board of Trade might say: "No, there are already a large number of these collieries which are not actually in full production. We do not think that you can at the present moment sell any more coal. If you are going to open these new mines, it may be that you can get coal more easily and cheaply, but you are going to throw these other mines out of commission, and throw the miners out of work, so that the houses in which they live become unoccupied and the schools erected for their children are not used. Therefore, in the interests of the nation we are not prepared to allow you to open this new area of coal until you have more or less exhausted the coal which is coming from those areas." That is all that is really intended by this clause. It is a general direction that the Coal Commission shall behave like a good landlord—not merely the ordinary good landlord as we know him but a good landlord for the whole of the coal industry; and therefore that they should take into consideration the interests of the coal industry and the interests of the nation in managing the business. Nothing more is intended than that, and I hope your Lordships will be somewhat relieved by that explanation.


From what was said in another place the object which apparently the Government had was that it should have the power of giving directions in order that points might be raised in the House of Commons in connection with the work of this Commission. The right honourable gentleman in charge of the Bill in another place said distinctly that he could not expect that he would ever have to put this direction into operation, but the objection that the Mining Association have to these words is that they give to the Board of Trade at some time or other power for making directions in regard to safety. The Mines Act definitely says what provision has to be made in regard to safety, and everybody who takes a lease has to obey those provisions. These words in my judgment are wholly unnecessary. They give a power to the Board of Trade which is contrary to the interests of the safety of the mines.


I am afraid I did not quite understand the noble Earl the Leader of the House. He stated in his remarks just now, as far as I could gather, that the powers of the Board of Trade under subsection (2) would only be exercised on the granting of a lease. Are we to understand that once a lease has been granted, and the colliery is functioning, there will be no question of interference by the Board of Trade?


May I ask the noble Earl before he finally disposes of this subsection whether he has been in consultation with the Mining Association regarding the wording of these two subsections because they appear to be highly dangerous words? They appear to be highly dangerous words to the Mining Association as well. The Mining Association is a body representative of al the greatest experts in coal mining in Great Britain, and it does seem an extraordinary thing that there should be this divergence of view between the Government and the Mining Association, the greatest body of experts in Great Britain. It is all very well for the Government to get up and say that these are perfectly innocent words. But the Mining Association say they are not. I agree with my noble friend Lord Crawford, that it ought to be very easy for the Government to agree with the Mining Association on what the necessary words should be, but these exact Amendments were moved in another place, and it is obvious that the fears of the Mining Association have not been appeased, because here they are being moved to-day in your Lordships' House. Surely the noble Earl can give us a definite assurance that the Government will consult with the Mining Association regarding suitable words which will put their fears at rest and also dissipate the fears that your Lordships must have.


So far as this subsection as a whole is concerned, it is obviously necessary to retain it. The Government have given unanswerable reasons why it should be retained, why it should not be omitted altogether, because clearly it is necessary that the Mining Commission should have directions so to conduct the management of the business entrusted to them that the national interest may be served. There should be no difference of opinion with regard to that. Unless this subsection in some form or other is retained, a Mining Commission which was not being well managed could, not be brought to book and kept in control should any case arise in which the Commission were considering only the immediate local interests and not the wider national interests which Parliament must have in mind in passing this Bill.

So far as the word "safety" is concerned, if the subsection meant what the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, thinks it means, then clearly the word is wrong, because it is quite certain that this Mining Commission ought not to have any powers in the least resembling or overlapping the powers of the Department of Mines with regard to the protection of the mine workers. But the Government tell us that is not what it means, and the Government tell us that what it does mean is, for example, that in the laying out of a new coalfield or the extension of a coalfield the Mining Commission must take into particular account, among other matters, the safety of the men. Questions of flooding might come in, and geological considerations might come in, and if we simply struck out the word "safety" I can imagine that when the Bill goes back to another place the representatives of the miners would get up in indignation and say, "Surely one of the main things that this Commission should take into account is the general safety of the working of the coalfield." To leave out these words would be regarded as a great injury to the interests of the mining population. I am quite certain Lord Crawford has not that in view. He has the opposite in view. He wants to promote the safety of the mining population. But do not let us hurriedly pass any Amendment which would have the opposite effect, and suggest that we are indifferent to the safety of the men. Here again it is a question of wording and drafting, for we are all at one in the purpose we have in view. I should strongly deprecate any Division on leaving out the word "safety," because that would be very likely to be misinterpreted.


Lord Samuel says there would be indignation on the part of the Miners' Federation. They have never passed a resolution in favour of these words.


They have never passed one against them.


I understood from Lord Samuel that they were strongly in favour of them. I know several members of the Miners' Federation, and I know they do not want the system of inspection changed.


We are all at one about that.


Then let us get the words right. Do not let us continue with this ridiculous argument about words. Lord Stanhope says this only gives the powers of a good landlord to the Commission. Any landlord in this country good or bad, unless he has got a covenant in his lease, has nothing to do with haulage or so on, and when he says that it merely transfers the powers of a good landlord Lord Stanhope is joking with us.


I said it would relate to the working of leases and so on. There is no question of haulage or anything of the kind.


There is one authority, and one only, dealing with safety. Lord Stanhope talked about geology. The question of geology concerns His Majesty's inspectors of mines, and it is on that point that I join issue with the Government. He said it might be a question of a superfluous shaft. A superfluous shaft is an economic question, not a question of safety. I am talking about safety. The words of the Bill are that this Commission can deal with "all matters affecting the safety of the working of coal." The Lord Chancellor was good enough on subsection (1) to undertake to look into this again. The Leader of the House has told us there is no difference between us in respect of these matters, and that it is merely a question of interpretation. I invite the Lord Chancellor to give us on subsection (2) the pledge he was good enough to give us on subsection (1).


It really does seem a waste of time to discuss words. I am not going to insist, as far as I am concerned, on the proposition that these words are necessary. If the noble Earl would be content with words to show at the conclusion of subsection (2) that nothing in that subsection can in any way affect or interfere with the duties and powers of mining inspectors, I am sure, as far as I am concerned, there would be no difficulty whatever in inserting such words.


I am very much obliged to the noble and learned Lord. So far as I am concerned I shall not press my Amendment to a Division.


Again I am somewhat in a difficulty. I have not the slightest objection to these words being inserted that everybody has to conform, under the Commission, to the proper duties of a good landlord. But these words seem to go very much further because they give very definite powers—very ample powers—to the Board of Trade to issue directions, and I do not think they are desirable. Having regard to the undertaking that the matter will be further considered with a view to restricting this subsection to the duties of a good landlord, and not to interfere with the powers of His Majesty's inspectors or with the responsibilities of those who, under the law, have to look after the safety of the men, I am prepared for the time being to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD STRABOLGI moved, in subsection (2), after "coal," to insert "and the prevention of subsidences." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is in subsection (2), which we have been examining for the last hour or two, and it is to insert the words "and the prevention of subsidences." When this matter was discussed at great length in another place it would seem, from an impartial reading of the proceedings, that there must have been a good deal of confusion at the end of the discussion in another place, and a similar Amendment to this was not pressed on the understanding that further advice could be taken as to the meaning of certain paragraphs of Schedule 2. My noble friends and myself have put this Amendment down because it was said in another place that at a later stage it was hoped to deal with it, or there was an understanding to that effect, and the opportunity, apparently, did not arise. But the doubt and uncertainty as to the powers of the Commission under Schedule 2 was admitted, and remained, and we are now seeking to try to clarify the position. The other reason is that there is a great deal of feeling in many parts of the country over the question of subsidence. The miners themselves feel very strongly about it. In addition to that a great many local authorities, urban district councils and the like, have suffered very badly from subsidence, and they would like this general direction included in subsection (2).

Perhaps I might suggest that so far as the Bill is drawn the interests of the Commission, if I may so describe them, are all bound up with what goes on below the surface in the mines—which seam shall be worked, the geological plan that they work upon, and so on. I do not find words which direct the attention of the Commission, or which require the President of the Board of Trade to instruct the Commission, to look after the interests of people living on the surface of the land. Now under the present system many landlords who are coal-owners and royalty owners have also an interest in the surface of the land, and you are altering all that. You are taking away all the minerals from private ownership and handing them over to these Commissioners who have no interests in the surface of the land, as far as I can read from this Bill. Therefore I suggest that that is an additional argument for the Amendment. Your Lordships are aware that this question of subsidence has been before Governments and Parliament for many years, and it is unnecessary to remind you of the great losses municipalities have suffered, and the great losses that small property owners have suffered. People who have saved and been thrifty all their lives have then been ruined, or practically ruined, by subsidence bringing about the destruction of their property. The matter has been a great grievance in a large part of the country for a number of years. Your Lordships are also aware that in 1927 the Royal Commission on Mining Subsidence, which I believe contained amongst its members experienced mining engineers, unanimously reported in favour of steps being taken to prevent subsidence in all cases.

I have read the Second Schedule with care but without full understanding; the language is rather erudite. But as far as I do understand that Schedule, where the obligations to support exist in leases or contracts which the Commission take over, those continue, but where they do not exist, where there is no obligation owing to past transactions to prevent subsidence, then the Commission wash their hands of any responsibility. I am open to correction on that. I have read the Schedule carefully, and I have read the explanations given by representatives of the Government, and I understand the Commission are not taking over more obligations to prevent subsidence than those existing already. Ii I am wrong in that respect then the proposed words may be unnecessary. That is bad enough in my submission, but what about the future leases granted in respect of coal that is unworked or even undiscovered? What is to be the duty of the Commissioners there? I do not find that their attention —I hope I am wrong—is anywhere directed to the rights! of the people living on the surface, and of the property owners who may suffer from the operations.


Page 54.


I have read that with great attention, but I must have missed those words. At any rate those for whom I am speaking on this occasion have asked my noble friends to press this matter. They have taken the greatest interest in the subject ever since this Bill was first drafted, and they think these words are necessary. I have done my best also to understand what safeguards there are, and, as I say, I have failed to find that there is sufficient instruction to the Commissioners to watch the interests of the surface owners. For these reasons we have put down this Amendment, and I hope the Government, having had ample time since the matter was debated in another place to look further into it, can give us some reassurances. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 23, after ("coal") insert ("and the prevention of subsidences").—(Lord Strabolgi.)


We are dealing here with the sort of directions that the Board of Trade may give to the Commission in respect of the exercise of their functions which, for this purpose, means in granting leases or negotiating for leases. When the matter was in another place, and for all I know on the drafting of this Bill, those in charge of the Bill were so anxious that it should be thought the safety of the miners was a primary consideration that they inserted here that the instructions that might be given included all matters affecting the safety and the working of coal. And they did that in order to demonstrate that that was one of the leading ideas that was to animate the Commission. But when it is suggested that we should add to that another matter, which of course is important but relates to the subsidence of the surface if the coal is worked in a particular way, then in the view of the Government, and if I may so in my view, these words are quite unnecessary, because there is a general right to give directions in relation to all matters which appear to the Board to affect the national interest and that includes the matter of subsidence of the surface.

Moreover, there is a legal objection to putting in one or more things, to put in a plurality of things which a general clause is stated to include, for the reason that if you begin stating all the numerous things which the Board may give directions about and which appear to them to affect the national interest you are going in all probability to prevent other things which are not mentioned being taken to be included. You may be giving a genus and it may be said that all the things which are to be taken to be in the national interest are ejusdem generis with things which may have been included specifically. No one can say that because the matters affecting the safe working of the coal are there. There is nothing ejusdem generis in that. If you put in other things I do not profess to know what some Court will say as to the effect of these words. It may well be held that they limit the matters which appear to the Board to affect the national interest. On the other hand, the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, was perfectly right in saying that that is a matter which the Board of Trade should in a proper case take into consideration when they are giving general directions to the Commission. It is perfectly plain, in my opinion, that they will do so, and in another place the President of the Board of Trade expresssed the opinion that they will certainly do so. Of course, that does not, I agree, bind some future Government many years hence, but I think it is sufficiently strong. We can do very well without these words and I think it would be a mistake to put them in.


Might I ask the noble and learned Lord to give a further explanation on this point? The words here are "national interest." I suggest to him that, as those words are followed by "including all matters affecting the safety of the working of the coal," one might be led to suppose that the expression "national interest" includes something that is greater than local interest which would be immediately concerned if there were, for instance, subsidence. These words might be held to be explanatory of the term "national." If it is not we shall be glad to be informed. "National interest" is surely something which relates to the nation as a whole, and not something which is clearly a local accident or consequence of the working of the coal. The noble and learned Lord Chancellor entirely agrees with my noble friend that matters affecting subsidence should be taken into account in granting leases and those other matters referred to by the noble Earl the Leader of the House on the preceding Amendment. I suggest that the expression "national interest," with the explanatory words deliberately inserted, might be held to be something wider than mere local accident.


I must admit the ingenuity, if I may so describe it, of the argument of the noble Lord, but I think I can give him a complete answer. When talking of matters affecting national interest in regard to coal mining you must refer to local things. You cannot help it. The national interest in one pit will not be the same as in another. But because you have got this power here the Board of Trade must give the Commission directions that, in rela- tion to a particular pit, or a particular region, or something which is local—because there is not coal all over England—the Commission ought to exercise their functions with regard to the directions that are given. They must be local. Even the provisions affecting the safety of the working of coal must be local, because your Lordships know very well that there are mines where there is no fire to be got, where there never has been any danger from explosion in the history of man, and where you can freely go down with a candle any day of the week. Your directions with regard to that matter would be local, applied to particular mines where there was particular danger. The same applies with regard to the layout of mines. They are all local considerations. Therefore the very ingenious argument put forward is one which I think does not lead to any real danger as regards this clause.


While I thank the noble and learned Lord Chancellor for his explanation, I am afraid we are not satisfied. We think the words ought to be put in, in the interest of the surface dwellers, but in the circumstances we will not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

[The sitting was suspended at five minutes past eight o'clock and resumed at twenty minutes past nine o'clock.]

Clause 3:

Commission to acquire fee simple in coal.

(2) During the period between the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine (in this Act referred to as the "valuation date") and the first day of July, nineteen hundred and forty-two (in this Act referred to as the "vesting date") all coal and mines of coal shall be held as if all the existing owners thereof had, in respect of all their interests therein other than retained interests and with full capacity so to do, entered into a contract on the valuation date for the sale thereof to the Commission, at a price to be ascertained by valuation, with provision for completion of the contract on the vesting date.

LORD TEYNHAM moved, in subsection (2), after "(2)," insert "(a)." The noble Lord said: With reference to this Amendment which stands in my name perhaps for the convenience of your Lordships I might suggest that all the Amendments to this clause should be discussed together as my Amendment is an alternative and drafting Amendment to that in the name of Lord Balfour.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 38, after ("(2)") insert ("(a)").—(Lord Teynham.)


If the Committee have no objection I see no reason why we should not discuss all these Amendments together.


The only question I would like to put to the Lord Chairman in these circumstances is under what principle shall we take the Divisions on these different Amendments?


I think that is a matter for the Committee to decide, after the discussion. We generally do it this way, and I have never seen any difficulty arise.


The Amendment in my name raises a rather different principle, and if possible it might be left until the other Amendments have been discussed.


I have explained the difficulty I am in. In the ordinary way I think the Question would be put on each Amendment. A great deal depends upon the order in which the Amendments stand on the Paper. I am only asking for guidance. My Amendment which comes subsequent to the Amendment of Lord Teynham is lather more far-reaching, and it would seem to be illogical to take an Amendment which is less far-reaching before that which is more far-reaching. I am only seeking guidance, and wish to know what will be the best method of conducting the proceedings.


Every Amendment must be put.


I quite understand that, but I am wondering in what order they will be put, because some are more far-reaching than others, and it would seem to be for the convenience of the Committee if the more far-reaching Amendments were put first.


Might I endorse what has fallen from Lord Balfour, that the more far-reaching Amendments should be put first, and then, if it be necessary, the less far-reaching Amendment later. May I point out that the first Amendment is purely drafting and consequential upon the fourth, and also upon one on the following page. Might I be allowed therefore to suggest that the first one to be taken should be the one in the name of Lord Balfour?


I have no power in the matter. I can only suggest to your Lordships that the usual course is to take the first Amendment on the Paper.


Dividing upon the letter (a) seems to be rather inadequate to the matter in hand.


On behalf of Lord Teynham I would like to withdraw the first Amendment, which I think is purely drafting, and if necessary steps can be taken to move it on the Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH moved, in subsection (2), to leave out "the first day of July, nineteen hundred and forty-two (in this Act referred to as." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential on the Amendment which appears on page 3 of the Paper, to insert certain words at the end of subsection (2). With your Lordships' permission, I will speak to the drafting Amendment and to the subsequent Amendment, as I understand is the intention of the Committee. This Amendment I present to your Lordships as of the gravest possible importance. The substance of the two Amendments is expressed in my Amendment on page 3, which, with your Lordships' permission, I will read: The vesting date shall be a date to be fixed by the Board of Trade with the approval of the Treasury not less than three months after the amounts ascertained by valuations in respect of each holding in accordance with the provisions of Section seven of this Act have been certified but not earlier than the first day of July one thousand nine hundred and forty-two.

The effect of that Amendment is to postpone the vesting date until such time as the whole of the regional valuations shall be complete.

As your Lordships will remember, the valuation date is January 1 next and the vesting date named in the Bill is July 1, 1942. The Government have stated that they anticipate that these individual regional valuations will be completed by July 1, 1942. That, I understand, is the reason why that date was chosen as the vesting date. If that anticipation is fulfilled, then my Amendment will make no difference whatever to the procedure. The valuations will be complete and the vesting date will be July 1, 1942, as is provided in the Bill. The vesting date is, of course, the date on which the actual ownership of the coal passes to the Commission. The principle which I wish to preserve is that the ownership of the coal shall not pass, that is, that the owners shall retain their property until it is paid for. I think it is an unchallengeable principle in public acquisition of private property that the value of the property should be ascertained and that the purchase price should be paid before the ownership passes from the private individual to the State. That is all that this Amendment seeks to ensure; that the property shall not pass from its present ownership until full payment can be made on completion of the valuation.

Your Lordships will realise that there are two valuations provided for in the Bill. One of them is provided in Clause 6 (3), which says that the compensation to be paid should be £66,000,000 and some odd thousands of pounds. The second valuation, provided a little later on by Clause 7 (1), says: The sums to be paid for compensation as aforesaid shall be ascertained by valuation, in accordance with the provisions of this section, of the interests"— and so on. So that we have these two valuations; one of the global sum, the other upon individual valuation and assessment of each property. Not long ago, in the debate on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Hastings, I put forward the proposition that if the Government's anticipations were fulfilled, the total of the individual valuations would equate to a sum of £66,000,000, or something like it, and I understood that I secured the assent of the Lord Chancellor to that proposal. The Lord Chancellor shakes his head, and I accept the correction. I thought that was so. I thought that was the basis of the plea that this was, in fact, not confiscation but compulsory purchase at an agreed price. If the total of the individual valuations under Clause 7 is going greatly to exceed the total of £66,000,000 odd, then all the more do I think that the vesting date should not be before that total is ascertained.

This raises, of course, the whole question of the fairness and adequacy of the compensation. We have already discussed the proposition that the owners of the coal in perpetuity are to receive fifteen years' purchase. I have very little doubt, and I am assured by experts in these matters, that there is a perpetuity in the coal which is already in lease; that is to say, that there is sufficient coal already in lease and subject to royalties to provide the existing output of 228,000,000 tons a year for fifty years. If that is so, then the fifteen years' purchase is being paid for the coal which is in lease. I maintain that in addition to that, in exchange for the compensation which is being paid, the Government are going to obtain a wholly different perpetuity, which is the coal which is not in lease, but which is there undeveloped and simply awaiting development. If my belief is correct, there is no doubt that the total of the valuations under Clause 7 will, even under the limitation imposed by the Greene Committee, greatly exceed the total of £66,000,000 odd. And I think it would be unfortunate if the transfer of the property, which is what happens when it vests in the Commission, should take place before we can really tell what the position is.

I return for one moment to the proposition, which was once again approved by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack this afternoon, that the normal result for an owner who has coal in working and under royalty of more than fifty years will be to receive more than fifteen years' purchase. If that is so we are entitled to ask how much more than fifteen years' purchase will that owner receive, and who will settle how many years' purchase he is to receive. I thought that was the very question which the Greene Committee were appointed to settle. If he is going to receive more, I think the Government must say how much more he is going to receive. That has a great bearing on the valuation. I do not desire to take up more of your Lordships' time. I offer this Amendment as a test of the sincerity of the Government. I cannot see that its acceptance would do any harm. It does not give the royalty owners a penny more of money except in so far as they might for a few months enjoy the royalties instead of the interest. That, in a matter of this magnitude, is neither here nor there, but it would be of great importance and satisfaction to all concerned to know before a property vests what the real position is. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 40, leave out from ("and") to ("the") in line 2 on page 3.—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)


My noble friend's Amendment deals with quite a different point to that which I expected and which I thought would appear from the actual terms of the Bill we are now discussing. What we are really discussing on this clause is what is to happen to the property after the vesting date. Most of the Amendments which have been put down by members of your Lordships' House are on the lines that noble Lords think the valuation will not be complete by the vesting date and therefore they suggest that the date should be put further back until the valuation is complete. That is the impression left on my mind from looking at the Amendments on the Paper. The noble Lord has raised quite a different point. He told your Lordships he was informed that coal in lease was sufficient to last in perpetuity. If that is correct it means that not a single new lease is going to be given in the next four years to any coal mine in the country.


No, No.


Certainly it means that no mine is going to come to an end and that every mine will be able to go on for an apparently indefinite period.


Leases come to an end although the coal inside the ground does not.


In some cases, yes. I understand the normal practice is that coal leases are designed to last until the coal is completely worked out. There are exceptions, but I understand that in many cases what is usual is that the lease is supposed to cover the life of the mine. If I am wrong in that, at any rate it does mean that no mine is going to be worked out during the next four years.


It really does not mean anything of the sort. There are lots of mines that will be worked out, but there are many others which contain very much more than a mere fifty years life. They contain a perpetuity. Perpetuity is not limited to fifty years of coal. A mine begins to be a perpetuity when it is fifty years but many mines have much longer perpetuities than fifty years. It comes back to a question of this super-perpetuity which we are told is going to get more than fifteen years' purchase. It does not in the least mean that mines are not going to come to an end but there are many mines with coal which will last infinitely longer than fifty years.


Of course that is obvious, but what it also means is that if the coal in some mines is worked out other mines have got to produce much more coal.


Or new mines will be started.


New mines will be started—that is the whole point. My noble friend said new mines would not start.


I never said anything of the sort. My noble friend put that in my mouth, and I am concerned at once to deny it.


My noble friend gave me to understand that mines already working were to go on in perpetuity. That means that no other mines would come into working.


No, no.


It must be so. Unless the mines already working are able to produce more coal, obviously the output from the mines which are left will fall behind the full production that exists to-day.


Several of the mines are only working at half their output, and they could replace all the coal from the exhausted mines.


That is exactly what I said on Second Reading, but to which noble Lords objected—namely, that we should be able to produce more coal at a cheaper price if the mines were working at full production instead of at seventy-five per cent. or less. I understood noble Lords on the other side were not prepared to accept that either. My noble friend asked me to say what was the value that could be given to any individual mine. Nobody can say that at this moment. That depends on the valuation that has to be made. What we have said is that, taking the expectation of the sales of coal which are likely to occur, the Tribunal has said that the value of this property is fifteen years' purchase. I think that has been divided up into regions, and those regions will be divided up amongst individual owners. It is impossible to say what any owner will get, and that is why there is the gap of three and a half years before the property vests. Neither I nor anybody can give that figure. It must depend how the valuations work out; but it is obvious that some mines have a short life, while other mines, which have a life in perpetuity, must get above the average figure. Some will get less, some more, but how much more I am quite unable to tell your Lordships.


The noble Earl's reply surely does not deal with all the points raised by my noble friend Lord Balfour. He was proposing that the vesting date should be postponed until the valuations were complete on grounds of equity as well as upon the points to which the noble Earl has replied. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, expounded to your Lordships the perfectly well accepted theory that a man's property does not pass out of his hands until he has been paid for it. This Bill proposes that at a certain date, whether the valuations are complete or not, the property vests in the Coal Commission. The property then passes out of the hands of the individual who owns it to-day, and he is left, so to speak, in the air as to the sum he is going to receive until the valuations are complete. Just think, for a moment, what happens, supposing that eventuates of which we are fearful. The Registration Act provided for certain things with which we are all familiar and they are now in process of being given effect to.

Registrations have been coming in, as we were told some long time ago in another place, to the number of 17,000. I am informed that these applications for registration, which are coming in almost at the rate of a gross a week, are swelling and swelling in number, and are likely to continue to swell in number. The office concerned with the tabulation of these applications is swamped, and if the inevitable delays which will ensue in that particular regard are carried also into the valuation proceedings, which it is not unreasonable to suppose that they will do—because really in fact this is an infinitely bigger undertaking than the Government realise—there is likely to be great delay, not intentional but inevitable delay, and we are likely to find ourselves, those of us who are still above ground on July 1, 1942, a very long way off the completion of the valuation. What then happens? Is this Bill to be taken as the law of the Medes and Persians? Is this vesting date to stand fast, and is all this property to change hands whether the valuations have been completed or not? That really would not be equitable, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, properly pointed cut.

It may be that these valuations will be completed by the 1st July, 1942, in which case his Amendment does not affect the issue at all. It merely provides for what is a reasonable procedure assuming that the expectation of the Government is not fulfilled. That is all it invites. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, has brought in other points of great importance to which the noble Earl has devoted his reply, but what exactly do the Government propose should be done if these valuations are not complete? As the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, pointed out, nobody knows how much anybody is going to get until the whole of the valuations are complete in their particular region. Therefore the delay in valuation in any particular region of ten or a dozen or a score of separate units will delay the receipt by those whose valuations have been completed of their money, because no one will know how to divide the money until all is finished. It is not fair; it is not reasonable. Are the Government going to pay three per cent, interest on a sum the content of which the Government do not know, and is the royalty owner to pay four and a half per cent, to a mortgagee who certainly will not forgo his rights? How is anyone to form an estimation of the amount to which he is entitled until the valuation is complete, and why should there be any vesting until this sum is known? I think the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, by his Amendment is really only trying to give an equitable interpretation of the Government's intention. The Government are quite unable to tell the House that this valuation will be finished on July 1, 1942. They can only say they expect it will be finished. If the valuations are not finished on that date the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, ought to be there as a safeguard to the general position.


May I ask a further question? It is not easy to understand what is proposed. This relates largely to what is in Schedule 3. Is it proposed that as from the vesting date, July 1, 1942, assuming the valuation is not complete and the distribution is not done, the £66,000000 equitably becomes the property of the ex-royalty owners, and does it begin to bear interest on that date, so that not only will they get at some future date their proportion of the £66,000,000 but the interest which will begin to run from that date? It seems to me that the simplest course would be to expedite the valuations and make the vesting date the date at which the whole thing is complete, but I would like an explanation of what is the intention of the Bill in its present form.


My noble friend Earl Stanhope did not quite appreciate the point that was being raised by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh. Accordingly he dealt rather partially with that for which I understand the noble Lord really meant to ask. After my noble friend Lord Hastings had spoken it became quite apparent that there are two entirely different questions involved here. The first is, are we to fix the vesting date as it is fixed in the Bill or is some modification as to that intended so that it should be in certain events put at a different date? The second point is as to what is to happen if in fact at the vesting date fixed in the Bill particular owners in a particular region have not been paid their money. Let me say with regard to the second point that His Majesty's Government appreciate that in some cases it will be a great hardship if owners of coal who are bound to sell that coal under this Act are not paid at the vesting date the amount of their compensation. Accordingly the noble Earl the Leader of the House intended to have said, and instructs me to say now, that subject to certain drafting trivialities and to the place where the Amendment shall be put in, the Government are willing to accept in substance the Amendment to Clause 7 in the name of Lord Teynham, which is to be found on page 6 of the Marshalled List and relates to page 9, line 8, of the Bill. That provides for a partial payment of the assumed compensation, and they are willing to accept that to prevent cases of hardship.

Now let me answer the noble Marquess who last spoke. Apart from a payment on account—and this makes a compulsory payment on account—your Lordships must remember that the Commission have power to make a voluntary payment on account, but there is this also, in answer to the noble Marquess, that as from the vesting date a coalowner is entitled to the proper proportion he gets of the regional allocation of the sum due, with interest as mentioned in the Bill from that date, taking into account also, of course, any payment on account he may have received. So it really does in a sense crystallise, as from the moment of the date of vesting, the rights of all the people who are owners of coal in this country. They are crystallised as from that date, but one has to admit the possibility that in a few cases the actual valuation may not have been complete.

Now I want to say something about the actual valuation. Three and a-half years was the time suggested by various mineral valuers consulted on behalf of the Government, and they still maintain that they can carry out the work within that time. It is for that reason that the Government are very unwilling to mention in the Bill a later date, because that may very well make them not quite so urgent in the matter of completing this valuation, and everyone will agree that if the Bill is to become an Act the sooner it is done the better. I agree on behalf of the Government that one can never tell. There might be some accident. There might be a public strike. One does not know. Two things might be said. In the first place, if there is any general delay in completing the valuation it is plain that the Government, by Bill, will have to postpone the date of vesting. That would be the case, for instance, if there were a war, and there are other circumstances thought possible which would produce the same result. There is another possibility, and that is that with regard to a particular regional area there might be a delay, and with regard to that I think the view of the Government is that Lord Teynham's Amendment will probably remove any just cause for complaint, remembering this, as I have said, that subject to payment on account there might be a delay of a month or so and the coalowner is entitled to his interest.

There is one other thing which really is perhaps a little bit off the point which I have to consider, but which has been repeated several times and was repeated just now by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and which I should like to explain if I can—namely, with reference to the valuation, and the equation, as he suggested it, of the valuations of the individual coal-owners with the global sum. The valuation here, though I am painfully aware that some of your Lordships think it had some sinister motive, was really, if you will consider it, a system which could not be avoided, and for this reason. You will never get two or three valuers to value the interest of an owner of coal exactly on the same basis, or to apply exactly the same scale. They cannot do it. They will all have different ideas. One will be an optimist and one will be a pessimist. A man might go and value Northumberland coal on quite a different basis from that on which a man would value South Wales coal. Accordingly the Government have adopted this system. They first get, as you unhappily know, the figure you think is too small, but they have got the global figure for everything, the whole value of the coal in this country, present and future, so far as it has a market value. Then there is a regional distribution of that sum, which is done by Clause 6 of the Bill.

That is done by the Central Valuation Board, who, with regard to the various regions, make the regional allocation of each area. That is done by the same people, you will observe, working on precisely the same principle, on the same lines, and with the same method. So you get equality there as between the regional allocations. But then, when you come to distribute that among the persons who are the owners of coal, you have, owing to the magnitude of the transaction, to employ different people in each region. It does not matter two straws if in one region they are optimists and in another region they are pessimists, so long as the same people value all the units in that particular region; then you know what amount you have to divide among that region. It is a fraction, 1/x of £66,000,000 odd that has to be divided between all the coal owners in that district, and they will be scaled up or down in accordance with their share of that amount.


That is the grievance.


With the result that, assuming that the sum of £66,500,000 was right, which, for reasons which I am afraid I have given this House before and which I am not going into again, you have to assume for consideration of this question, the system of valuation is the only one which, so far as I can see, you can possibly adopt if the idea is that all the owners of coal shall have the same level, square deal—namely, have their property valued on the same basis. That is the reason why you have first a global valuation, which is a regional valuation, and then the separating up, all by the same valuers, in that particular region of the rights of different coal-owners. I have said that, I hope, out of a feeling that Lord Balfour of Burleigh ought to be met with regard to his difficulty there. I have met it to the best of my ability.

As regards the other two points, which are really involved in what we have discussed, the Government venture to think that Lord Teynham's Amendment will prevent any injustice, and that it is wrong to say that an owner of coal, after the vesting date, is not entitled to his interest on his share whatever it may be. The Government do not think, as at present advised, that the present time is the time for altering in any way the vesting date. I have told you what may happen in the future, but at present we will not alter it, and we must abide by that decision.


This seems a very difficult Bill to follow, but light flows from the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down. I now understand that the Government have acquired a perpetual annuity, which is worth in the market thirty years' purchase, for fifteen years' purchase. That seems tolerably clear. But I would like to know whether we are rightly informed when we are told that the Registration Act which was passed, I think, twelve months ago, has not yet resulted in all the owners registering: secondly, whether that figure of 17,000 owners is anything like the real picture; and, thirdly, are we being just to these 17,000 citizens in leaving them in a position where it is quite impossible for them to know what their income will be in the year 1942? One would have thought, for instance, that some notice might be allowed to the unfortunate citizen before his income was cut down by half—or less than half or more than half—so that he might know what his position would be in the future.

I will obliterate myself for a moment and suppose that under a coal-mining lease my widow's jointure amounts to £1,000, and that that is about the produce of the royalties at the present moment. When will my widow know what she will have on the 1st July, 1942? Will she know it on that date, and when will she know that she is going to get much less than she has been in the habit of getting? And supposing this valuation is not completely made by that time, what will she have to live on? Those points seem to me still to be quite unclear and to involve a maximum of injustice to individual citizens. I cannot understand why the Government, who have already got so much the better of this Bill, should not give way to the extent of giving justice in this particular case.


I should for myself feel very much inclined to agree with any opinion expressed by the Lord Chancellor in this matter, and I am sure that the Committee are greatly indebted to him for the most lucid exposition that we yet have had of the differences between the global valuation and the individual valuations of properties. That, however, is not the particular point with which we are concerned in this Amendment. The point is whether we shall have vesting at a fixed date in 1942, or whether we shall have vesting when all the valuations are completed. As I understand, the Government are optimistic, or optimistically believe that these individual valuations will all be completed by the year 1942, and that belief is based upon assurances by expert valuers, who have stated to the Government that they will be able to complete the valuations within that period. Of course, if the valuations are all completed within that period then there is no question to divide us at all.

The Lord Chancellor suggests that if we make an alteration in this matter the valuers will not be so anxious, or at least feel so much upon their honour, to complete the valuations at the period stated. A far more important factor comes into the calculation than that, and that is the attitude of the Government, because if we put upon the Government the obligation that vesting will only take place when all the valuations are completed, then the Government will see that the valuations are completed within the time. That is very much more important than the happy opinions of the valuers.

On the other hand, supposing the valuers are wrong in their calculation of the period within which they can complete the valuation, then certain considerations arise at once. For example, the position put by the noble Lord who spoke last is very pertinent. Why should people be kept in a position of doubt for so long? If the valuation is not completed by 1942, then you have a series of elaborate provisions as to the payment of interest and how it is to be calculated. But what is the objection to getting rid of all these difficulties and saying that the vesting will be completed when the valuation is completed? That, after all, seems a simple and common-sense plan, and it allows everybody to know where he stands.

It is perfectly true, as the Lord Chancellor said a moment ago, that the man whose valuation is not completed will begin to enjoy some share of interest, but he will not know just where he stands until the valuation is completed. I entirely sympathise with the person in that position, especially one who has obligations to other people which he cannot by any chance avoid, and would never seek to avoid. For my part I can see no detriment at all in the carrying of this Amendment, and on the other hand I think it will very much improve the Bill.


Enough has been said about this and a good many other subjects in this connection. The noble Earl the Leader of the House made an eloquent appeal to my noble friend Lord Hastings not to press his Motion to omit that portion of Part I dealing with this-subject. And my noble friend did not. I certainly hope that this Amendment will be pressed unless the Government show that they really mean what they said, and that is that they wish to meet us in a proper spirit.


I really cannot see any reason whatsoever why the Government should not accept this Amendment. I submit to your Lordships that they have not shown any reason why they should not accept it. It attacks in no way any principle embodied in this Bill as far as the Government are concerned, and it attacks in no way the machinery set up by the Bill. But it does grant to those who have an uncomfortable feeling about this Bill—and there are many—a very great principle. The Government in the original agreement that they made with the Mineral Owners' Association said: "We cannot stand by the result of the arbitration. We must be free to take it or leave it as we think fit. But on the other hand the royalty owners must accept the finding of the Arbitration Board whatever it may be." That is to say, they themselves were not ready to buy a pig in a poke, but we have got to do so. All this Amendment does is to let the pig out of the poke, and at any rate let us have a look at it before we buy it. We have got to buy it in any case; but apart from the undoubted smell attached to the particular animal in the bag, we do not know whether it is a pig or a badger, and at least the Government might grant us the right of looking at the animal we are forced to buy before it is foisted on us.

I have a feeling that the Government do not trust the Regional Valuation Boards which they themselves have set up. I hope I am wrong in that feeling. The noble Earl the Leader of the House told us that the Government had allowed the mineral owners, as he put it, as a great concession, to nominate a valuer in regard to these Regional Valuation Boards, and I think the Central Valuation Board as well, and maybe for that reason they do not trust these regional valuations. There is no concession in that whatsoever, and those of us who feel a suspicion about this Bill would much sooner stand by the valuation of the Regional Valuation Boards, which we know to be fair and logical, than by the global figure which has been arbitrarily arrived at without giving any of us a chance to produce our plans or give evidence of any sort or kind or description. The findings are veiled in such mystery that the Government are not even allowed to tell us anything about them. We would very much sooner that the Chairmen of these Regional Valuation Boards were appointed by the Government if that would satisfy them more in regard to the findings of the Regional Valuation Board. After all, the gentlemen who are going to be appointed to these Regional Valuation Boards are only certain individuals. There is no wide range of choice. They are expert valuers; they are men of honour, and they are going to give the same valuation no matter whether they are appointed by the Government or by the mineral owners. If it is going to help the Government to set more store by the Regional Valuation Board, which we firmly believe in and which we are ready to stand by, then, speaking for myself, and I believe I am speaking also for the royalty owners as a whole, we would much sooner the Government appointed the Chairmen of the Regional Valuation Boards.

The Lord Chancellor said there had been a great deal of criticism in regard to the global figure because it was too small. I would venture to cross swords with him on that point. I have not heard any criticism, or at any rate very little criticism, in regard to the global figure on the score of its being too small, because we none of us yet know whether it is too small or not. All we say is that it is an arbitrary figure which has been arrived at by unfair means, and it will only be as a result of the findings of the Regional Valuation Boards that we shall know whether the global figure is too small or not. It is only as a result of the findings of the Regional Valuation Board that we shall know whether this is a partially confiscatory Bill or not. Surely it is only right, it is only fair and only logical, that the vesting date should be postponed to such a time that at any rate we shall have a fair picture of the whole machinery, and know whether in fact this global figure is a fair one or not. That is all we ask for in this Amendment, and if the Government are right in saying that the valuations will be finished by the vesting date in the Bill, then no harm will be done by accepting this Amendment; but if they are not right, and if in fact the valuations will take longer, then it is only fair we should know what the whole picture is before any money changes hands. If the noble Earl thinks that the valuation will be deliberately slowed up, which I consider is rather a slur on the honour of these gentlemen who are to conduct them, well we would very much sooner the Government themselves appointed them. I hope this Amendment will be pressed to a Division and will be carried because we consider it a most essential one.


It has been suggested by some noble Lords who have spoken that there cannot be any possible objection to this Amendment, and that it is obviously reasonable that the vesting date should be postponed till the valuation is completed. But mark what the effect would be if this Amendment were put into the Bill in the terms in which it stands on the Paper. The vesting date would be a date to be fixed after the amounts ascertained by valuation in respect of each holding have been certified. That means to say that every valuation has to be completed in every part of the country and to be certified by the elaborate procedure under this Part of the Bill before the Bill can come into operation at all so far as the vesting date is concerned. Suppose there were some litigation in a particular case which might go from Court to Court. Under the terms of this Amendment until the whole litigation was settled in that particular case, say in Scotland or Lancashire, no vesting date could come in for the whole country.


Only in that region.


No. This applies to the whole country. The Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, is of a regional character. The one we are now discussing would have the effect I suggest. There is a great objection to any prolongation of this intervening period between the valuation date and the vesting date, for reasons which I ventured to submit on Second Reading. The intervening period is a somewhat dangerous one in view of the desire of the Coal Commission

to secure better organisation of the industry. It is safeguarded to some extent by a clause in the Bill, but it is doubtful whether that would be sufficient. If the vesting date is to be postponed for a considerable period then that objection would have all the greater weight. Furthermore, there is a financial consideration involved—namely, that the finances of the Commission will suffer month by month and year by year as the date is postponed. For that reason I hope your Lordships will hesitate and will not without much further consideration put an Amendment of this character into the Bill.


Before the Question is put, may I say that it seems to me that the reasons given by the Government for not accepting this Amendment are entirely insufficient to deter your Lordships from making the Amendment. We have been told by one of my noble friends that this Amendment attacks no principle. On the contrary, it upholds a principle which I think even the noble and learned Lord Chancellor will admit is of importance: that is, that no person shall be deprived of his property until it is possible to make full payment for it. That really is a fundamental principle and it is that principle which I seek to carry out by this Amendment. The noble and learned Lord Chancellor has admitted to your Lordships that in certain circumstances it might become necessary for the Government to introduce a Bill to postpone the vesting date. The only reason he gave against this Amendment on the precise point of the vesting date was that he was afraid that if the Amendment was put into the Bill regional valuations would be delayed. I think the reasons are quite insufficient and with some confidence I appeal to your Lordships to insist on the Amendment which I shall certainly press to a Division.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 55.

Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Somerset, D. Airlie, E.
Ancaster, E.
De La Warr, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Bath, M. Bathurst, E.
Dufferin and Ava, M. Birkenhead, E.
Iddesleigh, E. FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.]
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Samuel, V. Holden, L.
Midlothian, E. (E. Rosebery.) Hutchison of Montrose, L.
Munster, E. Addington, L. Jessel, L.
Radnor, E. Addison, L. Kenilworth, L.
Sandwich, E. Amulree, L. Mancroft, L.
Stanhope, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Portal, L.
Rushcliffe, L.
Cobham, V. Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.) Templemore, L.
Woodbridge, L.
Northumberland, D. Horne of Slamannan, V. Greville, L.
Ridley, V. Hampton, L.
Bradford, E. Hastings, L. [Teller.]
Cawdor, E. Aberdare, L. Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)
Dudley, E. Balfour of Burleigh, L. [Teller.] Lawrence, L.
Fitzwilliam, E. Leconfield, L.
Lindsay, E. Basing, L. Merthyr, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Belper, L. Middleton, L.
Liverpool, E. Berwick, L. O'Hagan, L.
Malmesbury, E. Bingley, L. Phillimore, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Brassey of Apethorpe, L. Redesdale, L.
Onslow, E. Cromwell, L. Saltoun, L.
Powis, E. Darcy (de Knayth), L. Sandhurst, L.
Scarbrough, E. Daryngton, L. Sherborne, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Stafford, L.
Bertie of Thame, V. Fairfax of Cameron, L. Strickland, L.
Bridgeman, V. Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.) Teynham, L.
Falmouth, V. Gainford, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Hereford, V. Gerard, L. Wolverton, L.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Resolved in the negative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


In view of the fact that the Amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, has been carried, I do not think there will be any purpose in pursuing the Amendment which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Teynham. It is very much the same, the only difference being that the Amendment in the name of Lord Teynham provides for regional cases, cases where the valuation has not been completed in one region, and the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Balfour applies to the whole country. In the one Amendment the time is three months and in the other not less than three months. I am very pleased not to move the Amendment.


The Amendment in subsection (2), to insert "as hereinafter defined" is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 2, after ("date") insert ("as hereinafter defined").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)


I think the noble Lord the Lord Chairman passed over my Amendment to substitute "1947" for "1942."


I thought the noble Lord withdrew the Amendment.


It was never called. I have no intention of pressing the Amendment to a Division because it is in most respects consequential on the Amendment which has just been carried by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour. Nevertheless it raises a point which I should rather like to ask the noble and learned Lord.


We have passed this stage, and if my noble friend wants to move this Amendment he must wait until the Report stage. We cannot go back on the Bill.


My Amendment was never called.


On a point of Order. I can assert that the Lord Chairman by a slip did not call this Amendment. Has the noble Earl, Lord Dudley, got to suffer for the quite inadvertent error of the Lord Chairman?


Might I suggest that as far as I can see it, by the Amendment which the Committee has just agreed to Lord Dudley's Amendment does not arise, because the line that he wishes to amend has been cut out of the Bill altogether.


Naturally I am in the Lord Chairman's hands in regard to that point.


The next Amendment is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 9, at end insert ("The vesting date shall be a date to be fixed by the Board of Trade with the approval of the Treasury not less than three months after the amounts ascertained by valuations in respect of each holding in accordance with the provisions of Section seven of this Act have been certified but not earlier than the first day of July one thousand nine hundred and forty-two ").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:

Retention of leasehold, etc., interests carrying right to work.

5.— (1) An interest in coal or a mine of coal that arises under a coal-mining lease shall be a retained interest—

  1. (a) where the term of years created by the lease is not, as regards that coal or mine, held in reversion on any under-lease, being a coal-mining lease, derived out of that lease; and also
  2. (b) where the term of years created by the lease is held in reversion as aforesaid, if the interest is one as respects which a direction is given under the next succeeding subsection.

(2) In the case of coal, or a mine of coal that is at the valuation data comprised both in a lease and in an under-lease derived out of that lease, both being coal-mining leases, the Commission may, by notice in writing served on the lessee under the lease, not later than the expiration of six months from, the valuation date, or, if later, from the date on which notice of the subsistence of the lease is delivered to the Commission under Section thirteen of this Act, give a direction that all interests in that coal or mine that arise under the lease shall be retained interests:

Provided that, if by reason of that coal or mine being comprised in an inferior under-lease a direction may be given under this subsection both as respects interests arising under the lease and as respects, interests arising under the under-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.

(3) For the purposes of this section a lease shall not be deemed to be a coal-mining lease unless a person carrying on the business of coal-mining has a substantial beneficial interest in the exercise of the rights thereby conferred.

(5) Where coal or a mine of coal in which a term o£ years created by a coal-mining lease is subsisting is subject to a right to work that coal or to use that mine for a coal-mining pur- pose, as the case may be, granted by a working facilities order to a person other than the person in whom the corresponding right arising under the lease is vested, the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of this section shall have effect in relation to interests in that coal or mine arising under the lease in like manner as if the term had been held in reversion as mentioned in subsection (1) of this section.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved to leave out the first three subsections and insert: (1) Except as provided by subsection (2) of this section, interests in coal or a mine of coal that arise under a coal-mining lease shall be retained interests. (2) The following interests, that is to say—

  1. (a) interests arising under a coal-mining lease in coal or a mine of coal which is subdemised by a coal-mining lease derived out of that lease, or which is, by virtue of any other form of disposition taking effect directly or indirectly out of that lease, held in like manner as if it had been so subdemised; and
  2. (b) interests arising under a coal-mining lease where neither the lessee nor any person claiming under him is a person carrying on the business of coal-mining and having a substantial beneficial interest in the exercise of the rights conferred by the lease;
shall not be retained interests unless the Commission so direct. (3) Any direction to be given for the purposes of the last preceding subsection shall be given by means of a notice in writing served on the lessee under the lease under which the interests in question arise, and must be given not later than the expiration of six months from the valuation date, or, if later, from the time when the Commission have received notice of the subsistence of that lease and also, in a case to which paragraph (a) of that subsection applies, of the sub-demise or other disposition. 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.

The noble and learned Lord said: I should be a happy man to-night if I thought that I could move an Amendment which would be received with at any rate certain modified pleasure by your Lordships. When I read Clause 5 in the Bill—I may say in self-defence that I read it before an evening meal—I was quite unable to understand what it meant. I had several shots at it and I finally came to the conclusion that, although in another place explanations were given of it which seemed to be satisfactory. I did not think it was quite fair in this House that I should seek to explain Clause 5 as it stood and to say that it was clear and unambiguous. Accordingly, with the assistance of the usual professional advisers, I caused a fresh clause to be inserted which is intended to have precisely the effect of the previous Clause 5 in the Bill. In other words, according to the intentions of those who assisted me and my own, this, though it takes a somewhat different form from the old clause is purely drafting, and I think—I hope at any rate—that this one is intelligible to your Lordships. We have left out all sorts of things about the terms of the years held in reversions on different leases and things of that sort and have tried as far as we could to state in comparatively plain English what we are dealing with.

As your Lordships know it is a vital feature of the Bill that the Commissioners are not intended to be anything but landlords, except, I suppose, during the short period when there is not a lease, when they are owners who are about to grant a lease and therefore, in a case where there is simply a coal mine lease, the property that vests in the Commission is the coal subject to the coal-mining lease. And now here is one of the snags, if I may use such an expression in your Lordships' House, which you have to bear in mind in reading Clause 5. The word "interest" does not mean what you would think at first sight, because you have to look at Clause 40 of the Bill and then you find a definition of it. Nor does the word "retain" mean what you would guess at first sight it would mean, because "retain" means that it is not a thing which is parted with by the owner of that property. And finally you have to remember if you want really to follow this clause out that in substance it is only telling you who are the conveying parties to the imaginary contract and subsequently to the imaginary conveyance which you will find mentioned in the subsequent clauses. If your Lordships bear in mind these three things, this clause as now drafted does not become very difficult.

If the property is in lease, as nearly all of them will be in lease, no interest of the lessee passes—that is to say, it is retained by the lessee. If the property in lease is such that there is a sub-lease, or if there is a sub-sub-lease, then provisions are made under which the Commission have an option as to whether it will take over either the sub-lease or sub-sub-lease, for the reason that there will be occasions on which a man may have granted a sub-lease at 6d. per ton royalty and may then, having found he cannot make it pay, have granted a sub-sub-lease at 4d. per ton, so that he loses 2d. per ton on every ton of coal that comes up. There is no intention in the mind of the Government to take over that bad bargain. Therefore it is that there is, in the words of the second subsection, a provision that certain interests are retained unless there is a notice.

Then there is a provision under subsection (3), which is for the benefit of coalowners and people who are entitled to coal under a lease, that if the Commission give a direction in such a case as regards the interests of the lessee, they must also give it as regards the interest of a sub-lessee if there is such an interest. In other words, they cannot pick and choose. The whole object is that the Commission is to be the landlord and not to have any right to work the coal at all, but there are certain cases in which it will decline to take a particular sublease, and these are the cases which are dealt with in this clause. As I have said, it is merely a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 4, leave out from the beginning of line 32 to the end of line 23 on page 5, and insert the said new subsections.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


There are three further Amendments on this clause. The first one is merely drafting, and the second and third are consequential on the Amendment which your Lordships have been good enough to accept. I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 5, line 31, leave out ("in which a term of years created by a coal-mining lease is subsisting") and insert ("comprised in a coalmining lease") Page 5, line 37, leave out ("the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of") Page 5, line 40, leave out from ("if") to the end of the subsection and insert ("that coal or mine had been subdemised by a coalmining lease derived out of that lease").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

LORD DARCY (DE KNAYTH) moved, after Clause 5, to insert the following new clause:

Provisions as to manorial coal.

"6.—(1) In this Section the expression 'manorial coal' means any coal comprised in a manor.

(2) Nothing in this Part of this Act or in Part I of the Second Schedule hereto shall operate to vest in the Commission any interest in manorial coal other than the interest or interests therein of the person or persons in whom at the vesting date the property in such coal is vested.

(3) Any such right in, over or affecting manorial coal as is not an interest vesting in the Commission by virtue of this Act shall be deemed to be excluded from the contract referred to in subsection (2) of Section three of this Act: and from the conveyance to be assumed for the purposes of Section four hereof. And the manorial coal shall vest in the Commission subject thereto."

The noble Lord said: I rise at this late hour with some reluctance to deal with this question, which I am bound to confess is one compared to which the imaginary conveyance we have heard about a moment ago is even more obscure. It happens to be unfortunately more obscure in that it deals with the very conveyance at the same time. In this House it is not necessary to give an account of what the manor was. Your Lordships are aware how manors were in one aspect an institutional form of local government. Each manor had its own little court in which, the rights of the people were declared according to the customary law of the manor. The customs of every manor probably differed considerably, but usually it was found that the rights in regard to minerals vested in the lord and other rights in the nature of a veto vested in the tenant. When the copyhold land became enfranchised wholesale under the legislation associated with the name of the late Lord Birkenhead, your Lordships may recollect that the rights of the copyhold tenant were retained. It may be said as regards these people's rights that they are very complicated, that they vary, and that litigation may be necessary to ascertain what they are in a great number of cases, but I venture to suggest to your Lordships that that is no reason why the Bill should be left in the state of deplorable obscurity in which it rests now.

I think we can say that in some cases the property was in the lord, and in some cases the copyhold tenants, and the opposite party usually had a veto of some kind. One might analyse the matter in this way. The property vested in one party—and it does not matter for the purpose of this Bill in which party it is vested—and that property was subject to rights of veto. In order to have a colourless name I shall refer to these as veto holder's rights. The property vested subject to these veto holder's rights, which might have been absolute or they might have been qualified. It may be that the veto holder was entitled to object to the working of the coal at all. On the other hand it might be, as very often happens, that he would only be allowed a qualified right to object in the event of the surface being let down. Under this Bill it is clear what happens to the rights of a person who has property in manorial coal. That right is an acquired interest under the Bill. It is a true coal hereditament, and vests in the Commission and is paid for as part of the £66,000,000. But as regards the veto holder's rights we are in a very much different position.

In the first place if we look at Clause 3 of the Bill, which is the clause which deals with unification of ownership, we find it begins in subsection (1) by saying: The Commission shall acquire in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Act the fee simple in all coal and mines of coal … subject to such servitudes, restrictive covenants and other matters adversely affecting any of the said coal or mines as are hereinafter mentioned.

Servitudes, restricted covenants and other matters of an almost precisely similar nature to those which are mentioned in this Bill, which are those rights I have referred to that were saved under the Schedule of the Bill I have already mentioned as associated with the name of the late Lord Birkenhead. In those circumstances it begins to look rather as if it was intended that these rights were not to vest in the Commission at all, but when one looks at the first subsection of the following clause one begins to feel a certain lack of confidence, because one realises that the premises comprised shall be deemed to include all properties and rights that shall pass with that coal or mine under conveyance thereof.

If your Lordships do not mind turning to the other end of the Bill you will find in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule this provision: In a case in which any of the conveying parties has an interest in land to which a servitude that adversely affects the coal or mine is annexed, or with which the benefit of a restrictive covenant that adversely affects the coal or mine runs, the conveyance shall reserve that servitude for the greatest interest for which it could be reserved by that party, or shall reserve any right to enforce that covenant …

Your Lordships will notice that what is reserved there is a restrictive covenant or a servitude and not any matters adversely affecting coal as therein mentioned. In those circumstances it would at first sight appear that it would be necessary to reserve these veto holder's rights there. But if you look at paragraph 1 you will see that it says: The conveyance of any coal or mine of coal to be assumed for the purposes of Section four of this Act shall be a conveyance, to which all persons having any interest other than a retained interest in that coal or mine are conveying parties …

If the veto holder has any interest here it is clearly not a retained interest and therefore he has to act as a conveying party.

Your Lordships will see that in the clause to which my noble friend has referred there is a definition of interests which rises to heights of jargon which have rarely been rivalled even in a definition clause before. You will see that an interest has excluded from it the case of a servitude and restrictive covenant but not the case of the owner of a veto holder's rights. I have done my best to make this as clear as possible, but I shall not be altogether disappointed if I have failed because I am perfectly entitled to succeed if I have succeeded in putting up a prima facie case of obscurity, and I venture to say I have achieved that.

But there are other questions of much greater importance. We are also concerned with the substantial rights of this matter. Why should the veto holder's rights be included in the global figure of £66,000,000? I am going to suggest that they ought not to be there because global income was based on Mineral Rights Duties. These duties, it has been held by the Courts, are not payable upon income derived by the owners of the veto holder's rights. If it is suggested that they were, it is interesting to notice that by far the majority of the holders of these rights proceeded to part with them in return for a lump sum payment. I understand that it is admitted that that was in no way reflected in the global income.

There is a further point which has been raised as to whether or not the global income included these lump sums that were paid on a tonnage basis. I venture to submit that is not very likely to have been so, because when as a result of the correspondence with the Mines Department the idea arose that before submitting this global income to the Greene Tribunal it was desirable to scale it down by first removing what was payable in Mineral Rights Duties, and then dealing with the balance, they proceeded to deduct 10 per cent, for the whole. It then became apparent that as royal coal did not pay Mineral Rights Duty they had deducted too much, and the learned gentlemen dealing with this matter raised that objection. But though they knew quite well that the veto holder's rights were not subject to these duties they never suggested they should be deducted, for the simple reason that they never thought they were included, and if they were not included in the global sum there follows a difficult situation. If, which I do not suggest, the Government on the point of justice desire to take them, it means that they are taking in return for the sum awarded by the Tribunal a property which was not valued, and under those circumstances this Bill, if allowed to go forward in this way, is not an acceptance but a repudiation of the Greene award which undoubtedly releases royalty owners from any obligation to abide by it.

There is one other matter which I would like to mention. When this Bill started we heard a great deal about the unification of coal royalties. These are not royalties. It has never been suggested they are. In fact, years ago a case came before Mr. Justice Eve on a summons to ascertain what ought to be done with the income from some of these rights, and it appeared that counsel on both sides were prepared to agree that whatever happened if these rights were in fact royalties they would in fact be dealt with in a certain way; but it was never suggested, so far as I can make out, that it was so, and the learned Judge held that although they were not royalties, with regard to that particular summons they ought to be dealt with in the same way.

If your Lordships will bear with me for one moment further, I would like to refer your Lordships to the Bill I quoted. From the third section of that Bill I think it is fairly clear that the draftsman started out under the impression that these were not interests at all. There was also issued from the Mines Department a memorandum, Command Paper 5593, and your Lordships will see, with regard to its explanation, that paragraph 1 says: "The Bill sets up a Coal Commission, in whom the 'royalties' are unified by vesting in them the property hereafter described." It then goes on in paragraph 3 to describe the property as: The property and rights to be acquired comprise all coal (whether now being worked or not, and whether now known to exist or not) and all mines of coal, together with ancillary rights of working attached to the coal or mines.

This is not an ancillary right of working; it is a right to prevent working and it is a right attached to the surface and not to the coal. It is adverse to the coal. It then goes on to define these rights: The property of persons who do not own interests in coal or mines of coal is entirely unaffected. There are also preserved any rights enjoyed adversely to any coal or mines of coal for the benefit of other property.

I venture to suggest that that is all these rights are and that they stand in precisely the same position as an easement or restrictive covenant. I apologise for having taken up a great deal of your Lordships' time. You have stood up to it with a fortitude which passes my comprehension. I feel as though I have detained the House a long time, and I can only thank your Lordships for your kindness. If I have bored you by this process, I have bored myself infinitely more!

Amendment moved— After Clause 5 insert the said new clause.—{Lord Darcy (de Knayth).)


I am in some difficulty here, because I am most unwilling to inflict on your Lordships a little lecture on the subject of copyholders' rights and coal under manors. May I try, however, if you will give me about five or six minutes, to see if I can explain what the position is and why the Government could not possibly assent to this Amendment? In the old days, as you all know very well, the copyholder merely had a right to possession of the surface and the mines were in the lord of the manor. That is no longer uni- versally the case, because there are some manors—for instance, in Wales—where there is a custom under which the copyholders have been accustomed to work the minerals, and in particular the coal—I think it is always coal. It is therefore not correct to say that in every case the mines belong to the lord of the manor; at any rate, it is not true to say that he is the only person who can work them. You have to remember that "interest" in the Bill is so defined that it includes people who have a right to work the coal and take it away. That is an interest.

The present position, so far as I know it, in cases where there is not a special custom is that laid down in the case of Eardley versus Granville, 3 Ch. D. 826, where the late Master of the Rolls, Sir George Jessel, laid down the law in a way in which it has been subsequently followed. He said that in the normal case the lord owns the minerals under the copyholds and is entitled to work them if he can do so without interfering with the surface of the copyholds, with the result that he can work the coal under the copyholds by instroke from a neighbouring piece of land which he properly owns, but he cannot sink his shaft through the copyholder's land. As a result of that, many bargains have been made at different times between the copyholders and the lords of the manor who own the minerals, and many of them have been of this nature: that the lord of the manor has agreed to give 1d. or 2d. a ton, or something of that sort, for the privilege of being allowed to sink a shaft, and perhaps to do some other things on the surface of the copyhold. In those cases it may be that the copyholder has some interest within the meaning of this Bill in the coal, and a fortiori the copyholder has an interest in coal if there is a custom, as there is in some parts of the country, including South Wales, which allows him to work the coal. The result is that you cannot, and I cannot, assent to the view which the noble and learned Lord who has proposed his Amendment wishes me to accept: that in every case the coal belongs to the lord of the manor, and the copyholder or the man who has the right to work it has nothing. This Amendment is going to wipe out the copyholder and I cannot do that—it would not be just. He is not here in all probability to stick up for himself and I have to stick up for him.

The way in which the Bill works is this. Under Clause 3 (3) on the vesting date there vests in the Commission all coal and mines of coal existing at that date and all interest therein subsisting. That will include some of these copyholders. It will not include in my opinion the great number of them, but some of them will be included, and those must have their rights. They must be entitled to be persons whose interest have to be reckoned in dividing up the original figure, and consequently it would not be right to strike them out of this clause. It is for that reason substantially that subsections (2) and (3) of the noble Lord's proposed new clause are not right. I repeat, there may be persons other than those in whom the manorial coal is truly vested who have a right to work it, and that is an interest under the Bill, and that has to be paid for.

That is the short reason why this cannot be accepted. But having said that, may I add this out of fairness? This question of copyholders is very obscure and difficult, and if it is found on the Report stage that there is something here in regard to copyholders' interests which has not been properly dealt with in the Bill, speaking for myself I should be very glad to consider it, and I think you will not find the Government at all obstructive in the matter. But this particular Amendment cannot be accepted.


I am most obliged for the very kind way in which the Lord Chancellor has answered me on this Amendment. But I was rather surprised when he attributed to me the remark that in every case the property in the coal was in the lord of the manor. I thought I had taken care to draw up the whole of my remarks in order to avoid that fallacy.


I am very sorry. I apologise.


I am not in the least surprised. No doubt I was even more obscure than I felt I was being at the time. But what I have some difficulty in understanding is this. My noble friend and I seem to be in entire agreement in desiring that the rights of the person who has a veto over this coal should be preserved. Now it seems to me that as my Amendment stands it in no way wipes out anybody else's rights. It merely means that they are not rights which pass to the Commission any more than the rights of the holder of a restrictive covenant, or of the holder of the benefit of an easement do. Neither of these is wiped out in these cases, unless you show that these interests in fact came within the global figure. You are certainly not entitled to deal with this matter in the way that is being done, by which it becomes a principal coal hereditament.


Has the noble Lord forgotten—I hardly think he has—that what is not to vest is any interest in manorial coal other than the interest of the person in whom at the vesting date the property in such coal is vested? What I pointed out was that the property in most of these cases is vested in the lord of the manor, and the noble Lord's Amendment would prevent the copyholder who had a right to work from getting any share in the compensation.


But if it is not included in the global figure, and if it is not clearly shown to be within the valuation, it seems to me to be an intolerable burden on those people who are entitled to rights under the global figure that other property should be brought in and compensated out of that figure. I could have understood if my noble friend had said: "In these circumstances I think we ought to take these rights, and we will treat them as subsidiary coal hereditaments." But that is not being done, and I have great difficulty in knowing whether to accept what the noble and learned Lord has said or to go to a Division.


I would not advise the noble Lord to go to a Division on this point, because I hardly think the position has been made as clear as it might be, but that will probably be done on the Report stage. I listened very carefully to the remarks of the noble and learned Lord, but I did not gather from him that the copyholder has any right other than surface rights.


He may have. That is why I cannot make one general statement. In most cases he has merely surface rights, but in other cases he has rights to work coal, and he may have an agreement under which he is entitled to something more than a surface right.


I am not going to argue the law with the Lord Chancellor, but I should have thought he would work the coal which he will lease from the lord of the manor.


The Committee will remember that the most reverend Primate touched upon this matter on the Second Reading. This particular point has considerable interest for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and, as the Lord Chancellor said, it is very abstruse. It is the Church which is more intimately concerned with the matter than perhaps any other royalty owner. In view of what the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury said—and at the time the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack gave an undertaking that it would be most carefully considered—possibly now, if the legal advisers of the Commissioners were to get in touch with the legal advisers of the Government, they might arrive at an arrangement which, on the Report stage, the Government might be prepared to accept.


I am quite glad to give such an undertaking. I may say I have devoted considerable time to this point already in an endeavour to comply with the undertaking I gave to the most reverend Primate; but if any further communication can be made to show that something more is needed in the Bill, to be fair to the copyholders and to the lords of the manor all over the country, it shall certainly be considered.


I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord for his very kind remarks, and I should be grateful if in the circumstances I may be allowed to withdraw my Amendment. I feel there is an opportunity of discussing the noble and learned Lord's remarks at a later stage, and if it is possible for the representatives of both sides to get together I should be more than satisfied.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6:

Compensation payable in respect of acquisition as a whole.

(2) The compensation shall be ascertained separately in accordance with the next succeeding Section in respect of—

  1. (a) all the said matters in respect of which compensation is to be payable, with the exception of—

(3) The aggregate amount of the compensation payable in respect of all principal coal hereditaments shall be the sum of sixty-six million, four hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

(4) The Central Valuation Board established under the Third Schedule to this Act shall prepare and deposit with the Board of Trade a map showing a division of the whole of Great Britain into regions, (in this Act referred to as "valuation regions"), and shall allocate a part (in this Act referred to as a "regional allocation") of the said sum of sixty-six million, four hundred and fifty thousand pounds to each valuation region.

LORD HASTINGS moved, in paragraph (a) of subsection (2), before subparagraph (i), to insert: (i) Proved coal or mine of coal in respect of which no coal mining lease was subsisting on the valuation date and which on that date had not been the subject of mining operations.

The noble Lord said: I should like to make it quite clear that the Amendment which I am now moving has nothing whatever to do with the other Amendments which appear under my name on this clause. It stands entirely by itself and is not complicated by any other issue at all. The proposals of the Bill are to include in the principal hereditaments—that is to say those items which are to be paid for out of the global sum of £66,500,000—all coal whether in lease or not in lease. The purpose of my Amendment is to convert the provisions on undeveloped coal—that is to say, coal not in lease—from a principal hereditament into a subsidiaiy hereditament, making it therefore purchasable by the Coal Commission out of the surplus of £10,000,000 and not out of the £66,000,000 which the global figure postulates as being the proper purchase price.

I wish to make it perfectly clear that coal which is not in lease, proven but undeveloped coal, should be transferred from a principal subsidiary hereditament, the effect being of course to make a larger sum available both for the owner of the proven but undeveloped coal and for the owner of the coal which is in lease. It does not necessarily mean the spending of any more money but it means the subdivision of that money. What arguments can I adduce that will persuade your Lordships to accept my point of view? Lord Balfour of Burleigh, during the debate which came to an end this afternoon, made a very strong case for the owner of undeveloped coal, a case which I think impressed the House generally with its fairness, and which I think proved reasonably conclusively that the owner of proven but undeveloped coal would be likely to come off exceedingly badly under the valuation of principal hereditaments.

It is not to be assumed from my Amendment that my transposition of undeveloped coal from a principal to a subsidiary hereditament is necessarily going to involve any large financial consideration. Coal which is proven but unworked and not in lease is clearly some distance away from the date when it can be brought to the surface, and we were told this afternoon by Lord Cadman, although I entirely dissent from the view, that nothing had any value in fact until it was brought to the surface. Clearly this proven but unworked coal or undeveloped coal has no immediate value, and the value which will be put upon it is not so high as that of coal which is immediately workable. On the other hand, I think the House will agree that this proven but undeveloped coal is really of almost greater value to the State in the person of the Coal Commission than any other coal. It is the coal of the future; it is the coal which is going to make worth while this Bill which is to become an Act; it is the coal which is going to give the Coal Commission continuity, and to give it that perpetuity which it is the purpose of this Bill to give it, otherwise your Coal Commission would, after a short life and a merry one, come to an end. It is this undeveloped coal which is of value.

What actually happened during the negotiations between the representatives of the Government and the representatives of the mineral owners? I admit at once that it was agreed originally that this proven but unworked coal, this coal which according to my Amendment is not in lease, should be thrown in as a makeweight at the same price as is to be paid under the Bill for the coal which is in lease. I admit that at once, but that negotiation was in process and that arrangement was made at a period of time when the negotiating officials of the Royalty Owners' Association were expecting an entirely different result to their negotiations than that which eventually ensued. They were at the time negotiating for a figure in the neighbourhood of £120,000,000, expecting to get certainly not less than £100,000,000; and they were negotiating on the basis of their interest being bought out at the current value of money and not at the value of money which has been applied to those interests in this Bill—in other words at a 3¼ per cent, value instead of 6¾ per cent. The effect of that particular expectation in their mind was clearly to make them more generous in the matter of giving away a principle in respect of this undeveloped coal than they would otherwise have done.

If you admit, as you must, that the purchase of an interest on the basis of a 3¼ per cent, interest is in the neighbourhood of thirty years, if you are negotiating on that basis you have to admit that during the period of the thirty years or the twenty-eight or twenty-nine years or something in that nature, a very large amount of coal is worked out, is going away all the time from the possession of the purchaser of the property. If he is paying anything in the nature of thirty years' purchase for the property, clearly by the end of that period of time a very substantial amount of the property will have gone out of use and have been consumed. To make weight for that it was fair to bring in a large quantity—in fact the whole—of the coal which was not at that moment in lease. But the moment you halve the number of years' purchase which was at that time of negotiation in expectation you enormously overweight the value which you have given to the other side in the negotiations. The fact is that if you drop from thirty years to fifteen years' purchase only half the quantity goes out of consumption and out of profit and that additional half comes in.

Therefore if you are negotiating with a purchaser of your property on the basis of anything approaching thirty years and you are prepared to give him in order to achieve that thirty years' purchase all the coal which was proven but not at that moment in lease, clearly if you were going to be bought out at fifteen years you would not have been disposed to give that purchaser the whole of the coal not in lease. I think that is arguable and demonstrable. It is rather a complicated explanation, but I think it is a fair statement of the case. If the Government will admit, as I think possibly they may, that they on their side have had so much the best of this bargain by having opened these negotiations on one footing and then had an estimation of the number of years' purchase put upon that property which (may I assume?) is considerably less than they anticipated, if they have got that much—which they have got—it is not fair to insist that the negotiators who were prepared at the outset to give away this point should be held to their bargain. I would like to submit that in fairness this coal which is not in lease ought to be taken out of the principal hereditaments and put into the subsidiary hereditaments.

There is another point I would like to make if I can to increase the strength of my case. It would be perfectly obvious to any man that if a valuation is to be made on the basis of an estimation of net rents, undeveloped coal could not at that time have been taken into consideration as forming part of that particular basis. No rents were being received or are being received for that coal which is not in lease and there would be no justification for including it other than on the basis of a very considerably longer term of years than the Greene Tribunal awarded. It could not have been taken into account by the negotiators who made the global figure £4,430,000, because neither they nor the Treasury had the remotest idea what its annual value might be. That is obvious. It was not taxable. There were no figures available in anybody's possession to show what annual value this undeveloped coal might have.

I think I have developed my case as far as is necessary to show that there is a prima facie case for this Amendment, which is to transfer coal not in lease out of the category of principal hereditaments and put it into the category of subsidiary hereditaments. There you have one of the inequities—not iniquities—which Lord Balfour of Burleigh developed this afternoon and which is felt really severely by persons who are in possession of coal which has not been put into lease hitherto, perhaps because it was inexpedient or was not possible, remembering that their abstension gives to this particular appeal a greater strength than it otherwise would have, because if everyone had been greedy and in a hurry to take out coal the State would have been acquiring under this Bill property of nothing like the value which it hopes to take—I refrain from using the word seize.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 32, at end, insert the said new paragraph (i).—(Lord Hastings.)


During the discussion on one of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Amendments I think it was admitted by the Leader of the House that there was sufficient coal to last for fifty years, provided the output was transferred from one colliery to another. It is clear there are numerous leases in existence which run for eighty years, and therefore there is sufficient coal, and I understand the Leader of the House admitted it—


What I said was that it would only be true if collieries with a long life increased their output in order to make good the coal that used to come from collieries that have been worked out.


I understood the Leader of the House to say that numerous collieries were only working at half output. Lord Cadman said no coal had any value until it was brought to the surface. That is not true, stated like that, although I noted that the Government members nodded assent, perhaps because it was the first crumb they had received in support of the Bill. As stated like that it is not true. It is true to say that coal several thousand feet below the surface has no immediate cash value, but it has a value. It may only be 0001 of a penny, but it has some value, and therefore must be taken into consideration. If it has no value then there is no reason why it should not be transferred from one category to another, and if the noble Lord sees fit to go to a Division on the matter I shall certainly support him.


As I dare say your Lordships have realised, whatever weight is to be attached to the arguments of my noble friend Lord Hastings, it is quite impossible for the Government to think of accepting this Amendment, and for the reasons that we gave on the Second Reading of this Bill. The terms of reference of the Greene Tribunal required that Tribunal to determine the amount which the fee simple of all unworked coal, and all mines of coal in Great Britain, and certain rights agreed to between the parties and ancillary thereto, might be expected to realise if sold in the open market by a willing seller. It is therefore clear that the finding of the Greene Tribunal was that the value of all unworked coal and of mines of coal, whether or not in lease and whether or not within the words of this present Amendment, of proved coal or mines of coal which had not been the subject of mining operations, is included in the global figure.

Now let me say something about the global figure, which, if your Lordships will pardon me, I have been anxious to say and have not yet said. I should like to be fair to my opponents in argument, or to my opponents on the other side of the House. It is true that there are a number of owners of coal who are not in the least bound by the global figure, and it is perfectly true that they are entitled to say, if they like, "We do not think that sum was properly arrived at and we are not bound by it." I have never doubted that, and I do not think any of those with me have ever doubted it either. But what has been done is this. The Government found a very large body of owners of coal and mines of coal—the only large organised body, so far as I know, in this country—and agreed with them certain terms of reference. Unfortunately for them and for the other persons concerned, it has turned out that the Tribunal has arrived at a conclusion which the Government have accepted but which the owners of coal think is an unfair one to them.

It is not possible, it seems to me, and I think your Lordships must agree that it is so, for the Government, having gone to a valuation by people who were in a position to represent the coalowners of this country, because they own so large a share of the coal of this country, and got an award, to say, "Now we think it is too little." It is inconceivable. Therefore, although I agree that people who were not members of that Committee or represented by that Committee are perfectly justified in saying that the thing was wrongly done, or something of that kind, that does not affect the fact that it really was not unfair for the National Government to say: "This global sum has been obtained in a Tribunal which was, it is admitted, very ably manned as regards the judges, the valuers, and very well represented as regards the people before them, with a most admirable counsel—now, alas, dead—to represent the owners of coal, and on the other side with the Attorney-General. The figure has been ascertained, and now you are asking us to introduce here an Amendment which would mean that the global figure has got, pro tanto, to be scrapped and that something in addition must be paid to the owners of the coal."

My Lords, it cannot be done, and I would add that if it were done there is not the faintest ghost of a chance that in another place an Amendment of that sort would be accepted. I am afraid the only result would be some misrepresentation, and very likely an unfair one, of the attitude taken in this House in proposing such an Amendment. I am afraid, for those short reasons, which could perhaps be enlarged, that the Government must say that it is quite impossible in the circumstances to accept this Amendment.


I only want to ask the noble and learned Lord this one question. It is a question which I asked this afternoon and to which I have not yet received an answer. The point that I tried to make this afternoon was that the fairness or otherwise of the award of the Greene Tribunal depends entirely on the circumstances in which the method of global valuation and the terms of calculation were arrived at. This Amendment of my noble friend has directly to do with the question of undeveloped coal which I talked about to your Lordships this afternoon, and the question that I asked then was what representation did the owners of that undeveloped coal have either on the Mineral Owners' Joint Committee or in the negotiations and representations before the Greene Committee?


Before the noble and learned Lord replies, may I say this? He keeps on telling us that the arbitrary figure given by the Greene Committee included freehold and undeveloped coal as well as coal in lease. Am I right in saying that?




It is no good saying that, because it is palpably absurd to make such an assertion. How can any committee of that kind begin to value the undeveloped or freehold coal without having even looked at the plans that belong to any manorial owner, and which he and his agents alone possess. The thing is not possible. And really it is no good going on trying to make us believe that it is possible to assess the extent of the freehold coal without access to individual plans, and weighing them up very carefully—such work as is going to be carried out by this Regional Committee. I think the time has come when the Government must tell us exactly what went op at that Greene Committee. Who gave evidence? Why were we not invited to give evidence ourselves? Who was allowed even to attend that Committee? It really is no good saying either that it was a proper valuation of the freehold and undeveloped coal, because it could not possibly have been, and it is no good going on saying that it was an agreed figure with the royalty owners, because I and many other noble Lords have definitely proved that that was not so. The Mineral Owners' Joint Committee had no agency powers whatsoever.


I have admitted that quite plainly.


I cannot be persuaded that the thing is possible, and I hope that when the noble and learned Lord replies he will not go on trying to assert that it is possible to value freehold and undeveloped coal without any plans.


I do positively assert, and anyone who knows anything about valuation of such property as this will know that I am right. The amount of coal that you can sell in a year does not depend upon the amount of coal that is beneath the surface. The amount you can get rid of unfortunately is limited, and we know perfectly well—and your Lordships know as well as anybody in this country—that the difficulty is to sell the coal that you can get up. The Mineral Owners' Joint Committee agreed a figure of £4,000,000 odd as the amount that it had been possible to sell, which is the same as the output, in seven agreed years. Now, in estimating, not the value of the coal in lease, but the value of the whole of the coal beneath the ground not yet worked, the question was how much will you get out of that as far as human beings can see into the future, so that you will have an annuity of the sum—whatever you think it is, basing it on the £4,000,000 odd per annum, then coming to the conclusion that the capital value is a certain amount. It was admitted that there had been during the seven years a certain known annuity from the coal in lease. It was known that some of the coal in lease would be worked out.

The fact that there were hundreds of years of coal beneath the surface had this result, that the annuity, whatever it was—and you had to ascertain your figure on the evidence given—was a perpetual annuity. That is the effect of there being, it may be, if you like—I care not—ten thousand years of coal underneath the ground. It does not add to the global figure and to the value of the coal at the present time, because that must depend on what output you expect during the next twenty, thirty, forty, or one hundred years if you like. That is why it is a complete fallacy to talk of looking at the plans and sinking shafts or bore holes. It does not matter what that vast quantity is. It is all limited by your view as to the annuity which will be obtained in respect of the whole of the mines of coal in this country in perpetuity.

That is the figure which the Greene Tribunal have ascertained and determined and it is a complete fallacy to say that they did not have before them all the necessary material to ascertain that figure. The very able people who represented the coal owners knew perfectly well what they had to try to establish. The Government tried to show that the annuity was a falling one, the other people tried to show the contrary, and the figure which has been given by the Greene Tribunal is one which I will maintain, and I believe any competent valuer would agree with me, has been obtained on a perfectly fair and reasonable basis. I decline to discuss the question whether they were right or wrong in the figure which they have come to. It is sufficient for me to say that under the circumstances the Government must abide by it, and therefore cannot consent to this Amendment.


My noble and learned friend was interrupted before he had an opportunity of answering my question. I am not concerned to dispute the total at the moment, but I do ask him to say by whom were the owners of undeveloped coal, and undeveloped coal alone, represented. The Lord Chancellor has spoken of the very able people who appeared before the Greene Tribunal, but there is a question apart from the total—the question of the division of the amount between the people who have coal which has earned royalties, and the people with coal which has not earned royalties. My question is pertinent and really deserves an answer. I maintain that the people with coal in royalty are getting an unfair share of the total compensation. My question is, by whom and how were the people with undeveloped coal, and undeveloped coal only, represented, and what steps did the Government take to ascertain if they agreed to the terms of reference?


I must apologise for not having answered that question to the best of my ability. It seems to me that the answer is simply this, that the persons who were represented before the Greene Tribunal included persons who had large amounts of undeveloped coal. I am not prepared to say, though I do not think, there was anybody there who had only undeveloped coal and no other property whatever. That does not affect the proper way of determining the global figure, because the global figure is ascertained on the footing that those who have coal which is being worked will find that coal will be finally worked out—burned in the atmosphere or elsewhere—and that other coal at present undeveloped will take its place. It is for this reason that the annuity that had to be discussed was a perpetual annuity, and it is the perpetual nature of the annuity which shows that the undeveloped coal is being included in the finding of the Committee.


There is one thing I should like to point out to the noble and learned Lord and that is that the process of valuation that he has just described to your Lordships is one that last year I endeavoured to suggest to your Lordships as appropriate to the Sheep Stock Bill and with far more force than to this Bill. It was not only rejected by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill but it was also rejected in categorical terms by the Government themselves. I can show the noble and learned Lord the correspondence on the subject.


May I say one word as to my own experience of the valuation of coal. In my opinion it is absolutely impossible to value any coal that has not been developed. My experiences are these. I succeeded to my property in 1892. At that time the coal mines had been sunk. They had finished "paying up shorts" as they call it, and the full royalties came to me absolutely. I went off to see this property and my agent said: "This is a splendid property; it will go on for some time, but it will not go on for ever. It is calculated that it will go on for another thirty years, but after that you must expect nothing." He added: "There is another seam below it which is a better seam and if it was not so deep down they would be able to work it, but at present they cannot possibly do so." That is now forty-five years ago, and they have not quite finished the top hard of the seam. They have sunk down to the lower seam, and the "shorts" are being paid up on that and in a year or two they will be paying royalties for them, or would be paying full royalties. If this Bill had come before the House twenty or thirty years ago my coal mine would have been valued at fifteen years' purchase, and the Government would have possession of them at the present moment and would be drawing the full value of that splendid seam. It seems to me that the Government have made a great mistake. They have put the cart before the horse. They have hurried on this Bill before they were ready for it. The first thing they ought to have done was to find out what the real value of the coal is. This Bill has caused great indignation among all coal-owners, and I think the Government will never get over it.


May I make one addition to what I have said? I never intended to say that the proper way to value the properties of an individual coalowner was by the method I had described. That would be quite wrong of course. Any individual coal-owner's property will be valued by looking at the plans and going into all the details that relate to his property. My observation was only directed to a global figure, to ascertaining the value of all the coal in the whole country to which a quite different principle is applicable.


The Lord Chancellor has been occupied in answering quite a number of questions which are subsidiary to the Amendment that I have moved. I confess I was very much puzzled as to why the noble and learned Lord should give the particular answer that he did, because it did not appear to me to have any very great relation to the Amendment which I moved. I say that with the greatest respect. I was not endeavouring to dispute the validity of the global figure. I never said a word about the Greene Tribunal in moving my Amendment. I never criticised anybody or anything. All I attempted to do was to transfer the coal which was not in lease from principal to subsidiary hereditaments. I went on to say—it seems so long ago that I feel almost tempted to repeat everything I did say—that the negotiations were conducted in a different atmosphere of expectation to that which finally resulted. It therefore gave me a reason for suggesting that it was not improper or unreasonable, that it did not offend against the principles either of the establishment of the Greene Tribunal or

its findings that this particular quality of coal should be transferred from principal to subsidiary hereditaments. Nothing I have heard from the noble and learned Lord or from any other source of information had led me to alter my opinion in the least. I still hold that it would be a fair and proper method of dealing with this matter and I propose to adhere to my Amendment.


I do not suppose I can persuade my noble friend but perhaps I can make clear something. Our point is that all coal was submitted to the valuation of the Greene Tribunal. He proposes to take away unworked coal. Therefore he is suggesting that the £66,000,000 odd shall apply to coal other than unworked coal. Therefore obviously he is changing the value set upon the coal by the Greene Tribunal.


Other than that which is out of lease. In every colliery there is unworked coal. It is unleased coal I have in mind, not unworked coal.

On Question, Whether the said words shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided: Contents 36; Not-Contents, 43.

Bathurst, E. Bertie of Thame, V. [Teller.] Lawrence, L.
Bradford, E. Falmouth, V. Leconfield, L.
Cawdor, E. Middleton, L.
Dudley, E. Aberdare, L. O'Hagan, L.
Fitzwilliam, E. Berwick, L. Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)
Lindsay, E. Cromwell, L. Redesdale, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Darcy (de Knayth), L. Saltoun, L.
Liverpool, E. Digby, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Malmesbury, E. Fairfax of Cameron, L. [Teller.] Stafford, L.
Onslow, E. Strickland, L.
Scarbrough, E. Gainford, L. Teynham, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Gerard, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Hastings, L. Wolverton, L.
Maugham, L. (L. Chancellor.) Midlothian, E. (E. Rosebery.) Belper, L.
Munster, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)
Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Plymouth, E.
Radnor, E. Daryngton, L.
De La Warr, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Sandwich, E. Eltisley, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)
Stanhope, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.]
Northumberland, D. Hampton, L.
Somerset, D. Bridgeman, V. Holden, L.
Cobham, V. Jessel, L.
Bath, M. FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)
Dufferin and Ava, M. Halifax, V. Merthyr, L.
Hambleden, V. Rushcliffe, L.
Airlie, E. Ridley, V. Sherborne, L.
Birkenhead, E. Samuel, V. Templemore, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Aberconway, L. Windlesham, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Amulree, L. Woodbridge, L.

Resolved in the negative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.


My Lords I think it will be convenient if we now adjourn the debate, and I accordingly move that the House do now resume.