HL Deb 30 July 1946 vol 142 cc1137-9

3.51 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name.

Your Lordships will recall that Section 57 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944, provides for compensation on the compulsory acquisition of land by a Government Department or local or public authority to be calculated by reference to the prices current at the 31st March, 1939, in cases where the notice to treat is served at any time within a period of five years from the commencement of the Act. Section 58 provides for a supplement to be paid to an owner-occupier where the compensation is, by virtue of Section 57, to be calculated by reference to 1939 prices. The maximum supplement is fixed by the Act at thirty per cent. of the value of the building or interest. The first of these Orders, the one relating to England, increases the maximum rate of supplement from thirty per cent. to sixty per cent. in cases where notice to treat is served on or after July 22, 1946. The second Order which I am bringing forward does the same for Scotland. I beg to move that the Orders be approved.

Moved, That the Special Orders, as reported from the Special Orders Committee on Wednesday last, be approved.—(Lord Pakenham.)


My Lords, I feel that we ought to welcome this Order, or to give it rather a modified welcome, as a sign of grace on the part of the Government. There is no doubt that it does put the owner-occupier into a better position than he was in before. As I understand it, it assimilates the position under past legislation to the position under the New Towns Bill, and that is something to be grateful for. I do not pretend to feel—and am sure that other noble Lords agree with me—that this is a final solution of the problem of compensation. Indeed, far as I can see, that position has been getting more and more anomalous.

Perhaps one may take as an illustration three houses in, say, Magnolia Road, the value of which in 1939 was £1,000 each. As I understand it, if those houses are taken over compulsorily by the State the position might be that in the case of one house, which perhaps might not be occupied by the owner (he might have let it) he would get only £1,000—that is, the 1939 value. The next house, it might be, would have been taken over before July 22 of this year. The owner would get £1,300. The owner of the third house might be fortunate enough not to have it taken over until July 24, and he would get £1,600 for property which is probably of exactly the same value as that of his two neighbours. That cannot be regarded as a reasonable basis of compensation over the whole country. I think that this question requires a good deal more consideration than it has yet received.

As I see it, the very fact that this Order is now being put forward is a recognition by the Government that the 1939 value has no longer any relation to actual value at the present time, and they have done their best to deal with that situation with regard to the owner-occupier who is, indeed, the person most in need of compensation as he has to find somewhere else to live. I think that they are right to improve his position. I would urge the noble Lord and the Government to give, this matter a great deal more consideration than has been given it up to now. Practically every commodity in this country (except those which have been strictly pegged) has changed in value enormously since before the war. That is true with regard to land. I hope that in the framing of the Bill for Compensation and Betterment, which I understand is to come before Parliament in the early future, this particular matter of compensation will be borne in mind. Subject to what I have just said, I would give a modified but, I hope, adequately grateful welcome to the crumbs which have been thrown to us now.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

3.55 p.m.