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New Clause—(Abolition Of The 1939 Standard For Compensation On Compulsory Acquisition)

Volume 437: debated on Monday 12 May 1947

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(1) Section fifty-seven of the Act of 1944 (which provides for the assessment by reference to the prices current in 1939 of the value of interests in land which are compulsorily acquired) shall not apply to compensation in respect of a compulsory acquisition of land in pursuance of a notice to treat served after the passing of this Act.

(2) The provisions of the Schedule to this Act (Modifications of Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944) shall have effect and shall be deemed always to have had effect in relation to land compulsorily acquired in pursuance of a notice to treat served after the commencement of the Act of 1944 and before the passing of this Act, and in relation to land acquired by agreement during that period by an authority authorised to acquire it compulsorily.—[ Mr. Dalton.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I gather that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if something were said on this and the following new Clauses at large, treated as a group. We are assuming that the right hon. Gentleman would be agreeable to that course.

The new Clauses hang together. We are here proposing some very substantial changes, which would probably be most conveniently considered as a whole. We are proposing to repeal the 1939 standard of compensation for compulsory acquisition. This standard was first enacted by the right hon. Gentleman's Bill of 1944. Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act, and the corresponding Scottish Act of the next year, were originally to endure for five years, that is to 17th November, 1949. There was a supplement on the 1939 value payable to owner-occupiers within a maximum of 30 per cent. of the value of the building. There was much debate about the equity or otherwise of this provision. Last summer a Treasury Order was made increasing the maximum supplement from 30 to 60 per cent. On that occasion I made it clear, when defending that here, that this was a purely interim arrangement, that the whole matter was subject to further consideration in the autumn, in conjunction with the further problem of an increase in value payments.

This was done, but in order to deal with the value payments we were required by Statute to invoke the War Damage Commission. They had to make a preliminary report, which I asked them to do as a matter of urgency. They did so, and following from that there was debate and a decision, and the value payments have been duly augmented. This present Bill had, of course, had to be prepared it an earlier stage and it had to be drafted on the law as it then stood. It is very complicated in structure, and it had to be put into print in good time. The arrangements about the value payments to which I have just referred were only made when the Bill was already in draft, but on the Second Reading of the Bill, when I recommended it to the House, I gave a pretty clear hint that there would be a modification of the 1939 standard proposed at a later date, if value payments were increased. The increase of value payments was made by the War Damage (Increase of Value Payments) Order which was approved by the House on 21st March last. That has cleared the way for the Government to complete their examination of the question, and to bring forward the proposals embodied in the new Clauses.

The scope of the problem is very wide indeed. It extends far beyond the field of town and country planning. The 1939 standard, and the modifications which we now propose in place of it, appear in town and country planning legislation, but that is a mere incidental legislative convenience. These provisions govern the price paid on all compulsory acquisitions under any Act of Parliament by any Government Department, or local authority, or other public body. It is as wide as that. It includes acquisitions, for instance, under the Defence Acts and under the Housing Acts, by the Ministry of Works under the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act and by the Ministry of Transport under the Trunk Roads Act; the acquisition of land by local authorities, not merely for housing but for schools and roads; and local authority acquisitions under the 1944 Act and the present Bill for blitz and blight redevelopment. All that, and a number of other instances which need not he enumerated, are governed now by the provisions that we are proposing to change. They will be governed in future by the provisions of these new Clauses. Therefore, the standard set for compulsory acquisition—and this is why I propose to spend a little while, though I hope not too long, in explaining the matter—covers a very large area indeed of public expenditure, including purchases by the Ministry of Works and the Post Office for the public service generally.

The general effect of our proposals is completely to abandon the 1939 standard. It passes into history. We propose that it should be abandoned as from the passing of this Bill and that, instead, thereafter compulsory acquisition should be based upon the current market value of property restricted to its existing use; that is to say, excluding the development values which it is one of the principal purposes of this Bill to remove from owners, under provisions which I need not go into. That then is the short purpose —to substitute for the 1939 standard this other standard. As to the date at which this should happen, the Government propose that the new basis should come into force from the passing of the Bill. This is debatable. More than one view might be taken. It might be thought that the matter should date not from the passing of the Bill but from the appointed day. We have considered that. That, of course, is the day from which development values are removed from the owners of land in general. There was something to be said for that. On the whole, we commend to the Committee the passing of the Bill as the suitable date rather than the appointed day. The appointed day cannot yet be named. We hope it will come reasonably soon after the Act is passed, but that must depend on a number of factors which cannot be determined exactly.

If there were an interim period of any length between the passing of the Bill and the arrival of the appointed day, it would be very awkward. People would not know where they were. Therefore, we feel that once the decision is taken to abandon the 1939 standard, that should be brought into effect as quickly as possible. In cases which arise between the passing of the Bill and the appointed day, the owner, who will get the current existing use value only, will have preserved him the right to claim against the £300 million for the loss of his development value. That is provided in these Clauses. It is very specifically safeguarded. There are suggestions made by Amendments that have been put forward from some parts of the Committee that the new basis should be effective not as from the passing of this Bill into law but as from the original introduction of the Bill. I will not argue the case against that. I only want to assure the Committee that we have very carefully considered all these alternatives and, at the right moment my right hon. Friend, or another Minister, will explain why we have deliberately chosen the date of the passing of the Bill rather than a number of alternative dates several of which I have mentioned.

7.45 P.m.

There is one important though temporary qualification which the Government propose to apply here to the principle of the current restricted value, and that is the notional lease which is a term which I hope is intelligible to hon. Members. I will give a brief explanation why we have introduced the notional lease here. It is because at present there is a special scarcity value attaching to the right of immediate or early vacant possession. In our present conditions of housing shortage, it is very natural that a special scarcity value should attach to early possession, or even more to immediate possession, and the market prices of land have been modified. When I say modified, perhaps that is a moderate way of putting it. In fact they have been driven up, in some cases beyond all reason, because of the present scarcity. It did not seem to us to be fair that where property is required by the community in the public interest the taxpayer or the ratepayer should have to pay these very inflated prices due to a transitory and quite exceptional condition of affairs. Those prices are due merely to the fact that the right of vacant possession is of special value to a private individual on a private sale. We hope that before long this very inflated level of vacant possession of properties will pass.

What we propose, therefore, in order to deal with the matter fairly, as we think, between the two parties, or between all the parties concerned—including the local authorities who have a right to be treated in these matters as representing the ratepayers—

I am sure that my hon Friend will agree with me and will approve of what is to be done.

Except in the case of agricultural property and rent restricted property—leaving those out—if there is an interest which carries with it the right to immediate or early vacant possession. it shall be dealt with as if there were a lease terminating on 1st January, 1954, interposed between the owner and the right of vacant possession. In other words we notionally deny the right of vacant possession. We insert a lease terminating on 1st January, 1954. There is nothing more to it than that. It does not imply that we think that on that particular date, or round about that date, the scarcities may have disappeared. They may disappear earlier or they may disappear later. We are not prophesying anything in that field. This date is merely a piece of valuation technique and we are advised that it gives us the best balance of fair play as between the various parties concerned. There may be argument on that and, of course, we will be quite prepared to meet it, but we have put it in as protecting the public while not unfairly reflecting upon the private owner concerned

There may be much Debate on the question of owner-occupiers in particular. Perhaps I might draw the Committee's attention to the fact that the securing of property for reconstruction, which is what we are concerned with here, involves two quite separate stages. First, the legal interests of all the owners in the property have to be terminated so that the property may pass to the public department. Secondly, physical possession of the property must be obtained by the removal of the present occupier. These are distinct processes. It is at the second stage that we might get some special difficulties arising from this state of scarcity of accommodation of which I have been speaking. This is a very real difficulty which cannot be met effectively by monetary compensation at all. Parliament have hitherto met it partly by requiring that as far as possible people living or carrying on business in an area which is acquired should be given an opportunity to get accommodation in the redevelopment area on terms settled with regard to the compensation that they have received, and partly by imposing on the acquiring authority the obligation to find alternative accommodation on reasonable terms. In the Act of 1944 there is a provision to this effect. Clause 42 of the present Bill incorporates that part of the Act of 1944 with slight changes and a somewhat wider scope. I am advised that there are very similar provisions already existing in the Housing Acts and other statutes.

Owner-occupiers or the spokesmen for the owner-occupiers may think they are not being treated as generously as they should be in the provisions we are here making. That point can be argued later. I think it will be found that the owner-occupiers are gaining as a result of this Bill. They are better off compared with the 1939 standard. They are gaining as compared with the changes we are making in the law even if they are not gaining as much as some of them think they should. If we had let the period run for five years as laid down in the Act of 1944, up to 17th November, 1949, they would have been less well off than they will be. We are advised that the current restricted value subject to notional lease which we are now proposing will in practically all cases give a higher value than the basis which is being repealed, namely, the 1939 unrestricted value plus a 60 per cent. supplement. The owner-occupiers are being made the beneficiaries under this change.

There is only one other point I should like to mention to the Committee, and that is the bearing of these provisions upon war damage cases on which we have had discussion recently in another context. Where total loss properties are acquired, that is to say, properties qualifying for an original value payment, the Clauses here make no special provision for that class of case. The result is that the owner in such a case will get his value payment from the War Damage Commission in the ordinary way. That is not affected at all. The Committee has approved, and I have given an undertaking so far as it is administratively possible to do it, that all original value payments will be made within the present calendar year, or at worst, within the present financial year; but I hope most by the end of the calendar year.

I will speak of the converted value payment in a moment. The original value payments will be made as the Committee have already agreed they shall be and as I indicated in my Budget speech it was our intention. On the acquisition of the property, whether before or after the value payment is made, the acquiring authority will merely pay for what they get, often only a bare site. They will simply pay the current restricted value the property bears in its present state.

There is a little more complexity when we come to the cost of works property acquired before the damage has been made good, and that is where we get the converted value payments referred to by the hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) just now. That is a case where a cost of works payment is due but, before the work is carried out, the property is compulsorily acquired. In this case, the Government proposal is that the acquiring authority will pay to the owner the full current restricted value subject to the notional lease, if that is applicable—the full current restricted value of the property in its undamaged state. We are advised that that is a practical procedure.

The full current restricted value, subject to something I did not hear.

The notional lease. That is to say, where there is a case of early vacant possession, the notional lease will be deemed to exist and that will modify the value, but it is the property in its undamaged state—the full current restricted value, subject, if there is early vacant possession, to the notional lease. In that case, the converted value payment will be diverted from the owner to the acquiring authority, and the authority will get the converted value payment with the result that the net cost to the acquiring authority will be broadly the value of what they are getting. The owner will get his money in a single sum without having to argue about the amount of value payment and the authority will in effect pay the value of what they are getting, which will very often be only a bare site. I believe that will be found to be satisfactory.

This is a very technical matter and I have barged into a series of lucid explanations by my right hon. Friend and by the Attorney-General and others because it was suggested that it might be useful if I were briefly to summarise the main provisions of these Clauses. When we come to the Clauses separately, no doubt questions may arise, but I think it would not be convenient that I should continually intervene. I hope the Committee will think it proper, this having been said, that when detailed points are raised, my right hon. Friends who are conducting this Measure through in detail should reply. It would have been discourteous of me not to have intervened, because from the Treasury point of view these Clauses are of great importance.

It would be discourteous and ungracious perhaps if I were to say nothing about the intervention which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made in the Debate. I am sure the work of the Committee will be aided by the brief and rapid description of the new proposals which he laid before us. My hon. Friends and I rejoice that the 1939 prices are being departed from. It was quite obvious that the problem of valuation on the 1939 basis was with the passage of time becoming daily more and more fantastic and unreal. No valuer could call to his mind with any degree of certainty what the conditions were in 1939. Since 1939 everything has altered in the property market as well as in many other aspects of national life, and to ask people by Statute to throw their minds back to that now remote period was asking them to value on a basis which was no valuation at all but mere guesswork. The adoption of a current market value, even though restricted, is an improvement on those notional 1939 prices. With every day that passes, the longer we get from 1939 the more difficult and absurd the other thing becomes.

The only general criticism I have to make of the proposals before us is that although they are an improvement, they substitute for the 1939 prices a very complicated and involved system. At least, it appears so to the ordinary man who looks at it. There was a letter in "The Times" this morning written by Mr. Howard which stated that for 12 identical properties in the same street, under the terms of this Bill, 12 different prices would actually be obtained for each of the houses according to whether it was owned by an owner-occupier or owned under a lease, according to the date of the notice to treat, and according to whether it was war damaged badly enough for a value payment or a cost of works payment. It is clearly advantageous to the Committee and to the country as a whole if we can simplify this in order to let people know where they stand, but this device of a notional lease we shall have to deal with later in detail. The Chancellor said it was a piece of valuation technique The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a master of meiosis. To call a thing a mere matter of valuation technique whereas it is really calling a freehold a leasehold, seems to be stretching the modesty of expression beyond endurable limits. We shall, therefore, pass the Clause which is before us in a mood of subdued gratitude not unmindful that, though one false standard has been abandoned, we are asked in general to put in its place one which, if it has the merit of modernity, is not free from that obscurity and uncertainty which frequently characterises the remotely antique.

8.0 p.m.

I listened with attention to what the Chancellor had to say in explanation of the several new Clauses. I take it, Mr. Touche, that we are discussing the Second Reading of the first Clause although they are all, in a way, related. I agree that it has been necessary for some time to bring up to date the valuation of property under various Measures which have come before the House from time to time, but I am doubtful about the way in which it has been introduced at this stage. Particularly am I impressed by the fact that this is the latest of a series of Measures which have more and more put money into the hands of the capitalist land-owning class. In 1941, when this country was in a difficult situation, the War Damage Act allowed only 1939 prices. In 1944, after a long and very violent controversy in the House of Commons, a proviso was made for allowing 1939 prices plus 30 per cent. in the case of owner-occupiers. But how was "owner-occupier" defined? It was defined as including not merely people who lived in houses which they owned or were paying for but also large stores with branches up and down the country, branches of banks and all kinds of concerns which normally would never be looked upon as coming within the description of "owner-occupier." I am sure I speak on behalf of every hon. Member on this side of the Committee when I say that we have sympathy with the ordinary men and women who are owner-occupiers, but not with branches of banks, branches of Woolworths and so on. You, Mr. Touche, may recall, as I cannot, for I was not present in 1944, the rather vigorous Debate which took place on that question.

A few months ago, as the Chancellor said, the 30 per cent. was increased to 60 per cent. Once again there was no real definition of the term "owner-occupier." Therefore, while it might be pleaded that it was only 30 per cent. in 1944 and therefore there might be a measure of generosity even to the big people who had suffered, we are now talking about 60 per cent. Also we have a revision of the Bill, for originally it was proposed to maintain 60 per cent. and now the Chancellor, on behalf of his colleague the Minister of Town and Country Planning, proposes to introduce by this, and the later Clauses, a provision which throws that overboard and inserts 1947 values. If ever there was a running away from facts and a toadying to pressure from the other side, here is an instance of it. I will give an instance of this pressure. I will quote from paragraph 17 of a memorandum submitted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This was written a couple of months ago:
"The Bill will perpetuate the 1939 standard of value as the basis of compensation for land compulsorily acquired. There is no justification for the permanent retention of this basis of compensation. The Institution adheres to the view which it has expressed on previous occasions, that compensation on compulsory purchase should be the open market value of the land at the date of the notice to treat."
When this matter came up in Committee, the Minister did not see eye to eye with those who made that proposal. Now, however, this new Clause and the subsequent Clauses are being introduced to that effect. This request did not come from owner-occupiers as we understand them, or from their organisations as we know them; this request came from the land-owning class, and from those who represent that class. While it is true that the Chancellor and the Minister have devised some way by which this benefit can go to the genuine owner-occupier, a revision of the definition of "owner-occupier" is called for, because that definition remains as it was in 1944 when we had a different kind of Government from the one we have today. I believe I speak for some, at least, on these benches when I say that we cannot allow that definition, by which Lloyds' and Barclays' Banks and Woolworth Stores are treated in the same way as a man or woman owning his or her own house in some part of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Gloucester, or wherever it may be; we cannot tolerate it, and therefore we cannot accept the proposal contained in this Clause.

The Chancellor admitted that this would mean higher values. Now there has been some doubt about that. Some have been trying to argue that it would mean a saving in the long run. I hope hon. Members who listened to the right hon. Gentleman's words will have noted how the bulk of the increase will fall on the Government. That is where the additional payment is to come from. That is my interpretation of the Chancellor's speech. Therefore, the Government will pay, and the Government means the public. So the public will pay. However, if it was not in that particular form, what would it mean? It would mean that rates would go up and the public, in that sense, would pay. It would mean that rents would go up, and the public, in that sense, would pay. Therefore, the land-owning class will get this increase in the money they will receive for their land, and that money will come from the public directly or indirectly. Here likewise I cannot see eye to eye with the Chancellor in his statement. I think it would be too much to ask, speaking only for myself, that the whole of this Clause should be taken back for further consideration, but I ask those responsible on the Front Bench very earnestly that there should be at least a revision of the definition of "owner-occupier," so that only ordinary folk will gain by this, and not the big people who have made enough money out of the war already.

I think the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin), who addressed us with great indignation, might have realised that his reference to the compensation of the owner-occupier has little relevance to the Clauses which we are now discussing—

If I may interrupt the hon. Member, with all respect, he was not here when the Chancellor spoke, and therefore does not know what I was talking about.

I have been here the whole afternoon. I was here when the Chancellor spoke. The hon. Member's eyesight must be at fault.

I cannot follow the relevance of that interjection except to say that I have been here in this place during the whole afternoon, and the whole of the time the Chancellor spoke. However, that really is not very relevant to what we are discussing. I would like to say this about what the hon. Member for Mile End said, that the departure from 1939 values for properties which are com- pulsorily acquired was not advocated exclusively by the land-owning classes; it was advocated by everybody who knows anything at all about the matter, by all the professional bodies, and by everybody who realises that it is utterly unjust to try to compensate a man whose property is taken from him compulsorily in 1947 or 1948 or 1950 with reference to prices of property in 1939. Does the hon. Member really want retention of the 1939 values? If he does, he is certainly in a class by himself. But I am not going to spend any more time on the hon. Member.

The effect of this new Clause is to divide the compensation payable for compulsory acquisition of property for town and country planning purposes into three chronological categories—first, those in respect of which notice to treat was served before the passing of this Bill; second, those in respect of which notice to treat was served after the passing of the Bill, but before the appointed day; and third, those in respect of which notice to treat was served after the appointed day. I had the benefit of attending, at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a gathering at which the Minister of Town and Country Planning expressed the hope that the appointed day would be as soon as possible after the Royal Assent was given to this Measure. He hoped the appointed day would be brought in very soon after. From what we have heard today, and from the new Clauses on the Order Paper, it seems to me that the Minister has changed his mind, and that now there is likely to be a substantial lapse of time between the passing of the Bill and the coming into effect of the appointed day. If not, why should a complex matter be further complicated by introducing a special category of cases of those whose property is compulsorily acquired after the passing of the Bill and before the appointed day? It now seems probable that the appointed day, and with it the effect of the Amendment which I see put down to Clause 5—

The hon. Member cannot discuss the Amendments until the Motion, "That the Clause be read a Second time," has been passed.

I quite agree. and will pass from that point, but I wished to draw attention to Amendments on the Order Paper which will come on later, in order to say that the effect of the postponement of the appointed day in that way would increase the stagnation of development, which the Bill is already certain to bring about. It would have the effect of further accentuating that stagnation. May I say what has already been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) about this complex matter, and underline it by giving some examples of the different valuations which we will have if these Clauses are passed in their present form?

8.15 p.m.

I will take first a standard example, because I want to relate the valuation of other properties influenced by these Clauses to that standard example. It is the standard example of a three bedroomed, two reception roomed type of house, which sold in 1939 for £800 freehold, and which would sell today with vacant possession for about £2,000 freehold. That is the kind of property one sees on the outskirts of London on new building estates, and it is the easiest type of property to take for the sake of these examples. The position at the present time is that the 1939 value is £800, and from that the value of the site has to be deducted. The value of the site in 1939 would be, say, £100, and £700 would be the value of the building. To that, assuming that it is owner-occupied, we would add the maximum supplement of 60 per cent., which is £420, bringing the value up to £1,120. Add back the value of the site in 1939, and we get £1,220 as the total compensation for the owner-occupier. Up to the time when the Bill becomes law that is the value.

For the second category, which is after the Royal Assent has been given, and before the appointed day, the land and buildings have to be valued at the condition they are in at the time of the notice to treat, but subject to a permanent restriction prohibiting their development other than that development which is allowed in the Third Schedule to the Bill, and the valuation must be at prices current on 7th January, 1947. We are not now considering vacant possession cases, which are specially dealt with under a further Clause in this group. The assumption for my present purpose must, therefore, be that the property we are considering is let either subject to the Rent Restriction Acts, or on a tenancy subject to a term which expires after 1st January, 1954. In respect of that property we again have a different value. The net rent would be about £50 a year. It would be fairly well secured, because it is a fairly long lease, and the year's purchase would be, I think, 6 per cent., which brings the compensation up to £833, which is very close to the freehold value of £800 in 1939. That seems to be logical, because, owing to the fact that the tenancy is controlled, the owner would be very unlikely to sell the property at a higher price than it would have fetched before the war.

The third category is the category of houses which will be acquired compulsorily after the appointed day. Here, as the Chancellor has told us, we come on to a basis of market value as laid down in the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, but on the assumption that the land can only be used for those types of development allowed under the Third Schedule, that is to say existing use with no addition in respect of potential value for development purposes; it is in fact the restricted value of Clause 54., If we eliminate the complications which have been introduced, quite rightly, to cover cases where planning permission has been refused or permitted conditionally, the value at present is likely, even after 1st January, 1954, to be affected by scarcity conditions. In our standard example the value today with vacant possession would be £2,000. It is not likely to be as high as that, but it is unlikely to fall to the 1939 value of £800. We do not know what it will be.

Let us look briefly at the position where vacant possession can be given. Here we have what is known as a notional lease commencing on the date of notice to treat and terminating on 1st January, 1954, at a rent which is five per cent. of the capital value, or a rent which might reasonably be expected upon the assumption that a tenant pays the rates and bears the cost of repairs needed to keep a property in the position to maintain that rent, whichever of those two figures is the lower. I want to ask the Minister if there is anything in his view to prevent the scarcity value entering either into the capital value or into the notional rent of property of this kind. We see the rubric to the Clause refers to the elimination of the special value attributable to vacant possession. But it appears not to do so, and if it does I should like to be told how it is going to, because I do not see how it does that at all. The value in these vacant possession cases, as I understand it, must be assessed on the assumption that the property is subject to no restrictions and the house itself is worth £2,000 with vacant possession. Five per cent. on the capital value of £2,000 is £100. We have now to ascertain the rental value to see which is the lower, and there again we have to bear in mind the scarcity value. I do not think we can do anything else, because that is what the prospective tenant will think of at once. In the case of a house of this size I think it is safe to assume that the rental value will not be less than £100 a year. So I take that figure as a basis which I myself would value at a six per cent. price.

I should like the hon. Member to give us his definition of scarcity value. Does he mean the difference between a property with vacant possession and a property without vacant possession? Is that scarcity value?

I do not mean that, because scarcity value attaches if properties are let as well as if properties have vacant possession. I mean by scarcity value—and I do not claim any particular sanction for these words—that a special value attaches to that property because there is a scarcity of properties for occupation at the present time. I think that is all I need say there.

I will now go back to the notional rent of £100 and take 6 per cent. for a six years term, when the valuation of the term of the notional lease comes to £490. We have got to add the value of the reversion and a prudent valuer would probably assume that a tenant would give a lower rent at the expiration of the lease. The year's purchase depends almost entirely upon the conditions which are likely to prevail in 1954. I have taken it at 5½ per cent. bearing in mind that money is likely to remain cheap for some time, and at 5½ per cent. the value of the reversion after 6 years comes to £990. Add that to the valuation of the notional lease, the compensation for the value of the property amounts to £1,480. It is interesting I think to compare this figure, which is almost £1,500, with the vacant possession value of £2,000 and to observe that a value of 25 per cent. is due to vacant possession—in fact 25 per cent is attributable to scarcity. I apologise for going at such length in all these details.

I want now to deal with the valuation of these properties in round figures. A house worth originally £800 with vacant possession is worth £2,000 today. If it were compulsorily acquired the owner would receive about £1,200 under the present law; £800 if notice to treat were served after the day of the Royal Assent but before the appointed day, and about £1,500 if notice to treat is given after the appointed day. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury referred to the letter from Mr. Edmund Howard in "The Times" today. I enjoyed reading that letter because it justifies my contention that there are so many complications. Mr. Howard concludes his letter with these words:
"… although justice may be done, the man in the street will certainly not see how it is done."
I agree with those sentiments. The intrinsic value of a property under these proposals becomes completely subordinate to factors such as the nature of the occupancy and the date of notice to treat. I think some of these are quite inevitable, and I agree that we must make provision for the smooth transition from the 1939 values to the new basis of market value for existing use. But some simplification can be made and I want to tell the right hon. Gentleman one way in which that can be done and that would be to eliminate the special proviso covering the period between the date of the Royal Assent and the date of the appointed day. I apologise for keeping the Committee so long on rather technical points, but I think that they were worth making.

8.30 p.m.

I am afraid I cannot follow the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) in all those intricacies into which he and his profession have led us this evening, but I should like to say that immediately the decision was made to increase the uplift on damaged buildings and to give the owner-occupier a 30 per cent, increase over and above other owners, there began this descent from the 1939 standard. When we, in response to great agitation and a great sense of unfairness, decided to increase the uplift on the 1914 built house from 45 per cent. and on other houses by 60 per cent. it became inevitable that the 1939 standard for such values on compulsory acquisition had to go.

When I saw the Clauses—there has been some argument this afternoon, but I think it was some time in April—I wondered what on earth all the jargon meant. I had a bucket of water and a couple of towels, but they did not improve my ability to understand it. I must say that I think they are a remarkable record which I do not imagine any ordinary man outside the professions could possibly understand. I went to a public authority valuer and asked him if he would tell me what was his view of the proposal to substitute the 1947 standard under the new set-up as against the 1939 one, and how it would affect local authorities who were compulsorily acquiring land for various purposes and particularly for town and country planning purposes. Our own valuer gave this matter his very careful consideration and came back to me afterwards and said that in his judgment, as a local authority officer and from the point of view of the acquiring authority, he thought that the new proposals were substantially fair and gave a measure of justice far in advance of the 1939 basis. At the same time, there were certain questions arising out of the proposed alterations upon which we should like some elucidation from the Minister.

Under the old basis the 1939 value was paid, where land had not received war damage. Under the present proposals current value at existing use excluding the development value is to be paid. We would express the opinion that this will add to the reconstruction account of development authorities. In other words, local authorities which have large areas to acquire in order to replan their towns will find that this adds a considerable sum of money to their reconstruction account for the very simple reason that at the present time the values are greater because of the exorbitant cost of building. We think that while there has been no appreciable increase in the value of land since 1939 yet, because of the extremely high cost of the buildings, although the addition now goes on to the cost of building and not to that of the land, afterwards it will go on to the land and will increase our indebtedness. We should like some kind of assurance from the Minister in this respect.

The second point upon which we should like an assurance concerns undamaged buildings without vacant possession. Under the 1944 Act we should have to pay 1939 values. Under this Bill and the provision of the new Clause we should have to pay the current value excluding the development value. Incidentally, buildings without vacant possession are very largely subject to lease. We are convinced that this will mean a considerable increase to the acquiring authority—in our judgment something from 45 per cent. to 65 per cent. Since the local authorities will have to foot the bill in their reconstruction account, will the Minister tell the Committee how he proposes to make this up to them? Will there be an adjustment of the grants under Clause 86 to make that possible? The third case about which I wish to ask is the cost of works cases which are not owner occupied. Here again the authority is prejudiced. Under the old law they were liable only for the 1939 value of the site and the remains of the buildings, no supplement being payable to non-owner-occupiers. Now they are liable for the 1947 value of the site and the buildings on the assumption that all war damage has been made good, but they will still get back from the War Damage Commission only the converted value of 60 per cent. In other words, we have to pay the difference between 60 per cent. and all damage made good under this Clause. The position of the owner is improved, the War Damage Commission gain by the fact that they pay only the minimum uplift, and all this is at the expense of the acquiring authority. The local authority must bear both.

I am very glad to see the Minister shaking his head. These are the problems, and I shall listen with very great interest to his explanation. They are the problems arising out of this Clause as they occur to us. On the other hand, there are parts of the Clause which will he of great value to the authorities, and it is the considered opinion of our advisers that by and large substantial justice is being done. We hope that with some explanation of the points I have raised the Minister will be successful in his submission of this new Clause.

I must apologise for having missed the preliminary statement by the Minister, but I hope that the Chancellor, and in particular the Minister, will be complimented to hear at any rate the pleasant part of what I have to say. I rose in particular to say how delighted I was when I saw on the Order Paper a series of Clauses one of the main purposes of which was to abolish the adherence to the 1939 value. I think it was a considerable act of courage to take this step because it certainly renders the Minister liable to, and has rendered him subject to, misrepresentation. I think it is a vast improvement in the Bill that he has taken this step, and I am very happy to congratulate him upon it.

I was especially sorry to hear the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) suggest that this was toadying on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues to what the hon. Member for Mile End described as the "land-owning class." In the last Parliament I was one of those who urged rather strongly the adherence to the 1939 value as a political necessity. That was done for reasons which I still think were satisfactory. There were at that time strong political reasons for establishing the 1939 standard of value as the basis of calculation. To begin with, the Bill was introduced during the war. It was particularly necessary to secure some sort of basis of political agreement on the financial Clauses in order to get any sort of Bill at all, and it was only after great difficulty that this Bill was produced on the basis of that compromise.

Hon. Members opposite, who were present in the last Parliament, will have vividly before them the kind of difficulty we had then to face. I was not satisfied that, on its merits, the 1939 value was a satisfactory basis even then, but it had a certain political advantage in that it enabled both sides to agree upon a Bill which was obviously necessary on grounds of higher policy. Now we are in peace time, and it is proposed to depart from the 1939 value, and I can imagine no argument in favour of keeping it. It does not particularly matter, from the point of view of this discussion, whether the present values will remain as they are, substantially in excess of 1939, or whether, for some reason, the values will fall catastrophically below that level. The real point is that in establishing a basis of calculation for compensation, the further away we get from the date by reference to which the value of property is fixed, the more chancy and artificial the calculation becomes.

Take, for instance, the figure which is still chosen by a pure historic accident as the basis of standard rents under the Rent Restriction Acts—3rd August, 1914. It really becomes a matter of metaphysics when you have to advise people about a property, which, perhaps, has not been let since then. You have to determine what its rent would have been, and then establish your statutory additions, to advise what its rent ought to be now. There can be no advantage, either to the public at large or to any particular class of the community, in adhering to an artificial date of that kind, by reference to which value is assessed. It is for that reason that I think it was mere misrepresentation on the part of the hon. Member for Mile End, and a mere desire to keep values down for the sake of keeping them down, instead of doing substantial justice, which led him to attack the Government for their decision on a matter of this kind. My hon. Friend established one thing at least, and that was that there are numerous pitfalls in trying to differentiate between different types of occupations, on the very crude level on which the hon. Member for Mile End would have insisted.

One really cannot base compensation—although we did so again in 1944—upon the criterion of what is an owner-occupier. To begin with, there are many meritorious owners of property who are not owner-occupiers and there are many owner-occupiers who are not, even according to the standard of the hon. Member for Mile End, meritorious. He quoted Woolworths and Barclays Bank as among those whom he did not wish to see given additional compensation, but it so happens that they occupy nearly every set of premises they own, and so his own criterion would break down if he sought to apply it to the examples he gave. On the other hand, there are numerous owners of small property, who may have acquired it for their own occupation, and who thereafter may have let it as they grew older and their housing needs became more restricted, or because they have left the locality. These properties represent the life savings of these people.

All this and the very elaborate argument of my hon. Friend establishes the wisdom of the step the Government have taken. There is only one criterion on which compensation should be paid, and that is what the property is worth. If it is to be scaled down, as the Government, for reasons with which I personally do not agree, have scaled it down, it must be scaled down equally, but to attempt to differentiate between different owners of different kinds of property for the purpose of assessment, will only lead us to Bedlam. The only test must be the objective test, and the objective test must be what the property is worth.

8.45 p.m.

Whatever may be the merits of this proposal, I think it will be generally agreed that it came as a considerable surprise to most people in the country and certainly to most of us on these benches. I can well understand it receiving the approval of hon. Members opposite. Can the Minister assure us that this is not going to mean additional profits or additional sums paid in compensation to the landowners over and above what they would have obtained under the Bill as originally drafted? The argument for the change is that it is perfectly right to limit prices for a short period such as between 1939 and 1944, but that when the period gets longer we are justified in forgetting all about the necessity for the limitation. I do not follow the argument at all. If it is wrong for a short period to refuse to give an additional price, the same argument ought to apply to a longer period.

The hon. Member will appreciate that all sorts of special circumstances arose as a direct outcome of the war, such as the effects of heavy bombing in some places and evacuation leading to an increase in population in other places. Surely he will agree that there is justification for a special valuation.

The 1939 value was taken because that was the value before all these catastrophes took place and before the results of the war came upon us. The reason for trying to stick to that valuation was to prevent landowners and speculators making additional profits out of what occurred during the wartime period. That seemed to me to be a sound argument, because, after all, the men who gave their lives in the war were not expected to make any profit out of the war, and the general argument has been that if those who had given their lives get nothing, why should the landowners get additional profits?

I think that the hon. Member was referring directly to me. If so, he has misrepresented my point. My point is not whether it is desirable to limit prices, because that is not what is proposed. The question is whether compensation is to be limited to a particular type of transaction, namely, compulsory purchase, when prices are not limited and when it is proposed to do it by reference to an artificial date in the past. That is my point and that is what I suggested is wholly wrong.

They were the known prices which existed before war broke out. One great argument against this change is that it would be impossible, after a lapse of some time, to know what 1939 prices really were. It is said, "Let us forget all about it, and judge by present-day conditions." I cannot think that that is a relevant argument. We are not living in times of no printing and no paper, and it is reasonable to expect that if we want to know what 1939 values were, sufficient records will be available to show, if not the actual value of the property in question, the value of a similar property. The Chancellor is assuming what he calls a notional lease. He is admitting that there is need for an artificial barrier to the rise of prices. If we can operate this system by means of a notional lease there is no logical reason why referring back to 1939 should not also be equally logical.

The Chancellor, in putting forward this suggestion of a notional lease, has admitted that it is necessary, in present-day circumstances, to keep some curb on prices. In admitting that he is admitting my whole case, that there is no justification for this alteration. I am prepared to agree that there are technical difficulties, and if the Minister can assure us that the result of this Clause will not mean payment of any sums to landowners in addition to those they would have received under the Bill as originally drafted, I shall be satisfied. But if the result will mean increased payments to land and property owners, then the people generally will not regard this new Clause with favour.

It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I now deal with some of the points which have been made. The discussion has been very helpful, and, on the whole, gratifying to those who have been responsible for the new Clause. The criticisms have not been more severe than I anticipated. This is a complicated matter, and with the best will in the world I have not been able to see how it can be considerably simplified. May I, first, give my broad justification for this Clause? I put it on two grounds. I say that the 1939 standard has become unworkable and that it has become inequitable. On both those grounds, something of this sort is essential. I recognise that, in trying to value property, paper records may be available in a great many cases, although not in all. But valuation is not an academic science. It involves knowing the property. I should be very dissatisfied with a valuation which took place merely on the basis of records. One must know the condition of the property, and the changes that have taken place in the neighbourhood, which is a very important factor in valuation as, I am sure, my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock) will recognise. Property may perhaps remain entirely unchanged but, by reason of what has gone on around it, its value may be completely different from what it was before. No valuer can appreciate whether there has been any change of that kind without actually knowing the property. The number of people now in existence who knew the condition of property in 1939 is becoming fewer and fewer. In any case, by general agreement, the 1939 basis was coming to an end in 1949. In this Clause we have anticipated the change by about two years.

I say that the 1939 standard is inequitable because, although, when the 1944 Act was passed, we sought to pre- vent people benefiting as a result of the war, today we find that many changes of ownership have taken place. So many people have had to buy property during the war, that to impose a 1939 basis for acquisition would be inequitable in a great many cases. Although, in some cases, it may be equitable to pay a 1939 value, I agree with the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), that we cannot base our compensation on the individual who happens to be the owner. We are buying land and buildings, and we have to pay compensation on the basis of what we are buying, and not on the basis of ho happens to own it, or even when he bought. Therefore, I think that continuance of the 1939 basis would have been inequitable and generally regarded as inequitable.

I have had representations from local authorities who have felt inhibited from compulsorily acquiring land which they ought to have acquired for public purposes because of the working of the 1939 basis. I have had representations from local authorities, not necessarily those of one political complexion, who have said that they were in great difficulties about operating 1939 values. We have recognised this in the case of the owner-occupier. Some months ago, we increased the 1939 permitted addition from 30 per cent. to 60 per cent. in his case, with the general approval of the House. I do not think that there was any opposition to it. So I feel that the time has come to make a complete change from the 1939 basis.

Now let me comment on the observations of the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) who, on these matters, speaks with an authority which I cannot pretend to equal. He inferred, incorrectly, that there had been a change of view about the fixing of the appointed day. I am not aware that there has been any change. I do not know on what basis he inferred that; there is evidently some internal evidence in the Clause which I have not been able to fathom. In fact, there is no change of view about the date of the appointed day. I cannot tell the Committee when the appointed day will be, not because I would not if I could—I do not want to make any secret about it—but because I cannot say when the organisation will be complete to enable the appointed day to be fixed. I can tell the House, however, that I hope very much that it will be in the early part of 1948. This does not represent any change from what was originally anticipated

9.0 p.m.

That fact may perhaps give some force to the point which the hon. Gentleman made that there is a different basis of valuation in respect of properties where notice to treat was served before the appointed day and similar properties where notice to treat was served after the appointed day. In one case, the basis of valuation was 7th January, and, in the other case, it is the date of the service of the notice to treat. The suggestion which the hon. Gentleman makes is that we should have in both cases the date of the service of notice to treat as the date in respect of which valuation is made. I have very great sympathy with that point of view. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will go into it once more with my advisers to see whether it is practicable. Reasons were given to me which appeared to be convincing at the time, but as they are technical, I will not weary the Committee with them. If it is at all possible—and I am fortified by the experience of the hon. Gentleman—I would prefer to have one date, namely the date of the notice to treat.

The hon. Gentleman is also right in saying that even the formula of the notional lease does not entirely remove the scarcity element. I do not know any method which will do that entirely, except by going back to the 1939 basis from which we are seeking to get away. I think that the right solution is some form of compromise. It is quite wrong to pay market values in respect of land where vacant possession is available, except in the case of agricultural land. I think that the public cannot be expected to chase after inflationary values. There must be some compromise and the formula of a notional lease is, I think, quite frankly the compromise. It does not remove the whole of the difficulty of scarcity value, but it removes a part of it. On the figures which the hon. Gentleman quoted, the payment would be about five-sixths on the basis of 5 per cent. of the value being less than the rent, and on the assumption that the 6 per cent. return is right, it would be in fact five-sixths of the rent. I think that is not bad. It has the advantage, for what it is worth—and I do not want to put the case too high—of putting the person whose property has been damaged as a result of enemy action in something like the same position as the person whose property has been acquired compulsorily. In fact, even now, the person who has suffered war damage will get slightly less compensation than the person whose property is being acquired. I do not put it any higher than a compromise, and the best compromise which we have been able to devise. We want to reduce compensation in respect of scarcity value, but we feel that we have to pay something. If anyone can produce a better compromise, my mind is quite open on the subject.

The hon. Member for Drake (Mr. Medland) raised the question of the effect on local government finances. I think he answered himself when he said that broadly speaking the local authorities were satisfied that this was reasonable, and that he did not think it would materially affect their financial position. I think that is so because, where on the one hand they will be paying on a higher basis of valuation for their land, on the other hand they will be paying on a restricted value—that is, the value of the land free from the development value. Setting one off against the other, I should say that by and large they will not be any worse off. I think that probably answers the hon. Member for Mitcham, who asked whether the additional sums paid in compensation to the landowners under the new Clause would be greater than the amounts that would have been paid under the Bill as originally drawn. The answer is that the amounts actually paid will be higher, and that is the intention. It flows from the 1939 basis being abandoned. On the other hand, if it is any comfort to the hon. Gentleman, the owners of land will in fact be paid on the restricted basis of the value of their land without development value, in respect of which they will make a claim on the fund of £300 million.

I am not able to say what the regulations will be, but they will be paid on the basis of the restricted value of the land, though on the present day value and not on the 1939 basis. That being the case, I should not have thought they were being treated too generously. or in a manner of which my hon. Friend need complain.

I have endeavoured to deal with what has been said on the new Clause, and I should like to thank the hon. Member for Oxford for his observations. At one time he and I fought this fight together. In 1944 we were on the same side against the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but unlike him I think we were right in those days, both politically and in equity. I am very glad to have his moral support for the new Clause, and as we have this rather long and interesting discussion, I hope that we may be able to save some time on the Amendments to it which will now have to be discussed.

Before my right hon. Friend concludes his remarks I would like to ask him a question. I understood him to say that the owners of war damaged property would be slightly worse off than those whose property was acquired and had not been subject to war damage. Was he referring to the original value payments in that regard, or to converted value payments, or did his remarks apply to both? I would further like to ask him whether he is not of the opinion that the balance should have been tipped in the other direction, in view of the fact that the owners of war damaged property have in many instances been deprived of the use of their property since the war damage occurred?

This is not the time to discuss the merits or demerits of payments for war damage. I was pointing out, what I think is an obvious fact, that the value payments, even with the additions made under the recent order, will be less than the compensation that will be paid for acquisition. Of course, if a local authority acquires war damaged property, they will pay on the same basis as they will if they acquire any other property. I was really comparing the value payment, whether converted or original, with the compensation that will be paid for the acquisition of land.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 5, to leave out "passing of this Act," and to insert:

"seventh day of January nineteen hundred and forty-seven."
A considerable part of the arguments in favour of this Amendment has already been adduced in the discussion on the new Clause, and I need not repeat it, except to pay a tribute to the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), which quite clearly have had a considerable effect upon the Minister's mind and upon his attitude to our suggestion. I think those arguments can be developed a little further in a slightly different connection. An argument which the right hon. Gentleman has gone a long way to accept—and I do not press him tonight to say more on it—was that of the three categories of value which will exist now that this Clause is in the Bill, the middle stage should be eliminated; that is to say, there is no logical reason for saying that between the time this Bill becomes an Act and early in 1948 the standard by which the value of the assessment is to be made should be the value on 7th January, 1947. Obviously for that short interval that intermediate stage introduces a great and entirely unnecessary complication. There is yet another complication which, I think, could be eliminated from this Measure without disadvantage, without inequity, and without doing what the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock) dreaded—that is, paying anything to a landowner which a landowner should not obtain—and that would be to eliminate the first of the three categories, to eliminate from 7th January, 1947, the assessment of prices in relation to 1939 values.

The reason for that can be put quite shortly. Earlier this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman rather indicated that local authorities might be in a dilemma in determining whether the 1939 values under the 1944 Act, taking into account development values, would be greater or less than the 1947 values from which the development value had been deducted, and he argued that local authorities would not seek to take advantage of buying by serving a notice to treat or buying under the 1944 Act and so getting the property cheaper. I think that the force of that argument has been demolished by observations of hon. Members behind him. I do not know whether, on balance, it will work to the advantage of the local authority, or to the advantage of the owner-occupier of the property. It would be quite wrong to have anomalies between two adjoining owners of similar property, depending solely upon whether notice to treat was served before or after 7th January, 1947, or the date of the passing of this Measure. That would be unjustifiable and unfair. The local authority may serve the notice thinking it is going to make a good bargain. On the basis of the Bill as at present drafted it will in particular instances be to its advantage to do that. I am not suggesting that a local authority which adopted those tactics would be doing anything wrong. If it is allowed to do it by law; it should pursue that course in the interests of its ratepayers. But that might operate to cause considerable injustice.

9.15 p.m.

Take the question of agricultural land. Does anyone suggest that agricultural land round villages, for instance, where there is no appreciable development value for building, would not have a 1947 value far in excess of 1939 values? Does anyone dispute that, even deducting the development values from the agricultural land? Surely, any local authority which is desirous of saving its ratepayers' money will serve as many notices to treat as they can before this Bill becomes an Act. What is the argument for this differentiation? Why should we not say that where a notice to treat is served after 7th January, 1947, the current values shall be the determining factor? It may be that current values have gone down, it may be, in some instances, that they have gone up. One can be sure, where compulsory acquisition does take place, that the dispossessed person, who may not always be a large, powerful, rich individual, but may be a small man, will get what is assessed at that date as sufficient to enable him to reinstate himself elsewhere in a similar capacity.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say that he will also give serious consideration to making the change from 1939 prices to current prices operate from the date of the publication of this Measure. That will prevent anyone seeking to take advantage of the technicalities of the Measure, a Measure which is bound to be technical, and will also prevent the payment of widely varying prices for similar categories of property. Adopting the most excellent argument of my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen but without seeking to repeat it, and also adopting the argument of the hon. Member for the Drake Division (Mr. Medland), which I think I can also claim in aid in this instance, I express the hope that the Minister will be able to give a satisfactory answer.

I am sorry that I cannot meet the hon. and learned Gentleman on this Amendment. He bases it on the fact that hardship and inequity will arise as between persons who have notice to treat after the date of the Royal Assent and people who have had it prior to that date. But differences in compensation cannot be removed. Whatever date is taken, the same consideration will arise.

What can be done is to stop local authorities taking advantage of those provisions by serving notice to treat so as to get agricultural land for 1939 prices, before this Bill becomes an Act.

I would only say that it is a gross insult to the local authorities of this country to suggest that, by and large, they are going to serve notices in order to be able to acquire land more cheaply. I do not believe for a moment that that is the case. That was not the argument that the hon. and learned Member put forward. His argument was in regard to the inequity that would arise as between people who had received notice to treat on one day and those who had received it on another. My answer is that whatever date is chosen, a similar position is bound to arise. Suppose notice to treat had been served on 6th January, 1947. That person would get the 1939 values even under the Amendment. If the notice were served on 8th January, then he would get the new basis of compensation. There would still be this inequality of treatment as between the two. That is unavoidable, whatever date we choose. There is no particular virtue about 7th January, 1947, except that it is the day on which this Bill was introduced. There is no other significance about selecting that as the date of demarcation. Under a notice to treat served after that date, people will get one form of treatment and under one served before they will get another form. The date of the Royal Assent is the logical date. The Bill will become law and certain things will flow from that. That is perfectly well understood. Moreover, the alternative proposed would cause great administrative difficulties, but I do not want to put that argument too high.

Is it not the case that a situation has arisen in which the country knows that 1947 values are going to take effect and, that being so, would it not be better to remove the 1939 values as soon as possible?

The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) would be on stronger ground if instead of saying 7th January, 1947, they said the date of the publication of the Amendment, or even the date of this discussion. It may be assumed that it would have taken even the local authorities a day or two to understand the significance of the Amendment. I could have understood that sort of argument, but I cannot understand the argument for 7th January. The fact is that a great many things have happened on the basis of notices to treat given after 7th January. In some cases there have been arbitrations and decisions as to the amount of compensation. There have been agreements entered into, there has been land acquired by agreement and there have been contracts made. I do not suggest it would be impossible to go back on all that and to start again on a new basis of compensation, but it would be exceedingly difficult.

There is one other difficulty which is that the new basis of compensation assumes that permission will be granted in respect of development referred to in the Third Schedule. So far, we do not know what will be in the Third Schedule finally. There are still other stages of the Bill and, although I hope the Third Schedule will remain pure, unsullied and intact, one cannot fix compensation on that assumption. It would be quite wrong to do it. If it turned out that there were changes in the Third Schedule, it might mean that the basis of compensation would have to be revised once more. We might then have one basis of compensation already settled, a new basis if the Amendment were accepted, and possibly another one if there were changes to the Third Schedule—a really impossible position. I hope, therefore, that the hon. and learned Gentleman will accept the situation and accept the fact that we are doing a very good thing; that the date of the Royal Assent must be taken and that it cannot be retrospective. If we were to make it retrospective, the logical thing would be to go right back to 1944. The other logical thing, perhaps, would be to date it as from today, but I think the right thing is to date it from the Royal Assent.

I would like to press the right hon. Gentleman a little further. He said it was an insult to the local authorities to suggest that they would serve notices to treat so as to get land more cheaply, but I do not think that is really putting the question quite fairly. The point is that if we leave the Clause as it is now drafted, there will be a period between now and the passing of the Act during which the decision whether or not to serve notice to treat on any particular piece of land will affect the compensation payable to the owner of that land, and the authorities considering acquiring that piece of land can, by taking action, deliberately affect the price which will be paid to the owner for better or worse. It may be that very few authorities would deliberately serve a notice sooner than they would otherwise have done, in order to deprive the owner of a piece of land or whatever it may be, of the value of it. It would be a rare occurrence. On the other hand, I can very well imagine the converse taking place. Suppose we had a local authority of a political complexion which might be favourable to the right hon. Gentleman who failed to serve a notice to treat until, say, a week after the passing of this Bill. I can well imagine what the constituents of members of that authority would say at their having let off such and such a landlord mom lightly than they need have done.

Our objection to this is that it puts authorities into an invidious position. The right hon. Gentleman quite convincingly pointed out the difficulty of making this retrospective to any great extent. Decisions have been taken on matters which it would be difficult now to readjust. If we had to go back to January of this year, it might be that the passage of three or four months would create some genuine administrative difficulties. But I really believe that if we were to go back to the date of the introduction of this Amendment—everyone was fully warned of what was in the wind—for making a change in this respect, I do not believe it would create any administrative difficulties.

After all, it can only apply in the case of notice to treat, and little can have beer done in respect of notices to treat during the eleven days since 1st May. I canner believe that if the right hon. Gentleman were to indicate tonight that he was considering this matter, there would be any administrative difficulty whatsoever about amending the words "the passing of this Act" to the words "1st May, 1947." I press the right hon. Gentleman to say that he is considering this matter further At any rate, no further administrative difficulties will arise in the future, because all concerned will have been warned that there is a possibility of an alteration being made.

9.30 p.m.

I speak with some trepidation, having personified the entire Opposition to the Minister in an earlier Act of his, during which I expressed the wish that he might somehow suffer misfortune it touring round the countryside in search of new towns. However, I hope that that fact will not induce the Minister to run away from any concession which he might feel called upon to make as a result of the powerful arguments which have been addressed to him in the last few minutes by my hon. Friends. The Minister in this respect is somewhat like the Chancellor of the Exchequer; he produces an Amendment which causes a change in the law of compensation. What would be said of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who introduced a Budget and made Budget regulations apply, not to the night on which he made his speech, but to some weeks after? The most astonishing effect would take place in the rise and fall of prices. I hope, therefore, the Minister will regard himself somewhat in the light of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in introducing this change in his Bill, and will realise that certain people will do certain things as a result of his speech tonight as well as on the new Clause which he put down on the Order Paper some few days ago. I hope he will look at this matter again, to see whether it is not fair and equitable to establish the terms of compensation at the date when his Clause was introduced, or even at tonight's date, because that would prevent local authorities from serving notices to treat upon landlords in a great hurry and before the passing of this Measure. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) said, it might work both ways; it might also be for the benefit of local authorities to have this date put in because they might, therefore, be paying for land something less than they would otherwise have to pay. So I hope that we can get further consideration by the right hon. Gentleman of this question.

The Minister has been so courageous, and at the same time so conciliatory, that it would not be asking too much to ask him to be even a little more conciliatory. The 1939 values were designed to prevent speculation in land in wartime, and to a large extent, they succeeded in preventing that speculation. When one thinks that we have gone through all this escalation, and that it was the Minister who finally came down and said, "We are going to end all that, and we are going to have a new datum line on a realistic basis," one agrees that the Minister is showing himself extremely wise and competent and bold, because he must have known that he was at least risking misinterpretation on his own side of the Committee. We do not take kindly to anything that seems in the nature of a sop to the landlords or any special compensation for them. There was one virtue alone which belonged to 1939 values, and that was the virtue of simplicity, It was a clear-cut datum line of value, and I regret that I cannot see in this and the other Clauses any such simplicity. There will be confusion, there will be a feeling on the part of some people of unfairness. I am quite certain the Minister does not want to encourage any charge of that sort. He has tried to be practical in an extremely difficult and complex matter. Probably hon. and right hon. Members opposite do not expect him to accept their Amendment, but I think that if he would pursue the line of his Second Reading speech, and eliminate the second stage in the valuation process, so that at the worst we have two different scales, and at the best only one scale, it will appear not only that he is being courageous and bold, but, to the ordinary man in the street, he will be doing something which looks strictly like justice. I do not think he need be afraid of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin), or my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock), because I am sure that as the Bill progresses and it becomes clear that he is not trying to increase the global sum by one penny—

Might I point out that the question of the global sum of compensation is not being dealt with at the present time?

No, but we are trying here in Committee to get the Bill simplified, so that it can be understood not only by learned surveyors, architects, and lawyers, but by ordinary men and women, who are going to be very much affected by it. I am sure the Minister does not wish to make the law unnecessarily complicated. He will be doing a great service to himself and to the country if he would consider this matter further.

I must apologise to the Minister if, not having heard his speech and what preceded it, I either say something with which he has already dealt, or possibly repeat something which has been said, but I promise to be brief. I hope he will respond to the request, which has now been made from both sides of the Committee, to reconsider this date. I can appreciate that there may be arguments against the date which appears in the Amendment, but I ask him to give most serious consideration to an alternative date. I am now thinking of the effect on his Department. I am certain that if he meets the wish expressed on both sides of the Committee he will greatly increase the appearance of justice in this matter, and any increase in the appearance and fact of justice will increase the reputation of his Department and the ease with which it can act. I may be wrong, not having heard his speech, but I gather he suggested that if local authorities hastened to give notice to treat, they would be acting in some unworthy manner and that therefore it was making an unworthy suggestion against them to suppose that they would do so. That is by no means clear. Those who determine the conduct of local authorities may well feel that they are acting in the capacity of trustees, and must do the best they can for their beneficiaries, and if it will be possible for them to acquire land a good deal more cheaply by giving notice on a certain date, they may well conceive it to be their duty to do so.

What is in fact being done by this new series of proposals the Government are putting forward? They are putting forward a basis of market values in the interests not only of the—

The hon. and learned Gentleman is going very wide of the Amendment which we are discussing.

I apologise and I see the line that I must not pursue. I was coming to the reasons for the change of date. Whenever the Government have come to a decision on a basis of compensation, they have generally thought it right to give a warning that they would have regard to the circumstances as they existed at the time when they first announced that decision. If I might remind the Minister—and I am now quoting from memory—I remember answering a question from the Government Front Bench on the publication of the Uthwatt Report, and giving a warning in the name of the Coalition Government that in all subsequent transactions in land, regard should be had to the terms of that announcement, because the Government in their legislation would consider the state of affairs existing at that moment. The right hon. Gentleman will find that reference if he looks it up; and he will find numerous other instances of the same kind where the Government, announcing an important decision or change in compensation to be paid on the acquisition of land under similar circumstances, rightly gave a warning that future transactions must be based on the announcement they were making.

The right hon. Gentleman gave reasons against the date mentioned in our Amendment but none against substituting the date when he tabled his. There will be nothing which is not in accordance with precedent if he enacts in this Bill to make that date the operative date. I do not know haw it will work out, but I am quite sure that he will have avoided injustices which, on any other alternative, would be unavoidable. I do not doubt for one moment that there will be certain difficulties of drafting, as is always the case when we try to make something operate as from a date before an Act comes into force, but those difficulties of drafting are not beyond the ingenuity of the Parliamentary draftsmen and the learned Attorney-General. If the proposal which we on this side of the Committee have embodied in our Amendment, which has been supported in general by the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister), is adopted by the Government they will have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.

9.45 p.m.

I heard the reply of the Minister to this Amendment and I confess I was a little disappointed by it. I hope in a few words to put this matter into its proper perspective. This is not a question of trying to alter the compensation for land publicly acquired. It is purely a question of decent administration. The Government have frequently passed Acts of Parliament which have affected values, and it is a general principle that when that is done, the Minister in charge prevents people utilising the time while a Bill is going through Parliament to manipulate affairs to their own advantage, by forestalling the result which is in the draft of the Bill. It is common in all Budget Resolutions. They date from the time they are announced so that no one will take advantage of an increased tea or tobacco duty or whatever it may be. It has been done already by the right hon. Gentleman in this Bill. If one considers the provisions in Clause 54 for ascertaining the development value of land, a matter that affects landowners, it will be seen, in Subsection (3) that:

"For the purposes of this Section, the restricted and the unrestricted values of interests in land shall be calculated by reference to prices current immediately before the seventh day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-seven. …"
Not the prices obtaining "on the passing of this Act." Why did the right hon. Gentleman introduce in this Clause of the Bill a prior date as the measure by which these values should be ascertained? Quite frankly, he did it in order to prevent the owners of interest in land from manipulating their transactions so as to obtain greater or lesser development values when the Bill is passed. We on this side did not stand up and complain that this was an insult to the probity of landlords, and that no landlord would do such a thing. We know that human nature, whether it be a private individual or the chairman of a local authority committee who is concerned, is very much the same all over the world. The right hon. Gentleman need not accuse us of insulting the local authorities, any more than we accuse him of insulting the landlords because he took a rudimentary precaution which all wise legislators take by fixing a date for these changes in value so that no one could take advantage of the period between the introduction of the legislation and the Royal Assent.

We say that in some cases the restricted current value may be against the landlord and in other cases in his favour. We are quite agreeable that all cases should stand alike, but we do want to prevent the possibility of this intervening period between the notice of this proposed change in the law—which changes values in land—being used to manipulate the values by changing the date of the notice to treat. That is a very simple question of ordinary, good administration. It is not pro-landlord or pro-local authorities; it is pro-Parliament and its control over the legislation of this country. It is directed against persons using the inevitable gestation period of our legislation to take advantage of what is printed in this Bill and enriching themselves in the process. There is no doubt about the fact that this Bill and these Clauses will affect the value of land, and I say that the date from which the value is affected ought to be anterior to the time when anyone has an opportunity of using it to his advantage. That is the simple principle involved, and there is nothing else in it.

When he replied to my hon. Friend, the Minister said that he based too much of his argument on the theory of inequalities. It is true that if a change is made in the law there has to be a date from which the change operates, and it in all these cases is inevitable that those on one side of the date are in a different position from those on the other side. But that is not the argument for this Amendment. If it is necessary that the law should be changed there will inevitably be a difference between the people on one side of the date and those on the other, but the important point is that one of the parties to the transaction shall not have the opportunity of fixing the date. If the words of this Clause are scrutinised, it will be found that everything hangs on the date of the notice to treat, and that is a date that can be fixed by the purchasing authority according to their will. It is not fixed by the House of Commons. The authority can deliver their notice to treat any time before the Bill receives the Royal Assent, or any time after, as it chooses. It can choose the date which is crucial to the value of the property. I say that that is bad practice. We ought to fix a date beyond the reach of manipulations of that sort.

The right hon. Gentleman cavilled with some reason against going so far back as 7th January, 1947. I must confess that I put in the date on the principle of "what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander." It was the date chosen by the right hon. Gentleman himself, because it was the date when he gave notice of his intentions by the printing of this Bill. I do not mind changing the date to the date when I first saw this Amendment printed. The only reason why I have a preference for the earlier date is because this matter has been under such constant consideration in Parliament. I am afraid that I have wearied the Committee by my denunciations of the 1939 price, but I should have thought it common sense that the further back you go, the clearer you are from any sense of speculation on the contents of a Bill printed in Parliament. If there is a puritanical feeling for adhering to the strict logic of the position, I do not mind taking the date on which this Amendment was first printed. I do not mind, so long as it is a date which prevents anyone profiting by knowledge of what is printed in the Bill. That is all I ask on this matter.

With regard to contracts already entered into and, perhaps, completed, I agree that it would be an impossible task to re-examine them all. But that is a matter which could be got over. It is common, when changes in the law take place, to enact simultaneously that it is without prejudice to anything done before the change was made. There is bound to be a certain amount of hardship involved, but I should not have thought it would have taken us beyond our depths in framing legislation to meet it. The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister), whose speech I listened to with the greatest interest and sympathy, referred to the 1939 price. The real reason for adopting the 1939 price was the absence of any proper standard owing to the insidence of bombardment, in various degrees, in our island. It had one advantage in that it fixed a date. No one in 1944 could do anything about a standard fixed in 1939 to enrich himself one way or the other. Similarly, it is essential not to leave the fixing of this date in the hands of people who can use it to their advantage in the indefinite period that must elapse between now and the Royal Assent.

The right hon. Gentleman was a little dubious of what the Third Schedule might contain when the Bill reached the Statute Book. That shows a proper appreciation of the hazards which attend the passage of legislation through Parliament, but if he is doubtful of the contents of his Third Schedule, still more doubtful must he be on the date when approval is finally given. To leave a period of uncertainty like this, within which certain people may think it to their advantage to throw in notices to treat, and others may think it to their advantage to abstain until the Bill is passed and thus delay acquisition of the land, and the development required, is bad administration and bad legislation. We ought to fix a date behind which no one can go, and have a clear, untouchable, standard of value which affects all members of the public, whether purchasers or vendors, under this Bill.

I want to take great exception to some of the remarks which have just been made by the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison), because they cast a great slur on the integrity of our local government bodies. We ought to refute the suggestion that there must be a date in this Bill because it would give a local authority the right to determine when they will give notice to treat. No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that notice to treat is not determined by a local authority until they have carried out many of the provisions of the previous Act and this Bill. It has sometimes taken nine months before a local authority could get anywhere near a chance to give notice to treat, and to get up in this Committee and say that local authorities could use the date to their advantage is a great insult to them and a slur on the foundation of the good government of this country.

The hon. Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Mr. Medland) entirely ignores the possibility that a local authority might retard things so as to obtain an advantage for the purchasers. I am not suggesting any impropriety on the part of any local authority; it is their duty to save the ratepayers as much money as they can. However, I do not rise to answer the hon. Member, who represents some local authorities, but to ask whether the Minister can say something further about acceptance of a date for publication in connection with this new Clause. If he can offer a further explanation, perhaps it will save the time of the Committee.

I would be misleading the Committee if I held out any hope that further consideration of this matter would induce me to take a different view. I have given a great deal of thought to it, and I must say that I was at first attracted to the view of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. But I came to the conclusion that it would be unworkable, for the reasons I have given, and for, perhaps, this other reason; If land is acquired on the basis of the Amendment development values would have to be excluded. That would be very difficult before the passing of the Bill, unless we were going to hold up transactions until we saw which way the Bill went. The right hon. Gentleman may "pull my leg," if I may use that unparliamentary expression, but if there is to be real consideration of this Bill, one must expect that some changes will be made, and one does not know what those changes will be. It would be quite unworkable to try to acquire land now on a new basis when one cannot say what is to happen, and to complete transactions on the basis of the restricted value when we have not in fact got this Bill through the House. For those reasons, while; gladly, for the sake of peace and in order to get on, give the right hon. and learned Member the assurance that I will consider it, I would be misleading him if I were to hold out any hope that the decision would be different.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 259; Noes, 99.

Division No. 202]

AYES.

10.2 p.m.

Adams, Richard (Balham)Foot, M. M.Moyle, A
Adams, W T. (Hammersmith, South)Forman, J. C.Nally, W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Neal, H. (Claycross)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Gaitskell, H. T. N.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Ganley, Mrs, C. S.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Alpass, J. H.George, Lady M.. Lloyd (Anglesey)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Gibbins, J.Noel-Buxton, Lady
Attewell, H. C.Gibson, C. WOldfield, W. H
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C RGilzean, A.Oliver, G. H.
Austin, H. LewisGlanville, J. E. (Consett)Paget, R. T.
Awbery, S. S.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Ayles, W. H.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Palmer, A. M F
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BGreenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Pargiter, G. A.
Bacon, Miss A.Grey, C. F.Parker, J.
Baird, J.Grierson, E.Parkin, B. T.
Barstow, P. G.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Barton, C.Guest, Dr. L, HadenPaton, J. (Norwich)
Battley, J. R.Guy, W. H.Pearson, A.
Bechervaise, A. E.Haire, John E. (Wycombe)Peart, Capt T. F.
Benson, G.Hale, LesliePiratin, P.
Berry, H.Hall, W. G.Porter, E. (Warrington)
Beswick, F.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RPorter, G. (Leeds)
Bing, G. H. C.Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Price, M. Philips
Blackburn, A. RHardy, E. A.Proctor, W, T.
Blenkinsop, A.Hastings, Dr. SomervillePursey, Cmdr. H.
Blyton, W. R.Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Ranger, J.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Rankin, J.
Bowles, F G. (Nuneaton)Herbison, Miss M.Reeves, J.
Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Hewitson, Captain M.Reid, T. (Swindon)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Holmes, H E. (Hemsworth)Rhodes, H.
Bramall, E A.Hoy, J.Robens, A.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Brown, T J. (Ince)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Bruce, Major D. W. T.Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)
Buchanan, G.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Robertson J. J. (Berwick)
Burden, T. W.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A
Burke, W. A.Isaacs, Rt. Hon G. AScollan, T.
Byers, FrankJay, D. P. T.Scott-Elliot, W
Callaghan, JamesJeger, G. (Winchester)Segal, Dr. S.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Shackleton, E. A. A
Chamberlain, R. AJones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Sharp, Granville
Champion, A. JJones, J. H. (Bolton)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Chater, D.Jones, P Asterley (Hitchin)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Chetwynd, G. R.Keenan, W.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Clitherow, Dr. RKenyon, C.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Cobb, F. A.King, E. M.Simmons, C. J.
Cocks, F. S.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. ESkeffington-Lodge, T. C
Coldrick, W.Kinley, J.Smith, C. (Colchester)
Collindridge, FKirby, B. V.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Collins, V. J.Lang, G.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Colman, Miss G. MLavers, S.Solley, L. J
Cook, T. F.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. JSparks, J. A.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Leslie, J. R.Stamford, W.
Corlett, Dr. J.Lever, N. H.Stephen C.
Corvedale, ViscountLevy, B. W.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Cove, W. G.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Crawley, A.Lewis, J. (Bolton)Stress, Dr. B.
Crossman, R. H. SLipson, D. L.Swingler, S.
Daggar, G.Lipton, Lt.-Col. MSylvester, G. O.
Daines, P.Lyne, A. W.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.McAdam, W.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)McAllister, G.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Davies, Edward (Burslem)McEntee, V. La T.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield)McGhee, H. G.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Mack, J. D.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)McKay, J. (Wallsend)Thurtle, Ernest
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughlon)Mackay, R. W G. (Hull, N.W.)Tiffany, S.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)McLeavy, F.Titterington, M. F
Deer, G.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Tolley, L.
de Freitas, GeoffreyMcNeil, Rt. Hon, H.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Delargy, H. JMacpherson, T. (Romford)Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Diamond, JMallalieu, J. P. WVernon, Maj. W. F.
Driberg, T. E. NMann, Mrs. J.Walker, G. H.
Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Manning, Mrs. L, (Epping)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Durbin, E. F. M.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Warbey, W. N.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Medland, H. M.Weitzman, D.
Edelman, M.Messer, F.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Middleton, Mrs. L.West, D. G.
Evans, John (Ogmare)Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Fairhurst, F.Mitchison, G. RWhiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Farthing, W. JMonslow, W.Wilkes, L.
Fernyhough, E.Moody, A. S.Wilkins, W. A.
Field, Capt. W. J.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Williams, D. J. (Neath)

Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)Wise, Major F. JYoung, Sir R. (Newton)
Williams, Rt. Hon T. (Don Valley)Woodburn, AZilliacus, K.
Williamson, T.Woods, G. S.
Wills, Mrs. E AYates, V. F.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.

NOES.

Allen, Lt.-Col. sir W. (Armagh)Gammons, L. D.Nutting, Anthony
Amory, D. HeathcoteGrimston, R. V.Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Baldwin, A. E.Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. VPoole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Barlow, Sir J.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPrescott, Stanley
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HHogg, Hon. Q.Ramsay, Maj. S.
Birch, NigelHollis, M. C.Rayner, Brig. R.
Bower, N.Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Ropner, Col. L.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Howard, Hon. ARoss, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanHulbert, Wing-Cdr. N J.Sanderson, Sir F.
Braithwaite, Lt-Comdr. J. G.Keeling, E. H.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WKendall, W. D.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamSmith, E. P. (Ashford)
Butcher, H. W.Lambert, Hon. G.Smithers, Sir W.
Carson, ELangford-Holt, J.Spearman, A. C. M.
Challen, C.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Stanley, Rt. Hon, O.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLindsay, M. (Solihull)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EMaclay, Hon. J. S.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Cuthbert, W. N.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Digby, S. W.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Manningham-Buller, R. EThornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Drewe, C.Marples, A. E.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A F
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Marsden, Capt. A.Vane, W. M. F.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Walker-Smith, D.
Erroll, F. J.Marshall, S. H. (Sullon)Ward, Hon. G. R.
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Maude, J. C.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Mellor, Sir J.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lansdale)Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fyfe, Rt. Hon Sir D. P. MMorrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (C'nc'ster)
Gage, C.Neven-Spence, Sir BTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. DNoble, Comdr. A. H. P.Commander Agnew and
Mr. Studholme.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, to leave out from "have" to "effect", in line 8.

I move this Amendment in a spirit of inquiry because it is rather hard to discover what is the effect of the words which it is proposed to delete. In Subsection (1) the Clause abolishes the 1939 standard, and in Subsection (2) it refers to a new Schedule (Modifications of Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944), and it says that those provisions:
"shall have effect and shall be deemed always to have had effect in relation to land compulsorily acquired in pursuance of a notice to treat served after the commencement of the Act of 1944."
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to enlighten us on the effect of those words.

I think I can satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. The purpose of the words which the Amendment seeks to omit is to eliminate the possibility of overlapping between the 60 per cent. supplement under the recent Order under the War Damage Act and the 60 per cent. supplement under the Town and Country Planning Act. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that the point was made in the report of the War Damage Commission, in paragraph 18, that this question of the overlapping would have to be dealt with, and this is the method by which it has been done. It is rather elaborate, but I am advised it is necessary.

I am indebted to the Minister for his explanation. I was a little startled to read the words originally. Taken in conjunction with the right hon. Gentleman's speech on the previous Amendment, in which he exposed himself as an opponent of retrospective action, it seemed to me to be rather curious that the next thing he should be asking us to do was to say not only that things had effect, but should be 'deemed always to have had effect, because I do not consider the right hon. Gentleman to be a victim of schizophrenia, or split mind; but I thank him for his explanation, which is entirely to my satisfaction, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause added to the Bill.