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Commons Chamber

Volume 439: debated on Friday 11 July 1947

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House Of Commons

Friday, 11th July, 1947

The House met at Eleven o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

London County Council (Improvements) Bill

Read the Third time and passed.

Dundee Corporation Order Confirmation Bill

Read the Third time and passed.

Orders Of The Day

Town And Country Planning (Scotland) Bill

Order for Third Reading read ( King's Consent signified.)

11.6 a.m.

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

This is one of the largest, most complex and far-reaching Measures that it has been my lot to introduce to Parliament. It has given rise to a great deal of discussion. Twenty-one days we spent in Committee on the Bill, and several hundred Amendments were made, both there and on Report. The Bill has emerged somewhat larger than when it was introduced. It now consists of 113 Clauses and 11 Schedules. I think there will be general agreement that it is now a much improved Measure.

I want, if I may, to thank hon. Members on both sides of the House for the manner in which they have assisted in bringing the Bill to its present stage. During the Second Reading proceedings hon. Members opposite moved an Amendment for its rejection. I think it would be quite correct to state that some of the reasons for which they did so no longer apply. For example, the 1939 standard of compensation for the compulsory acquisition of land, which was so strongly criticised on that Second Reading, is now being abandoned. Compensation will in future represent current market value, with the qualification contained in the Bill that present high scarcity values will be eliminated.

As hon. Members are aware, properties sold with vacant possession are fetching fantastically high prices at the present time, owing to the prevailing shortages. I submit that it would be quite unjustifiable that the public purse should pay for these inflated values. It is true that the new basis of compensation will not please everybody, but I suggest that the proposals in the Bill are an improvement on the original proposals. I think they are a vast improvement on the 1939 standard, which, through the lapse of time, was rapidly becoming out-of-date. We have tried, both myself and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who gave such valuable assistance during the Committee and the Report stages, we tried jointly and we have done our best, to meet the Opposition's criticism that the Bill left too many essential matters to be dealt with by regulation. It is inevitable that a Measure dealing with a subject of this complexity must leave many matters of comparative detail and procedure to be determined by statutory rules. The Amendments made in the Committee and now contained in the Bill go some way, though they may not meet all that has been claimed by Members of the Opposition, to meet the Opposition's point of view by defining somewhat more precisely the scope and the content of some of those rules. During the previous stages of the Bill the Government have made a good many concessions, and over a fairly wide field there is now a substantial measure of agreement. I am rather surprised, therefore, that the Opposition, following the procedure adopted by them on Second Reading, propose to move an Amendment for the rejection of the Bill.

Let me consider for a few moments some of the proposals which are in the Bill. Firstly, there is the matter of the constitution of the Central Land Board. At the outset it was suggested by hon. Members opposite that the Bill would be administered by a Board consisting largely of Englishmen sitting in London with little or no knowledge of Scottish conditions, but I made the announcement to the House on the Report stage that at least two Scottish representatives would be appointed to the Board—and there is a possibility of more than two Scottish members if the full complement of 10 members is appointed. Therefore, the possibility of three is not ruled out. It was still maintained, and no doubt will be maintained again today, when the Opposition's Amendment is moved, that this would achieve little or nothing even though the Bill provides, in addition, that in carrying out their functions the Board will be subject to the direction of the Secretary of State.

The Bill provides that the Board shall have an office and a staff in Scotland for the performance of Scottish work. The contention may be that there must be a separate Board for Scotland or, at all events, a separate Scottish Committee of the Board. May I ask what that would imply? This would surely imply that hon. Members opposite want a different policy to be adopted for Scotland as regards the valuation of development rights and the fixing of development charges. Frankly, any approach on these lines would be quite unreal, and indeed, the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) himself admitted as much on the Report stage when he implied that there would be some questions requiring joint decisions for the United Kingdom.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman agrees that I am not misquoting him. The Board will be dealing with principles of valuation common to both countries. The Board provided for in this Bill and in the English Bill will be advised so, far as Scotland is concerned by the valuation department of the Board of Inland Revenue, and if there is to be consistency and uniformity on general policy questions it is essential, I submit, to have one Board operating for the country as a whole. This does not mean, as the Opposition have suggested, that the detailed administration of the Board must necessarily be the same in both countries or that no decisions can be taken by the Board's Scottish Office without reference to London. Scotland has its own distinctive legal system and its own form of land tenure, and of itself this will necessitate a special treatment of Scottish cases. For example, I can say quite categorically that the Board's Scottish Office will fix the amount of development charges in Scottish cases without reference to London. They will do so in consultation with the chief valuer for Scotland. There will, therefore, be no running back and forward to London for instructions.

Similarly, the Scottish Office of the Board will be responsible for deciding how development charges should be secured in particular Scottish cases and as to the method of disposing of land, for instance, by way of sale, of feu or of lease. The day to day work will, of course, be carried through by the Scottish staff of the Board provided for in the Bill. Any other arrangement will be unworkable; but on points of difficulty the Scottish members of the Board will be available for consultation and will be able to give decisions. These arrangements will ensure that Scotland has a full say in the policy of the Board and that day to day Scottish business is transacted by the Board's office in Scotland without reference to London. This, I submit, is surely substantially the result which we all desire to achieve so far as the principles and the application of the principles contained in this Bill are concerned.

Does that mean that the Scottish members of the Board will in effect act as a Committee of the larger Board in dealing with specific Scottish questions?

I do not want to use the word "Committee." They will be part of the Central Land Board. They will have a say in the general policy which is to be adopted for Great Britain, but in the application of that policy, and subject to directions from the Secretary of State for Scotland, they will do their work in Scotland. Another criticism levelled against the Bill in the Motion for rejection is that it:

"…subjects the development of Scotland …to the veto of the President of the Board of Trade."
There is, of course, no substance what ever in this charge.

I am saying quite definitely and categorically that there is no substance whatever in that charge. I am rather surprised at the source from which it has come because the Distribution of Industry Act was passed by the Coalition Government and, according to my recollection, the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead was a Member of that Government. There is, of course, no substance in that charge. The control of development will be the responsibility of the local planning authorities working under the general guidance and direction of the Secretary of State, and not the affair of a Whitehall Minister.

Clause 12 (4) of the Bill says that applications for planning permission to erect new industrial buildings of any class prescribed by the Board of Trade must be accompanied by a certificate from the Board that the development can be carried out:
"…consistently with the proper distribution of industry."
This provision expresses the Government's general policy with regard to industrial location. The need for securing a proper distribution of industry throughout Great Britain as a whole was emphasised in the Barlow Report, was accepted by the Coalition Government in the White Paper on Employment Policy, and is embodied in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. In Committee the Opposition moved an Amendment to Clause 12 providing that in exercising their functions under the Clause the Board of Trade should have regard only to the proper development of industry in Scotland. Presumably, they want the Board of Trade to have regard not to proper distribution of industry over Great Britain as a whole, but merely to the industrial position of Scotland itself. The implication is that Scotland and England should be treated as two separate economic units.

What would be the effect of such a provision? Surely, it would mean that in handling proposals for industrial development in England the Board would be unable to consider whether those developments might more appropriately be established in Scotland, particularly in the Scottish Development Area, where the need for new employment is urgently necessary. The vital need in Scotland is to attract new industries from England and elsewhere, and it is clearly to the advantage of Scotland that the Board of Trade should consider industrial location over the country as a whole. The Board of Trade are alive to the vital need for getting new industries into Scotland, and may I point out to the House that in no case has industry been "steered" from Scotland into England but that there has been a good deal of "steering" in the opposite direction, and all to the advantage of Scotland. For example—it is necessary to mention this because of the Amendment which stands in the name of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite—that of the new factory building projects approved for the whole of Scotland at the end of February, one in five are for firms coming from outside Scotland. Moreover, as many of the schemes originating south of the Border are large projects, their employment value will represent as much as 41 per cent. of the total employment value of all new projects for Scotland.

The Opposition Amendment complains that the Bill provides no compensation as of right for the loss of development value, and establishes no principles for the division of the £300 million. I, as a Member of the Government, and the Joint Under-Secretary, dealt with this specific point when it was discussed in the early stages of the Bill. The Government have made it quite plain that they consider that land owners have neither a legal nor a moral right to compensation for loss of development values. We do not want there to be any misunderstanding in connection with this. Here there is a vital difference of opinion between the two sides of the House. I want to repeat—because it is not merely the decision of the Government but also a persona] view I have held ever since I have been in the Labour and Socialist movement—that when the community creates values, those values should belong to the community and not be appropriated by private individuals.

That is the basic difference between the conception of equity on the part of hon. Members on this side of the House and on the part of hon. Members opposite. It is a gulf which will never be bridged so far as we are concerned, and we have the power now to give effect to the principles for which we have fought, some of us for 20, 30 and even 40 years. We see the chance of it being given effect to now, so I want to make it perfectly clear that we consider that landowners have neither a legal nor a moral right to compensation for loss of development values. In some cases these values have accrued over a long period of years without having been paid by the landowners. Moreover, they are generally attributable, not to the efforts of the landowner but to public developments carried out on behalf of the community. A sum of £300 million has been set aside to meet cases of hardship, and the Government consider that this sum is not ungenerous. While hon. Members on the opposite side of the House may think it is too little, there are hon. Members on this side who say it is far too much. Any principles for the distribution of this sum which could be laid down at the present time could only be of an arbitrary nature, and would in all probability not achieve fair treatment to the various claimants. It is essential, therefore, to defer the determination of the basis of distribution until the necessary information has been received as a result of the submission of claims. When this point is reached, the Treasury will make the necessary scheme, and it will be submitted for the approval by affirmative resolution of Parliament.

As I have said, the Government have made a good many concessions on this Bill to meet the points raised by hon. Members opposite and I had hoped there would be no opposition to the Motion for the Third Reading. The Joint Under-Secretary and I endeavoured in Committee and on the Report stage to give long and careful consideration to the various points made by right hon. and hon. Members opposite. We did everything reasonable on purpose to meet the points they made and, that being so, I had hoped there would be no Amendment for the rejection of the Third Reading. The Opposition, however, are attacking the fundamental principles of the Bill. I do not complain; that is the purpose of a free Parliament, and we are a free Parliament, so free today that I am perfectly sure, by an overwhelming majority, we shall get the Third Reading of this Bill. The Government believe that these principles are fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the community as a whole and there can, therefore, be no question of abandoning them.

I am confident that this Bill will come to be recognised as a real achievement in the realm of social planning. Wisely administered by the local planning authorities, as I am sure it will be, and by the Central Land Board, and with the full co-operation of the public, it will present a unique opportunity for the re-planning and the redevelopment of Scotland on the best modern lines. I therefore commend the Bill to the House for Third Reading.

I beg to move to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

"this House declines to give a Third reading to a Bill which subjects the development of Scotland to the control of a Land Board located in London and to the veto of the President of the Board of Trade; which denies to an owner compensation as of right for the loss of development value and establishes no principle for the division of the fund which is to be set aside to meet cases of hardship; and which, by the removal of incentives to development and by the imposition of charges of an indeterminate amount, will hinder any policy for the full employment of the Scottish people."
I have never disguised from this House my own personal view, which I believe is held by many of my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the House, that the time is ripe for a comprehensive Measure of Town and Country Planning. I am satisfied that were we on these Benches in power, we would want to bring in a Measure for the development and for the planning of the towns and countryside of Scotland. I believe there is much in this Bill, so far as its planning provisions are concerned, which we would not want to reverse were we in the place now occupied by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. I think it is a good thing, and I have said so before, that the obligation to prepare a plan is placed fairly and squarely upon the shoulders of the local authorities. I think it is a good thing that powers are given for the positive planning of the land of Scotland. I think it is a good thing that we have de parted during the Committee stage of this Bill from the old basis of 1939 values for land which is being acquired compulsorily for public purposes. I want to agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Committee stage of the Bill. We have had a good and, in the main, a fair discussion of most of the provisions of the Bill. We were not subject to the guillotine. We thrashed out these things in detail and I think the Bill has been im- proved as a result of the stages through which it has gone.

We have been asked, "Why are you going to oppose the Third Reading?" The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State expressed surprise that we should have had the temerity to put down a reasoned Amendment to this Bill. He wants to know why it is. I will tell him. I will give him six main reasons, matters of principle, why we think this Bill ought to be rejected. The first is about the machinery of the Bill. I cannot see that it will advantage Scotland, which is what we are concerned with at present, to be subject to the determination of a Central Land Board which is set up in respect of the whole of Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman announced a concession during the Report stage. He said that he was now in agreement that the Land Board should have an office in Scotland, and that two out of the nine members of the Board—and now he says there is a possibility that there might be three—would be appointed in respect of Scottish interests.

I do not think I ever said there might be two. I said there was a minimum of two, and there was a chance of getting three.

I was remembering that in the English Bill provision was made for the establishment of a Central Land Board which would not exceed nine members.

Plus the chairman. That would be 10 members, and Scotland is now to have two and, it may be, three. That is a good deal better than the eleven-eightieths of the Goschen formula. I do not deny that for a moment. But the Board still has only three main functions. The first is to divide the £300 million global sum as between England and Wales, on the one hand, and Scotland, on the other. When that is done, its functions, as far as Scotland is concerned, become purely Scottish. It has to assess the development charges, and the right hon. Gentleman has told us that that is now in any case to be done by the office in Edinburgh, with the advice of the Chief Scottish valuer to the Inland Revenue Department. It has also to act as a "middleman" under the terms of Clause 40 of the Bill by holding land which has been acquired, and reselling it to developers, plus a development charge. That is a purely Scottish function. I cannot see any valid reason why, after the initial divide up of the £300 million between England and Wales, on the one hand, and Scotland, on the other, there should not be a separate board dealing with what after all are purely Scottish matters. I cannot see how it is possible for a Land Board of 10 members to be subject both to the directions of the Minister of Town and Country Planning and to the directions of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I believe it is wrong in principle, harmful in practice and a betrayal of Scotland's interests that Scotland, which has its own planning Bill, should not also hold entirely in its own hands the machinery for implementing the provisions of this Measure.

I pass to the question of compensation. I regret that there is no intention in the Bill to compensate as of right owners who are being deprived by the terms of the Bill of their development rights. I regret there is no provision to compensate them as of right, but that instead they are being compensated on some indeterminate basis which brings in the element of the hardship they might suffer were they not compensated, and makes no definition of the principles upon which that hardship is to be assessed. What about land which has been bought in recent years at more than existing use values? Is the owner of that land, when he is deprived of its development possibilities, to be denied compensation for a consideration for which he has already paid a price? No one knows. What about the case of trustees and executors who have paid Death Duties on land which has been valued at a high development value? No one can tell. These matters are left to be determined by Treasury regulations which will be subject to an affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament. Treasury regulations cannot be amended, they have to be accepted or rejected. These are matters of such general importance, and of such general concern, that Parliament ought to be given at least an outline of the scheme which is envisaged by the Government, before being asked to delegate legislative powers in so important a field.

I come to the question of what is called "designation." We have discussed this a great deal in Committee, and all hon. Members who were on the Scottish Grand Committee will by this time be very familiar with all the intricacies of the designation of land for compulsory acquisition under the provisions of the Development Plan. The power of designating land which ought to be acquired for public purposes during the ensuing years is one of the means of ensuring what is called positive planning. The planners say that one of the weaknesses of the present system is that it is possible for planning authorities to zone land for development of a certain kind, but they have no power to enforce that development, and it then rests with the owners of the land either to carry out that development themselves, or to sell the land to someone who will carry it out in the way proposed by the Plan. By designating land in order to secure its use in the manner proposed by the Plan, planning authorities are able to compel an owner to sell his land to the Central Land Board which, under the terms of Clause 40, can then add to it a development charge, and resell it for development. We on this side of the House have always taken the view, and have been consistent throughout the Committee stage in this respect, as in others, that designation should be restricted to land which is required for Government or local authority purposes, for bona fide purposes of statutory undertakers, or for the comprehensive development as a whole of an area of blight or obsolete development. We say that the powers which are given by Clause 3 (2) of the Bill are far too wide. We have always held the view that planning authorities are likely to use this power of designation far too widely, and are likely to be over-anxious to designate every possible piece of land which ought to be developed in accordance with the proposals, and that by doing this they will cast a blight over the whole of the land designated in this way.

In the Committee stage we urged the Government to adopt the principle of the purchase order, to allow an owner whose land has been designated in this way to say to the local authority, "I want to buy another property, and, therefore, it is only fair that you must take my land over now so that I shall have the wherewithal to rehouse myself." I am glad that the Government have accepted the principle that we have advocated, though I regret that the period during which they suggest that these powers should not be exercisable by the individual is too long. In the case of agricultural land, the period is land which has been designated for a period of eight years without acquisition, and in the case of the owner of other land, his land will have to have been designated for a period of 12 years without acquisition.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that in order to eliminate the scarcity value which is attributable to vacant possession of properties at the present time, special provisions have been made where such properties are to be compulsorily acquired. Those provisions introduce a complicated and highly artificial valuation device, which depends upon the idea that the property cannot be sold with the advantage of vacant possession, but that it is subject to a notional lease which expires in 1954. The unfortunate effect of this fiction—for fiction it is—will be that a man who at any time after the appointed day, and before 1st January, 1954, has a notice to treat served in respect of the property which he occupies, will be paid for his property, whether it is his house or his business or his farm, very much less than it will cost him to re-accommodate himself at present day prices. We say that that is a great hardship and a great injustice which ought to be remedied.

The Secretary of State poured scorn on the statement in the Amendment that the development of Scotland is subject to the veto of the President of the Board of Trade. He said that nothing of the kind was the case. I "would refer him to Clause 12 (4) of the Bill. It is there laid down that any man who wants to undertake any kind of industrial development in Scotland has to get a certificate from the Board of Trade that that development can be carried out in accordance with the proper distribution of industry. He cannot even get planning permission until he supplies that certificate from the Board of Trade.

Is it not the case that in Scotland we have had a continual cry about the drift of industries to the South because there was no planning?

I would say to the hon. Member in the words of Proverbs, 18:

"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."
If the hon. Member will allow me to pursue my argument a little further, he will see exactly what I mean. By these provisions we give the President of the Board of Trade the powers of a dictator, and a dictator against whom there is no appeal. He is empowered to decide not only whether to allow a firm to establish itself where it pleases, but he may prevent a business from expanding on its own land. We say that this is high-handed treatment. Not only that, it is most unwise treatment on the part of the Government of a country which depends, in large part at all events, for its survival, upon the enterprise and initiative of private individuals, in whose hands at least 80 per cent, of the conduct of industry is still to remain.

I pass to the nationalisation—for it is that—of mineral royalties other than coal. I regret that this should have been put in the Bill, and I will give briefly three reasons why I think it should not have been. The Uthwatt Report recommended against it. The Coalition White Paper, in the drawing up of which Members of His Majesty's Government had some part, stated that special considerations arise in this case, and they did not include this type of development in their proposals. Thirdly, the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs made no kind of announcement in their now famous Election manifesto "Let us face the future" that they intended to nationalise any kind of mineral royalties other than coal. Moreover, we say that by this action they will take up an unjustifiably large proportion of the compensation fund. Iron, limestone, sand and gravel, clay and shale, tin and lead, igneous rocks, salt, gypsum, china clay, granite, slate and sandstone, fuller's earth and peat are worth well over £50 million at 1938 figures, figures which, adjusted to present-day values, would account for more than a quarter of the £300 million, and probably for as much as a third.

We say that the object of this Bill is to provide for the proper planning of town and countryside, and that so long as there is proper control of the overground workings and adequate provisions, which I believe there are not in this Bill, for the restoration of the surface after such work, the question of the value or the ownership of mineral deposits ought to find no place in a planning Bill. In conclusion, I greatly fear that the desirable development of Scotland will be discouraged by the too narrow interpretation of the word "development" in the Bill, and that the housing of the people will be seriously delayed by the development charge machinery. On these six counts alone, the Bill stands condemned.

11.49 a.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

The Secretary of State reminded us that this was a very complex Measure. In the eight and a half years I have been in this House, I cannot recall a Bill that was more complex in character, or more difficult for the ordinary layman like myself to grasp, digest and expatiate upon, than this Measure. If ever there was a lawyer's Bill, this is it. We on this side of the House have been fortunate in having at our disposal the unrivalled skill and knowledge of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hill-head (Mr. J. S. C. Reid). I would say also, having watched a good part of the Standing Committee proceedings, that we have been fortunate in having on our side the learned surveyor, if I may so call him, the hon. Member for West Aber-been (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley). He has worked extremely hard on this Bill and I wish to pay my personal tribute to him. I also wish to thank the Secretary of State for Scotland for the way in which he met us, so far as he was able, in Committee.

However, I disagree with him when he says that the Bill has been greatly improved. I am bound to say that when I look at it, if I understand it aright, I do not find it substantially changed from its original form. Here and there, of course, the Government have gone some way towards meeting us, and I am pleased that they have seen fit to remove the 1939 values. On Second Reading I endeavoured to draw attention to the injustice which would be imposed upon owner-occupiers who happened to have dairy farms on the fringe of large towns, such as we find in Ayrshire. I welcome that alteration, but I cannot get away from the fact that in structure and principle this Measure remains in almost precisely the same form as it was when originally presented to the House. A further point is that I do not believe that the implications of this extraordinarily complex Measure are, as yet, understood in the country or even by Members of the House. As time goes on and the implications are fully understood, particularly in the agricultural areas, I think they will have a boomerang effect on the people in the country. This is a far-reaching, fundamental and revolutionary Measure. I can only apply what knowledge I possess, which perhaps is not very much, to this Bill.

I speak from the point of view of the great industry of agriculture and rural industries. I have tried to look at the interests of the agricultural industry and to separate, if I could, any particular sectional view. I am apprehensive of the effects which this Bill will have upon the agricultural industry, not only from the point of view of proper land utilisation, but also from the very important point of view of maximum food production. I believe that this Bill will go a considerable way—I will not exaggerate and say a long way—to shake the confidence of the agriculturalists in the Agriculture Bill which is now in another place. In this Measure there is no guarantee that the voice of agriculture will be given a proper hearing. What is to happen, for example, if there is a conflict of opinion between the planning authority and agricultural interests in regard to the designation of land for compulsory acquisition? We know that in the past rural interests have been apt to be submerged. I think the officials of the Department of Agriculture for Scotland would support me if I said that nine times out of ten they lose the battle, and good land goes away for other purposes.

The Minister has said that if he specified that one particular interest, such as agriculture, should be put into the Bill for purposes of consultation, that would not be right, because he would be excluding others. Surely, the vast majority of the land to be affected under this Bill is agricultural land taken from the farmer. Therefore, the agricultural industry has a right, because of that, to have placed on the Statute Book some obligation upon the planning authority that that industry should be consulted. The Minister also said that many large cities and burghs, such as Glasgow and Kirkcaldy, have their executive committees. I must say that, coming from the Minister of Agriculture,, I thought that was rather a strange assertion. Of course, these cities have not their own agricultural executive committees. All agricultural land in Scotland—indeed, in the whole of Great Britain—comes under the purview of some agricultural committee. Not a square inch of cultivated land is left out of the net. I consider that that is a grave defect in this Bill, and that agricultural executive committees should be named in the Statute.

There is no such thing now as security of tenure, which we were told that farmers would get through the Agriculture Bill. If a tenant farmer finds himself within an area of designation today, he says, "I have no future here; I am going" and I do not blame him. If he goes, the landlord cannot find another tenant to farm the land because the land is under designation. That means that designated land on yearly tenancy will go out of agricultural use, and who can blame the tenant farmer? Also, a definite penalty is placed upon the owner who is anxious to play his part in the housing of his agricultural workers, because he is charged a development charge for the building of new cottages. Yet we know that today, the keynote to increased food production, which is becoming a critical matter, is labour. The supply of labour depends, in turn, upon the housing of the workers. Yet the Government put in this Bill a definite penalty upon the owner. I am one of them. To house my workers to produce more food, I must put up more houses, which the Government are unable to build. That point has been argued repeatedly, and I do not intend to labour it. I suggest, however, that it is an absurdity to have a case like that.

Again, if a farmer wants to add to food production by taking in land that is not under cultivation—it may be waste land which has never been used for agricultural purposes—he is fined by way of a betterment charge. Take the Carse of Stirling where there is a vast boggy area which people are constantly trying to find a way to bring to food production. It is no use for agricultural purposes or for forestry, but if I wanted to reclaim it in order to produce more food for the nation, I should be fined by way of having to pay a betterment charge. That seems to be another absurd thing.

Finally, when an owner-occupier of, say, an attested dairy herd finds himself in the net of designation, he cannot say, "Take my place now and let me go elsewhere to start up a new herd and build up a competence for myself and family." I drew attention on Second Reading to the great county of Ayr where we have a hundred thousand attested dairy cattle, the greatest number in the whole of Britain. Around these towns we have owner-occupiers who have spent their lives in building up an attested dairy herd. If Prestwick or Troon or somewhere else in Ayrshire is put within this designation, then owner-occupiers will not be allowed to do anything until eight years have elapsed. They will not be able to start afresh. They will have to wait patiently to see what is going to happen. During that time, it is obvious that the farm unit will deteriorate because it is unsaleable. The farmer will not spend money on new buildings when he knows that he may be required by the Government to give up the land. Nor can the Government serve directions upon him, so that the result will be that the land will deteriorate.

I suggest to the Secretary of State that there is still time to put this right. It seems to me that there will be great personal hardship on anyone who is going to come into the net of designation in the rural areas. If the Secretary of State would say that he will refuse to sanction designation by a planning authority unless that land is going to be acquired within five years, he will go a very long way to remove in the industry the fears which will be created by this Bill. He would do two things. He would prevent the local planning authorities exaggerating the area of designation, and he would also let the unfortunate owner know what his fate was to be.

I think this Bill contains serious defects. I am surprised that the Secretary of State, who is also our Minister of Agriculture, has not gone out of his way, especially at this time when so much depends upon the agricultural industry, and when so little criticism comes from it—they do not strike, nor do they work a five-day week— to make quite certain that there was no danger, especially in view of the introduction of the important Agriculture Bill, of shaking the confidence of the agricultural community as a result of this Measure.

12.3 p.m.

The hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) prefaced his speech with a generalisation which I think is very true. The real clash about this Bill has not been, and is not, over the planning provisions, but over the provisions dealing with compensation and the charging of development values. About those provisions there has been a lot of disagreement, and, for my own part, I cannot see where this disagreement can be reconciled, because there are fundamental differences of opinion, as the Secretary of State pointed out, over these matters.

The hon. Gentleman, however, raised one or two other points which appear in the Amendment on the Order Paper. The first was that this Bill is a betrayal of Scotland. I think that remark was rather meant for the Press and not as a serious contribution, but the hon. Member repeated twice that this Bill did not advantage Scotland. I fail to understand what he meant by "advantage Scotland." Does the hon. Member want Scotland to get something that England is not getting? Are we appealing for preferential treatment, because that is what appears to me to be the case from the speeches to which I have listened? What we in Scotland want is justice. We do not want to be treated preferentially. We are not subordinate hangers-on cringing for favours from the Government. We are equal partners in the United Kingdom, and I think hon. Members opposite would do well to treat Scotland as such.

If that is so, and if we want justice and equal treatment, it seems to me that the best way in which we can get it is through a central organisation like the Central Land Board. I agree that there are peculiarities affecting Scotland in the matter of land which will require special consideration, but I suggest that the provisions made in the Bill allow for that special consideration being given. I also agree that what we want in Scotland is to see that the administration is effective, and once again, I think the provisions in this Bill secure that. So far as I have been able to understand the arguments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid), he usually stresses that what we want is administrative machinery in Scotland, and he usually chooses his words fairly carefully. While I suggest that this Bill provides administrative machinery, I would ask, as I did on Second Reading, and as I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman also did in the Second Reading Debate, that this machinery should not be allowed to become of such a character that it holds up development in Scotland. We have, in this Bill, created a huge administrative machine, and an administrative machine, whether it be under private enterprise or Government control, does tend to delay. I ask the Minister to take all measures necessary to see that this machine that has been created, in the discharge of its functions, whether in the assessment and collection of development charges or the granting of permission, does act speedily and effectively. If it does that, I think the machinery created will perform a useful job.

The next point made by the hon. Member for West Aberdeen was on the question of the Board of Trade having a right to determine where industry shall be located, and he used the phrase that this Government will depend upon the incentives of private enterprise in order to bring prosperity to the country, and I presume that he meant in order to increase production. What are the facts? It would be out of Order to go too far into this, but I cannot help suggesting that the fact is that, without any interference by the Board of Trade, industry did not stay in Scotland. Private enterprise came down here, and we found that, over the four years 1932–36, of the factories started in Great Britain, only 4 per cent. were in Scotland, and that, out of the employment so created, only 3 per cent, was provided in Scotland. That was under private enterprise, without any regulations. We are now trying, by offering incentives and inducements, to encourage firms to go to Scotland in order that we may provide jobs for our people in Scotland. I agree that this is a wise provision, and, if Scotland is to prosper, a very necessary provision.

The last point I want to make concerns compensation for minerals. The point has been made that minerals should not have been included in this Bill, the reason being that, if we take compensation for minerals away from the global sum, we do not leave so much to be distributed among the others. We on this side of the House think that the landowners are already getting a fairly generous, in fact, more than generous, deal out of this Bill. This Bill does not nationalise mineral rights. What it does, of course, is to pay compensation in respect of minerals that can be proved, which is rather different from nationalising mineral rights. I am glad we are taking that step because, after all, the minerals were not put there by the landowner. The landowner does not even know they are there until somebody else discovers them, and just because the minerals happen to be in the soil, there is no reason why the nation should be made to pay money to the person who happens to be in possession of the land at the time I do not think that we on this side of the House would accept that.

Therefore, I cannot agree with the suggestion which has been made by hon. Members opposite that this Bill should be rejected on those grounds. This Bill, dealing as it does with two major problems of today, firstly, development values, and, secondly, planning, is in my view an exceedingly necessary Bill. At the present time, we in Edinburgh are trying to plan very large portions of our town We are trying to add to the beauty of the town and to preserve it for the future. This Bill will assist us in that work. It will assist other large towns; it will assist the people of this country to preserve their heritage, and to see that their land, their holdings, and their raw materials are used in the best interests of the nation. For those reasons, I shall have very much pleasure in going into the Lobby in support of this Bill.

12.13 p.m.

We on this side of the House recognise that a Town and Country Planning Bill was necessary, but we do not accept the suggestion that this is the best Bill that could have been produced. As, undoubtedly, there has to be a separate Scottish Bill, we realise that it should be along roughly the same lines as the earlier English Bill. We do not expect differential treatment on the main principles, but where we quarrel with the Government on this particular Bill as it affects Scotland is on the question of the representation of Scotland on the Central Land Board, which is on quite a different footing from the suggestion that we wanted a different Measure from that which deals with England. I am firmly convinced that we deserve more Scottish representation on the secondary stage of planning for the future development of Scotland. I believe that, in the years to come, we shall probably get it. We shall find that it is necessary, and that it is not practical that so much of Scottish business should be determined by England.

I speak in full support of the Amendment. I do not wish to go over the ground which my hon. Friends have already covered so adequately, but there are certain points which I believe should be stressed. During the Committee stage, we realised that a very great deal more work was being placed on whoever holds the office of Secretary of State for Scotland. We know that the Secretary of State is already overworked, and does not have the necessary time to carry out the functions which are already part of that office. We believe that this Measure puts a great deal of additional work on to the Secretary of State, which was neither necessary nor desirable. He is being faced not only with many decisions that should have been arranged for in this Bill, but he is also being loaded, or it appears that he is to be loaded, with a considerable measure of patronage of one variety or another.

There are two or more points on which we on this side of the House hold views which are completely divergent from those held by the Government. On the question of compensation, the Secretary of State put the case very plainly. He said that he and his hon. Friends had never admitted or recognised the legal or moral right of landowners to development values or development rights. We on this side of the House take the opposite view. I suggest that it is not so much a question of whether his side of the House recognise or admit that right, or whether we on this side do; it is a question of whether the State does. The fact remains that whether hon. Members opposite like or dislike it, or whether we like or dislike it, the State, which we collectively serve, has, for a long period, certainly recognised the legal right. The State, being impersonal, is not bothered over the question of moral right, but, as I say, the State has recognised for a long period the legal, right, more particularly through its agent, the Treasury.

For a long time past, the Treasury has exacted taxation by way of Estate Duties on these definitely recognised legal development values. It is just as well that we should remember that Estate Duties of recent years have become very-onerous. Where the State has recognised the legality of these development values, and where it has demanded up to 60 per cent. of what it believed to be their value—in some cases on more than one occasion—it is rather difficult for this House to say that it does not recognise the legal right of landowners to possess development values. I can well understand that hon. Members opposite do not admit the moral right; that is a question of opinion. But to say that they do not admit the legal right, when, for years, that right has been admitted by the State, and when the State has demanded taxation on such existence, does not seem to be very sound sense.

However, I will pass from that to another point, which, I think wc must recognise, will be one of the results of this particular Measure. For years past in Scotland when any enterprising smallholder, tenant fanner or crofter improved his land or holding, in many cases it was only a brief while before the factor or agent came round, and, in view of the improvement in the value of the holding, put up the rent. That sort of thing, although it was not nearly so widespread as it is generally held to be, did undoubtedly take place in the past. Let us realise clearly that under this Bill we are perpetuating it for the future. The only difference is that in the future, instead of the landowner's factor or agent demanding a development penalty in the form of increased rent, it will be the Government agent who will penalise this enterprise and industry by demanding a development charge. It may be said," But he will not necessarily do it." There is no reason why, in the past, the landowner's factor or agent should have done it. In most cases he did not do it, and I can well believe that in most cases in the future the Government's agent will not do it, but. at the same time, we in this House are today perpetuating that state of affairs which I believe all decent Scotsmen have, for many years, regretted very much.

The other most distressing aspect of this Bill is the fact that it is a very unfinished Measure. Many of the most important parts of it are left for future work by this House or by the Ministry, in the shape of statutory orders or regulations—important business which, undoubtedly, should have been settled by the representatives in Scotland in committee—and we shall have no opportunity of measuring the value of this tail part of the machinery when it comes out in statutory orders and regulations. The result of the unfinished state of this Bill will be endless delay at a time when we need to get ahead with our plans. I realise full well that at the moment in Scotland, with the great shortage of labour and materials, we are not at present particularly affected by the delay which is already in process, but the time will come when labour and materials are available, and then we shall realise the delayed effect of this unfinished Measure.

12.22 p.m.

I do not want to speak very long, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis) has dealt with a large number of the points to which I had intended to refer. In view of some of the statements which have come from the opposite side of the House in opposing the Bill, I do not know whether it is a case of simply not wanting to understand the Bill or of wanting to misrepresent it. The Amendment states:

"That this House declines to give a Third Reading to a Bill which subjects the development of Scotland to the control of a Land Board located in London.…"
Anyone who has read the Bill knows that that is not true. To make such a claim is sheer political dishonesty. If one reads the Bill, one finds that instead of the Central Land Board in London dealing with the question of Scottish development, the whole question depends on the decision of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Amendment continues:
"…and to the veto of the President of the Board of Trade."
That is the point on which I interrupted the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) regarding the trend of industry from North to South. During the last 40 years, everybody in Scotland has deplored the fact that many industries which started in Scotland ultimately found their way down to the South of England. The forerunners of the motor car industry started in Scotland.

In the East End of Glasgow.

Yes. The other day it was with dismay that I heard hon. Members talking about the highly skilled engineers who would be affected by a certain tax. Hon. Members were totally unaware that these industries had their birth in Scotland, and that that skill originated in Scotland among Scottish workmen and was brought South not by the Government of the day, but because there was no planning at all in this island, and because the only incentive in industry was to go to the place where the costs would be least and the profits highest.

This Bill sets out, although not entirely to my satisfaction, to remedy that state of affairs to a very large extent. In the first place, it has this feature, that if we had had it 40 years ago we would have saved many of the industries for Scotland. That feature puts the onus of planning on the local Scottish people. I was amazed by the effrontery of the hon. Member for West Aberdeen in talking of Scotland's interest, when, actually, he meant the Scottish landowners' interests. He spoke of Scotland as if the people of Scotland were to play second fiddle to the landowners of Scotland. The conflict of interest in the whole of this Bill is between the peoples' representatives on the burgh or county councils and the landowners in negotiating for the land. When the county or burgh councils say, "We want a plan; we will draw up a plan which will embrace so much land," who are the people who will be affected?—the landowners. The only point of difference is, how much will the landowners get out of it?

Immediately any Bill is introduced which adversely affects agriculture, I am against it. It has been brought home very forcibly to the people of this country that agriculture is far more important than they ever thought it was. We should do our utmost to save every square yard of agricultural land which can be saved. Had there been a Town and Country Planning Bill 50 or 60 years ago, there would not have been this monstrosity which we call the great City of London sprawled over a fertile valley, wasting land and lacking everything that people desire. We do not want that sort of thing in Scotland. This conflict between the planning authority and the landowner is now being reconciled by the sum of £300 million which is to be used for compensation. The man in the street, reading about the Debate, would be under the impression that the £300 million was to be used to buy the land. That is not so; it is to be used in compensation. For what sort of compensation is it to be used? Every time the industrious artisan class started a little industry which developed into a large industry, the land surrounding that industry became more valuable. The landowner did nothing to encourage that development, with very rare exceptions. He took no interest in it, and all he had to do was to sit tight while the value of his land increased. Then, when another portion of the land was required for the development of the industry, the landowner wanted a cut out of the prosperity which had been gained by the industry, and the price of the land was increased. In my opinion, this £300 million could be properly described as £300 million ransom money. This is a ransom. To give £300 million to the people who have been taking money they have had no right to take, and to say to them, "For goodness sake be content with it, and do not come back," is to pay a pretty tall price for that.

The last point I want to make is with reference to the words in the Amendment which say the Bill:
"by the removal of incentives to development …will hinder any policy for the full employment of the Scottish people."
This Bill will remove incentives to development. I ask anyone how he can possibly imagine that there was any incentive to development when a landowner was sitting on the land someone else wanted to develop, and when the landowner could put his own price on it. Obviously, the removal of that dead hand is an incentive to development; it is not anything which is going to stop incentive. I do not know any single thing that can be said in favour of this Amendment. The last words of it are the worst of all:
"will hinder any policy for the full employment of the Scottish people."
Of all the brazen effrontery, to put those words down there. Fancy putting in those words, after the history of Scotland in the Industrial Revolution, when the first steamship—the first metal ship—was built by the craftsmanship of the people of the Valley of the Clyde, when shipbuilding craftsmanship was born there, and when, in spite of that fact, and after we had developed all those industries, they were taken away, down to the south of England, and from there across to the Continent, and from there to America. Those industries developed Africa and India. All the locomotives of the Indian State Railways were made in Springburn, though the industry was removed from there to Crewe.

This Bill tries to remedy the stupidity of the capitalist system, its stupidity and greed, that made the capitalists leave Scotland to go to the South, and from there to India, Africa, Asia, Australia, America. This Bill is the first attempt to deal with the reasons why these industries were driven out of Scotland. I think that my hon. Friends on the opposite Benches might for once have had the decency to attend quietly the funeral of one of their rights claimed by the landlords—a right to which they had no real claim at all. I welcome the Bill.

12.33 p.m

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) thinks this Bill is going to prevent industries which turn out in future to be unprofitable from moving down from Scotland, whether to England or elsewhere. I do not see how he is going to prevent that, short of nationalisation, which, as we know, runs everything at a loss.

I should like to start by asking the Secretary of State one question. While there is a considerable amount of agreement on the principles of this Bill, the first thing this House must see to is that its application to the individual is not burdensome. In the Third Reading Debate on the English Bill an undertaking was given by the Minister of Town and Country Planning, that he would attempt, at any rate, to ensure that one single application by the individual would suffice for him to obtain a decision on his by- law application, on his ribbon development application, on his planning application, and on the development charge. I should like to ask whether one single application will do all that in Scotland?

The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Renfrew has just said that this is a Bill with which he is not entirely satisfied. We on this side agree with him. There is one reason why we are not entirely satisfied, and it is because we are not certain that hon. Gentlemen on the other side have got in their minds clearly what it is they are trying to do They have in their minds two objects The first is that, in the future, we should ensure that land required by the community can be purchased at the price of its existing use. I do not think that we on this side disagree with that. The second thing is that the values created by the community shall belong to the community. Very well, then. The trouble is to assess how much of the values are created by the community and how much are created by the individuals who own the land and who themselves have developed it.

One of the astonishing things in the Bill is, that while owners of developed land may sit tight and reap the benefit of any increase in the value of their property so long as they do nothing to improve it, owners of undeveloped land are deprived of their existing rights to do what they like with their property. We have to distinguish two things in connection with the owners of undeveloped land. The first is the right to appreciation in the value of their land through development elsewhere to which they have not contributed. Secondly, there is the right to change the use of their own land. It is that second use, that second right, of which they are being deprived. If a man is prepared to develop his own property; so far from the community contributing to the value of that land, he is contributing to the prosperity of the community.

The Bill puts many restrictions on owners of property that, to my mind, are quite unnecessary. It is ridiculous enough that a farmer who wishes to build a cottage for his farm workers has to obtain planning permission at a time when the powers that be are making the countryside hideous with "prefabs." and queer non-traditional houses. It is nothing short of an absurdity that he should have to pay for the right to do what hon. Members on the opposite side are blaming him for not having done in those uncertain days for agriculture before the war.

Again, this Bill enables a local planning authority to put a man and his family out of the house that he owns on payment of a notional price—a price that has no relation whatever to the market price of the property; and to add insult to injury, the Government say, "We shall not pay you the current value of your house which you would get if you sold it in the open market; we shall pay you a price less what we think is the premium for vacant possession. But, of course, we are insisting on vacant possession, though we shall not pay you for it, and, what is more, we call the price the market price, and we say we are doing justice. We hope that the local authority will offer you alternative accommodation of a sort, but that is not our business." What a travesty of justice all that it. We dare to be poor, but in our public life we should be honest.

Why should an owner of a house be limited to this development of a tenth only? What justification can possibly be given for that? Certainly, there is some from the point of view of planning permission—from the amenity point of view. Nobody objects more than I do to those excrescences of dormer windows that spoil so many of our streets in Edinburgh and elsewhere, certainly, from the planning point of view. But from the point of view of development charges, what on earth is the reason for charging a man for bettering himself, for improving his own property? I can see no justification whatever for it. This Bill entrusts the making of development plans to local authorities, but it still does not leave them to get on with the job. The Secretary of State has quite unlimited powers of interference. In Clause 7, the Bill says that he may give directions to any local authority individually
"for regulating the performance of their functions."
It actually refers to:
"any local planning authority or to local planning authorities generally."
Many of us may doubt whether the local planning authority is the best body to be chosen as the arbiters of taste in general, for the architecture and layout of the area. But we would much rather that they got on with the job than that they should be subject to the dictates of St. Andrew's House.

In my view it is wrong to take away so substantial a right as development value without compensation; and it is wrong to pick and choose those who are to receive payments, and the proportion of full compensation which each is to receive. It is wrong to single out one class, as it appears the Government are going to choose that sadly downtrodden race the big building contractors, for preference. It is wrong also to fly in the face of Scottish opinion, as the right hon. Gentleman is doing in setting his face completely against a separate board for Scotland, to which England is prepared to agree. He is doing this on his own opinion, and he is simply saying that if there were a separate board, then, necessarily, there would be a separate policy. Of course, that is not true. What we say is that there may be, in certain cases, that a separate policy is desirable, and for that reason we want a separate board. I fully agree that this Bill puts shackles on enterprise. Finally, there is no incentive to a man to sell his land for development, and there is no incentive for a man to buy land for development. The difficulties in this Bill are immense and quite unnecessary.

12.43 P.m.

After listening to this Debate today, and having listened all through the Second Reading and to a great part of the Committee stage, it seems to me perfectly clear that the main opposition to this Bill arises from the view that the £300 million is much too small a sum for compensation. Indeed, in listening to this Debate one begins to wonder whether this is a planning Bill for Scotland or is merely a Bill to decide what compensation we are to pay to certain people in Scotland. The hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) spoke—as we so often hear from the Opposition nowadays—about the individual who bought a piece of land, but had paid more than its face value because he hoped that after a time he would get extra money from it through development. According to the hon. Member, that man will lose as a result of this Bill. But, surely, the Opposition, who are such ardent believers in and supporters of private enterprise, must also subscribe to the view that if a man is a speculator he must take risks. There cannot be any objection to that, because the Opposition believe so seriously in it.

Perhaps I ought not to say I was surprised, but I did think it queer that such objection should be taken by the Opposition to the inclusion of payment for mineral royalties in this global sum of £300 million. If ever there was a case for confiscation as against compensation, it is, surely, in the matter of mineral royalties. No landowner did one jot of work in putting those minerals there, and I think they will be jolly lucky if they get anything at all out of this £300 million I remember only too well the feeling among our mining communities against the huge sum of money that was paid for mineral royalties throughout the whole of Great Britain.

The last part of this Opposition Amendment amazes me. Today we have 70,000 unemployed in Scotland. Between the wars we had a very great number of unemployed, and how the Opposition can possibly say that anything in this Bill will make the position for Scotland worse than it has always been is a source of great amazement to me. I do not want to go into the history of why, even today, we have 70,000 unemployed. The main reason is that between the wars, when we were not the Government, but when hon Members opposite were sitting in out places, there was no planning at all for Scotland. There was not then any of this shouting from Scottish Conservatives in this House, that Scotland was not getting a square deal. I know that if the President of the Board of Trade had not the right for the planning of industries or the location of industries we could not have obtained a factory for the women of a mining district in which I am interested; women who under Conservative rule had no work except domestic service. Under the President of the Board of Trade that mining district is getting, for the first time, work for our women; they will be able to work in the factory and enjoy a home life which hitherto those women and girls have never been able to have.

I say to our Secretary of State, and to those responsible for this Bill in Scotland, that we on this side of the House welcome it, thinking, of course, that the £300 million part of it is too much, but knowing full well that our mining districts—and I could take many hon. Members to the pits and show them the result of private enterprise and lack of planning—will benefit greatly from the Bill, Scotland as a whole will welcome this Bill, knowing that her needs will be met.

12.47 p.m.

I regret that I am unable to share the optimism of the hon. Lady the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) about the prospects for Scotland, with or without this Bill, under this Government. The main impression that has been borne in on my mind as I have sat through the prolonged proceedings on this Bill has been that it is not primarily a planning Bill at all. Considerable claims were made, following on claims which had been made for the English Bill, that it did great things of planning. I could understand the Minister in charge of the English Bill making those claims because, after all, he does have an enormous staff of some 1,300 people in his Department, and no doubt he has to put up some claim to justify them. But the Secretary of State for Scotland takes a much more realistic and, if I may say so, much better view of his functions as a planning Minister. He has, I think, only 33 members in his Town Planning Department, compared with 1,300 in the Ministry in England. Accordingly, it would not be right for him to press—and I do not think he does press—that this Bill greatly increases national as against local planning.

The function of the central Department ought to be supervision of the local planning authorities, but not interference with them. That has always been the view, and it ought to be the position in future; and the size of the right hon. Gentleman's staff makes it clear that he agrees with that view. I would say that on the planning side this Bill does some good—not much; it does some harm—not much; and it does not really advance matters very much. I do not share the views, which have been held by both sides of the House, that there was very much wrong before. I agree that a new planning Measure was necessary, but I do not agree that the old Measures were as bad as all that. I agree, they had not been worked, owing to the war and other reasons, as energetically as they might have been. I welcome the planning provisions for what they are worth.

I turn now to the real purpose of this Bill, which is the purpose with which I and my hon. Friends entirely disagree. The main purpose is confined to trying to develop Scotland and give employment to the Scottish people; but the Government must really make up their mind on their policy in regard to incentives. The parent of this Bill is hatred of profit, and nothing else.

The Opposition's Amendment is founded on what I believe to be the realistic view, that if we want to get prosperity in this country without the use of compulsion, we must provide incentives. I prefer incentives to compulsion, and we must have one or the other. In so far as this Bill takes away incentives, which it does to a large extent, it is prejudicing the future prosperity of Scotland. That is my answer to the hon. Member. The Government agree that it cannot tackle nationalisation of the land on a large scale, for many reasons. They agree that they must rely on the initiative of individual developers of the land of Scotland. The Government must really make up their mind whether they want to encourage, or hinder and hamper, the invidual. This Bill will hinder and hamper him, because it sets out to do so. The development charges machinery depends on the view that one can calculate in advance what profit is likely to be made by the developer, who is then charged anything up to 100 per cent. of that sum. Is that not going to hamper and hinder? So long as the industrialists of Scotland sit back and do not try to do anything, they are not touched. If there is any unearned increment in those circumstances, they get it without its being taxed, but as soon as they try to increase the size of their undertaking and provide more jobs, for the people, anything up to 100 per cent. of the prospective profit is to be taken away from them. It is bad enough to tax profit after it has been realised, and we know from P.A.Y.E. up to Surtax how hampering excessive taxation is; but it is far worse to tax people in anticipation of profit, and it is equally bad to tax people on no intelligible principle.

The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, said that matters of com- parative detail were to be left to regulations. Is it a matter of comparative detail how the taxation framework on this point is to be adjusted? What sort of conditions are to apply when someone who wants to develop the land of Scotland comes up to be fined? Surely, that goes far beyond any point of detail? We have spent a good deal of time on this, and on how far the working of the development charges machinery will cause injustice, preventing and hampering the development of Scottish industry and the housing of the Scottish people. We can only state in general terms that we believe the effect will be very serious. We cannot go on to argue the details, because we do not yet know how the Government propose to work it, and I do not believe they know themselves. I really cannot see why, if they do know, we should not be told. I cannot see what there is to hide, if they know what they want to do and believe it to be just. If they do not believe their ideas to be just, there is good reason for concealment. Therefore, we are entering into a scheme, and no one yet knows what are its essential parts. That does not seem a good way to legislate on a matter which concerns the whole future of our country.

I attach great importance to the subject of compensation. This is the first Bill in which the Government have specifically denied the right of people to be compensated if their property is taken away. In all other cases, although the compensation may have been extremely inadequate, and may have been worth less than half the value of the property taken away, the right to compensation has been admitted. The right to compensation is here, for the first time, denied, and it is excused by mixing up two bad arguments to try to produce a good one. The two bad arguments are these. Firstly, that the value of land belongs, in some way, to the community, in the way that the value of other property does not. There really is no sense in that. The market value is reached in precisely the same way, whether it be land or any other property. The only difference is that in certain types of land there is a big element of monopoly value, whereas in certain types of other property the element of monopoly value is smaller. There are many other properties which have monopoly value, and many others which do not. Therefore, there is no distinction between the two. I know that Socialist pamphlets have stressed for generations this difference, and here we have the hangover of two generations of false economics.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that where there is compulsory acquisition it will not be on the current market value?

I have not come to that, I am saying that it is wrong for the Government to take away any man's property and deny him compensation. It came out quite clearly in the proceedings on Report stage that it was proposed, by the operation of some kind of means test as yet undetermined, to take away from some people the valuable rights of property and deny them any kind of compensation. That seems to me to be a new principle, even for this Government, which we must mark and oppose.

The second of the bad arguments is the attempt to pray in aid the Uthwatt Committee, and to say that because it has not been usual for Parliament to pay an owner when the use of his property has been restricted in some way in the public interest, he should not therefore be compensated when his valuable rights are taken away from him for the purpose of exploiting them. That is what this Bill does. It takes away property from the owner, not for the purpose of preventing anyone from using it, but for the purpose of exploiting it on a commercial scale, making profit out of it. To say that rights are being taken away from people for the express purpose of making profits out of them, and paying no compensation, is poles apart from anything the Uthwatt Committee has said, and is wholly unjust and out of line with what even this Government have done in the past.

I pass to another topic. The right hon. Gentleman presented his argument as if all the Amendments that had been made since the Bill was introduced had been favourable to the points of view expressed from this side of the House, and were improvements from our point of view. I venture to point out that a number of Amendments, for the discussion of which we did not have adequate opportunity despite the length of the proceedings, made the Bill a great deal worse. One has to bear that in mind when one is acknowledging that other Amendments made the Bill better. I would mention the whittling away of dead ripe land by enabling the Secretary of State to cut down the category of dead ripe land without any reason being given, or any appeal. That is substituting for the rule of law the whim of the Minister. He may not use the power, but that is the power which the Bill now proposes to give him.

I should have thought that by this time the Government would realise that there is something to be said for the rule of law, for Parliament settling the rules, those rules being published, and everybody abiding by them. In the Bill, no rule is stated, or is even to be stated in regulations. The Minister has complete discretion to do as he chooses. There is no appeal. He need not tell us any reason. The whole thing rests with him and with him alone. It is that kind of thing to which we object and which is a growing trend in legislation. I stress it here. It is not by any means the first time that I have made these remarks, and I suspect that it will not be the last. I have always hoped that one day hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will see the light, if we put it to them often enough. I will not take time to deal with other dangerous Amendments introduced on the Report stage. There were several. If anybody cares to look through the proceedings—I hardly think anyone will—of the late sitting we had the other night they will find that my remarks are justified.

Let me say, in conclusion, that the Government are setting up here something which might well be a despotic system. We are setting up a Secretary of State and a Central Land Board uncontrolled by rules laid down by Parliament. If that kind of system is to work, it is essential that the Central Land Board, or any land board, shall be in the closest touch with Scottish conditions, Scottish needs and Scottish feelings. I do not believe that it is possible for a board, composed and located as the Central Land Board is to be, to fulfil these needs. It is true that the Secretary of State has retained power of direction, but he has stated today that he thinks that there would have to be to a very large extent the same principles applying to both countries. I hope that does not mean that he will con- sider his power of direction is to be limited to mere detail.

I can assure him that if the affairs of this board turn out to be going as badly as I fear they will, we shall have to call the Secretary of State to account for failing to exercise his power of direction under the Bill. Let him not think that this power of direction is something to be held in reserve for a remote emergency. If the needs of Scotland are to be met to any extent at all, the right hon. Gentleman will have to exercise that power of direction pretty stringently. He may find himself at loggerheads with some of his Cabinet colleagues in the attempt to do so. One reason I should have liked to see a Scottish Board is to avoid conflicts which are inevitable if the right hon. Gentleman is to do his duty to his country.

Finally, one word about the Board of Trade. Some exception has been taken to the terms of our Amendment on this matter. I hope the point between us is clear. I have no objection at all to—in fact I welcome, as did the Coalition Government—the Board of Trade using their good influences upon industry in the right direction. I think we all do. The present proposal is not influencing industry in the right direction. It is preventing industry from going where it wants. Nobody is allowed even to extend an existing factory, let alone put up a new one, unless he gets permission from the Board of Trade; that is to say, a veto is given to the Board of Trade. A veto may be necessary in certain circumstances, but the veto here may be used as follows. I would like the Minister to tell me if I am wrong. Upstairs, he undertook to reexamine the matter. We have not had an opportunity to discuss it since then. Perhaps he will tell me now.

Suppose a Scottish industrialist wishes to start in Scotland an industry not yet represented in Scotland at all, and thereby to give employment to Scottish people. Under the Bill as it stands the President of the Board of Trade will be entitled-to say, and it may be his duty to say, "There is plenty of that industry already in England; you cannot start that industry in Scotland," although it is not represented in Scotland at all. In order to prevent that sort of situation arising, we wanted to introduce an Amendment to the Bill. I hope the Minister will be able to tell us that that is not a line which the President of the Board of Trade will take. One of our main troubles was to get a proper balance of industry in Scotland, but I cannot think that what I have just indicated would be a good way to achieve that balance.

1.7 p.m.

We have come to the final stages of what is a great and in many ways a remarkable Bill, in the sense that it is technical, is fairly long, and deals with a subject which has never been tackled during my political experience, not even by the right hon. and gallant Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). An added responsibility was, therefore, thrown upon those in charge of government, and especially in government for the first time, in taking on a Measure of this kind. Much has been said for and against the Bill, but there is common ground in regard to the fact that, during the long Committee proceedings, we tried with fairness and courtesy, to examine the views of the Opposition. The right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) has done himself less than justice. I have learned to respect him, although it has often been the case that he and I were on opposite sides of the argument. He has said that Amendments which we put down on Report not only made concessions to the Opposition point of view, but covered also points with which they disagreed. I can only think of two which might be referred to. The one was in regard to dead ripe land. We do not take the view that is taken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The second might be the comparatively minor matter that aroused his ire, relating to what we may call the labouring classes.

I can tell the hon. Gentleman at least two more. There was the concurrent acquisition of land along with the proceedings where an order was going to be made to apply to the land, and the re-framing of the Clauses from the 1945 Act greatly stiffened the position against present tenants and occupiers.

We took the opposite view, because there were concessions, I have not looked at that in the same light. If it had not been raised in Committee, we might not have altered it. I will now turn to some of the issues which have been raised. I want to single out the hon. Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden) for answer. Hon. Gentlemen must not think that is discourtesy. I do so because I want to say a word or two on the issue he raised—agriculture and agricultural land. He raised the question of consultation with the agricultural executives. On Report stage the Secretary of State gave an undoubted assurance—and I repeat it now—that when the regulations were made steps would be taken to see that the agricultural executives were consulted. That statement stands. With regard to cottages which may be erected and may be part and parcel of the agricultural community, as long as those cottages remain agricultural cottages, we shall exempt them from the development charge. A cottage may be put up as an agricultural cottage, but it may not necessarily always remain one. When I sat on the Rent Control Committee, we found that one of the curses was the large number of agricultural cottages which were becoming week-end cottages for townspeople. We do not propose to exempt them.

The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) raised the question of unified forms. He made some remarks about our honesty, but he will be a very long time in politics and see a lot worse than he has seen so far. So far as unified forms are concerned, there are one or two difficulties, particularly in Scotland. We have what we call the Dean of Guild Court which is partly a legal instrument, and it is not right that in this Bill we should interfere with the powers of the Dean of Guild Court. I hope hon. Members will agree. We cannot have a form to cover that, but we are taking steps, in consultation with the local authorities, to see if we cannot get a uniform form or, if not a uniform form, forms to be issued at the same time in order to stop any kind of overlapping.

I hope I do not create a cleavage in the party opposite, but the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) has always deviated slightly from the rest of the hon. Members opposite. J have always thought that he wanted this Bill in the main, and that he was a decent soul, and that he was like the sinner who tried to repent but was unfortunately not allowed to do so. I, therefore, make allowances for him. He welcomed the Measure on the planning side. Nobody else has ever said that so openly. All the others did it in a half-hearted, grudging manner, true to Scottish Toryism. With one or two notable exceptions, on this matter Scottish Tories have always been much more diehard than their friends across the Border. The hon. Member has differentiated himself. He has knowledge of the work on both sides of the Border. The only thing I will say about planning is that, whatever I think of my native country, the one thing of which I am certain is that planning is long overdue. The town of Greenock, with its hills behind it and the sea in front, should have been the most beautiful town in Britain. There is also the neighbouring town of Port Glasgow. Those two towns should have been the finest towns and monuments in Western Scotland, and they are waste, derelict and a shame. The charge against us is not that we are moving this Bill now, but that we are moving it years and years too late. From the planning angle I make no apology for the Bill.

Where do we come to the real cleavage? The real cleavage is over the development charge. The hon. Member said that one developer may have to pay and another may get away free. I agree that there may be some element of that sort, but I hope one day—though I may not be at this Box—to be a supporter of a Government which will remedy that by taking over land as a whole on behalf of the community. But that is not yet. In this Bill we leave the private ownership of land.

Let us take this charge about land development. On this there is a cleavage. I should like to say a word to the National Liberals. They constantly chide us almost with dishonest practices. Of all the parties, I should have thought that they would have retained a remnant of Liberalism. As a young messenger boy I listened to Alec Muir on development charges and the right to keep them for the community. I listened to the hon. Member for Dumfries throwing that over for the sake of a few Tory votes, and I wondered how far the old Liberal politics had gone-. We take the view that value is the thing which should go back to the community. It is created by the community. It is brought about not only by the present people, but by the people who have gone before us, and because of that we provide for the development charges to go to the State. The hon. Member asked a question about the Board of Trade, which was raised on Committee. I made it perfectly clear in Committee that I gave no undertaking to make any change. The Secretary of State was not present on that day. I did not assume that I was in charge of the Bill. If I had been, I should have refused anything.

What is the position? The hon. Gentleman says that a Scottish industrialist might want to extend a factory, and he asked whether it could be stopped. My answer is that under this Bill we are going to stop not only the Scottish industrialists but the English industrialists, and we say the balance, because of the stopping, will 'come to Scotland. What has been the practice in the past? There is the case of Stewarts & Lloyds, who made a decision to move certain of their factories from Lanarkshire to the Midlands. Nobody was consulted. Under this Bill, however, a Board of Trade and Government decision will be taken before anything like that is done to harm the community in the West of Scotland. When we are saying that to the English, when we are insisting on that, I say we have no right to exempt Scotland from the same provisions. I wish this had been done many years ago. The hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) said, quite rightly, that the great motor industry had its origins in the East-end of Glasgow. Part of that development took place in Dumfriesshire when I was a lad, but it shut down almost over-night without any thought of the local community. The hon. Member for Dumfries thinks that is a good thing, that it means free enterprise and free work, and that no action should be taken by the community to stop it.

This Bill represents to us a struggle by the Labour and Socialist movement over many years. It represents to us not merely the planning of land, but the planning of industry. It represents to us, for the first time, an attempt to take that which belongs to the community and hand it back to where it belongs. These are things we have wanted to do. As regards the point made by the hon. Member for West Aberdeen about minerals we say that in the case of these minerals —with the exception of coal, which is now a national asset, so we leave it alone—which are worked and used, but whose origin is in the land, it is right and necessary that the community now, when we are tackling this Bill, should take the development charges and not wait, as has been done in the past, until legal rights are built up for which in the future the community might have to pay excessively.

The general principles of this Bill I defend, development charges I defend, land designation I defend. Its work in connection with agriculture, far from giving us any less, will make it better. Its Central Land Board will see that Scotland is fairly and reasonably treated. When I look at the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) on the Front Bench opposite, I wish I could depart from the rules of procedure and recount the past when the Scottish Office had not even a decent Scottish civil servant left. When I remember that, I say that our approach in this Bill is much better, and, on its general principles, I can defend it.

Division No. 308.]


1.27 p.m

Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Edwards, John (Blackburn)Lipton, Lt.-Col M
Attewell, H. C.Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Longden, F
Awbery, S. S.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)McAdam, W.
Ayles, W. HEvans, E. (Lowestoft)McEntee, V. La
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)McGovern, J.
Baird, JFletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Maclean, N (Govan)
Balfour, A.Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Gallacher, W.Mann, Mrs. J.
Bechervaise, A. E.Ganley, Mrs. C. SManning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Belcher, J. WGranville, E. (Eye)Mathers, G.
Berry, H.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Mayhew, C. P.
Beswick, F.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Mellish, R. J
Bevan, Rt Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Moyle, A.
Bing, G H C.Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Blenkinsop, AGunter, R. J.Nicholls, H R (Stratford)
Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)Hale, LeslieOliver, G. H.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Hastings, Dr. SomervilleOrbach, M.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Parker, J.
Buchanan, G.Herbison, Miss MParkin, B. T
Burden, T W.Hicks, G.Pearson, A.
Burke, W. A.Holman, PPeart, T. F.
Champion, A. J.Hay, J.Piratin, P.
Chetwynd, G. R.Hubbard, T.Porter, G. (Leeds)
Cocks, F. S.Hudson, J H. (Ealing, W.)Ranger, J
Collick, P.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Rankin, J
Collindridge, F.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Rees-Williams, D. K
Colman, Miss G. MIrving, W. JReeves, J.
Corvedale, ViscountIsaacs, Rt. Hon. G. AReid, T. (Swindon)
Crawley, AJanner, B.Robens, A.
Daines, PJay, D. P TRobertson, J. J (Berwick)
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Jeger, G (Winchester)Rogers, G. H. R.
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Jones, Rt. Hon A. C. (Shipley)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, Hadyn (St. Paneras, S.W)Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Scollan, T.
Deer, G.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Segal, Dr. S.
de Freitas, GeoffreyJones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Shackleton, E A. A
Delargy, H. J.Keenan, W.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)
Dodds, N. N.Kenyon, C.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Driberg, T. E. N.Key, C. WSimmons, C. J.
Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Kirby, B. V.Skeffington, A. M.
Dumpleton, C. W.Leonard, W.Skeffington.Lodge, T. C.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. CLeslie, J. R.Skinnard, F. W.
Edelman, M.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Smith, C. (Colchester)

There is one thing which is worrying me, and I shall mention it at this Box so that the officials of my Department and of the Secretary of State's Department will see it placed on record. It is that a great deal of this Bill is machinery, dependent on a human approach,' dependent on flexibility and on knowledge. The outlines of this Bill are good, its principles are sound, and I say to those who will have to work it that, knowing the spirit in which the House of Commons will pass it, remember your country, remember the people in it, apply the Measure flexibly and intelligently. If you do that, it will be a landmark in the development charges coming to the nation, and in the proper planning of industry and commerce in Scotland; and it will help to make this Scotland of all of us a better country than it has been hitherto.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 162; Noes, 69.

Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W)Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B.
Snow, Capt. J. WThomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh. E.)Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Solley, L. J.Turner-Samuels, M.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Sorensen, R. WViant, S. P.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Sparks, J. AWadsworth, GWilliams, W. R. (Heston)
Steele, T.Walkden, EWillis, E.
Stephen, C.Walker, G. H.Woodburn, A.
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)Wyatt, W.
Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)Zilliaous, K.
Summerskill, Dr. EdithWells, P. L. (Faversham)
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.Mr. Hannan and Mr. Popplewell.


Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Neven-Spence, Sir B
Amory, D. HeathcoatGrimston, R. V.Nicholson, G.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HHannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Nield, B. (Chester)
Beechman, N. A.Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P
Bower, N.Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Nutting, Anthony
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountOsborne, C.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. AHogg, Hon. Q.Peake, Rt. Hon. O
Challen, C.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Pickthorn, K.
Channon, H.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WPonsonby, Col. C. E
Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. GKerr, Sir J. GrahamReid, Rt. Hon. J, S. C. (Hilihead)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HRobinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F. C.Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Sanderson, Sir F.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew. E.)Scott, Lord W.
Crowder, Capt. John ELow, Brig. A. R. W.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Dodds-Parker, A. DMcCallum, Maj. D.Snadden, W. M.
Drayson, G B.Macdonald, Sir P. (I of Wight)Spearman, A. C. M
Drewe, C.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Studholme, H G
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Elliot Rt. Hon. WalterMaclay, Hon. J. S.Touche, G. C.
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Walker-Smith, D.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Manningham-Buller, R. E.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. MMarples, A. E.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. DMarsden, Capt. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gammans, L. D.Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.Major Conant and Major Ramsay

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Crown Proceedings Money

Resolution reported:

"That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the law relating to the civil liabilities and rights of the Crown and to civil proceedings by and against the Crown, to amend the law relating to the civil liabilities of persons other than the Crown in certain cases involving the affairs or property of the Crown, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise:
  • (a)the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any sums required to be so paid by the said Act; and
  • (b) the payment into the Exchequer of any sums required to be so paid by the said Act."
  • Resolution agreed to.

    Crown Proceedings Bill Lords

    Considered in Committee.

    [Major MILNER in the Chair]

    Clause 1—(Right To Sue The Crown)

    1.37 p.m.

    J beg to move, in page 1, line 12, after "Act," to insert:

    "or might have been the subject of a declaratory judgment under the Rules of the Supreme Court."
    This Amendment seeks to insert words, the effect of which will be to give the right to a declaratory judgment or order along with the other rights to be given by this Clause. The matter is, in a way, technical, although it might be simplified by saying that the Clause as it stands will enable the subject in future to enforce a claim against the Crown where hitherto there has been a right to do so by petition of right or by some statutory provision. As the lawyers in the Committee know, there are many cases which do not come within a petition of right, or within such statutory provisions as exist. There are cases in which proceedings may be brought in court under an Order known as Order 25, Rule 5, asking the court to make a declaration as to what the legal rights of the plaintiff are against the Crown. There is in those cases no other method of doing that except by that means. I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) had that in mind when he alluded to the terms of this Clause last week, when the Bill was being read a Second time, and when he said he thought the language would have to be somewhat expanded. Certainly if it is to embrace this range of proceedings and cases to which I have alluded that, in my view, looking at the Clause, it is necessary so to expand it. I do not desire to go into technicalities about the matter, because I am quite sure the lawyers of the Committee follow the point. On the question of whether the language is flexible or wide enough to include this particular type of case, I think we have to look first at the marginal note. It is perfectly true that a marginal note is no part of a Statute, but it says quite clearly:
    "Right to sue the Crown."
    I think that is a perfectly faithful rubric when we come to look at the text, because the text lays down very specificcally the cases in which the right of enforcing an action against the Crown will be allowed. They are the two classes of cases which T have already mentioned—those which come under a petition of right or some statutory provisions. Another matter which I think is part of the Bill is the heading "Substantive Law". In my submission it is quite clear that as the first Clause deals with the rights of the subject in actions of this particular kind against the Crown, and the words referring to petition of right and statutory provision are words of limitation, once this Bill becomes an Act it will then take away all other rights which have previously existed in the subject to bring the proceedings to which I have referred. In those circumstances, this matter should be looked at again, and if those proceedings are not included by the language of the Clause, then the Clause should be widened in order to include them. I do not think that a mere assurance would cover the point. The matter ought to be placed beyond doubt, and the only way to do that is by making the wording of the Clause perfectly clear.

    This Amendment, if I may say so with respect to my hon. and learned Friend, is misconceived. It is necessary to replace by other procedure, proceedings by way of petition of right and proceedings under the statutory provisions which are repealed by this Bill, and that is precisely what this Clause does. There is nothing in this Clause which affects any other proceedings against the Crown which might otherwise be taken, and there is certainly nothing in the Bill which prevents a person from proceeding by action for a declaration against the Attorney-General under the rules of court. The Amendment is inappropriate and unnecessary, and would not achieve the purpose which my hon. and learned Friend has in mind.

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 2—(Liability Of The Crown In Tort)

    I beg to move, in page 1, line 21, after "law," to insert "or under any statute."

    My purpose in moving this Amendment is to seek an explanation. It has been represented to me by various persons skilled in the law that there is no obvious reason why the terms of Subsection (1, b)of this Clause should be limited to common law duties, and should not include duties imposed under any Statute. The Committee will be aware that there are certain cases where employers are bound under Statute to take certain measures for the safety of their employees, and the mere fact that they fail to take those measures is sufficient to found an action for damages without proof of negligence, which would be required under common law. On the whole, I think that anyone with any experience would say that those provisions work well and fairly. I assume that the intention is that the Crown should be a model employer, and that the Crown should be liable in damages to their servants in circumstances comparable to those in which the subject is liable in damages to his servants.

    I know that there is a provision in the Bill about the Crown being bound by a statutory duty. I do not profess to understand its full implications, but I would put this point to the Attorney-General: as the Bill is drafted, are there any instances in which an accident may happen in circumstances where, if a private person had been the employer, there would have been an action for breach of statutory duty, but where there is no action against the Crown, the Crown being, in the circumstances I have suggested, the employer? If I can be assured that although the terms of the Bill are obscure, nevertheless, everything is covered that would be covered under this Amendment, I shall be satisfied, though I suggest that for the sake of clarity it should be put into the Bill. But if there are cases which the Amendment would cover, and which are not covered by the Bill as it stands, I would like to know why the Crown is permitted to be a worse employer than the private citizen.

    1.45 p.m.

    I am afraid I am not in a position to accept this Amendment. If Subsection (1) (b) were to include this reference to any Statute, it would, of course, have the effect of imposing on the Crown an obligation to comply with Statutes, which, when they were passed by Parliament, were intentionally made not binding on the Crown. It is not the intention of this Bill to alter the existing substantive law in regard to matters of that kind. In regard to the question of which Statutes should bind the Crown and which should not, it is a matter for Parliament to deal with in the case of each particular Statute it passes. Parliament has sometimes thought it proper that the Crown should be bound by the statutory duties being created; in other cases it has thought not. It is for Parliament to say, in relation to each Statute, whether it is to bind the Crown or not, and it would create the greatest possible confusion to endeavour now to bind the Crown by every Statute without first examining whether it was really appropriate that the Crown should be bound by it or not. We cannot seek to do that by an Amendment to this Bill.

    It is not easy to see what Statutes might affect the position as between master and servant other than the Factories Act. That is, at all events, the major Act which gives rise to claims on behalf of injured workmen. There are other Statutes which affect the position of servants, but that is the major enactment, and with few exceptions it is the one relied upon by servants who are injured, and who desire to bring an action in respect of their injuries. That Statute does, in fact, bind the Crown, and consequently, a right of action under that Statute would arise under Subsection (2) of this Clause. So far as other Statutes are concerned, if at present they bind the Crown, then the right of action will arise under Subsection (2). If at present they do not bind the Crown, the passage of this Bill will not affect the position. In the light of that explanation, I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman may see fit to withdraw his Amendment.

    Will the Attorney-General tell us whether the Crown is bound, by the statutory duty as to fencing, etc., contained in the Factories Act?

    Owing to the large extension of the activities of the Crown as an employer of labour, it might be well that this matter should be cleared up as soon as the Government are able to do so. If the Attorney-General does not want to accept this Amendment, which deals with a small but I believe not easily defined omission of the Crown's liability, we must accept that. I should have thought that the Crown could have gone so far as to say, "Now we are coming into line with good employers and will undertake their obligations without further boggling about it." I cannot press the matter. If the Crown are not prepared to assume all the obligations of a good employer, I must just leave if there. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 3 to 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 9 (Liability In Connection With Postal Packets)

    Amendment made: In page 6, line 38, after second "to," insert "a." —[ The Attorney-General.]

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 39, after "employed," to insert:

    "unless such servant or agent shall have been guilty of wilful neglect or default and loss or damage has been occasioned thereby."

    I think I ought to say that the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman on this Amendment might cover the later Amendments which stand in his name.

    I was about to suggest, for the convenience of the Com- mittee, that it might be well to take all the Amendments in my name to Clause 9 at the same time. After the first Amendment, the rest are consequential. This Amendment seeks to make the Crown liable in cases of wilful neglect or default by a servant or agent in relation to the loss or damage of a postal packet or in connection with telephone communications or telegrams. I think I am correct in saying that the law at present is that whereas the Postmaster-General himself is not liable for any wrongful act, if any loss or damage befalls a postal packet, or takes place in connection with a telephonic communication or telegram, his subordinates in the post office are liable for any wrongful act by them in relation to those items or matters. If that is correct, then Clause 9 of this Bill deprives the subject of rights which exist in his favour at this moment. I suggest to the Committee that it is depriving the subject of very important rights and that the consequences of the deprivation may reflect serious loss or damage. The Crown ought therefore to consider the question of amending the Clause in the way that I suggest.

    If, for example, some sorter or postman, or some servant or agent of the Post Office, extracted anything from an envelope, no matter how valuable it was, in law that particular person could now be sued. Under the law as it will be if this Clause is passed without Amendment, the subject would be prohibited from bringing any such action. If a postman loses a letter one can sue him today. Under this Bill one would not be able to do so. In the courts a sub-postmaster has been held liable in respect of negligence in the transmission of a telegram. In future, if the Bill is passed in its present form, that will not be so. Indeed, the law which gives the subject his present rights against the Post Office has been the law since 1701. To argue that because it is now sought to confer the right of suing of the Crown in other respects it should at the same time be thought proper to take other rights away from the subject is somewhat incomprehensible. It is provided in the Bill that there is to be liability for a registered postal packet. On the face of it, that looks as though the Bill was conferring some important right upon the subject. In point of fact, the result is this: it is perfectly true that hitherto the Postmaster-General has not been legally liable for losses or damage to a registered packet, but in practice he has voluntarily accepted that liability on a published scale of loss or damage. Therefore, from a practical point of view the Bill is there conferring nothing whatever upon the subject. It is true that it is making statutory what has always been the accepted practice. On the other hand, however, it is taking away the very substantial rights that the subject has always had in regard to any claim he may have for damage or loss against some servant or agent of the Post Office in the cases I have mentioned.

    It is important to consider the grave consequences that might happen. There are cases where a letter is posted and the time and date of the posting decides whether an offer has been accepted or refused. It may be a very important matter. It may be an acceptance which is very valuable indeed to the party concerned. If the letter is never delivered, of course, the benefit of that acceptance is completely lost. Yet, according to the Bill, no right of action is given to the subject in that case. What happens under the law now is that the subject would have a right of action against anyone in the post office other than the Postmaster-General. This Bill is seeking to take that right completely away. The same result arises in the case of a withdrawal of acceptance. That might be a very serious matter. A person may accept something and then, on reflection, he may wish to withdraw it and the non-withdrawal may involve him in very serious consequences indeed. Due to the wilful negligence of someone in the Post Office, the particular postal packet containing the withdrawal may never be received. In those circumstances, great loss may be sustained. Under the law as it stands at present, proceedings could be brought in order to claim damages, but if the Bill passes in its present form no such right of action will be permitted to the subject.

    In regard to telephone communications, I would ask the Attorney-General why should the Post Office be immune from liability? An ordinary business must incur responsibility for any loss arising from negligence in a matter of this kind. If the Crown does not want to admit liability, why allow these telephone communications at allow? My submission is that if the Government allow telephone communications then they must allow the natural corollary if there is any negligence. If there is negligence, there ought to be a right to claim damages. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) said, one would have thought that in the case of the Crown we would have a model employer. In my submission, it ought to be easier to get redress under public ownership than it is under private enterprise. This Bill, however, shows that the reverse will be the case. I would also like to point out to the Committee that as the Post Office is staffed at present there is a good number of temporary employees. In a case of that kind, the liability to negligence is very much greater than when we have long experienced officers; and the public are exposed to the consequences of that action. To say that the consequences of wilful neglect ought not to be visited by the right to bring an action for damages in those circumstances must be wrong, and I, therefore, submit that this Amendment should be accepted.

    2.0 p.m.

    The purpose of this Amendment appears to be to make the Crown and the servants of the Crown liable for loss of or damage to postal packets, including telegrams, or for consequential damage resulting from the miscarriage of some telephonic communication in the case where a postal servant has been guilty of "wilful negligence or default." May I say a word first about that expression?

    This proposal is really quite novel in regard to negligence. It has been laid down again and again in the courts that there is no different standard of care, no different degree of care, required in different classes of case. There is no such thing as "wilful negligence." Judges have said repeatedly that "wilful negligence" is negligence with a vituperative epithet, and it would be outside the purpose of this Bill to include words of that kind. There is no half-way house, and one has either got to impose liability for negligence in these matters or exclude it. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) suggests, by the analogy which he seeks to draw with private concerns, that the Crown should accept liability for negligence, but private concerns are able to, and, in fact, almost invariably do, exclude any liability for negligence in the individual contracts which they make in certain cases. Is it to be thought for a moment that any commercial firm in its senses would undertake a liability to pay damages, not only for actual loss but for consequential loss as well, in the case where it was undertaking to collect say a letter, in London and deliver it, by train, first of all, many hundreds of miles, and then by hand to its ultimate addressee in return for the payment of 2½d.? Quite obviously, no commercial firm would do that. It would protect itself, as commercial firms do, by having an express provision in the contract excluding a possibility of that kind.

    Moreover, it is a standard provision in contracts for carriage by railway, and for carriage by road, to exclude all liability for consequential loss, and that is the position which is being taken up by the Crown in this case. We are saying that we will accept registered packets in a somewhat similar way to that in which a Railway enters into a contract at Company's risk. We are saying that we will accept a liability not exceeding the market value of what we carry, but we are saying, just as the railways and the road hauliers do, that we cannot accept liability for consequential loss.

    It is true that we are taking away a right which exists at present to sue the individual post office servant, but how can it be said for a moment, as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggested, that that is really a substantial right? How can it be suggested that that right, in a case where the Crown is not standing behind the servant, would really meet the case where, owing to the loss of some packet or failure to deliver some message in time, serious damage has occurred to the person concerned? How could those damages be recovered from a postman earning, say, £6a week? I have never had experience of an action of that kind, and I should have thought that actions against a post office official for negligence in the transmission of a postal packet must be very rare indeed, and would be quite valueless unless the Crown were prepared to stand behind the official and pay any damages that might be awarded. The Crown is not prepared to do that. It is not prepared to accept that liability for every postal packet which it under- takes to carry, but it is willing to accept a certain liability in the case of a registered packet and pay up to the limit of the market value of what is carried. In those circumstances, I cannot accept the Amendment.

    I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made out a case in defence of the Clause as it stands at present. I think he overlooked the fact that the Government are here removing a right from the public, and in order to do that, they have got to bring forward a very strong case indeed, and they have not done so. This right, which they are removing, is, as the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) has said, the personal right of any member of the public, who uses the postal service in the ordinary way for unregistered letters, to proceed against any individual servant or agent of the Post Office who may be found guilty on the evidence adduced of neligence or default; in other words, as we commonly express it, negligence. That right has been removed, and the only reason one can see for that—the reason given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman—was that, in his view, a postal servant employed by the Government at a salary of £6 a week is a man of straw against who it is not worth while a member of the public having the right to take proceedings. That, quite obviously, with all respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, is not for him to decide, or for us. If the right exists, there is no reason why it should not be available, and I do not think it is a proper constitutional line of thought to seek to do away with a right of the public simply and entirely on those grounds.

    There is another point with which the Attorney-General did not deal, and that is the question of absolving the Post Office from being liable for any loss, and, as I understand his argument, he failed to show why he should seek to retain the right for the Crown to proceed against one of its own servants, presumably, in regard to any fault which he may have committed against a member of the public. It is a curious triangular result. The Post Office servant commits a fault against a member of the public, but the member of the public does not have the right to proceed against the Post Office servant, nor does the member of the public have the right to proceed against the Post Office, yet, nevertheless, the Post Office does have the right to proceed against its own employee. I fail to see the machinery by which such process could be carried out, or, if in fact it was carried out, what would be the result, or, in the event of recovery being made from the Post Office employee, to whom the results of that recovery would belong. If, as I understand, the Amendment which the right hon. and learned Gentleman is going to move is incorporated in the Clause, he did not explain what he had in mind when he referred to cases in respect of which anything was done, or was omitted to be done, in relation to a telephonic communication. To my simple and unimaginative mind, it is difficult to see what a Post Office employee could do to a telephonic communication which could result in tort.

    What the right hon. and learned Gentleman is seeking to do is to protect the employee, not the member of the public who may have cause for complaint. I hope we may have a little more enlightenment on that minor point, and that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will more seriously consider the major point which I think is one of substance, and one which the Committee should not pass without very careful consideration.

    I agree with a great deal of what the right hon. and learned Attorney-General said with regard to this actual Amendment, and, indeed, with regard to what was said in favour of its acceptance. I think that, as at present drafted, the Clause goes too far in the way of protecting Post Office servants. Let me give an absolutely extreme example, which I think illustrates the point. If I hand my letter over to the postmaster of a village and I see him tear it up before my nose, I can, I suppose, under the existing law, bring an action against him for something. If he happens to be my rival and knows that the letter contains a proposal of marriage, I dare say I might find it worth while to seek an injunction to prevent him from doing it again.

    On the other hand, the right hon. And learned Attorney-General seems bent on allowing him to do it, or, at any rate, if not on allowing him to do it, seems bent on reserving to himself only the right of preventing him from doing it. I do not see why that should be so, and why, if a Post Office official commits such an offence, I should not be able to take action against him. I agree that there might be very sound reasons for not making the Crown liable. It is probable that in such cases large sums of damages will not flow, and that actions of this particular type will be relatively few, and will be confined to relatively bumble people; but I do not think, for that reason, we should laugh at them, or prevent them from being brought. Such things do happen, especially in small communities. In my submission, this Clause goes too far, and without trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, I think that before the Report stage the AttorneyGeneral should think over the matter again.

    I agree with what has been said in support of this Amendment, and I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will look at this matter again. A few days ago, some Post Office workers in my constituency were erecting a pole on which telephone lines were to be distributed to various houses. The pole was being erected at the end of a garden of one of my constituents, and in order to give himself leverage, one of the men put his leg against the garden gate, and the gate gave way. Under the Clause as it now stands, my constituent will have no right of action against either the servant or the Postmaster-General.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mr. Asterley Jones) has not, I am afraid, appreciated the significance, if not the subtlety, of the drafting Amendment which I introduced at an earlier stage of this Bill. The effect of it is that claims for negligence are excluded only in regard to matters actually relating to the particular telephonic communication. In the case where a linesman has climbed to the top of a telephone pole and has dropped a pair of pliers or a hammer on one of my hon. Friend's constituents, the constituent would have a right of action. What we are excluding is a right of action where there has been negligence in connection with the actual transmission of the telephonic communication, where, for instance, the plug is taken out in the course of an important conversation with the result that the caller at one end, having asked a question—I will not suggest what—is unable to hear the answer given to him by the subscriber at the other end, or where, perhaps, the hon. Member having sent a telegram to his bookmaker, in order to put a half-crown on some horse for the 2.15 finds that his telegram has been delayed, and has reached the bookmaker only at 2.30, with the result that the half-crown has not been put on the horse which, has come in at 100 to I. That is the kind of case where we exclude liability in connection with a telephonic communication by the words here used, and that is the effect of the introduction of the word "a."

    2.15 p.m.

    I now turn to the more substantial part of the matter. We have thought it quite impossible to leave the Post Office servants in a less favourable position than the employees of ordinary concerns who, when they are sued by third parties in respect of matters which have occurred in the course of their employment, can normally expect to find their employers standing behind them, because, in practice, no one would sue them without joining the employers as well, since they will know that it is the employers and not the servants who have the money. For reasons which I think have commended themselves to hon. Members opposite, the Crown are not able to undertake a liability to pay damages except in respect of the registered packet. They have felt, therefore, that it would be quite unfair to leave the servant liable to action by third parties in circumstances where they, as the servant's employer was not liable. We have, however, retained the right of the Postmaster-General to take either criminal or civil proceedings, and such action would be taken in a gross, disgraceful and flagrant case such as that suggested by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). I can assure the hon. Member for Oxford that if he reports to me any case in which such an incident occurs, we shall see that the full majesty of the law is directed against the servant concerned.

    I think that the substance of this Amendment opens up a terrifically wide field for fraud. I think I can say that I might have clients who would willingly swear that they had sent £500 in an unregistered letter, and who would bribe the postman to say that he had lost the packet. What a racket that would open up. On the other hand, I think that there is a point of substance in what was said by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). If a postmaster tears up a letter before the hon. Member's eyes, the hon. Member is surely entitled to have some right of action against him.

    An action of that kind would be quite outside the scope of this Clause which relates only to things that are done in the course of actual employment and in relation to the postal packet: it would be outside the course of the employment. That point was considered by persons in another place whose opinion on the law is far more authoritative than mine.

    I do not think that ray right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has met the point at all. As I understand it, he rests his case on two things. The first is that the Crown cannot undertake this liability, and the second is that it must place its servants in at least as good a position as the servants of any other undertaking. In my humble submission, there is no substance whatever in either of those two points. First, as the law now stands, the Crown is liable, and has always accepted liability for the negligent acts of its servants. No case has been made out, and no illustration has been given of anything which has occurred in the meantime to show why that liability ought not to be continued. As the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) said, where a Bill seeks to remove a right which already exists in the subject, then the Government must make out a very strong case indeed before it is allowed to take that right away. I feel that no case whatever has been made out on this by the learned Attorney-General. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) said that the Amendment as framed would open the door to fraud. If that is so, it is an extraordinary thing that it has not done so in the past. It is not suggested that the law as it stands today has been the means of creating fraudulent claims. That argument is completely unjustified.

    I want to refer to another point which the learned Attorney-General made. He said that the Crown wishes to be in exactly the same position as the railway companies, for instance, and to say to the public, "Register your packet and we will be liable for it." Is the Attorney-General seriously asking everybody in the country to register every letter that is sent by post? That is what the suggestion would involve. In my submission, it is absurd to ask everybody in the country to register their letters in order that they may be sure that no loss or damage will be sustained to the postal packets. That cannot possibly be right.

    Then the Attorney-General said, "Who is going to sue a postman who is in receipt of only £6a week?" With respect, that is not the point at all. The liability of the postman has existed for a long time, and when it has become crystallised in the form of an action and a judgment against the postman, the Crown has always been behind the postman and has always paid the damages. What the Attorney-General meant by instancing the fact that a post man might not be in receipt of a very big salary, as being an answer to the Amendment, is completely unacceptable by me. I cannot see any substantive answer there at all. It is not a question of a postman having £6a week. It is a question of whether a postman is liable or not, and if he is liable, the Crown is in honour bound to meet the liability.

    I wish to say a few words on the question of the adjective "wilful" before the word "neglect." I hesitate to differ from so high an authority as the Attorney-General, but I would respectfully submit that what he said about that matter is not quite accurate. It is true that cases have held that the use of qualifying adjectives like "gross" in connection with "negligence" neither adds nor takes away from the substantive meaning of the word "negligence," but it is not correct to say that the word "wilful" before "neglect" has the same effect. There are many cases in which it has been held that the use of the word "wilful" before "neglect" imports a certain amount of recklessness which is more than ordinary negligence.

    If my hon. and learned Friend will allow me, I would point out that Bevan on Negligence says that the addition of the word "wilful"

    "does not carry the case any further."

    That may be so, but what Bevan says there about negligence does not interest me at the moment. The Attorney-General may have taken a textbook like that and taken something out of it on the question of negligence. I have studied the authorities and the cases on this matter, and I say advisedly that the word "wilful" is in an entirely different classification from, say, the word "gross," and it does import, and add, meaning and colour to the word "neglect," For all those reasons, I ask the Attorney-General to look at this point again between now and the Report stage to see whether an improvement in that respect can be made to this Clause.

    If the Attorney-General says he will do that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 45, to leave out from "telegram," to the end of line 4, page 7.

    So far, we have been dealing with the ordinary unregistered postal packet, and we now come to deal with the registered postal packet. I would like briefly to summarise the present position, and to state what my Amendment purports to do. The present position, as I understand it—I speak subject to correction, which I shall undoubtedly get from the Attorney-General, if I am wrong—is that there is no legal liability whatsoever on the Post Office in regard to a registered postal packet, but, as an act of grace, and over the course of time, there has grown up a custom in the Post Office inasmuch as they accept the moral liability to meet a claim in respect of loss or damage to a registered postal packet, up to certain limits which are defined, and which are based upon the amount of the registration fee which is paid to the Post Office. That is a purely moral responsibility on the part of the Post Office.

    The Bill now proposes to change that position and, therefore, presumably to remove the moral responsibility by substituting instead a legal liability upon the Post Office in respect of loss or damage to a registered postal packet. That proposed legal liability is one which in normal circumstances, we might recognise as being reasonable—namely, a liability if the consignor of the registered postal packet can establish, presumably by proving by way of evidence, negligence on the part of the servant or agent of the Post Office.

    This Amendment seeks to eliminate the necessity, in the special circumstances of a registered postal packet, for the consignor to have to prove negligence against the servant of the Post Office. The reasons I want to try to take this matter out of the normal provisions of the law are purely practical, because one cannot possibly hope to establish negligence against an individual employee of the Post Office in respect of the loss of a postal packet, even if it is registered. If any hon. Member registers a postal packet at the post office here, to be consigned to a most important constituent, and it is lost, unless one happens by chance to see the recipient of the postal packet in the post office throw it into the wastepaper basket inadvertently, or something of that sort, not only is there no earthly hope of being able to establish that an individual person was negligent in his handling of the registered postal packet, but there is no earthly hope of being able to identify the individual employees in the Post Office who have had the handling of the postal packet, and still less hope of discovering what they have done with it.

    Therefore, in the action which the Government are taking in regard to these registered postal packets, it is difficult to say that they are removing an actual right which the citizen at present holds, because he holds only a moral right, but he does at present have the certainty of enjoying the benefit of the moral responsibility of the Post Office to meet his claim in the event of loss or damage to a registered postal packet. Under the provisions as they now stand, the moral right will have gone and, instead, the citizen will have only a totally ephemeral right—though a legal one—of being able to claim for loss or damage to a registered postal packet if he can prove negligence against an employee.

    That is quite impossible, and I venture to suggest to the Committee that it is also unnecessary, because it is not a normal transaction. Carriage of a registered postal package is less common postal business than the ordinary letter post: it is more nearly akin to the insurance business. The consignor pays to the Post Office something additional to the fee for carriage, and he pays what is, in effect, an insurance premium for the safe carriage of that postal package to its ultimate destination. Therefore, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman is accepting a registration fee in addition to the postal fee for the safe carriage of this postal package, and the postal package is lost, and if he relies upon the necessity of the individual consignor to prove negligence against one of his employees, he is really taking money under false pretences.

    2.30 p.m.

    Will my hon. and learned Friend, and also the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks), allow me to say that there is really nothing between my hon. and learned Friend and me on the one hand and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chichester on the other on this point.

    I did not think that the hon. Member for Chichester had finished his speech, and I thought he had only given way to the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen). I have not yet put the Question.

    I will conclude quickly, and leave the Attorney-General to make his observations. I think I have made my point clear. Surely, there is an insurance value in this particular transaction ?

    The practical difficulties which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) very properly has in mind are, in fact, covered and overcome by a subsequent provision in the Bill—in the last paragraph of Subsection (2) of the Clause which is now before the Committee. There it is provided that there shall foe a presumption that the loss or damage was due to neglect by a servant of the Crown unless the contrary is proved by the Crown, and the result is that the reasons for the Amendment, namely, that it would be very difficult for a person to prove negligence in the circumstances of the carriage of a registered packet, are overcome by the subsequent provision. We put in this in order to deal with the precise difficulty which the hon. Member has in mind, and I think we successfully deal with it. I hope in those circumstances the hon. Member may see fit to withdraw his Amendment.

    I had already appreciated the words to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has drawn attention, and had intended to say something about them, but if he has nothing further to say, it is still quite evident what is the meaning of the words. I think the Bill would be better drafted if he had not put in a requirement and then taken it out; and I think it would be better if he accepted my Amendment.

    We cannot accept the liability of an insurer in these matters, but we do accept this presumption which, I hope, will cover every reasonable and ordinary case.

    I am not sure if the hon. Member for Chichester asked leave to withdraw the Amendment or not.

    I thought I had done so. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 9, to leave out paragraph (b.)

    I hope that this is also a practical point. I quite agree with the principle involved, that there should be a limit to the value which can be recovered against the Post Office in the event of a successful claim being made for loss or damage of a postal package. The Bill provides two alternative limits of damage. The second one, in paragraph (c), which we are not discussing, I entirely agree with; but the first one, in paragraph (b), appears to me to involve a frightful lot of difficulties, and I say that there is no necessity for it, having regard to the fact that there is also a limit of damage imposed in paragraph (c). The basis of the value, the measure of damage, to which a limit is put under paragraph (b) is the market value of the package in question.

    Who on earth is going to be able to establish the market value of the package in question? This rather introduces the point raised by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale), as to the essential necessity of being able to prove what is in the package. But, apart from that, it involves a great many other things. What is the market value of an article which may be sent—which is suitable to be sent—by registered postal packet? One can think of any number of different illustrations. Suppose a man buys an article at one of the more expensive shops in the West End of London. Its price there may be, for instance, £25. The same article could quite well be bought in some less expensive shop, perhaps in the market town of any of our constituencies, at £15. Again, if it is- bought wholesale, its value may be £10. What is the market value of such a commodity as that?

    Another point is, when does it become secondhand? It has already been bought, and, therefore, it has passed into private ownership. It has been consigned by the private owner to somebody else. Presumably, it is already a secondhand article. Is its market value that of a secondhand article or of a new one? What about a perishable article? There are nowadays, perhaps, even more perishable goods than before, with a very high value, which are consigned by post. Consider a box of peaches. A man might send the box of peaches by post. What is its market value if it is lost? It all depends on when it is lost. Was it lost at the moment of consignment or was it lost at the moment when, by virtue of the provisions of this Clause, the consignor starts to establish the fact that negligence has been committed? What is the market value of a box of peaches—the price to the grower, or to the consignor? These difficulties of knowing What is the market value of a registered packet are so innumerable and insuperable that this paragraph (b) is not worth putting into the Bill. It protects nobody; and there is alternative protection in paragraph (c).

    The purpose of this provision is to prevent claims against the Post Office in respect of consequential damages, and we are adopting in this matter—as, indeed, we have been invited to do by both sides of the Committee—exactly the same position as is commonly adopted by ordinary commercial concerns -which undertake the carriage of goods. Let me take a particular example. A person may send a registered letter containing information, and may claim that, by reason of the loss of the letter or delay in transmission of the letter, he has suffered the loss of a market on which, if he had had the information in time, he would have been able to secure some advantage because of a rise of the market price; or something of that kind. Such damages would be exceedingly difficult—indeed, impossible—for the Post Office to check, and exceedingly difficult for any court to assess, and the Post Office are not able to undertake a liability of that kind.

    What they are prepared to undertake is the same kind of liability as is commonly undertaken by ordinary commercial concerns in such circumstances, a liability for actual physical damage to the contents of a registered package. In a case where what has been transmitted is not a mere message, a paper which has no tangible value at all, but where something of some value has been transmitted, the question of what damage is sustained by its loss and the market value of the article in question is one for assessment by the court according to the ordinary principles which govern the action of the court in matters of this kind. It is not a matter which really gives rise to much difficulty in the courts, and it would not give rise to any greater difficulty in this kind of case than it does in the case of ordinary commercial concerns, and the Post Office does not feel able to undertake a greater responsibility in such matters.

    I quite appreciate what the learned Attorney-General has said about the difficulties of assessing the value of information, and so far as that part of the paragraph is concerned, I must confess I am with him rather than with my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks); but I do not think the Attorney-General has met the real point of substance in my hon. Friend's Amendment, namely, that the phrase "market value" may, in certain circumstances, give rise to very considerable difficulties. Let me put one example to the learned Attorney-General. It is the practice, as I understand it, in ordering clothing by post, to send clothing coupons in an envelope. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman may be aware that there is a market value for clothing coupons, but that is not a legal market value. They may well have a market value—

    The hon. Member is probably aware of the fact that a recent judgment has shown that there is a market value.

    I shall not enter into an argument with the hon. Member on the subject of "black market" transactions, because I cannot match his knowledge on the subject. [Interruption.]The hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) knows perfectly well that I am not casting any imputation upon him. He saw fit to interrupt me with a legally in accurate observation, and I replied flippantly, as he very well appreciates.

    It was not an inaccurate observation. It is a matter of fact that a judge has so held.

    I am afraid I cannot accept that from the hon. Member, because it so happens that my hon. Friend was present in court during the hearing of the case to which I have referred, and I am assured by him that the judge said no such thing. In any event, if the hon. Member for West Leicester were right—which he is not—it has remarkably little to do with the point, which is that the learned Attorney-General must recognise that the assessment of market value can, in the case of certain articles—-particularly of articles sent by post—give rise to considerable practical difficulties. "Therefore, I submit to the Committee that it would be very much easier and more satisfactory to leave the assessment of damages in this matter to the good sense of the courts, which are engaged every day in assessing damages, bearing in mind that the Crown is protected, as my hon. Friend has said, by the following paragraph. I hope the learned Attorney-General will give some attention to this point, because I feel that the Clause as it stands gives rise to wholly unnecessary difficulties.

    I do not want to enter into a controversy with the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), but I would have him know that the case to which I was referring was not the case to which his hon. Friend was referring. The fact of the matter is that, in the particular instance of which he spoke, a market value for coupons was given. I, too, can conceive of matters in which it would be literally impossible to decide what is the market value of any commodity. In particular, I should like to refer my right hon. and1 learned Friend to the position with regard to deeds and documents which may be lost. In a matter of that kind it is extremely difficult to assess the market value. It might become necessary to make searches, in order to be able to replace those documents. I think that ought to be left to the court; or at least we ought to have an assurance from the learned Attorney-General that, although proceedings cannot be taken under this particular Bill when it becomes an Act, his Department will make it clear that that will not exclude the right or possibility, which exists at present, of the postmaster making good any such loss.

    2.45 p.m.

    I agree with my hon. Friend' the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner). I think the case of the deed is a very clear case in point, because the market value of a deed is the secondhand cost as a piece of parchment, and the cost of replacement is more. I want to make a point with regard to registered postal packets, which the learned Attorney-General contemplates as ordinary commercial usage, because there is the question of insurance. If a fee for insurance is paid, and if the price is to be increased, people are entitled to the full measure of the insurance as against the loss they have sustained. There maybe a firm which has spare parts specially made for a machine which has broken down. It may be some small piece of machinery of only slight value, which is specially made and is sent out to the factory in order to get that machine going again. If it is merely said: "We will repay you the 3½d. which had to be paid for that special screw of which you had not a spare" that will be wholly inadequate, because the machine will' have remained idle. There should be-some means of dealing with consequential loss. With regard to the words "market value," there does seem to be a fundamental objection. We wish to avoid vexatious -actions, but we certainly wish to ensure that there is fair value. Certainly the words "market value" appear to be wholly inappropriate, in view of the variety of articles involved.

    I understand from the speeches of the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and my hon. Friends the Members for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) and Oldham (Mr. Hale) that they are in favour of acceptance of liability in respect of consequential loss. All the instances they have given are those of consequential damage and not direct damage. Thus, the loss of deeds may result in other deeds having to be drawn up, searches having to be undertaken, and matters of that kind. Those are consequential losses and consequential damages. I should have thought, with respect, that that was clearly a case of consequential loss. The other instances that were given were all cases of consequential loss. Indeed, the hon. Member for Oldham said that this is a form of insurance, and it ought to cover consequential loss. He said so in terms. It may well be that the paying of a registration fee does give rise to a certain form of insurance, but the risk covered is the risk of loss of the articles carried, and not of consequential loss. When one pays a premium one ascertains before paying it what risk is being covered. That is the risk which the particular insurance company in these matters if one so regards the Post Office is prepared to undertake for the payment of 3½d., or whatever it may be; to repay the actual value of the article which has been lost, but not to cover any consequential damage. That, contrary to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Oldham, is what the railway company does and what the common carrier does. I think there are standard terms, and in every case they say—

    The learned Attorney-General is referring to the common carrier which is analogous to the ordinary rate, the ordinary 2½d. form of postage.

    The hon. Member is mistaken. I am taking the case of the railway company carrying at the company's risk. They do not insure against consequential loss; they exclude it in terms.

    I suppose anyone might cover any risk for a fee which was high enough. That may well be so. We are not prepared to enter into transactions of that kind. We accept a limited class of insurance for a premium. The only risk we are going to insure against is the actual value of the loss sustained. I quite agree that some articles which are carried in registered packets may be such as have no market value. If that is the case, there would be no difficulty in dealing with the matter, because the effect of the maximum exclusion would not then apply, and the courts would have to ascertain what was the real value of the article, disregarding consequential damages.

    I do not regard this as the most important part of the Bill; nor this defect the Bill's principal defect. I do not think the Attorney-General has treated the argument fairly. It is rather a pity that the real point involved should be obscured by an ambiguous use of the wordm "consequential." If he insist upon it, let it be conceded that the kind of damage which, it is claimed ought to be covered, could be fairly described as "consequential." No one is saying that all the consequential damages which flow from the loss of a registered packet should be insured by a registered stamp. What has been said is that a limited form of consequential damage ought to be covered—perhaps the replacement value in the particular circumstances and of the particular article. No one is claiming the loss of a contract, or failure to deliver in time, as being consequential damages of this kind. It is quite a different thing from immediate consequential damage. I do not see why there should be any difficulty if we said that the article will be replaced, or a fair value will be given. That would satisfy everyone, and it would not involve the Post Office in any great liability.

    I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer on this matter, because we have had a fairly thorough Debate upon it. The Attorney-General was continually referring to the actual value of the article, but I would point out that in the case of many articles the actual value is not even the market value, and we therefore immediately begin to get into a point of difference on the Attorney-General's own words. I think I must have as great a mind as the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale), because as he produced his words "replacement value," I was writing them down. It seems that we both had the same thought at the same time. I think that if any value should be inserted, it should be the replacement value.

    The Attorney-General said, "Leave it to the courts," and that is the right thing to do, but the courts will not thank us for saying that what they have to find out is the "market value." The Attorney-General has said that this is not an insurance scheme as generally understood, but is merely a special fee accepted to ensure that the Post Office take care to try and avoid losing a registered packet. He has made it clear to the Committee that there is but one standard of negligence, that is, wilful neglect, or gross negligence, and that epithet should be true as far as other Departments are concerned. I hope that, if the Attorney-General does not see fit now to consider this matter further, it may be taken notice of at a later date. In the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Amendment made: In page 7, line 12, leave out "of," and insert "or."— [The Attorney-General.]

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 10—(Provisions Relating To The Armed Forces)

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 41, to leave out "and," and to insert:

    (a) at the time when that thing is suffered by that other person, he."
    The purpose of this Amendment, and of the subsequent Amendments to this Clause which stand in my name, is to meet what was thought to be the desire of the House on Second Reading, that the common law rights of a member of the Armed Forces should not be taken away, except in those cases where the events giving rise to the rights were treated by the Minister of Pensions as attributable to service for purposes of pensions. These Amendments bring that about. Pension entitlement as I suggested on Second Reading will in most cases—I will not say in every case—be as valuable to the soldier concerned as any lump sum for damages which he might recover.

    I want to controvert the last statement of the Attorney-General that the pensions rights will be as valuable as those which are likely to be given by a civil court. This is a matter of real difficulty. It is obvious that men in the Armed Forces can and do sustain injuries from tortious acts, which are part of the warlike actions they carry on. One cannot hope to distinguish, for instance, between the accidental firing of a rifle causing injury, and injury caused by a rifle bullet in war. There is a large class of motor accidents which give rise to very real difficulties. It is not necessary to say that the rights of a widow who has lost her husband by tortious act, under the Disabled Persons Pensions Act, are nothing like the rights she has under common law if she pursued an action for damages.

    I remember well the case of a man in uniform, walking across a place which was technically Army property, who was not there on duty, except in so far as every man in the Army during the war was on active service and was, therefore, technically on duty, being knocked down by a vehicle—and carried hundreds of yards—driven by an Air Force officer in uniform, and carrying other persons. The vehicle did not stop but was located in a damaged condition by police outside the headquarters of the local aerodrome. Every possible obstacle was placed in the way. The officer commanding said that he had no idea who had used the car, and whoever had done so had done it without his authority. It was impossible to establish who had driven the car. The result was that the widow had no rights in the matter. It is only fair to say that ultimately the Claims Commission made a not ungenerous award of a sum which was less than she might have got by legal process but was certainly more than she would get under the operation of this Clause. I think that it is a fair example of what might happen.

    3.0 p.m.

    In wartime any man in uniform is on duty. Any man may be the victim of dangerous driving, and the person driving the vehicle can be said to be performing part of his duties in wartime. The man may be coming home or may be returning from leave, and still be on military duty. He certainly would be if he had been recalled to the Service urgently because of some military event. The Government are wiping out a great many rights of the subject. I accept as a fact that the intention in moving the Amendment is to meet certain criticisms, but I do not think the Amendment carries out that intention.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 8, line 41, leave out "such," and insert:

    "a member of the armed forces of the Crown."

    10 line 44, at end, insert:

    (b) the Minister of Pensions certifies that his suffering that thing has been, or will be, treated as attributable to service for the purposes of entitlement to an award under the Royal Warrant, Order in Council or Order of His Majesty relating to the disablement or death of members of the force of which he is a member."

    In page 9, line 3, after "Crown," insert:

    (a)that thing is suffered by him."

    In line 6, at end, insert:

    (b)the Minister of Pensions certifies as mentioned in the preceding subsection."

    In line 9, leave out "any of the matters aforesaid," and insert:

    "anything suffered by a member of the armed forces of the Crown being a thing as to which the conditions aforesaid are satisfied."—[The Attorney-General.]

    I beg to move, in page 9, line 10, to leave out Subsection (3).

    This relates to rather a technical point and I hope the Committee will, therefore, forgive me if I explain it. Subsection (3) limits the right of a potential plaintiff in an accident case where two or more persons are responsible for his injury or damage and one of them is protected by the Clause which is under discussion. The position normally at law is that a person who is the victim of an accident caused by two or more tort feasors, as they are called, is entitled to sue any one of them for damages, and to get the whole of his damages from any one. It any of them wants to recover the due proportion of the damages from any of the others responsible, he can do so. That right does not limit the chance which the plaintiff can have to go to the rich man and make him pay. That is fundamental to the present situation.

    When, for one reason or another, one of those joint tort feasors is unable to get his contribution, either because the other man has no money or cannot be found or because some other event has happened, that does not in any way prejudice the position of the injured man to get damages from any one of them This Clause proposes to take that right away in a limited number of cases, that is to say, where the person suing and the person sued are covered by the other terms of the Section. In my submission, that is wrong, first, because it is inconsistent with the rest of the law as we know it and, secondly, because it is fundamentally unjust.

    It can be said in answer to this that the man gets his pension rights which he would not otherwise get. I do not think that would always be true, but even if it were, it would not provide an answer to my Amendment because it must be absurd fundamentally to turn litigation into a lottery—more of a lottery than it must necessarily be. It is absurd to turn it into a lottery in the sense that a man loses part of his right to damages, to which he would otherwise be entitled, if it so happens that he is wronged by two people and one of them is a servant of the Crown. If he is wronged by one person he may get his pension rights and damages. If he is wronged by two or more people including a Crown servant, he may get only two-thirds, one half, one quarter, according to the proportion of blame—which again is very largely a matter of chance so far as he is concerned—which the servant of the Crown must endure. My belief is that this cannot be justified as a piece of law-making I do not see what the justification can be.

    I would add, rather in support of what was said by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) just now, that it is not as a matter of fact true that a pension right necessarily forms any substitute for damages. There are matters which a pension right cannot take into account at all. Damage to a man's possessions at the time of the accident is not included. A convalescent holiday is not included. There are many things a court is bound to take into account in assessing damages which are not taken into account in assessing pension rights. I submit that it is a really absurd proposition that the question whether the man is entitled to damages alone or damages, plus pension, or part of damages, plus pension, depends upon the pure chance whether he happens to be injured by one person or two persons or the exact proportion of blame which those two people must bear as between themselves. In my submission, this is not a wise provision and ought not to be pressed.

    I would like to say a word or two in support of the Amendment. It was a great mistake to put Clause 10 into the Bill, and I hope to take an opportunity of saying so shortly. It seems to me wholly unreasonable to put this Subsection into Clause 10, even if we want the Clause. The principle has been quite lucidly stated, but I would like to put it in my own way. It used not to be the law in this country that there could be any contribution between wrong-doers of any kind, and that if two people together committed a wrongful act, both of them or either of them were responsible to the person injured at the option of the person injured.

    Then it was felt that that was not quite fair, and that between two people who did a wrong there might be varieties of responsibility and there was no reason in the world why they should not be compelled to bear the damage jointly to such proportion as a court of law might find. That was always between those who committed the wrongful act, and it was never held that that could in any circumstances prejudice the person who was injured by the wrongful act. The contribution between them was limited to themselves. The injured person was always entitled to recover his damages where he could. He was not in any way limited, or his action modified or qualified by the relationship between the person who did him the wrong and from whom he recovered damages. For the first time that principle is departed from, and in those circumstances what the Crown is seeking to do is to make the injured person in some way bear the injury when, without this, he would not have been responsible at all. In a Bill which has been introduced in order to abolish outworn prejudices and to extend the rights of the subject, it seems a pity that the general law should be cut down in a way which nobody thinks right in any other kind of action.

    I do not wish to add anything on the merits, because I agree entirely with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). I want only to raise two points of procedure. The Lord Advocate will be aware that if this Subsection stands, it will be necessary to re-introduce into Scottish procedure a method which was tried and rejected as being unsatisfactory, and why should this be? The other point of procedure is this: it is a complete novelty that there shall be power to bring in and make a party in a case in court somebody who admittedly has no interest in that case at all. This Subsection contemplates that the Attorney-General or the Lord Advocate shall be made a party if the Crown is sued, or that the soldier himself shall be made a party, when admittedly it does not matter to him who wins or what happens. The defendant may join the other person who has no interest whatever in the litigation. That is a complete novelty in the law of Scotland, and the fact that it is necessary to bring in that anomaly shows how ill-founded is the conception on which the whole Subsection is based.

    The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) was good enough to write to me about his proposed Amendment, and although I am compelled to tell him that' we shall be unable to accept it, I would like him to know that it has been given by my noble Friend and myself the most careful thought and consideration. It was said by the hon. Members who have spoken that this Clause introduces some principle which is alien to our general law, but I must point out that it was supported by everyone, including a number of very eminent lawyers, who spoke to the Clause in another place. It was moved into the Bill by Lord Simonds and it was apparently regarded by those who spoke to the Clause there as being an act of elementary justice which would remove what would otherwise have been an unintended consequence from the general provisions of Clause 10 which would have formed a blemish on the Bill.

    The purpose of the Subsection is to prevent hardship to private persons who, but for the provisions of Clause 10, would have had a right of contribution against the Crown or against the Crown servants. That right disappears under the Bill. It was thought, and it is still thought, that it would be unfair in circumstances such as these to leave the private driver, the private defendant, to meet the whole of the damages without having any right of contribution—

    He has a right of contribution, but that does not affect the Crown. I am dealing with the position of the defendant, if my hon. Friend will listen. I am coming to the position of the plaintiff, but one has to deal with separate matters separately. So far as the defendant is concerned, it was thought unfair to leave him in the position of having to pay the whole of the damages without the right which he has now of contribution against the Crown or against the Crown servants. So far as the position of the plaintiff is concerned, he is a person who must always be, for this exclusion to apply at all, in the service of the Crown, on duty as a servant of the Crown at the time the accident occurred. He will, therefore, get his pension rights from the Crown in respect of the accident, and those rights, in addition to the damages which he may recover from the private wrongdoer, will prevent any real hardship arising. I am sorry, therefore, that we are not able to accept the Amendment.

    3.15 p.m.

    I am very much surprised at the answer given by the Attorney-General. I thought this was an enabling and extending Bill to extend the rights of private individuals, but into this Clause a limitation is introduced. As the Attorney-General has said, there are two persons concerned, the plaintiff in the action and the defendant in the action. Under the law as it now stands, a defendant who has been unsuccessful in his defence has the right of contribution against the joint tort feasor. Until recently he had to be prepared to pay the full damages. As the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) and the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said, each of the tort feasors is responsible for the full amount, and only recently has the question of giving them the right of contribution among themselves been brought in.

    "It would not be fair" says the Attorney-General, "for the civil defendant to be responsible for the full amount in a case where he cannot get his contribution from the Crown. Therefore, rather than do injustice to the defendant it is better that injustice should be done to the plaintiff, that is to the man injured, and deprive him of his rights and now he will only get a proportion of the contribution from the civil defendant, and he will have to rely for the rest on the pension he would get." If that is not cutting down the limitation, I do not know what is. I am not a bit impressed by the very learned judges who have been quoted. Here is a Bill intended to be an enabling Bill, but now it is suggested there should be a deliberate cutting down of the constitutional rights of private citizens. For they are private citizens even though they happen to be in uniform and on duty, they still remain private citizens. I cannot see what defence the Attorney-General can put forward to this Amendment.

    Although time is pressing, I cannot let this Clause go without joining in the general protest from all sides of the Committee. I am not impressed because a number of learned law lords in another place think they are doing something which is fair. I think that if the King's Bench judges, with practical experience of working out this rule in courts of first instance, had been considering this matter, they would not have agreed with the rara avisin another place. Every judge of first instance values the Law Reform (Contribution Between Joint Tort Feasors) Act but also values the fact that the plaintiff himself is entitled to take his full damages from any of the tort feasors. A plaintiff is now so entitled to get full damages from either party, leaving the defendants to fight it out. This Clause might be all right if the percentages were always fifty-fifty. But in one case the judge may say that one of the defendants is only 5 per cent. liable, or even 1 per cent. liable. There may be a number of cases where the defendant is held to blame to the extent of 10 per cent. If this Clause becomes law the citizen with a right will be indulging in catch-as-catch-can. He may get his pension plus 10 per cent, or his pension plus 90 per cent, damages. That disposes of the argument of the Attorney-General. I say that this is cutting down the right of the plaintiff in a manner with which this Committee ought not to agree.

    I understand that time presses. If I were to follow my convictions in this matter, I should press it to a Division, but I do not wish even the time of a Division to interfere with the progress of this excellent Bill. If my hon. Friends agree, I will not press the Amendment to a Division, but I ask the Attorney-General to take to his noble Friend the universal howl of execration with which this Subsection has been greeted in this Committee, and that it even be whispered to the other noble Lords that it has not met with approval in this place, and that perhaps it might be dropped at the next stage. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    I said on Second Reading what I had to say about this Clause. In my view, which I am glad to think is shared in many parts of the Committee, it is a great pity that this Clause was ever brought into this Bill at all. There was not the slightest need for it; it does only injustice, and produces all sorts of complications that are totally unnecessary. It can work in no one's advantage, and I hope that before we part with the Bill altogether, there may still be time for second thoughts and the withdrawal of this Clause altogether.

    I agree. Would the Attorney-General consider, with his noble Friend, whether it would not be better to take out Clause 10 altogether, and do whatever is necessary with regard to the matters therein mentioned by introducing them in a separate Bill?

    I do not rise to join in the chorus but to express the hope that if this Clause is to be reconsidered, as I hope it will be, attention will be given to Subsection (4), which provides that a certificate by the Admiralty or a Secretary of State about a person being on duty may be produced. A certain amount was said about that on Second Reading, but I am still not satisfied that a conclusive certificate is necessary. It should be possible for a person who disputes what is said by the Department to be allowed to say so, and if the whole of the Clause is being put into the melting pot again, perhaps a little of the heat might be applied to Subsection (4).

    May I briefly support the plea for the withdrawal or reconstruction of this Clause? If, in fact, it is withdrawn, I think it will be found in practice that the liability of which the Government are trying to rid themselves is so small as not to justify the inclusion of this particular Clause as it stands.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause Ii—(Saving In Respect Of Acts Done Under Prerogative And Statutory Powers)

    I beg to move, in page 9, line 48, to leave out from "for," to "issue," in page 10, line 1, and to insert "defence of the realm."

    During the Second Reading Debate i raised the question of the conclusive certificate provided for by Clause 11 (2), and I ventured to suggest that the Subsection be dropped altogether, that in any event the terms were far too wide, and that great embarrassment would be caused if matters of this kind were left entirely to the certification of the Service Departments, particularly when we are getting on to such an obscure topic as the width of the Prerogative. It occurs to me that a satisfactory compromise with the Service Departments might well be that when we are dealing with such matters as the defence of the Realm, where they have peculiar responsibilities, they might be allowed to decide the case for themselves; but when one is only dealing with matters such as training or maintaining the efficiency of the Forces in peace time, I see no reason why the powers of the courts should go and why the Service Depart- ments should be put in a position to decide matters of that sort without question of appeal. In view of the lateness of the hour, I will not expand my argument, but I hope that the Attorney-General will make some concession.

    It is by no means the case that the prerogative powers of the Crown are restricted to matters concerning the defence of the realm. If that were the case, there would be great substance in the submissions made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but whilst the prerogative is undefined, there are a great many other matters not connected with military Forces at all which come within the scope. Questions about aliens, harbours, patents, and the right of the Crown to suppress disorder and maintain peace are matters of prerogative. It is true, however, that the prerogative power also covers, in time of peace, the whole of the maintenance, the training and efficiency of the Armed Forces of the Crown. It is commonly supposed, I know, that as a result of the passing of the annual Army Act the Armed Forces rest for their existence upon that statutory authority and are maintained by the Crown exclusively under that Statute. That is not the case. The discipline of the Forces depends upon the Act, but the efficiency of the administration of the Army which the Crown is authorised by Parliament to maintain depends entirely upon the prerogative powers. That also applies to the Navy.

    The prerogative powers cover the training and arming of the Forces, the setting up of fortifications round the coast—even in times of peace—the training of the Forces in the use of armaments in these fortifications, and so on. To take one particular instance—the fortifications at Shoeburyness—the firing of the guns in practice there, is carried out under the prerogative powers of the Crown. It is essential that nothing in this Bill should take away from that prerogative or any of the other undefined prerogative powers which the Crown possesses. This Bill does not in any way enlarge the prerogative. It leaves it as it is and it leaves the courts able, as they are now, to define what is the nature or extent of the prerogative in any particular case. All that the certificate here does is to provide that some particular act may be certified as having been done in the course of a prerogative. It would still be for the courts to say whether that particular prerogative had any legal existence or not. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to withdraw his Amendment.

    I certainly cannot agree with the argument of the Attorney-General, particularly in regard to the last part where he says that it is for the courts to define the nature and extent of the prerogative and that that will remain with them if this Clause is passed. I cannot believe that, because the certificate here will be to the effect that the matter was properly done or omitted to be done in the exercise of the prerogative and it will, therefore, take that matter out of the hands of the courts altogether. I regret very much that this Subsection should be insisted upon. I feel sure that it does alter the powers of the court but, as has been pointed out by other hon. Members, this is not an occasion when we wish to divide the Committee. I feel that this goes very much further than the Attorney-General has admitted, and I hope that he will look into the matter again. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 12—(Transitional Provisions)

    3.30 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 10, line 10, to leave out "forty-seven," and to insert "forty-six."

    The effect of this Amendment is so clear that I do not think I need say any more about it.

    The purpose of the Amendment is to ante-date the operation of Part I of the Bill to February, 1946. I am afraid we cannot accept that proposal. I have no doubt that the hon. and learned Gentleman has based his Amendment upon the fact that a decision in the case of Adams v.Naylor was given, not in February, but in the early part of 1946, and that, therefore, as from that date, certain proceedings against Crown servants should no longer be taken. For that reason, the hon. and learned Gentleman would wish us to ante-date the provisions of this Bill to the time when that became the case.

    Since the decision in the case of Adams v.Naylor was announced in the House of Lords, we set up a form of machinery whereby any claims which might previously have been made the subject of action at law might be made subject to arbitration. A number of claims have, in fact, since that date, been made the subject of the arbitration machinery to the satisfaction of everybody concerned. It would be wholly wrong, in my view, to place those who tarried in putting forward their claims in a more favourable position, because it is a more favourable position, by giving them action at law, than those who decided to take advantage of the arbitration machinery and whose claims are now being dealt with in that way. This Bill provides that equality of treatment in respect of all those cases which arose after the Adams vNaylor decision and before the introduction of the Bill. We have to fix a date somewhere and we thought the right date was the date when the Bill was introduced.

    I quite agree with the answer given by the learned Attorney-General, but I would put one question to him. Did all those people who had the right to make claims know of the possibility of the arbitration machinery

    In any case where a claim was submitted they certainly knew of that matter, and, if a claim was put forward, the individual concerned would be acquainted with it. The arbitration procedure is well in hand and is being used, and much publicity was given to it at the time. I was asked a Question about it in this House, and the matter was also mentioned in another place.

    I think that all the people concerned were well aware of that provision.

    In those circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 13 to 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 19—(Venue And Related Matters)

    I beg to move, in page 13, line 12, at the end, to insert:

    "unless the court or judge at the instance of any party orders otherwise."
    I propose, with your permission, Mr. Beaumont, to take this Amendment and the next one in my name, as they really go together—in line 13, to leave out Subsections (2) and (3). The short point is that, at present, where a writ is issued, all subsequent proceedings up to the trial have to be taken either in the district registry or in the central office, according to where the action is commenced, but it is now proposed in the Bill that all such proceedings have to be taken in the Central Office and not in the district registry where the writ is issued there as would be done in a normal case. That might lead to some inconvenience and hardship to the plaintiff, and all I desire to do is to ask the Attorney-General whether he will consider that again to see whether some improvement cannot be made in that connection.

    The second part of the Amendment is much more substantial, in my submission. Under the Bill, the right to go to the Assizes seems to be taken away altogether, unless the consent of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General is obtained. That seems to me to be a rather arbitrary proceeding. Why, in this particular case, my hon. and learned Friend, without giving the court any power to decide the matter, should arbitrarily say, whatever the circumstances, "No, I insist that this case should be tried in London and not in the country," I do not know. It may be that the matter will have arisen in the country, that the witnesses are there, and that everything that is convenient and near to the trial is all situated in that locality, and yet my hon. and learned Friend can say that, in spite of those conveniences, the matter must be dealt with in London. There are certain rules of court, as my right hon. and learned Friend knows, which provide that where it is more convenient to have a trial in the country by reason of local circumstances, the court invariably decides that it has got to be tried there. All I ask is that my right hon. and learned Friend will look at the matter again to see whether some modification cannot be made in order to meet the practical needs of the circumstances.

    The reason for this provision, which was recommended by the 1921 Committee, is that in some—I dare say very few—important cases, cases of constitutional difficulty, or cases which are important for some other reason, it is necessary to have Treasury Counsel and a Law officer appearing for the Crown. That would be really quite impossible in existing circumstances unless the Crown were able to fix the trial in London. Of course, under the provisions of the Bill as it now stands, if the Crown does elect to have the case tried in London, it will have to bear the additional cost occasioned by trial in London rather than by trial at Assizes. As a matter of fact, of course, a very large proportion of cases are already dealt with at Assizes, and will continue to be so dealt with. Ordinary common law actions, running down actions, and actions of that kind, where no question of constitutional interest arises, always go to Assizes. If the court, in the exercise of its discretion, considers it convenient for the parties that the trial should take place there that practice will be continued. Even the case of Adams and Naylor, which gave rise to issues of considerable constitutional importance, originated in the Liverpool Assizes. We have considered the matter, and we shall not operate the Clause harshly. But, in cases where Law Officers have to be engaged, or in cases which raise matters of constitutional interest and where Treasury Counsel have to be employed, we must have the right to have the trial in London, if need be.

    Amendment negatived.

    Amendment proposed, In page 13, line 13, leave out Subsections (2) and (3)—[ Mr. Turner-Samuels.]

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 20 to 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 23—(Scope Of Part Ii)

    I beg to move, in page 14, line 46, to leave out "proceedings in the High Court," and to insert, "an action."

    As at present drafted, this Clause limits the scope of the proceedings to which Part II of the Bill applies, and confines it to actions in the High Court. Of course, that is wrong. The intention is that the county court should be included in the scope of the provision, and that is the object of this Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 15, fine 38, at the end, to add:

    (4) Subject to the provisions of any Order in Council made under the provisions hereinafter contained, this part of this Act shall not affect proceedings initiated in any court other than the High Court or a county court.
    This is an Amendment to the same effect, in order to remove any doubts.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 25—(Satisfaction Of Orders Against The Crown)

    I beg to move, in page 16, line 34, at the end, to insert:

    "(3) If the order provides for the payment of any money by way of damages or otherwise, or of any costs, the Certificate shall state the amount so payable, and the appropriate Government department shall, subject as hereinafter provided, pay to the person entitled or to his solicitor the amount appearing by the certificate to be due to him together with the interest, if any, lawfully due thereon;
    Provided that the court by which any such order as aforesaid is made or any court to which an appeal against the order lies may direct that, pending an appeal or otherwise, payment of the whole of any amount so payable, or any part thereof, shall be suspended, and if the certificate has not been issued may order any such directions to be inserted therein.
    (4) Save as aforesaid no execution 01 attachment or process in the nature thereof shall be issued out of any court for enforcing payment by the Crown of any such money or costs as aforesaid, and no person shall be individually liable under any order for the payment by the Crown, or any Government department or any officer of the Crown as such, of any such money or costs."
    This is the privilege part of the Clause which is already in the Bill dealing with financial matters.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 26(Execution By The Crown)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    I should like to raise a matter which was briefly referred to by the Attorney-General in moving the Second Reading, and that is the proviso to Subsection (2). As the Committee will appreciate, that is the proviso which keeps alive the provisions for committal in two specific cases of debts owed to the Crown—debts incurred in the case of Purchase Tax and in the case of Death Duties. On the Second Reading, the learned Attorney-General told the House that that power was preserved because in those cases, and apparently in only those cases, the money had come into the hands of the person concerned as a kind of trustee, and that, therefore, it was necessary to preserve it in this case. But I think we are entitled to hear a little more of the reason why, in the case of two specific taxes, this very considerable power is preserved. A variety of taxes are imposed by a variety of methods in this country today, and it seems a little oppressive that in the case of these two particular taxes, this very considerable power should be preserved. I do not think the Committee should part with the Clause without hearing some justification for it.

    I rise in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Kings-ton-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) in order to give the learned Attorney-General an opportunity of perusing the paper which he has just recived and which, I trust, deals with this Clause.

    The point that has been raised is one on which the Committee is entitled to have, and indeed would welcome, some further explanation from the Attorney-General. This power of the Crown to imprison people for debt is an anachronism. It has long since been given up in the ordinary way, in regard to private debts, and we have heard a good deal from the Attorney-General as to the desirability of the Crown being a good employer and on a par with private concerns, in other connections. Why should the Crown not also be on a par with the private individual in regard to the recovery of sums of money? The Committee should demand some further enlightenment on these two rather unusual and minor exceptions to the ordinary run of law, and as to why this power of imprisonment should be retained.

    3.45 P.m.

    I think there is a little confusion about this matter. The special Crown remedy, the writ of capias ad satisfaciendum will not survive. It will not be used even in regard to these two cases. What is being done by this provision is to add two cases, those of Purchase Tax and Death Duties, to the six special cases which are already provided for in the Debtors Act. I do not think any hon. Member will wish me to enumerate the six existing cases, but I would mentioned two because I think they are, in a sense, analogous—default by a trustee in paying over money in his possession, and default by a solicitor in paying costs under an order to make payment. There are analogous cases to those under Section 4 of the Debtors Act, where the trustee of money has failed to pay over. That is, in a sense, also the position of a man who is under a liability to pay Death Duties or to pay Purchase Tax. He has presumably had the money out of which he ought to have paid the Purchase Tax or out of which he ought to have paid the Death Duties, and experience with these two classes of case has shown that it is very useful to have in reserve this remedy, a remedy which is never utilised unless there is a real reason for thinking, as I indicated on Second Reading, that the person has the money salted away and could pay if he would. This is a method to encourage him to desire to pay.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 28—(Discovery)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    I am a little disappointed not to see any Amendment by the right hon. and learned Attorney-General on Clause 28, having regard to the discussion we had on Second Reading. I do think some regard ought to have been taken of the strongly grounded objections that were made to Clause 28. I think something ought to be done about narrowing down the exemption from about narrowing down the exemption on the wide ground of public interest, to the ground of public safety and defence. Whether the privilege claimed in Subsection (2) is a good one or a bad one I do not propose to debate now. As no Amendments have been put down I reserve the right to put some down on Report stage. I hope the matter may be considered in the meantime.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 29 to 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 34—(Rules Of Court And County Court Rules)

    I beg to move, in page 20, line 36, to leave out paragraphs (c) and (d.)

    The object of this Amendment is to put the solicitor to a Government Department in precisely the same position as any other solicitor, and to lay him open to the same results if he is late in making pleadings or in entering an appearance.. There seems to be no reason why he should be put in a protected position.

    To a great extent the purposes of default and summary judgment procedure are to obtain quick judgment in case the defendant disposes of his assets or clears out of the country. That, of course, cannot apply to the Crown, and, in all the circumstances, we feel unable to accept this Amendment. I do not think it is appreciated what an enormous amount of work is involved in Government Departments at the present time, or will be involved when the whole field of tort is thrown open to the private litigant. I will be quite frank with the Committee. In regard to this matter the Crown simply cannot face at the moment having judgment signed against it in default of appearance without the leave of the court; that is to say, without notice of an application to that effect having first been given to it. I ask my hon. Friend to agree that it would be unreasonable to subject the Crown to the risk of snap judgments of this kind, and that there really is no hardship on the subject in imposing this provision.

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 35—(Pending Proceedings)

    I beg to move, in page 21, line 44, to leave out:

    "Save as aforesaid expressly provided."
    I should also like at the same time to refer to the two following Amendments: In page 21, line 46, after "instituted" to insert:
    "and have not been determined by judgment or otherwise"
    and in page 21, line 47, to leave out:
    "for the purposes of this section."
    The purpose of the Amendment is to bring in pending proceedings. Under the Clause they are excluded. The short point which I wish to make is, that the Clause as it stands enables the Crown, in regard to pending proceedings, to raise the very defences which the Bill removes on future actions. That seems to me to be wholly inconsistent and indefensible. Again I ask the learned Attorney-General to look at this, and to see whether something cannot be done about it on Report.

    I am afraid we are unable to accept this series of Amendments. If my hon. and learned Friend looks at this again he will see that they would not achieve the purpose which he appears to have in mind, and would, indeed, make the application of the Bill a matter of extreme difficulty.

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 37 to 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 44—(Satisfaction Of Orders Granted Against The Crown In Scotland)

    I beg to move, in page 26, line 31, at the end to insert:

    "(3) If the order decerns for the payment of any money by way of damages or otherwise or of any expenses, the appropriate Government department shall, subject as hereinafter provided, pay to the person entitled or to his solicitor the amount appearing from the order to be due to him together with the interest, if any, lawfully due thereon:
    Provided that the court by which any such order as aforesaid is made or any court to which an appeal against the order lies may direct that pending an appeal or otherwise payment of the whole of any amount so payable, or any part thereof, shall by suspended.
    (4) No such order as aforesaid shall warrant any diligence or execution against any person to enforce payment of any such money or expenses as aforesaid, and no person shall be individually liable under any order for the payment by the Crown, or any Government department or any officer of the Crown as such, of any such money or expenses."
    This is the privilege part of the Clause.

    Perhaps the learned Lord Advocate would tell those hon. Members of the Committee who, like myself, do not know, what the fourth word of Subsection (3) means?

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 46 to 49 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 50—(Provisions As To Northern Ireland)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    We ask the Committee to leave out Clause 50 of the Bill in order to substitute a new Clause, which will enable us to apply the Bill as a whole to Northern Ireland, with such necessary Amendments as are required by the different system of law and administration in that country.

    Question put, and negatived.

    Clause 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    New Clause—(Proceedings In Courts Other Than The High Court And County Courts)

  • (1) His Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as appears to him to be expedient with respect to civil proceedings by or against the Crown in any court not being the High Court or a county court.
  • (2) An Order in Council made under this Section may in particular—
  • (a)define the jurisdiction of the court to which the Order relates in civil proceedings by or against the Crown; and
  • (b) apply, in relation to civil proceedings by or against the Crown in the said court, any provisions of this Act which would not otherwise apply in relation to those proceedings with such additions, exceptions and modifications as appear to His Majesty to be expedient
  • (3) The provisions of any such Order shall have effect notwithstanding any provision made by or under any enactment with respect to the court in question; and any such Order may provide for amending or revoking any provision so made as aforesaid.
  • (4) An Order in Council made under this Section may be varied or revoked by a further Order in Council made by His Majesty there under.
  • (5) An Order in Council under this Section shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, and, if either House of Parliament, within the next twenty-eight days on which that House has sat after such an Order is laid before it, resolves that the Order be annulled, the Order shall thereupon cease to have effect except as respects things previously done or omitted to be done, without prejudice, however, to the making of a new Order.
  • Notwithstanding anything in Subsection (4) of Section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893, such an Order shall be deemed not to be a statutory rule to which that Section applies. [ The Attorney-General.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    This Clause is to implement the undertaking I gave on Second Reading, to provide machinery whereby such ancient courts as the Liverpool Court of Passage and the Salford Court of Record can be brought in.

    I should like to express the gratitude of many of us who are interested in these courts for this provision.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Provisions As To Northern Ireland)

  • (1) His Majesty may by Order in Council provide for extending this Act to Northern Ireland with such additions, exceptions, and modifications as appear to His Majesty to be expedient.
  • (2) An Order in Council under this Section may provide for amending the law with in its application to the Crown in right of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and in its application to the Crown in right of His Majesty's Government in Northern Ireland.
  • (3) An Order in Council under this Section may provide for amending the law:
  • (a) with respect to the right of the Crown to sue in a county court in Northern Ireland; and
  • (b)with respect to the award of costs to or against the Crown in Northern Ireland.
  • (4) An Order in Council under this Section may be varied or revoked by a further Order in Council made thereunder.
  • (5) An Order in Council under this Section may include such provisions as appear to His Majesty to be incidental to or consequential on any provisions contained in such an Order by virtue of the preceding provisions of this Section.
  • (6) So far as any provision contained in an Order in Council under this Section deals with a matter with respect to which the Parliament of Northern Ireland has power to make laws, it shall, for the purposes of Section six of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 (which relates to the power of the Parliament of Northern Ireland), be deemed to be a provision of an Act passed before the appointed day.
  • (7) An Order in Council under this Section shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, and, if either House of Parliament, within the next twenty-eight days on which that House has sat after such an Order is laid before it, resolves that the Order be annulled, the Order shall thereupon cease to have effect except as respects things previously done or omitted to be done, without prejudice, however, to the making of a new Order.
  • Notwithstanding anything in Subsection (4) of Section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893, such an Order shall be deemed not to be a statutory rule to which that Section applies —[ Attorney-General.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    This Clause provides for extending the Bill to Northern Ireland by Order in Council. There is provision for the laying of the Order.

    Can we be told why, in connection with the laying of the Order, the period is for 28 days instead of the more modern form?

    It was thought that this was a sufficient period in the circumstances of this particular class of Order.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause added to the Bill.

    New Clause—Interest On Debts Damages And Costs 1 & 2 Vict C110

  • (1) Section seventeen of the Judgments Act, 1838 (which provides that a judgment debt shall carry interest) shall apply to judgment debts due from or to the Crown.
  • (2) Where any costs are awarded to 0f against the Crown in the High Court, interest shall be payable upon those costs unless the court otherwise orders, and any interest so payable shall be at the same rate as that at which interest is payable upon judgment debts due from or to the Crown.
  • (3) Section three of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934 (which empowers courts of record to award interest on debts and damages) shall apply to judgments given in proceedings by and against the Crown.
  • (4) This Section shall apply both in relation to proceedings pending at the commencing of this Act and in relation to proceedings instituted thereafter.—(Attorney-General.)
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    This is a privilege Clause in the Bill.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Attachment Of Moneys Payable By The Crown)

    (1)Where any money is payable by the Crown to some person who, under any order of any court, is liable to pay any money to any other person, and that other person would, if the money so payable by the Crown were money payable by a subject, be entitled under rules of court to obtain an order for the attachment thereof as a debt due or accruing due, or an order for the appointment of a sequestrator or receiver to receive the money on his behalf, the High Court may, subject to the provisions of this Act and in accordance with rules of court, make an order restraining the first-mentioned person from receiving that money and directing payment thereof to that other person, or to the sequestrator or receiver:

    Provided that no such order shall be made in respect of: —

  • (a) any wages or salary payable to any officer of the Crown as such;
  • (b) any money which is subject to the provisions of any enactment prohibiting or restricting assignment or charging or taking in execution: or
  • (c) any money payable by the Crown to any person on account of a deposit in the Post Office Savings Bank or in respect of a war savings certificate or national savings certificate.
  • (2)The provisions of the preceding Sub section shall, so far as they relate to forms of relief falling within the jurisdiction of a county court, have effect in relation to county courts as they have effect in relation to the High Court, but with the substitution of a reference to county court rules for any reference in the said subsection to rules of court.—[ The Attorney-General.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    This is also a privilege Clause in the Bill.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, to leave out lines 21 and 22.

    I raised, on Second Reading, this question of why there should be special exemption from the activities of creditors all war savings certificates and that kind of investment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Question, "That the Clause, as amended, be read a Second time" put, and agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Financial Provisions)

    (1) Any expenditure incurred by or on behalf of the Crown in right of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom by reason of the passing of this Act shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament.

    (2) Any sums payable to the Crown in right of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom by reason of the passing of this Act shall be paid into the Exchequer.— '[ The Attorney-General.]

    Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Application 0F 56 & 57 Vict C 61 To The Crown)

    The Public Authorities Protection Act, 1893, shall, in its application to any civil proceedings against the Crown, have effect as if in paragraph ( a)of Section one thereof for any reference to six months there were substituted a reference to twelve months.—[ The Lord Advocate.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    The Clause is intended to extend to one year—

    It being Four o'Clock, he CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his report to the House.

    Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

    National Service (University Students)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[ Mr. R. J. Taylor.]

    4.2 p.m.

    I wish to raise the question of the release from the Forces of men who hold scholarships before the time at which they would otherwise be released if they waited for release in their age and service groups. The present position was stated to us by the Minister of Labour on 4th February', when he said:

    "It will be open to universities to apply for the release of scholars and highly promising students in any subject who are still serving in the Forces and are in release groups one to 62."
    He went on:
    "Arrangements will be made for men who can be released to be made available as far as possible shortly before the beginning of the 1947–48 academic year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th February, 1947; Vol. 432, c. 1560.]
    It was understood that approved men would be released at the latest in September of this year. Frequent attempts have been made by myself and by hon. Gentlemen on all sides of the House to get that principle extended to borderline cases, and in particular to extend the age and service groups covered by the Minister's statement. The Minister has consistently refused any extension. The Ministry of Labour Gazette says, on page 186, in an article relating to students of universities:
    "Special application may be made for the release of certain members of the Forces outside Groups 61 and 62 who have had a period of employment on civilian work of national importance."
    With that exception, there has been, I think I am right in saying, no extension of the statement which the Minister of Labour made. Let us examine the position. Men in Group 62 will be released, under the clause in the release scheme, before the end of 1947 if they are in the Navy, so that those who are in the Navy are not covered. In the Army or Air Force they would be released—I think one may make a reasonable forecast—in January or early February of next year. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour shrugs his head —[Laughter]—I mean he shook his head, or he may have shrugged his shoulders. I regret to say that he probably did both. It appears from the statement already made that Group 61 is to be released in December. If that is so, we may take it, unless His Majesty's Government propose to slow their demobilisation scheme very much, that Group 62 will be released in January or February. I think that forecast is reasonable. Therefore, it is clear there is a gain of about four months allowed to these men.

    Let us compare what happened last year, when it was open to universities to apply for students between Groups 1 and 55. They would be released by September, 1946, so that they might take part in the 1946–47 academic year. In actual fact, some men in Group 55 in the Army or the Royal Air Force have not even been released yet. In some cases they were released in June. Therefore, in so far as the same scheme applied last year, there was a gain, as it were, of nine or ten months. To pursue the argument further, it would seem, again making a reasonable forecast, that if one applied the principle which was applied last year in selecting Groups 1 to 55, one should this year select Groups between 1 and 70.

    It is very difficult for any hon. Gentleman who is not in the Government to make a forecast of what group will be released in June or July next year, but it is quite clear that it will be a group substantially in advance of Group 62, and if the Government are going to implement the many promises that have been given about the release of men who were called up in 1944, 1945 and later years, it is quite clear that they have got to hurry on their release schemes. So I say again, in order to emphasise my point, that if they adopt the same principle as was adopted last year, they should extend the groups covered by this concession from Groups 1 to 62 to Group 1 to about Group 70. That is my first point. I would add that it would appear that by mid-next year, at any rate, men who will be released will have served only between two and two and a half years in the Forces, whereas now they serve slightly over three years.

    I should like to give the House one or two examples of how the scheme is working at the moment—if the statement that I have read out, made by the Minister of Labour in February, is strictly applied. Three cases have been put to me. They are quite simple, and I will weary the House with them for a minute or two. The first case is that of a signalman who is a constituent of mine. He was born in July, 1926. He took his Higher Schools Certificate successfully in 1944 and was awarded a scholarship at Manchester University. He was called up in September, 1944; he is, therefore, age and service group 63. The curious thing is that a man of the same scholaristic calibre as he who was born in September, 1925—and not July, 1926—who did not get his Higher Schools Certificate exactly at the same age, but had his call-up to the Forces deferred so that he might take it at the same time as his six months younger colleague got his Higher Schools Certificate, also got a scholarship and also joined the Forces in September, 1944, and just because he is older, he is group 62, not 63, and he qualifies for early release. That seems to be preferring a man just because he is six months older and has taken six months longer to get the Higher Schools Certificate.

    The second case is a young officer, a son of a holder of the Victoria Cross, born in 1926—the exact date does not matter. He got an open scholarship at Trinity, Oxford, and volunteered in August, 1944, but because he volunteered for a regiment to whose primary training establishment there was no drafting until September, he was not able to be called up until September, 1944, and therefore, instead of being group 62 he is group 63, entirely without any fault of his own. The scheme seems to be working very unfairly in his case. The third and last case is that of a leading aircraftman born in 1927—a year younger—who got a scholarship at the age of l6f to Corpus Christi, Oxford. He did one year there and then volunteered for the Royal Air Force. He, too, is not in group 62. He is in group 63 or 64, and he is also unable to come back and resume his studies.

    Those are the individual cases that come about because of the present rule. This question of individual hardships was raised last year by the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) and the reply was that while it was realised that it might be hard on those men, if the Government started "monkeying about" with the scheme, even at that late hour, it would lead to dissatisfaction elsewhere. The objection to "tinkering about" or "monkeying about" with a scheme does not seem to me, in 1947, to be an adequate reason for inflicting unnecessary hardships on men with above the average standard of brain power and application.

    So much for the individual point of view. Now let me take the national point of view. In this country at all times, and particularly now, we want these men who are gifted with more than the average brainpower and application, and who have won scholarships, circulating in the community as a positive asset, having finished their education as early as possible. If the Parliamentary Secretary will arrange the release of men between groups 62 and 70 so that they may start their academic year this October, they would then come into circulation one year earlier than if they had to wait until next year, and that would be a national economy. To those two points I would add, on the general principle, that in the discussion we had in this House on the National Service Bill, it was made clear by the Minister that it was hoped that, when the Bill passed into law and was being applied, the individual interest would at last take priority over the national interest. We quite realised that during the war the national interest and the interests of the scheme must take precedence, but now we are in a transition stage, and I ask the Minister this afternoon if he will not adapt the present scheme to fit in more with the individual interest.

    I believe he will get up, when the time comes for him to reply, and will say to me, "His Majesty's Government, of course, sympathise and understand, but the universities are full and, therefore, it would be of no use if His Majesty's Government changed their rules now." I realise that there is great pressure on the universities and, of course, there are many applicants for places in the universities. That is bound to be true. It is probably true to say that if you took a thousand men away from the list of applicants for each university, they could still say they were full, but I am asking His Majesty's Government to give preference to those boys and men who have scholarships. I want to be quite open about that. I would add that in many cases the universities are full because His Majesty's Government are insisting on filling buildings in university towns with civil servants. I am told that in Cambridge today, there are 2,559 civil servants who were not there before the war, and there is so much less accommodation available. I do not want to be depressing about this, but there is that point to be considered, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will bear that in mind if he is to answer that the universities are full.

    I asked a Question in this House as to how many scholars would be affected by an extension of the rule, and the answer was that the information was not avail able. Until the information is available, I would suggest that the Minister should go ahead with the extension of the scheme on the assumption that there are not sufficient men to make it impracticable to extend it to Group 70 at least.

    4.15 p.m.

    I would like to give general support to the point of view which has been raised by the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low). We must, however, bear in mind that our first duty in allocating vacancies is to those who have qualified for class A release. They have served full time, and should get any priority that is going. On the question of scholarships, the Ministry's circular refers also to "highly promising students, "and I do not think the hon. and gallant Member would like them to be excluded. The last date for class B releases was 1st May this year, and there was a proviso in the memorandum that if there were more applicants than vacancies many would have to be refused this year. Were there more applicants than vacancies, and, if so, what group, from one to 62, did the Ministry reach?

    The position of officers was referred to in the memorandum as being more serious than that of other ranks, because they were more indispensable to the Armed Forces. It seems to me they are having a raw deal in the allocation of university places. A constituent of mine happened to be in one of the groups 1 to 65, and just missed going to the university last year. He was to go this October, but he is now in Burma. Unless special steps are taken to bring him home, and other people in a similar position, they are going to miss a further period of time, which will make their studies less valuable. I hope that all who have been notified this year will be brought home in order that they can get there in time. Not only that, but I hope they will be in time to get re-equipped for university life, to shake off some of the habits learned in the Army, and to do a considerable amount of reading and preparations before going to the university.


    We have a very important college in Loughborough, and I have received a large amount of correspondence on this question. I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the system which operated in Germany prior to 1914 under the Kaiser. They called it the "Einjähriges System" and it was an arrangement which allowed a student to serve half his time in the Armed Forces and to live in the city and continue his studies at the same time. I wonder if somehow or other such a system could not be applied to these cases so that these students could be serving their country and at the same time continuing their studies.

    4.18 p.m.

    A matter has been raised of very considerable importance and no one would complain at the manner in which it has been dealt with from all sides of the House. It is something which is bound to appeal to everyone of us. These young lads have their educational opportunities interrupted, and the sooner we can get them back the better it will be for them and for the country. One accepts that. However I must remind the House that the principle of release is by age and length of service. That is the general principle to which this House has subscribed, and what we are being asked to do in this case is to extend a privilege for a certain section which is denied to the average man in the Forces. In extending privileges of this sort the House must be careful about what it is doing. It must not give to the student what it denies to the collier, it must not give the professional worker that which is denied to the manual worker. I think that ought to be uppermost in the mind of everyone who takes part in this Debate.

    The present position has been correctly stated. It is that for students who are scholarship holders, or, in the opinion of the university, are highly promising, are given a Class B release, for the purpose of returning to the educational institution. This privilege which is given to them is denied to almost everyone else. We have a small scheme of Class B release for miners and for certain people in the electrical plant industry. For everyone else Class B release has been abolished. The conditions for Class B release in the case of scholarship holders and highly promising students is that they must be in groups 1 to 62. If they are within those groups they are entitled to be nominated by the university; are passed by the Ministry of Labour to the appropriate Service Departments, and if their nomination goes through, they will be brought back to this country in time to take up their studies. This assurance, which was asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) can be given. "The undertaking is that they will be brought back in time to undertake their studies.

    A point was also brought up in regard: to men who, in addition to not less than a year's military service, have done certain national service since the age of 18, and whose two periods combined was more than three years. They are also entitled to nomination for release in Class B, Those are the present arrangements. On the whole they are working very well. We arrived at the conclusion that we could not go beyond group 62 on the advice of the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of this country, who, after all, are the people best qualified to know what is the capacity of the universities. We must not release in Class B above a number which would have the effect of keeping out men who had been released in Class A. That is the main consideration. We must not release, in Class B, a single man who would keep out of a university a man who has already been released in Class A and who is entitled to go to a university. I think that that will be accepted generally.

    So we reach the position that groups 1 to 62 contain sufficient students who have scholarships or who are of a highly promising character to fill all the available vacancies in the universities. That is the advice we are given by people who, I presume, know what the university capacity is. If the argument is put forward that there is more capacity available even now, surely the answer is that there are already in this country men who have been released in Class A who so far have been unable to get into universities.

    Not with scholarships, but men who have gone privately and are entitled to continue their education. They should not be kept out. Their studies were interrupted because of the war, and we should see that they get a fair chance of taking up their position in their fair turn, and not give a preference to men, not only for release, but for going into a university.

    On the question of accommodation in Cambridge, I would say that there are a lot of civil servants there, but special buildings were put up during the war to accommodate them. There are no civil servants in Cambridge who keep out students from Cambridge University. That is the information which has been given to me—that places in the university have not been decreased by the existence of this large number of civil servants in Cambridge. I must accept the information as it is given to me. The joint university board which consists of all these Vice-Chancellors should know all the circumstances, and their judgment usually is pretty sound. They have arrived at the conclusion that we dare not go above Group 62.

    Do these Vice-Chancellors know how many men there are with scholarships in Groups 63 to 70? If they do, I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary ought to have known and, if they do not, that is a very vital factor affecting their decision.

    I presume that they are bound to know all the scholarships that have been awarded. I should have thought that they were the very people, who by and large, have a hand in awarding the scholarships.

    They know how many scholarships are awarded each year. They should be in a position to estimate very closely the number who are in the Forces. They certainly know the number who have gone into the universities. I should have thought it was a very simple arithmetical calculation for them to arrive at the number who would want to go into the universities, who held scholarships, and who would want release under this special Class B arrangement. The next point was with regard to the three cases that were mentioned. I was rather interested. In the first case, the young man is in Group 63. The hon. and gallant Gentleman complained about the fact that he is in Group 63, because he is six months younger than the other fellow. But surely the principle of age and length of service was approved in this House. Because a man is older than another, greater weight is given to his service in the Armed Forces.

    I did not complain that he was in Group 63. I complained that he was not able to go to university. That was my complaint.

    I rather thought that the complaint was that he was not being released before his turn. His turn is decided by his age and his service. That, surely, has been the generally accepted principle. I will agree readily that because this line is drawn tightly it has an unfortunate effect upon some students. I have had applications from hon. Members on both sides of the House asking for the release of men who, were they either a month younger or had they joined two days earlier, would have been in Group 62. But they are in Group 63 and no matter where we draw the line there is that difficulty.

    If there was room in the universities for these men and their release would not prejudice the opportunities of men who had already been released under Class A, there would be no case for resisting the suggestion put forward by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I assure him, however, that the best advice we have been able to get is that if we extend these groups any further we shall be creating the anomolous situation where a Class A man is kept out by a Class B man. Unfortunately, I cannot give an assurance even now that every scholarship holder and every highly promising student in Groups 1 to 62 can have a place in the universities this year. Unless I could give that assurance it would be wrong for me to say that a man in Group 63 should have a chance over a man in Group 62. I feel very sympathetic towards this problem. Someone very close to me was affected in exactly the same way. I have seen the human side of this problem.

    I assure the House that we are doing what we think is right and fair by all the students concerned and by all those men who have played their part in the Services. We hope that this situation will clear up in 1948 and 1949. When the National Service Bill comes into operation in 1949 we hope that the places will be there so that the interests of the students will rank with, it not supersede, the interests of the State in regard to military service. With this assurance, I hope the House will accept the view the Government are doing all that can be done and all that can be expected.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-nine Minutes after Four o'Clock.