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Orders Of The Day

Volume 446: debated on Tuesday 27 January 1948

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Princess Elizabeth's And Duke Of Edinburgh's Annuities Bill

Considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair]

Clause 1—(Provision For Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth)

3.45 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 14, at the end, to add:

"(3) Of the foregoing combined yearly sum of forty thousand pounds, the sum of five thousand pounds shall be deemed to be private and personal expenditure, and the remaining sum of thirty-five thousand pounds, or as much of that sum as is for the purpose required, together with the sum of five thousand pounds similarly designated in subsection (4) of Section two of this Act, shall be utilised in defrayment of expenditure necessary in connection with the Royal obligations and functions of Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and so certified by the Treasurer of the Household."
I have already made quite clear the view which I strongly hold in regard to this matter. I have had evidence of a very wide measure of support among hon. Members on this side of the House and also in a very large number of letters from all parts of the country, agreeing that the line I have taken is both reasonable and sensible. I do not intend again to go into great detail on my proposal, but the effect of this Amendment is that of the £40,000 which is allocated to Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth by reason of this Bill, together with the allowance under the Civil List Act, 1937, the amount of £5,000 would be available to Her Royal Highness in respect of her private and personal expenditure, and the remainder would be available for royal expenditure, that is, expenditure in connection with her royal obligations as certified to that effect by the Treasurer of the Household.

On the Second Reading I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he was prepared to accept either the actual terms or the sense of my Amendment, and he made it quite clear that he was not. In those circumstances I am obliged to oppose the provisions of this Measure at every stage. I claim quite honestly that what I put forward is a common-sense proposal and in keeping with the spirit of today. It cannot possibly be said that the amount I propose for the private and personal expenditure of Her Royal Highness is insufficient because the amount I have proposed is the amount which was given in evidence before the Select Committee on the Civil List. That Committee proposed the amount of £5,000 for Her Royal Highness's personal and private expenditure, and as it was proposing a total bigger even than that which has been accepted by the Government, I suggest that it was not in any way underestimating the amount of necessary private expenditure; and I have accepted that amount. It cannot, therefore, be said that this is a parsimonious proposition.

It cannot be said either that it is impossible to divide the personal from the royal expenditure. Again, I point to the Report of the Select Committee which quite clearly divided the personal and the royal expenditure; and in the light of that it cannot be said that it is impossible to make such a division. With regard to the other suggestion, which was really quite absurd, that Her Royal Highness should be expected to write out an expenses list herself, I hope I exploded that the other day. That is not necessary; there are officials of the Household who will obviously do that. The third suggestion is, therefore, entirely exploded.

I can conjecture that what my right hon. Friend will say about my Amendment is that it is not the proper time to bring forward this matter or to make a change in the system. If that argument is put forward, it is shelving the issue for, if a certain line of action was right in 1937, it is right in 1948, and if it was desirable then, it follows that one should, on the basis of right and equity, bring in that measure of reform as soon as possible. In 1937 several occupants of the present Front Bench, notably the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Home Secretary and others, proposed an Amendment on behalf of the Party as follows:
"… greater simplicity in the daily life of the Court is essential in the modern democratic constitution of the British Commonwealth."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th May, 1937; Vol. 324, C. 455.]
If that was a right attitude in those days, and I believe it was, it is certainly a right attitude 10 years after; indeed, in view of the changing world, it has become still more right and still more urgent in this year of grace.

Will the hon. Member say which Minister actually said that?

It was an Amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood) against the Civil List. In proposing it, he stated that he was speaking on behalf of the party and that the party had given careful consideration to it. All that will be found in his speech. It is pure nonsense to say that one should never tackle a matter unless one reforms it altogether. That is simply not borne out by the policy of the Government in other respects. To prove that point by an example, it is legitimate to refer to another Bill which is before the House at this time, the Parliament Bill. It is different, of course, in practically every respect, but it is perfectly clear that in that case the Government have said to the House and to the country that certain reforms in connection with the House of Lords are desirable and urgent, and the fact that the whole machinery is not being overhauled does not prevent the Government from saying that an improvement in certain parts of it is necessary. I will quote the words of the Prime Minister on 11th November in connection with that Bill, words which I want to echo in connection with this Bill:

"This is only an example of up-to-date wisdom of dealing with matters. We do not wait today for a disease to break out, but try to cure it in advance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th November, 1947; Vol. 444, C. 310.].
I pass on those wise words of the Prime Minister in connection with this partial reform, this beginning of a complete overhaul, for which I am asking in the Amendment in connection with the present Bill.

Would the hon. Member deal with the emoluments of the Prime Minister, who has a gross income of over £130,000 a year, and will he apply to those emoluments the same principles as he is advocating in the case under discussion.

If I attempted, Major Milner, to deal with the salary of the Prime Minister now, you would imme- diately rule me out of Order. That might be done on another occasion, but not today. My Amendment is put forward not merely because I honestly believe it is ordinary common sense, but also because, by means of it, the Government and the nation would be able to effect some con-control of the Court expenditure. It would obviously be by Her Royal Highness in collaboration with the Treasurer of the Household acting on behalf of the Government. I know of no other means whereby we can start the reform in which we all believe. It has been expressed in the speeches of many on this side of the House, if not elsewhere, and I am providing in this Amendment the machinery to initiate the gradual bringing in of this desirable reform of the whole Court system. We want to bring it into line with modern ideas; we want to make it more democratic and, as I have said, in the words of the Prime Minister, it is only an example of up-to-date wisdom in trying to cure a disease without waiting for it to break out.

I support the Amendment because I believe that the Government have grossly misunderstood public opinion on this matter. A good many red herrings, or perhaps I should say, red, white and blue herrings, have been dragged across this controversy by spokesmen of the Government. It has been no wish on our part to raise the abstract question of republicanism. That, I agree, Major Milner, is completely out of Order and I have not attempted to raise that discussion on this issue. What is in Order is the Amendment, which declares that this expenditure is extravagant and unjustifiable at the present moment of economic crisis. Those of us who are of a minority opinion in the Labour Party and in this House contend that we have behind us substantial opinion in the country. That opinion has been expressed in the editorial column of the Sunday newspaper which is a regular supporter of the Government. In a leading article on 14th December, "Reynolds Newspaper" said:

"We know that much of this grant of an increase of £50,000 will go in expenses and the maintenance of Royal establishments that are, so to speak, part of the job, but in Britain today a style of living that calls for an income of £50,000 a year is altogether too elaborate. It denotes values and standards that are fantastically removed from the lives of the people, and if Royalty is to remain a political reality, it must cease to be a symbol of an outmoded pomp and lavishness. The Select Committee on the Civil List has recommended these amounts. In the best interests of the Throne and of the people, Parliament should revise them."
I submit that we are performing a public and a democratic duty in this House this afternoon in asking that these items of expenditure should be revised on the downward scale.

4.0 p.m.

The question of amount does not arise under this Amendment. The sole question here is the method proposed by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain), who moved the Amendment. The general question does not arise.

Will the Amendment I have on the Order Paper, to leave out the Clause, be called?

No, but the usual question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," will be proposed.

I am trying to make my argument relative to the Bill, and to the expenditure—

Yes, but the hon. Member's argument is not relevant to the Amendment now before the Committee which is the important matter.

I gather that the Amendment is for the purpose of exercising a greater scrutiny on this item of public expenditure, which I maintain should be revised, and this scrutiny will result in a reduction of this particular Estimate.

On a point of Order. I wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). My proposal has the double effect of the division into personal and royal expenditure, and at the end of my Amendment there are the powers of scrutiny, which I suggest are in keeping with what my hon. Friend is saying.

That may, or may not, be so. I do not know what the result might be if the Amendment were passed by the Committee. The point I am making is that this is not an occasion when the hon. Member for South Ayrshire can deal with the question of the allowance as a whole. We can only deal with the precise terms of the Amendment on the Paper.

The precise terms of the Amendment mean that a certain amount is to be allotted for expenses, and a certain amount for salary. I am arguing that the amount is too high, that the procedure recommended by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood would result in an economy of national expenditure, and that this is a very suitable way of assessing the income to be given.

I would like an authoritative answer from the Government as to how this sum of £25,000 is arrived at. I see on the back of the Bill the name of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who in Scotland used to be regarded as an exponent of the Marxian theory of values. Neither in Marx, nor anywhere else, do I find any clear understanding why this additional sum of £25,000 for these particular duties should be granted under this Bill. It means that the total income to be paid under this Bill is £50,000, a sum more than the total salaries of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Leader of the Opposition, the Secretary of State for War, the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Home Secretary.

The method proposed by my hon. Friend should result in bringing this expenditure down to a reasonable sum. It should also result in clearing up a great deal of misunderstanding and misconception of what the sum is for. If we adopted the method outlined in the Amendment it would not result in any disrespect towards the recipient; indeed, it might lead to a great sympathy. There can be no doubt that in many sections of society, besides the working classes, there is questioning whether this sum is reasonable, especially when we consider that the £30,000 for Princess Elizabeth is to be free of Income Tax. No one likes paying Income Tax, and the fact that this sum is to be paid free of tax will result in a good deal of criticism of the recipient. We also read that the Duke of Edinburgh is to receive £8,000 free of tax. I know nothing more likely to result in making the Royal family unpopular in this country than if it were thought they were enjoying a privileged position as regards Income Tax.

I suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has brought irrelevant arguments into the discussion of this Bill. For example, when he summed up the opposition to our first Amendment, he argued that it was necessary to have Royal horses, and the expenditure of £15,000 was necessary in order to keep those horses as part of the national ceremonial. What had that to do with this grant? Nothing at all. It was merely introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as an irrelevance, and he managed to escape without being called to Order. The functions and ceremonial of the Royal House are already provided for by a grant of nearly £440,000. If we adopted the Amendment it would result in a greater economy. The present ceremonial could go on, but there would not be an addition to it.

It must be remembered that when this Bill went to a free Vote of the House, 165 Members of the Labour Party voted against the Government, and the Government on that occasion were only saved from defeat by the votes of the Tory Party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I can quite understand our Conservative friends saying "Hear, hear," as it is part and parcel of their outlook in life, but it is not our outlook in life. It was never a part of "Let us face the future"—

I will deal with direction of labour presently. I am trying my best to keep closely within the rules of Order, but these interruptions are rather disconcerting. On the last occasion, when the Party Whips were on, only 17 of us went against the proposition of the Government. Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers went into the Division Lobby knowing in their hearts that they were doing something of which their constituents would not approve. They looked about as pleased as if they were going into a dental surgery or were about to undergo a major operation.

How is the money to be spent? We are unable to get satisfactory details from the Select Committee on Estimates and have had to rely largely on reports in the Press. I would like the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to tell us if there is a Comptroller of the Household with £1,500 a year, a Secretary to the Household with £2,000 a year, and other secretaries and supernumeraries of the Household staff, and if altogether there is a Household staff of between 45 and 50 people. That is not austerity. There may have been something in what the poet said:
"They also serve who only stand and wait,"
but those who stand and wait are being very well paid for it. If the Minister of Labour was really sincere in protestations that he wished to direct people to useful activity, he should take into account those 45 to 50 people and see whether they could not be transferred to useful work.

It is not only in this country that a certain amount of criticism has been levelled against this Bill. I have a letter—

The hon. Member is really making a Second Reading speech or a speech which could more properly be made on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." I hope that he will confine himself to the terms of the Amendment, which proposes a certain method of dealing with the matter.

I am only trying to point out the reasonabless of the Amendment. In discussing whether it is reasonable or not, I suggest that we should be able to examine some of the arguments which have been brought forward in defence of this Bill. The hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) put forward a relevant point as to the opinion of the Dominions on this issue. We should also take into account the opinion of sections of public opinion in the United States of America, especially when in these days—

I am sorry but the hon. Member cannot proceed on those lines. Those arguments may arise in another connection, but they do not arise here. The hon. Member for West Norwood proposes in his Amendment that a certain method should be adopted to deal with the matter, which may or may not result in a reduction of the expenditure to which the hon. Member objects. The hon. Member should restrict himself to the Amendment and not speak on the general question, which has been fully debated and which may conceivably be debated again.

I accept your Ruling, Major Milner, and will only say that I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

I propose to direct my attention quite briefly to the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain) in the Amendment which we are now discussing. It is quite simple and straightforward. He suggests that the £40,000 which Clause 1 of this Bill proposes to grant to Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth be divided into two portions: £5,000 for personal expenses, about which nothing further should be said, and the balance of £35,000. This balance it proposes should be available for certain expenses and the Treasurer of the Household should periodically certify that it has been well and truly spent.

All of us will have a certain amount of sympathy with the underlying object which my hon. Friend has in view. There is not a Member of Parliament who has not at times writhed under public criticism of the so-called salary which he receives as a Member of this House. He knows that out of that salary he has to provide for a large number of expenses which he cannot evade—postage, secretarial expenses, visiting his constituency and so on. Many of these expenses fall upon him solely by virtue of his membership of this House. Often it would be a good thing if a Member could turn round and, by some recognised system, be able to let the public know that a certain proportion of his salary did not rank as salary at all, but was designed to meet legitimate expenses. Therefore, my hon. Friend's underlying object is laudable, and I am sure that no one in any quarter of the House would wish to quarrel with it.

The only question which arises is whether it should be carried out in the case of Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth. We have to remember that it has not been done in respect of anyone else. We do not ask my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood to get some treasurer of his household, if he has one, to certify his expenses. He would be the first to object if such an imposition were placed upon him by the Fees Office of this House.

My proposal is in respect of a large sum of public money which is to be spent in a public manner and which is quite different from the payment of a Member of Parliament.

The whole point is—and I do not want to press it—that in both cases public money is involved. The actual amount is in one sense irrelevant.

Does not a Member of Parliament render public service for public money?

4.15 p.m.

Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth, like a Member of Parliament, renders public service. [Interruption.] I do not wish to be drawn away from the Amendment before the Committee. The point I was about to make is that this division into money for expenses and money not for expenses, is imposed upon no other member of the Royal House. Neither the Duke of Gloucester, nor Queen Mary nor the Princess Royal have such a division imposed upon them. It would be invidious if, at this stage, the Committee put into this Bill words which insisted that this money, as and when it is granted, should be subject to division in this way.

May I also point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood that what he proposes is a one-way traffic. It may well be, and if the Report of the Select Committee which sat upon this matter is any guide it undoubtedly will be, that Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth will spend more than the £40,000 allowed to her under this Bill. Evidence was given to the Committee—we have not got the evidence, but we must trust the Committee which we elected to go into this matter—to the effect that the expenses were likely to be in the neighbourhood of £60,000, rather than the £50,000 which this Bill envisages. It is more than likely that the expenses will be—

Will my right hon. Friend now compare the position of Princess Elizabeth with that of a Member of Parliament, as he did previously? A Member of Parliament cannot spend more than his income.

The present evidence is that the £40,000 which it is proposed to grant to Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth will be more than spent. If we are to ask that the expenditure of at least part of this sum shall be certified, we ought not to fix a ceiling of £40,000. We should say that the amount shall be unlimited, provided that the Treasurer of the Household can certify that the further sum has been legitimately spent.

May I point out that my original proposal had no ceiling? It was only when the Bill imposed a ceiling that I had to impose a limit upon my proposal.

My hon. Friend is quite right, and I had no intention of doing him an injustice, but I must take the words of the Amendment. As they stand, that would be the effect.

We are dealing with a question which has been raised previously. The issue has been fully ventilated. It would be unfair to the Committee if I spoke at length on it. For reasons which I have given, I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment. We think it would be unfair and not right to select Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth for this treatment. I hope that my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division; that he will accept what I say in the spirit in which I am saying it, and withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2—(Provision For His Royal Highness The Duke Of Edinburgh)

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

On a point of Order, Major Milner. I take it that you do not propose to call the Amendment in my name, in page 2, line 27, at the end, to add:

"(4) Of the foregoing yearly sum, or combined yearly sum, the sum of five thousand pounds shall be deemed to be private and personal expenditure, and the remaining sum or as much of that sum as is for the purpose required, together, during the lifetime of Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth, with the sum of thirty-five thousand pounds similarly designated in Subsection (3) of Section one of this Act, shall be utilised in defrayment of expenditure necessary in connection with the Royal obligations and functions of Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and so certified by the Treasurer of the Household."

Having regard to the Committee's decision on the first Amendment, I do not propose to accept the second one, which covers precisely the same ground.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 3, 4 and 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill reported without Amendment; to be read the Third time tomorrow.

Requisitioned Land And War Works Money

Resolution reported:

"That, for the purpose of any Act of the present Session to continue certain provisions of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945, to make permanent certain other provisions thereof, and otherwise to amend that Act; to amend the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, as respects compensation for the taking of possession of land; to make further provision, by the amendment of those Acts and otherwise, as respects the maintenance and use of certain oil pipe lines and the compensation therefor; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—
  • (a) of any increase in consequence of the said Act of the present Session in the sums so payable under the said Act of 1939 or the said Act of 1945; and
  • (b) of any other expenses incurred under the said Act of the present Session by a Minister of the Crown (including the Admiralty and the Board of Trade)."
  • Resolution agreed to.

    Requisitioned Land And War Works Bill

    Considered in Committee.

    [Major MILNER in the Chair]

    Clause 1—(Continuance Of Provisions Of 8 And 9 Geo 6 C 43)

    4.25 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page line 13, to leave out "is hereby repealed," and to insert:

    "shall have effect as if after the word 'Subsection,' where it first occurs, there were inserted the words 'after the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and forty-eight'."
    This Clause is one of the most important in the Bill, and I think this is the most important Amendment which the Committee will have to discuss upon it. The purpose of Clause 1 is to extend until December, 1952, the period during which the Service Departments can decide, or put off deciding, whether or not to purchase land for military purposes, land which has either been damaged by war use or upon which war works have been placed. All that is quite irrespective of whether the land in question has in fact been requisitioned. Of course, the greater part of the land in question has been requisitioned, but there are many cases where war works have been placed on the land or damage done to land which has never been requisitioned at all.

    Until this Bill, with this Clause in it, was brought before the House, these powers of compulsory purchase would have expired on 24th February next. Similar powers of purchasing land under the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act of 1945, where the purchase is for what are called economic transitional purposes, have already been extended until 1952 by the operation of the Supplies and Services Act, 1945. We do not take very much objection to the latter date, where the land is going to be used for economic purposes, where the purpose of the purchase is to restore land, or rehabilitate land in order to make a contribution to our post-war economy. But we do say that where the sole purpose—as in the Clause before the Committee—of postponing this date for another four and a half years is to enable the Service Departments to put off making decisions as to whether or not they will purchase land until December, 1952, that puts the owner of the land in a most unfair position. These decisions about purchase could have been taken by now, and I will explain to the Committee why it is that they have not been taken.

    The effect of the Amendment is this. We suggest that the date by which effective decisions must be arrived at should be the end of December of this year. This gives the Government and the Service Departments another 11 months in which to make up their minds as to whether or not they will purchase particular areas of land. I have said that where the purposes of purchase are to contribute to our post-war economy these extended powers of purchase already exist. If hon. Members will look at the Explanatory Memorandum, they will see the broad result is that the date is already extended to December, 1952, in relation to land held or work done for transitional economical purposes. Those purposes were described by the Financial Secretary in moving the Second Reading of the Bill as the case of land required broadly for purposes connected with the economic problems which face the nation during the post-war period.

    The Financial Secretary in his speech upon this point made it quite clear that the later date for what are called economic purposes, and the earlier date where the purchase was for military purposes had not come about by accident. He said it was now understood that the Supplies and Services Act left a shorter period available for the exercise of those powers on land used for military purposes than on land used for economic purposes. He went on to explain that at the time when the Supplies and Services Act was passed in 1945:
    "It was firmly expected in all quarters that the permanent requirements of the Forces would be settled and the dismantling of war works and rehabilitation of land completed by early next year. This expectation has not been realised. The House will ask and have every reason to ask, why? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; V. 445, c. 1519.]
    He went on to state his reasons.

    4.30 p.m.

    Before we come to his reasons I want to quote to the House what was said by the Home Secretary during the passage of the Supplies and Services Act, 1945, upon this point. The Home Secretary was pressed upon this matter. He was extending the date for four and a half years where the purpose of the purchase was economic rehabilitation, but he was pressed in the case of the purchase for military purposes that some shorter date should remain. He said:

    "We recognise that the premises and works concerned fall into two categories for which different treatment is necessary. In the first category are premises requisitioned and works constructed for war purposes … and not required for the new purposes set out in Clause I of this Bill."

    That is the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act.

    "As regards that category, we accept the contention that the two-year period after next February"—

    that is the period ending on 24th February of this year

    "ought not to be extended."

    Later he said:

    "So that within two years the Government will have to make up their minds in accordance with the pledges given by the Coalition Government, and no extension of our powers is sought in that respect."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th October, 1945; Vol. 414, 1601–3.]

    He admitted that the Coalition Government—when I occupied the position now held by the Financial Secretary—had given pledges that these powers of purchase would come to an end two years after the end of the war. The Home Secretary went further, and repeated that the Socialist Government in October, 1945, would honour and redeem those pledges given by the Coalition Government in March of the same year. What the right hon. Gentleman has to explain to the Committee is why these pledges given by the Coalition Government, and endorsed by his own Government, are now to be broken. That is the case which he must explain. He rightly says, therefore, that the Committee will ask, and have every reason to ask why.

    Before I come to the reasons which he gives, I should like to examine the reasons given by the Solicitor-General who replied to the Debate upon this point on Second Reading. Those reasons are wholly and entirely different from those given by the Financial Secretary. The Financial Secretary, no doubt, opened the Second Reading Debate with an admirable written brief. I am much more inclined to think that the reasons given by him, rather than those given by the Solicitor-General, will prove to be the correct ones. We should look at the reasons given by the Solicitor-General, because he must have got hold of the wrong principles altogether. In defending this Clause, the Solicitor-General said:

    "The powers we are seeking to extend in point of time by this Bill are very largely powers which conduce to peacetime purposes, and not to wartime purposes."

    The fact is that, so far as peacetime purposes are concerned, the extension of time had already been taken in the Supplies and Services Act of 1945. The Solicitor-General continued:

    "I would like to give a few examples of that. We are extending the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945. That Section gives power to acquire land permanently in order to rehabilitate it so that it can be handed back for peacetime purposes. It is not for a wartime purpose at all; it will conduce to the building up of the nation again in peacetime."

    All these powers already existed, and the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading made that perfectly

    clear. The memorandum on the back of the Bill makes it perfectly clear that these powers already existed, yet the Solicitor-General was defending this proposal on the ground that it would conduce to peacetime purposes.

    In fact, the whole purpose of Clause 1 is to enable the same thing to be done where the purchase is for military purposes as can already be done under the existing law where the purchase is for economic purposes. Really, the hon. and learned Solicitor-General was quite off the point and, quite innocently I am sure, he was misleading the House when he suggested that the purpose of the extended powers given by this Bill was to conduce to our peacetime economy, to rehabilitation, to restoration of land for agriculture, forestry and so forth. Moreover, the Solicitor-General drew the most horrible picture of what he thought would happen if these extended powers were not granted. He said:

    "If we do not have these extended powers what will be the position? Either we should have to telescope the procedure for inquiries, and give immediate notice to treat in a large number of cases—that is, curtail the inquiries promised in the Prime Minister's statement which, I feel sure, everyone would like to see thoroughly carried out—or we must, in many cases, now relinquish properties held on requisition."

    Powers of requisition have been extended by a recent Act until December, 1950. Properties held on requisition can continue to be held upon requisition until December, 1950. The idea that, if these powers of purchase are not given, the Government would have to relinquish properties now under requisition next month is wholly misconceived. The Solicitor-General continued:

    "I feel sure that that would be a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. Land would have to be derequisitioned, and those to whom it was handed over would have to be informed that it might be necessary later to retake it for a training area, or something of that sort." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; Vol. 41, c, 1589–90.]

    The reasons given by the Solicitor-General did not assist the House to come to a judgment upon this very important question. The true reasons—in saying the word "true" I make no reflection upon the hon. and learned Gentleman—are to be found in the speech made by the Financial Secretary. He said:

    "In the view of the Government, there are three good reasons for this."

    He is referring to the prolongation the power of compulsory purchase.

    "The first is that during the period of running down of the Armed Forces … it has not been possible for the Services to work out what their permanent requirements for training, and other purposes would be. They have not been able to work out what they must retain permanently … and what they could start to hand back to owners."

    He was speaking of training areas, and his point was completely met by the Solicitor-General, because when he replied to the Debate he stated that in the acquisition of training areas the Defence Acts would be used, not the Requisitioned Land and War Works Acts, but the Defence Acts from 1842 onwards. Therefore, the point made by the Financial Secretary about the difficulty in the Service Departments of making up their minds what areas were required for training, is met by the answer that the Defence Acts give the Service Departments all the powers they need for buying any land for training, at any time they may require it.

    What was the right hon. Gentleman's second reason for asking the House to break these pledges solemnly given in 1945? He said:

    "The second factor which has militated against working to the date in early in 1948 has been the slowing down of proceedings, due to the procedure laid down before permanent acquisition can be decided on. We make no complaint about that."

    Of course, we would not expect the Government to make a complaint about the procedure which they themselves have laid down. It is the general public and His Majesty's taxpayers who are the people to make complaints in a matter of this sort. The Financial Secretary continued:

    "Public opinion, … very properly takes a lively interest in such diversions"—

    I suppose that is diversions of property for the use of the military.

    "An enormous amount of time is spent in consulting with all the various interests concerned … and in trying to meet the objections of each. This must often be followed by a public inquiry, in accordance with the promise made by the Prime Minister in November, 1946. This process of inquiry is set forth in the White Paper."

    It will be remembered that it was in November, 1946, when the Prime Minister stated that before areas were acquired there would be an opportunity for public inquiry, but it was not until 13 months later, in December last, that the Government produced for the first time even an

    estimate of the amount of land which the Forces would require in peacetime. That was the White Paper which came out in December last. It is headed, "Needs of the Service Departments for Land for Training and other Purposes." That White Paper had been promised nearly a year before, and the delay in this matter is due not to the cumbersome procedure of having a public inquiry, but to the Government themselves having taken 12 or 13 months to produce even a somewhat vague White Paper setting out the amount of land required. Of course, the White Paper does not specify areas, but gives a global estimate of the amount of land which may be required.

    The third reason why we are asked to break solemn pledges made two years previously is this. The right HON. Gentleman said:

    "The third reason … is the ever-increasing stringency in the supply of labour and materials. This has made it difficult … to go ahead as quickly as it had been hoped in clearing away war works and restoring land to a state in which it can be handed back to its owners Other and more pressing jobs have to be undertaken, and have to take precedence over this work. … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1519–20.]

    That may well be true, but the whole point is that the powers already exist. Where the Government intend to improve land by removing concrete slabs or runways, and by turning it back into agricultural land or adapting it for forestry or some other purpose, the powers already exist. Those are the powers which we gave the Government in 1945 in the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act.

    The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I will read the opening words of the Supplies and Services Act which define the very wide purposes for which extended powers were given at that time. By Section 5 of that Act we gave the Government extended powers of purchase under the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, continuing until December, 1952, in any of these following cases. These are the purposes defined by Section 1 of the Act:

    "… the purpose of maintaining, controlling and regulating supplies and services as to secure a sufficiency of those essential to the wellbeing of the community or their equitable distribution or their availabality at fair prices"
    If that does not cover both agriculture and forestry, I do not know what it does Cover. Many other purposes are also specified.

    These powers, which were taken in 1945, were of the widest possible kind for restoring the economy of our country after the war, and when the right hon. Gentleman says that it is the stringency of labour and materials which have caused the Government to fall down on their pledges, he is really stating that the progress of rehabilitation has not been as fast as it might have been. Of course, that is true; but the powers are not required at present for that purpose. The powers that are being taken today are to enable Service Departments to wait another four and a half years before they make any effective decision as to whether they will buy any of the houses and any of the land which they at present hold upon requisition or upon which war works have been put during the war.

    4.45 p.m.

    I think I have dealt with this matter sufficiently to show that the Government have a very strong case to answer on this Clause. I have already described the proposal in our Amendment. It will give the Government 10 months longer than they were originally to have had under the old powers. In this matter I base my argument upon what was said by the present Minister of Health in the original Debate on the Act of 1945. He pressed very strongly for a limitation of the period during which these compulsory powers could be made. I quoted his words on the Second Reading, but I must quote them again, as they are so apposite. As my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) will remember, there was a strong demand for a limitation of the duration of these powers so that owners of property should be out of any uncertainty within as short a time as possible. The present Minister of Health spoke in support of the Bill, and said:

    "… Owners of property ought to be able, at the earliest possible moment, to know what their future will be. … It is not unreasonable to ask a Government Department to make up their mind within two years."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th April, 1945; Vol. 410, C. 526–7.]

    It is now much more than two years. Already nearly three years have elapsed

    since the passing of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945. The Government are asking not for another six months nor for another year, but for another four and a half years during which this uncertainty will hang over all owners of property which is either under requisition or which has had war works placed upon it or which has been damaged by war works.

    We say that so far as military purposes are concerned, the Government might well have made up their minds upon this matter by the present time. It has taken them 13 months to get out a White Paper on the amount of land they require for training purposes. We say that, by all means, in these circumstances, they may have until 1948, but that by the end of 1948 they should have made up their minds what they intend to do and come to some effective decision.

    I wish to reinforce the remarks which have been made so ably by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). This is not an issue which should divide the House on party or any other prejudiced grounds. This is a matter of how soon we can restore productivity to certain land which has been held, I think, unduly long by the Services. This suggestion of ours is a compromise. Instead of giving back the land on 10th February. 1948, we ask that the Government should have the rest of the year in which to make their decision. Under our proposal, they will have had 12 months since the publication of the White Paper in which to decide what amount of land the Services will require, and I should have thought that was sufficient time, in view of the very urgent need for getting more food produced in this country.

    On the Second Reading, the Secretary of State for War made great play with the fact that 10 million acres had already been handed back. I think he gave a very delusive figure. I gather he was referring to Defence Regulation 52, under which the Service Departments held certain rights over land, and I hope the Financial Secretary will make it clear that that Defence Regulation has either already expired or will expire on 15th February, 1948, and is not in issue at all in this matter. What we are concerned with is the amount of land which is held under requisition or lease by the Service Departments.

    The second point which the right hon. Gentleman made, and which was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds, was that there was some delay by reason of a public inquiry. I have experienced no such delay in my area. There have been no long protracted public inquiries on these matters so far. There has been a great amount of indecision on the part of the various Service Departments, which has hampered agriculture and amenities with very grave effect. A great part of the National Parks area in the North of England is subject to the demands by the Service Departments, but there has been no delay by public inquiry.

    If the Financial Secretary's third point had validity, if stringency of labour delayed rehabilitation, surely there is something wrong with the Government's policy on this matter. Is it not urgent that we should get as much of the land which has been rendered sterile by Service Departments back into producing the potatoes and wheat which our people require? If labour is being diverted for non-productive purposes it is up to the Government to make the necessary adjustments to the labour force, to secure that this rehabilitation takes place. I do not know what the experience of the rest of the Committee has been in this matter, but I have found, during the last few months, that there has been very little derequisitioning.

    Service Departments have been unable to make up their minds as to what land they will derequisition and what land they will eventually purchase. Will it help to solve that indecision on their part to give them an extra four years? That is really the issue before the Committee on this Amendment. Do we intend to give the Service Departments four and a half years in which to make up their minds as to what parts of the country they will use for the purposes set out in the White Paper?

    The Service Departments have stated their demands in the White Paper. Let us, for the purposes of argument in this Committee, assume that their demands are the right demands. I am sorry that there is no representative of the Air Ministry on the Government Front Bench at the moment, because I regard them as the worst offenders in the misuse of agricultural land and in indecision in making up their minds. I would like the Committee to consider the position affecting the use of agricultural land by the Air Ministry. The Government state, in the White Paper, that the Air Force will require 140,000 acres of land for airfields, and 34,000 for training. It happens that the Crown already own 140,000 acres, which are devoted to airfields. Therefore, the total new requirements of the Air Ministry amount to 34,000 acres. But we understand that in the spring of this year 200,000 acres of land were already under requisition by the Air Ministry. If this Amendment does not succeed, it will mean that 160,000 acres of good agricultural land will be held in a state of indecision by the Air Ministry from this date until 1952. That is a matter which the Minister of Agriculture should have inquired into: he should have represented to the Government that an Amendment such as we are now proposing should be accepted.

    Let me examine the use that is being made of land held by the Air Ministry. Paragraph 35 of the White Paper states that of the 140,000 acres, 23,000 were arable and 57,000 grass. Of the 34,000 acres, 2,000 were arable and 30,000 grass. That means that out of the total of 340,000 acres, some 87,000 acres of grassland have been used for farming purposes, and some 25,000 as arable land. It means that out of the remaining 160,000 acres, only 58,000 are being used for agriculture. That shows that there is a sterility of 100,000 acres, which is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. These acres could have been used to plant 12 weeks' supply of potatoes; it would have made a great deal of difference to the Ministry of Food if the Secretary of State for Air had come to a decision by now. I do not say that we shall not require those potatoes next year. How will this tie up the indecision on the part of the Government with the Minister of Agriculture's appeal for more production from agricultural land this year?

    I cannot see any argument for the Service Departments retaining this large acreage for another four and a half years. I think the Solicitor-General said, on Second Reading, that it would be a disadvantage to the Government if they did not have the extended time because they would have to purchase land at an enhanced value. If he did not make that point I hope he will correct me, but if he did I believe he made it under a misconception. Under Subsection (2) there is provision for securing that the compensation given will eliminate the effect of Government war works under Clauses 40 and 41. This Amendment will not affect the point about enhanced value: its sole object is to release a large quantity of land for agriculture, and for those reasons I hope the Committee will accept it.

    I want to emphasise a point about the giving up of battle areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) mentioned agriculture, and although I agree that that is a most important section of our producing field I would like to point out that in the Midlands we are most desirous of getting back the areas of land which the War Office now hold—particularly the Dukeries, Sherwood Forest, and Dovedale—for recreational purposes. Unless this Amendment is accepted the people of the Midlands will not know what the position will be for another four and a half years. Whereas there is a claim of agriculture on the one hand, there are also the claims of industrial areas which desire to get back neighbouring land for recreation. I support the Amendment in so far as it limits the time of the Bill, because there are aspects of this Measure which I disapprove in principle. I cannot now go into details of the various compensation proposals, which we shall talk about later, but I believe that the right of property-owners to compensation, as regulated by principles which were understandable in wartime, should not be continued into peacetime. In wartime we did not want to put into legislation Sections which would possibly not be any incentive to producers who were fighting to live. If compensation had been given to property-owners for amenities and increased values that might have upset the morale of our people during the war.

    5.0 p.m.

    Our battle is now one of production. The war is over, and we are now fighting to get goods. We want to create incentives, but if the Government continue to produce legislation such as this Bill, that will not be the result. Property-owning is a form of incentive, but if the

    Government can take over property without considering the factor of compensation values, that is a principle which I oppose. We should treat both large and small property-owners on the basis of a willing buyer and a willing seller, when the Government want to take over land. The Government ought not to bring forward legislation by which the property-owner is put at a disadvantage. In so far as the Amendment restricts the operation of the Bill, I support it.

    I support the Amendment, which has been argued very largely from a North country point of view. Until I hear what the Financial Secretary has to say I do not propose to go in detail into our troubles in the Western area. The Services are trying to behave very well. Some hon. Members do not seem to realise the real cause of the delay and why it could not have been cleared up years ago. The cause is not due to the Services, but to the pathetic lack of co-ordination and organisation on the part of Government Departments, under their chiefs who are sitting opposite me.

    Being a good Conservative and representing all sorts of people in my division, I was supporting, not very long ago, an appeal which had for its object the removal of undue Service restrictions upon a farm owned by a co-operative society. I did that quite naturally, and I did it very well, having a large number of co-operative voters in my division. I am opposed to all this bullying by the Government, this coming down upon all sorts and kinds of people and interfering with their land, which is emphasised so clearly by the Amendment. It is usually done without any conceivable idea that it is necessary. It affects all sorts of people, and not only a few large landowners. It obviously affects co-operative societies, and it is doing a very deal of harm. It is not only the larger farmers who are in trouble about it, but a vast number of smaller people.

    I hope that these few kindly words of mine will persuade the Government to accept the compromise which has been offered from our Front Bench. If a further year is provided in which the Departments can make up their mind, that will have given about 3½ years. During that time there will have been a very large number of Service personnel demobilised, and we ought to know by then whether we should leave the matter to the common sense of the Services to make their own decisions. I am not saying whether the decision in regard to battleships was right or wrong, but the decision has, at any rate, been made. In the matter of land, all kinds of derelict Ministers are concerned, who find it almost impossible to make up their minds. I would offer the kindliest suggestion that we should shorten their power to the least possible time, so as to relieve them in future of the difficulty of making decisions.

    There is a further point, which I am not the one to elaborate. Someone else ought to voice the opinions of Scotland and Wales. This Bill will be of considerable importance to Welshmen and Scotsmen, because of the indecision of the present Government. There are pathetic cases in both those sister countries. I cannot conceive that any Scotsman or Welshman would let an opportunity go by of putting in a word and making a claim for a time limit to the iniquity of the Government in this matter.

    The Clause which hon. Members opposite seek to amend is one of the main pivots of the Bill. The Amendment, if accepted, would cut at the very root of the Clause and, therefore, at much of what the Bill seeks to do. For that reason we cannot accept the Amendment. I do not think that will surprise hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I would add straight away that we sympathise with the underlying object of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in moving the Amendment. Obviously, we are as anxious as anyone that these matters should be cleared up. The sooner they are cleared up the better it will be for everyone, and for the economic life of the nation.

    The Clause seeks to extend the powers of Parts II, V and VI of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945, for military purposes from 24th February, 1948, the date at which, unless the Bill is passed substantially in its present form, those powers will cease, to 10th December, 1952, the date fixed for economic purposes under the Supplies and Services Act, 1945. The Clause seeks to equate the two classes of case, by making 10th December, 1952, the date for both military and economic purposes.

    The effect of the Amendment is to make the operative date 31st December, 1948, with the proviso that if it can be certified under Section 5 (5) of the Supplies and Services Act, 1945, that the purposes are economic, the powers can be exercised until 10th December, 1952. It is unreasonable that we should accept that proviso. The law now provides that if the purposes are certified as economic the powers are extended until 1952, and the mere retention of the certification procedure for extending the powers under that proviso would be worthless to us. The argument used for the Amendment is that extension for military cases to the end of this year should be long enough.

    The right hon. Gentleman quoted from a speech made by me, and from another made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General; and he went so far back as to quote from the speech of my right HON. Friend the Home Secretary when the Supplies and Services Bill was being put through this House in 1945, to the effect that the powers then sought would be sufficient. When we were dealing with the Second Reading of this Bill, it was admitted by me at this Box that we had hoped that the powers given in 1945 would give sufficient time to complete the work. I went on to give reasons, and I thought they were good reasons, why it had been found quite impossible to work within the limits then set and which had been envisaged by the Home Secretary.

    May I interrupt? The right HON. Gentleman said that the time limit permitted had proved insufficient to complete the work. I want to ask him if it is a question of completing the physical work on the land, which comes under the Supplies and Services Act? When he says work, surely, what he means is that it has been impossible to get the Services Departments to do the work on paper necessary to give an effective decision?

    The work, of course, is complicated. It not only means the physical acquisition of land after inquiry, and the rehabilitation of land and making it fit for agricultural purposes, but also the clearing away of war works placed on the land in the recent emergency.

    Indeed, we have, and that, I think, is understood. What we are here seeking to do is to extend the period in which these powers can be exercised by permitting land to be held until 1952 in military cases, in the same way as the Supplies and Services Act, 1945, and the amending Act passed last year, permits land to be held for a further period if the purposes for which it is essential it should be held are economic. We want to bring into line the military purposes and the economic, for which powers have already been given.

    The reasons why it is essential that we should have these extended powers have already been given, and I can do no more than repeat them in reply to the speeches which have been made from the other side of the Committee. It is true that the Service Departments have now—and the White Paper is evidence of that—found that they can give a global estimate of the amount of land which they will require for national defence and training purposes, but, although that is so, that does not mean that their plans have been worked out in the utmost detail. All that they have done, so far, in the White Paper at any rate, is to fix the global area which, in their view and in the view of the Government, the Services will require for purposes of national defence, but that does not mean to say that they have reached the end of their labours. In fact, although a great deal of work has been done—and the work will indeed be speeded up during the coming months —it is quite impossible for me to say now that they will have completed their work and gone through the whole process which is necessary by 31st December of this year, which is the date fixed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake).

    Then, too, the procedure has indeed been slow. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) indicated that, in his area, at any rate, he could see no evidence of public inquiries. That, of course, rather helps my case. A great deal of work has to be done before the public inquiry stage is reached.

    I said that there was no evidence of delay in the holding of public inquiries.

    If I misquoted the hon. Gentleman, I apologise to him, but I do not know whether to understand from that that public inquiries have been held.

    15.15 p.m.

    Then it is an area where they obviously do things with efficiency and despatch, but I can assure the hon. Member that in other areas things have not happened as quickly as that. It is essential in these matters, where land is being acquired in this way, that the promise given by the Prime Minister to the House should be fully implemented, and that all interests should be consulted, in order, if possible, to meet their objections, and, where that is not possible, public inquiries, where necessary, should be held. It is clear that, the procedure being what it is, it is impossible for the Government to complete their work by the end of the current year, and, although the right hon. Gentleman has said that the shortage of labour and materials should not have made a great deal of difference, I can assure him that it has. The situation has not improved, I am sorry to say, in one sense, in connection with this type of work. It has, indeed, worsened in the last few months, and it has been essential in the national interest, for much labour and materials to be directed to other ends, and I think that most of us would agree that that must be so. It has not been possible, and it will not be possible for some time, to speed up the work of rehabilitation and removal of war works, which, frankly, should come down and which normally ought to have come down a long time ago.

    Having said that, I can add this. The Service Departments are fully alive to the urgency of this matter. They have done a great deal of work behind the scenes, and, though I admit that b things have not gone as quickly as they might have done, the fault has not altogether been due to the Service Departments. It has been due to a number of reasons, some of which may have been due to the shortcomings of this Government. I am not here to hold a brief for this Government in this direction, though I could quite easily do so if we were dealing with another Bill and on another occasion. We are dealing with this particular Bill, and it is quite true that there have been delays, and that these delays have been clue to a wide variety of causes, some of them completely beyond the control of either Government Departments, civil servants or the Government themselves.

    All that being so, it is obvious that some forward date must be taken, and the Government come to the Committee with the suggestion that the reasonable thing to do is to make the date set for military purposes coincide with that to which the House has already agreed for economic purposes. There is another reason which I would like to mention which, in the view of the Government, makes this desirable, and that is that it is impossible, very often, to decide whether, in any particular case, the purposes are within the definition of economic purposes or military. There are quite a number of borderline cases where it is impossible to decide whether the case comes within the Supplies and Services Act, 1945, or whether the powers originally conferred by the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945, must be relied on. Where we have two dates on which to work, and, therefore, a decision has to be taken whether a case comes within the economic or the military definition, it is a nice decision, and it is essential that Parliament should make these dates coincide and run the two together. For that reason, if for no other, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

    The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that we did not require these powers, so far as military purposes are concerned, on the ground that the Government could use the Defence Acts. That, of course, is true, so far as the acquisition of quite a lot of land for training purposes is concerned. But we are not dealing here mainly with that type of transaction. In my speech in the Second Reading Debate, I said:
    "I should add, for the sake of perspective, that the most important reason for requiring this extension of time is not to enable the Government to acquire land permanently for military purposes, useful though that power may be. Such power is available to the Government, if they desire it, under the Defence Act, and in many cases they will undoubtedly use the Defence Act powers for acquiring land permanently where it is needed. The Bill does not in any degree affect the powers which the Government have under other enactments. It is true that the present Bill extends Part II of the 1945 Act which does give power for permanent acquisition. But this applies only to a limited range of cases. More important is the extension of Part VI. That is the power to remain temporarily on land in order, either to decide whether it should be permanently acquired, or to remove war works, or, as is the case in some instances, to put it into a fit state for agricultural use. In these instances the pur- pose of these further powers is not to sterilise the land, but to ensure that it shall not be sterilised."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1520–21.]
    Therefore, I can assure the Committee that we have not got the powers. The powers which we want extended here are powers which are essential to help clear up the mess due to the war. That mess is there, whoever is to blame. I am sure the Committee will agree that another 11 months will be quite insufficient for us, in view of the situation in which, unfortunately, this nation now finds itself, to carry through these varied pieces of work which are essential, and which were envisaged in the 1945 Act which gave the powers that are now to lapse within about a month unless something is done. Therefore, we ask the Committee to give us these extended powers. I can give the assurance that, although the date will be 1952, it will be our object, as long as we are in office, and during the lifetime of this Parliament, to see that the extra time given is not abused, and that the Service Departments do their best to clear up as far and as speedily as they can the outstanding commitments which they have.

    Before the right hon. Gentleman finally sits down, will he answer the specific question which I put to him, and which is causing some concern in the country? It was whether this Clause extends Defence Regulation 52, or whether that will lapse on 10th February, 1948. The speech of the Secretary of State for War in the Second Reading Debate has given rise to misconception.

    I cannot charge my memory with what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War said in his Second Reading speech. If the hon. Gentleman will give me the quotation, I shall then know what he has in mind?

    The Secretary of State for War quoted the fact that the Government had already derequisitioned 10 million acres of land. Those 10 million acres were held under Defence Regulation 52 which, it was understood, was expiring on 10th February this year. From the speech of the Secretary of State for War it would appear that that power is being extended until 1952.

    No powers are being extended except those under the Acts of 1945, as amended by this particular Bill. We are not asking for an extension to make new requisitions under this Bill. The requisitions which have already taken place can, under this Bill, be continued, but no others. It does not extend any of the regulations, including the one to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

    We on this side of the Committee are very dissatisfied with the reply of the Financial Secretary. He gave some reasons why the Government could not accept the date 1948 named in this Amendment. But he gave no good reasons why they insist on the date of 1952 in the Bill. The reasons he gave were, first, that he thought that it was more tidy to have 1952 for military land. Well, we are so accustomed to untidiness in legislation that I am sure we should be prepared to put up with further untidiness if we could get back the land. The other reason he gave was that it was difficult to distinguish between land for military purposes and land for economic purposes. Surely, if that is a difficulty, it has been in existence all the time, and is nothing new.

    He based his arguments for resisting this Amendment on the point which was stressed by the Solicitor-General in his reply in the Second Reading Debate, namely, that the Prime Minister had promised public inquiries where desired, that there were 1,200 proposals all requiring investigation, and that, if they did not get powers up to 1952, they would be forced to telescope the proceedings of the public inquiries, and, perhaps, give immediate notice to treat in a large number of cases. Surely, this is a question of degree. It cannot seriously be suggested that it requires nearly five years more to go through the procedure of these local inquiries.

    My hon. Friends have dealt particularly with the need for restoring much of this land to the production of food. I want to point out also that there are quite a number of pieces of land, which are to be subject to this Measure for the next five years, which are required for public amenities. There is a considerable number of National Trust properties and many pieces of land which are earmarked for national parks. There are also many commons and other open spaces, the use of which the public wish to get back. If the Government cannot accept the date of 1948, and cannot produce better reasons for retaining 1952, will they, before the Report stage, consider putting some other date into the Bill?

    I wish to raise a point which it may be more appropriate to raise on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." I want to know from the Financial Secretary if it is still the intention of the Government, where land has been requisitioned for military purposes, to transfer that requisition to another Government Department when the need for military purposes has ceased to exist. I want to draw particular attention to what is possibly the largest public park in the City of Glasgow. When I contrast what has happened to the public parks in London with what has happened to this park—

    I cannot see what that matter has to do with the Amendment under discussion.

    I am sorry, Sir Robert, but I was trying to follow the Financial Secretary's reply. I submit that, if his reply was in Order, then the point to which I am leading up is also in Order. Of course, if you rule that it is out of Order, I can raise it on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," but I think it would suit the convenience of the Committee if I dealt with the point now. This park has been out of the possession of the people of Glasgow since 1937. It was requisitioned by the military in 1939. I find that the military requisition no longer exists, but my right HON. Friend the Minister of Works has a dump in the park which would be a disgrace to a builder's yard, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport—

    On a point of Order. Is not the hon. Gentleman opposite saying that this extension of the period by three or four years is being used by the Government in an entirely wrong way—to give them time to think up reasons for handing over land for non-military purposes? In other words, they are using the military under this Bill to secure land, and they want time to think up reasons for using it for other purposes.

    5.30 p.m.

    I am sorry, Sir Robert. I have no desire to transgress the Rules of Order. The Ministry of Transport, the last time I saw the park, had more floats and lifeboats in it than there are sailing on the Western Ocean at the moment. I want an undertaking that if we are successful in getting these people out, others will not come in. One wonders at present who is to step in next. This was a military requisition. I heard my right hon. Friend talking about giving notice to treat. There is an experimental station in my own division that has been there a long while. Notice to treat in respect of those premises was served a long while ago, but owing to the uncertainty, I presume, of the international situation, the notice to treat has not been acted upon. Again, the Air Ministry used a village playing-field under an Air Force requisition for the purpose of amusing the airmen, but the airmen have all gone. When the need for their requisition was passed, the property was passed to the captain superintendent of the Roseneath Base. Despite the fact that we have several acres in Roseneath for sports purposes, they have pinched the village green. This, as I say, was originally an Air Force requisition but it is likely that thousands of troops will be trained in my division. One army has moved out and another army has moved in. The Poles were there, and the Germans were there, and I understand that the Territorial Army is going there.

    Requisitioning there amounts, therefore, to a continuous requisition. In the interests of every one it would be much fairer to all concerned if there were an outright purchase of the site, which will still retain its value even should it become redundant from the Services' point of view. The present uncertainty is not fair to any one. The proposal is to extend to 1952 the effects that may result from this sort of thing and the requisitioning of property for other work that was originally requisitioned for military purposes. I understand that when the Bill mentions "land" it means "buildings" as well.

    Could I have an undertaking that when any requisitioned land is no longer needed by the Armed Forces, it will be derequisi- tioned and handed back, and that nonmilitary Government Departments will not be notified that it is no longer needed by the Armed Forces, so that they will not, in fact, be told, "there is some requisitioned property, do you want to take advantage of it?" That sort of thing is being done, and it is being done far too often in the County of Dumbarton. Members of Parliament have enough to worry about from day to day without being continually put on the spot about requisitions being held which ought to be surrendered. My fear is that if we extend these powers to 1952, the boys will lie back until 1952 approaches, before de-requisitioning the properties they have requisitioned.

    I think it is good for the Government that some of their supporters should let them know what is passing in their minds. In any case, we are not sent here to act like blind mice. [Laughter.] All the blind mice are not on one side. I think we should get a fair undertaking. It is in the interests of all Members in the House to be able to tell their constituents. "We have a firm undertaking that such and such a property will be derequisitioned." I do not want a notice to treat served on one of my constituents, and some official then to forget all about it, while occupying land which does not belong to him, until 1952, without having paid anything for it. In places where there is to be development in the future, where there are requisitioned properties for military purposes, it would be fairer to every one concerned if there were straightforward acquisitions, so that the local authorities in such areas could know exactly what their future commitments are to be. I hope that we shall be given such an assurance as that for which I have asked.

    I associate myself with the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay). We all know what happens with requisitioned property. It is requisitioned by a particular Department, which may be either a civil or a military Department, and then, when that Department has no further use for the particular piece of property, that fact is notified to the Ministry of Works, and then the Ministry of Works undertakes a canvass of other Government Departments to find out if they want them.

    One could say they hawk it round if one likes, but I prefer the Civil Service phrase, "canvasses other Departments." They do so to find out whether any one of them by chance would like to take over the requisitioned property in place of the Department which has no further use for it. I agree with my hon. Friend that that leaves the owner of the property, whether the owner be a private owner or a public owner, completely up in the air, with no assurance that even when the Department now there has finished with the property, it will then give it up, and enable it to be used for its normal purposes. I support the argument, and hope that the Financial Secretary will be able to say something on that.

    However, I rose primarily to say that the Financial Secretary's case in this Debate has failed to carry conviction to me; and if it has failed to carry conviction to me, it is a bad case. He began by saying that the Amendment before the Committee, which is to restrict the powers for which the Government ask until the end of this year, cuts at the root of that which the Bill seeks to do. It is no argument against an Amendment to say that it cuts at the roots of something, or even at the flower of something, or at the branch of something, unless it can be demonstrated that the root, flower or branch ought not to be cut at. That is the whole point of the Debate. The whole argument for the Amendment is that the proposal to extend these powers by nearly five years ought to be cut; and, therefore, the fact that we are cutting at it is not a ground for rejecting the Amendment.

    Then he went on to say, in effect, "Cannot you realise that we are as anxious as anyone else to clear up these matters as speedily as possible; and if you give us these powers, cannot you trust us to clear them up with reasonable promptitude and despatch?" There are two answers to that. The first is that there has not been reasonable promptitude and despatch so far, and that there is no reason to suppose that, if we give more time, promptitude and despatch are to be more marked in the future than they have been. The second answer reminds me of one given at a conference of the League of Nations devoted to the problem of dis- armament. Delegates talked about disarmament for days on end, and eventually M. Litvinov said, "You talk about disarmament. If you want disarmament, the way to achieve it is simply to disarm." I say to the right HON. Gentleman that if he and his colleagues want to clear up the situation, the way to do it is simply for them to get on with it, and not to ask for an unreasonable extension of power.

    I beg to remind the Committee of the period for which the Government ask. I see no more reason why we should believe them this time than we had for believing them last time. If they were then wrong in saying that the period until February of this year would be adequate, when they put that before us two years ago, I see no reason to suppose that they are right now when they say the period until 10th December, 1952, will be adequate. I can conceive it possible—I do not say it is certain—that in the spring of 1952 the right hon. Gentleman will make exactly the same speech that he has made today, and will ask for the year to be made 1860. [HON. MEMBERS: "1960."] That was an unconscious recognition on my part that Service Ministries are always preparing for the last war but one. Even if the right hon. Gentleman could satisfy the Committee that the period the Government now have is inadequate, and that 1948 is wrong, it does not follow that, therefore, we have to jump to 1952, which is the proposition contained in the Clause.

    The real truth here is that the longer we extend this period the greater will be the dilatoriness of the Departments in getting rid of the property. When dealing with men we very properly have to fix a demobilisation date, and it has to be a date corresponding to the rough sense of justice of the country. I submit that when we deal with property we are no more right to leave the owner of property in a state of continued uncertainty than we are to leave a man in a state of continued uncertainty as to his date of demobilisation.

    The Financial Secretary says the reasons why he asks for this extension are exactly the same as they were before, and are threefold: First, that during the period of running down of the Armed Forces the Service Departments have not been able to form a firm estimate of what they want; secondly, that the process has been slowed down because of the Prime Minister's pledge that there should be a public inquiry where land was to be taken permanently; and thirdly, that there was an increasing stringency in labour and materials for the purpose of restoring these sites or areas to the condition in which they were when requisitioned. Those reasons were advanced a couple of years ago; they are advanced again today; and I see no earthly reason why exactly the same reasons should not be advanced three or four years hence. I remain utterly unconvinced that we need to extend this Bill to give the Government powers until 1952.

    The Financial Secretary goes on to say that it is desirable and convenient for the date in respect of premises for military purposes to coincide with the date in respect of property for economic purposes. That is the exact opposite of what we were told when dealing with the Bill in respect of land for economic purposes. We were then told it was not necessary or convenient that the date in respect of land for economic purposes should correspond with the date for military property; and, indeed, we were begged to agree with the date for property in respect of economic purposes partly on the ground that the Government were being so modest, and were not asking for the same in respect of land for military purposes. Now, a couple of years or so later, we are told that all that argument should be disregarded, and it is now convenient and proper that the dates should correspond.

    It reminds me a little of the Prime Minister who once said to his Cabinet, "Gentlemen, it does not matter very much what we say, provided we all say the same thing." That principle ought now to be extended: It does not matter what a Minister says, but it is desirable that there should be at least some distant resemblance between what he said two years ago and what he says today. The credibility of the Government is undermined when a Minister says one thing two years ago and another thing today—and may very well say something still different a few years hence.

    5.45 p.m.

    A term has to be fixed in this regard, and when a term is fixed we can expect a response from the Government Departments concerned. However, as long as they know they have five years to play with, it is no particular criticism of Government Departments — even the

    Defence Ministries; and it is true of all of us—to say that if they know they have a long time in which to make up their minds, they will make up their minds in a long time. That is a characteristic of human nature, and applies to Government Departments as to everybody else. In those circumstances, if this goes to a Division I shall vote for the Amendment. I do not say the period specified in the Amendment is precisely the right period; but what I am clear about is that the period asked for in the Clause is related to nothing that can be argued, except the general disposition on the part of the Government to ask for as much time as possible. That is not a basis for argument for these powers to be extended for so long, and I shall vote for the Amendment against the Clause.

    The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) put forward some very cogent reasons why we should not accept the period of four and a half years extension, which we are being asked to accept. The Financial Secretary commenced by telling us he was anxious that these things should be cleared up. He went on to show that in his view one year was insufficient, and then, for no apparent reason—except two rather feeble arguments—he came down in favour of four and a half years. One of his arguments was the convenience of uniformity; the second was that the Government found it difficult to distinguish between military and economic purposes. Those two arguments could just as easily be used again in four years' time for a further extension, as the hon. Member for Rugby pointed out. There is no earthly reason why the Government should not come forward with those arguments in four years' time, and go on putting off the decision ad infinitum. Meanwhile, there are many hardship cases all over the country, one example of which was given by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay). They could be multiplied by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

    I cannot see the real reason of the Government in sticking to this date of 10th December, 1952. I am sure it is bound to put off the decisions of the Service authorities. Meanwhile, the interests of a great many people, not least the Service Departments, are likely to be Service Departments, which, I gather are primarily for training purposes, should be determined at the earliest possible date, in their own interests. If there is to be proper training in any of the three Services they must know what training grounds they are to develop, and must get on with that development so that training can be realistic and up-to-date, in order that money shall not be wasted on training grounds which are abandoned later. Thus, in the interests of the Services, I am certain it is necessary for them to be given the earliest possible date at which to make up their minds, because if they do not, we shall have a repetition of the past, with the wrong site being developed and then the whole thing scrapped, with great waste of public money.

    We now come to the needs of another class, and that is the inhabitants of those places used as battle areas, who were turned out of their homes, as in the case of the Purbeck area in Dorset, and were told that they would be likely to come hack soon after the war. There is no reason why these people should not know what their position is for another four and a half years. It is obviously very unjust to a class of people who have made great sacrifices during the war. It is a class which may be small, but is nevertheless entitled to every consideration.

    We then have the case of the farmers, part of whose land has been requisitioned, who wish to know whether it will be necessary for them to continue to cultivate only part of their holdings, or whether they will be able to take over the whole of their land. Lastly, there are the needs of the landowners, who wish to know whether permanent adjustment to farm boundaries is necessary. Farm boundaries should be permanent if we are to take seriously this question of the production of more food. I can see no reason why four and a half years' extension of these powers for military purposes is necessary. I can understand that perhaps one year is not long enough, but no case has been made out for a longer or intermediary period by the Financial Secretary. If he can show no sense of compromise in this matter, then I, for one, shall be pleased to vote for this Amendment.

    I was not at all impressed by the reasons given by the Financial Secretary for the extension of the period until 1952. I hope that he will give very careful consideration to the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling), that he should, between now and Report stage, insert a date which is more favourable. The reasons he gave for the extension of time was that, owing to circumstances quite outside the control of the Government or anyone else, it was quite impossible for Government Departments, holding land or buildings under requisition, to make up their minds before 1952 whether or not they wished to continue using them for the purposes for which they were requisitioned during the war. hon. Members know quite well that much as we respect civil servants, the general attitude of mind in the Civil Service is not one of undue haste. All that will happen is that every Department concerned with requisitioned property, will merely take the view that since their powers have been extended until 1952, they can take a little longer to reach a decision.

    The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) stressed not only the inconvenience caused by existing delay, but what was still worse, the uncertainty. He described very well what I call the "clearing house procedure," that is as soon as one Government Department decide that they no longer require land or buildings, and before de-requisitioning takes place, the property is offered in turn to all the other Departments until it arrives at the Ministry of Works which is the final clearing house. It is this awful uncertainty which is holding up production. Where agricultural property is concerned, farmers do not know whether they will have their land or their buildings back next year or the year after.

    I have a case in my own constituency which is causing a great deal of anxiety at the moment. I think that the Financial Secretary knows about it. It concerns the Imperial Services College premises at Windsor, which was requisitioned by the War Office for the A.T.S. during the war, and subsequently purchased by the Windsor Borough Council. The Council require it for their offices and for a civic centre. So far, the reason given for refusing derequisition the building is that alternative accommodation has not been found for the A.T.S. personnel. That may be a good or a bad reason, but all that the Government's refusal to accept this Amendment means is that if the War Office like to procrastinate, they can continue to hold the premises until 1952, on the ground that they cannot find alternative accommodation. In other words, it merely extends the period during which the War Office can go through the motions of trying to find alternative accommodation, meantime causing immense inconvenience to the Windsor Borough Council, as well as to the Youth Club and to other bodies, including the Territorial Association, who are very anxious that the premises should be used for the purposes for which it was bought.

    Both on grounds of delay, and still more on grounds of uncertainty, therefore, the Financial Secretary has made out a very bad case for extending the period. I hope that he will consider the suggestion put forward by the hon. Member for Twickenham, because on past form, there is no reason to believe that if the period is extended, Government Departments will be any more ready to come to an early decision than they are now.

    I wish to make an appeal to the Minister of Works, whom we are fortunate to have with us today. I know very well the position in which the Financial Secretary finds himself. I was not in this position so often as he is; but from time to time a Financial Secretary does find himself having to defend a very bad case. No one who listened to the right hon. Gentleman could possibly be convinced by the case he put forward today. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) and the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) both expressed their dissatisfaction with his answer. It was impossible to believe that he was convincing himself, much less anyone else.

    I know what happens when one finds oneself in his position. He is not authorised to make any concession, and he has not sufficient status, if I may say so, to hold out any hope upon any Amendment that a point will be considered at a later stage. He has instructions to resist this and that Amendment, and in this case I am sure that he feels that a very strong case has been made for a shorter period than 1952. He speaks about it not being possible to do the work. He was not speaking about doing the work on the land, but getting Government officials in the Service Departments to come to effective decisions on paper.

    That is the work which wants doing. Two and a half years have already elapsed since the end of the war, and it is now suggested that another four and a half years should be granted, making a period of seven years in all for these decisions to be taken. All that is required is a decision as to which properties will or will not be kept.

    I appeal to the Minister of Works, who enjoys a higher status than the Financial Secretary, having listened to the Debate, and having seen that there is very little to be said in defence of the Government's point of view, to get up and say that he will consider the matter further, and will try to meet some of the criticisms on Report stage. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give some hope in a matter of this kind. Otherwise, it does seem that all the Clauses of this Bill will be perfectly useless for we are going to be met with stonewall opposition by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and by passive resistance from the Solicitor-General. If only the Minister of Works would give us a little hope at the outset of our proceedings on this Bill, how much more smoothly, easily, and agreeably we might pass the remainder of the time in discussing the other Clauses.

    6.0 p.m.

    May I make three observations on what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. First, I think it would be wrong of him to assume from his experience of defending bad cases from this Box under a Conservative Government—

    —that my experience is similar to his. We have a very good case and one which the country will accept as reasonable. The second point I wish to make is that I am, perhaps unfortunately for me, in general charge of this Measure. I should like to inform the right hon. Gentleman that I have full authority to make concessions where they are reasonable and in accord with Government policy, as he will see presently. Those concessions unfortunately do not go to the extent of covering the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has moved, which we think is unworkable and which we could not reasonably ask the Committee to accept. The third observa tion I wish to make is that the Under-Secretary of State for War is here and is very willing to answer the points that have been made since I spoke.

    May I put this point? Is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in point of fact, saying that his authority covers certain Amendments on the Paper and that every decision on every Amendment has been taken already? If that is so, will anything we have to say have any influence whatever on the future course of our proceedings?

    I meant no more than to say that we do not come to this Bill wedded to any particular form of words. As the arguments proceed, it may well be that we shall be able to meet the Opposition or my hon. Friends behind me on any points which they may put forward. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that I have full authority in all these matters.

    I think the issue before the Committee must now be clear to all of us. It is the period of the continuance of powers with respect to land in which there are war works. The issue was stated very clearly by the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). He put forward the view that the reasons which have led the Government to prefer the date of 10th December, 1952, were inadequate, which is really what we have to consider. What are the nature of those reasons? Are they inadequate and has a reasonable case been made out by those who have spoken for the Amendment for cutting down that date to merely 11 months? The Committee will remember that one of the reasons advanced has been that time must be given for the Service Departments to make firm decisions about their requirements, and the view that has been expressed in some quarters of the Committee is that the reason why the Government are asking for a date in 1952 is some defect of chronic indecision on the part of the Service Departments. On that I might ask some of the hon. Members opposite who have supported this Amendment to join issue, but I was very happy to receive the assistance of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) on the question of the powers of the Service Departments to come to a decision. He argued that it is not the Service Departments which have failed in this matter but that we were surrounded —this I think was his phrase—with derelict Ministries. I would urge him to impress such parts of his argument as concern the powers of Service Ministers on his hon. Friends opposite.

    Why should there be any such chronic indecision on the part of the Service Departments? All the Service Departments are profoundly anxious to reach finality as early as possible on this matter. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) that the Service Departments were continually preparing for the last war but one. I would suggest that one of the reasons for the difficulty of this problem is that the Service Departments have been asked to consider the problems created by a completely new set up of Service requirements such as the introduction of National Service. The many problems created by the experience of the last war have obliged the Service Departments to consider in an entirely new light not only the question of what land they require but a great many other problems besides. We should deserve the strictures of the hon. Member for Rugby if we rushed into a decision of so grave and vital a matter. I do not think it can be maintained that such part of the time as is consumed by the Service Departments in making their requirements known can be regarded as wasted.

    Can I give a specific case, that of the Stanford battle training area. There is a case where the War Office undertook to clear out when the war was over. The hon. Gentleman says there is no delay on his part. Can he give an assurance that this matter, which has been under consideration for two years, will be dealt with quickly? Otherwise his argument would seem to fall to the ground.

    I can give the hon. Gentleman an assurance that we have not engaged in any unreasonable delay in this matter. I do not think the Committee would expect me to enter into a detailed review of all the areas that are in question. If we turn from the question of any delay by the Service Departments and others to the procedure of discussion between the Service Departments, other Ministries and, equally important, the local authorities and the voluntary societies representing amenity interests, we come to the derelict Ministries referred to by the hon. Member for Torquay. I am not quite sure which Ministries he had in mind, but I would notice that we are dealing in particular with one Ministry that certainly cannot be regarded as derelict and to which I would apply the term infant Ministry, namely, the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. Though I say that, it is an infant Hercules endeavouring to strangle the ugliness and mal-administration which disfigured the country in the past.

    We will have to work out the different claims for the use of land. The hon. Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts) urged us not to let the important consideration of agriculture blind us to other needs for land. We are being constantly asked to weigh up any number of competitive claims, and the Ministry of Town and Country Planning has been created to face a new and very important problem. It would not be in the public interest, if, merely to get into this Bill the date 1948 rather than 1952, we were unreasonably to telescope the whole process of weighing up competing claims.

    The hon. Member for Rugby compared this process with the demobilisation of men. He said that if we could give a firm date for the demobilisation of men, why should not we do the same thing for abandoning the use of land. I think that there are two answers. First, the holding of a man to a service which imposes certain restrictions upon his personal liberty, is a more serious business than the holding of a piece of property for a particular use. Second, a piece of land, unlike a human being, is immortal, and any decision that is taken about its use may affect the welfare and amenity of this country for a very long period ahead. It becomes, therefore, particularly important that a decision shall be made with forethought and care and with a proper balancing of all the claims.

    The Committee will remember that it was also urged that we should not accept the earlier date, because, if we did, it would oblige us, in some instances, to carry out certain physical work, and that would mean the diverting of labour and materials from what is at present more essential work. That argument has grown in strength and intensity since this matter was first before the House. That is one reason why Parliament is now being asked to record a changed judgment as to the date on which we retire from occupation of these pieces of land. I could not follow the hon. Member for Rugby when he suggested that it was incumbent on Governments always to say the same thing as they had said in previous years. To accept such a proposition would mean, in fact, that we were not prepared to learn from experience or adapt policy to inevitable and uncontrollable change of circumstances.

    If the date 1948 proposed in the Amendment is too early, it may be asked if there is a case for the date in the Bill, which is 1952. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has given the House a reason to which, I think, not sufficient importance has been attached. Although it was originally the intention of Parliament to discriminate between military uses and economic uses, it has again become apparent that, in actual practice, it is extremely difficult to draw a dividing line, and to say on which side of that line any particular case falls. That, in itself, is a reason for making the date for the military use and for the economic use the same date; more particularly, as we have to be pre-occupied with the question: Are we dealing here with military or economic uses, and which date will apply? If that strictly legal question has to be solved in instance after instance, that is a factor militating against the speedy solution of the whole problem. It is, therefore, actually in the interests of a speedy solution of the problem that we should simplify the legalities of the matter by making the date the same1952—for economic and for military purposes.

    On the general question, it is most emphatically true that the Service Departments and other Ministries will be glad to be quit of these problems which are the aftermath of the war. I think, indeed, it would be true to say, speaking as a representative of a Service Department, that we find ourselves, time and again, landed with a variety of problems outside the normal scope of the Service Departments work, which have fallen on us at the end of the war, and there is nothing that would please the Service Departments better than to be free of all aftermath problems of that kind, so that they could concentrate on their major and normal work. Therefore, when we put the date in the Bill as 1952, it must not be supposed that not one of these problems will be solved, and not one particular case will be dealt with, until we have reached the eleventh hour provided for under the present terms of the Bill.

    6.15 p.m.

    The suggestion has been made by a number of hon. Members that an extension of the period will be an excuse for further delay. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) suggested that that would be the case in the particular instance that arises in his constituency. I would assure him that he under-estimates his own powers of persuasion and of championing his constituents interests if he supposes that the problem can be left unsolved and untackled until the very last moment provided for in the Bill. The Service Departments and the Treasury have the strongest motives for dealing with all the cases that arise under this Bill as early as possible. We may, therefore, I think reasonably accept the date of 1952 in the realisation that it is not in the interest, nor is it the intention, of any Department of Government to prolong the proceedings until the last possible moment.

    The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) asked for an undertaking so wide in its nature that I do not think he could have expected me to give it in the form for which he asked. He stressed the importance to all the parties concerned—the general public and the particular private interests—that the Government Departments should act as speedily as possible in this matter. If that is in the interests of the people for whom he speaks, and for whom other hon. Members have spoken, it is also emphatically in the interests of the Services and of the Government.

    I asked for an undertaking that when land or buildings had been requisitioned for a military purpose and ceased to be needed for that purpose, it should not be the policy of the Government to circularise every Department to take over the requisitioning. I have already given an illustration that the Ministry of Transport have filled a Glasgow public park with lifeboats and life rafts and my right hon. Friend's Department have got it turned into a builders' yard in another place. That is not fair. That is because the military requisitioning was transferred to another Department.

    I was aware that that was the nature of the undertaking asked for. It was because I was so well aware of it that I felt compelled to say that it was impossible to give an undertaking of that weight in general terms. Surely, it would not promote good administration and speed if the moment any piece of land, property or building ceases to be required for one purpose, it immediately reverted to a private owner, only for it to be found at some later date that, in some instances, it was essential in the public interest that it should be again acquired for the public. I know the kind of irritation and disappointment brought about by the examples which my hon. Friend has given, but I ask him to believe that the remedy he has suggested would not lead to better administration or greater speed.

    Why is it necessary in all cases to hawk premises round all the Ministries, which takes a tremendous time?

    It is not necessary in all cases, nor, in fact, is it done in all cases. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) endeavoured to suggest that we might find a period between 1948 and 1952. I hope that suggestion involves a recognition by hon. Members opposite that the Amendment does not really meet the needs of the case. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is a little hard that we should at one moment be asked to compromise and the next moment he told that hon. Members opposite are not prepared to recede an inch from their position.

    No. I was about to add that I understood the hon. Member for Twickenham to suggest some intermediate period. I expressed the hope that that involved recognition opposite that the Amendment did not meet the case. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I see that my hope is dashed. If they consider it, hon. Members will agree that the problem is too great and too complicated to be settled wisely in the very limited period proposed in the Amendment. If we are to reject, as we must do, the date proposed in the Amendment, the administrative reasons quoted by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for uniting the date for military and economic purposes are then paramount, and for that reason I trust the Committee will reject the Amendment.

    The Committee will have been delighted with the Under-Secretary's charming and attractive speech which was at times less sleepy and more provocative than those which we have been having lately from the Front Bench. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the very definite attempts he has made to help us get a better understanding of the Bill. I was, however, shocked at one or two things he said. I was very shocked at the stern military way in which he tried to suppress the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay). After all, the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire is a Scotsman who is not used to these over-riding War Office habits, and he was pleading not for private individuals but for a public authority. If we are to be told that the War Office can play battledore and shuttlecock with these things for four or five years and that back bench Members must not take any interest in them, it is taking us a considerable way towards a military State.

    The Under-Secretary stated that I had said that I thought the Service Departments were in advance of and made decisions more quickly than the other Departments. I am accused of saying that and I believe on the whole that the Service Departments do. If we could leave it to the military people, they would make up their minds and come to a decision. My hon. Friends need no convincing on that. The Under-Secretary invited me to try to convince my hon. Friends on that point earlier in the proceedings. I am convinced that if we had told the Services to give us their wants within the global figure, they could have done so in six months. The detailed figures could have been given very quickly afterwards because the Services do not make up global figures unless they know something of the numbers and the details involved.

    The Under-Secretary tried to lead me into trouble with the Minister of Works. I will resist that temptation. If I said anything at length it would take an awful time, and I will only say—I have been asked to go into it—that his administration in this connection is absolutely appal ling. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury was delightful. He said that we must have the same time for requisitioning for military and for economic purposes. Imagine what would have happened if at the General Election we had said that in two-and-a-half years' time the Socialist Government would be asking for what they are asking here: for two-and-a-half years plus four years, that is nearly seven years, in which to requisition anything in the way of land for military purposes. They can requisition a public park or Dartmoor—[Interruption]—

    I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. I did not know that he would catch the observation I was making. I was whispering to my hon. Friend that what the hon. Member for Torquay was saying is quite incorrect. We are not asking for those powers. There are no new powers for requisitioning in this Bill.

    I was referring to what the right hon. Gentleman was saying earlier. They are not new powers but extensions of existing powers. Unless this Amendment is accepted, powers are being extended for military and economic purposes until 1952. The military situation will be on exactly the same basis as the economic situation. In other words, the Government admit that their military situation today is as difficult as their economic situation. If we had forecast that at the last General Election, we would have been told that it was completely hopeless.

    Nothing will induce me to believe that the military situation today is as bad as that. It is completely and utterly futile for the Government to ask for this long extension so that every opportunity may be given to some small Ministry to say that it requires requisitioned land to carry out some experiment. We have had support from the other side of the Committee for what we are attempting to do, and I hope that a good number of hon. Gentlemen opposite will support the hon. Member for Dumbarton in his attack on the Government for the very ungenerous way with which they have dealt with the Amendment.

    The Financial Secretary to the Treasury said, and we were delighted to hear it, that he has full discretion to make concessions on this Bill if he thinks they are good ones. He also said that in the exercise of his discretion he did not think this Amendment was a good one, but he made no reply to the suggestion that some intermediate date between 1948 and 1952 should be inserted in the Clause. He must be well aware that the date 1952 has aroused profound dissatisfaction in all quarters of the Committee. It is not a party matter. Tories, Labour Members and an Independent have all expressed

    Division No. 58.

    AYES.

    [6.31 p.m.

    Adams, Richard (Balham)Diamond, J.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Dobbie, W.Lee, F. (Hulme)
    Alpass, J. H.Dodds, N. N.Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Driberg, T. E. N.Leslie, J. R.
    Austin, H. LewisDumpleton, C. W.Levy, B. W.
    Awbery, S. S.Durbin, E. F. M.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
    Ayles, W. H.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Lewis, T (Southampton)
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BEdwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)Lindgren, G. S.
    Bacon, Miss A.Edwards, N (Caerphilly)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
    Barstow, P. G.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Lyne, A. W.
    Barton, CEvans, A (Islington, W.)McEntee, V. La T.
    Battley, J R.Evans, E. (Lowestoft)McGhee, H. G.
    Bechervaise, A. E.Evans, John (Ogmore)McKay, J. (Wallsend)
    Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Ewart, R.Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
    Benson, G.Fairhurst, F.McKinlay, A. S.
    Berry, H.Farthing, W. J.Maclean, N. (Govan)
    Beswick, FFernyhough, E.McLeavy, F.
    Bevan, Rt. Hon A (Ebbw Vale)Field, Capt. W. J.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
    Bing, G. H. C.Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Macpherson, T. (Romford)
    Binns, J.Fool, M. M.Mainwaring, W. H.
    Blyton, W. R.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mallalieu, J. P. W.
    Boardman, H.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
    Bottomley, A. G.Ganley, Mrs. C. S.Marshall, F. (Brightside)
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Gibbins, J.Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.
    Braddock, T (Mitcham)Gibson, C. W.Medland, H. M.
    Bramall, E. A.Gilzean, A.Mellish, R. J.
    Brooks, T. J (Rothwell)Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Middleton, Mrs. L.
    Brown, George (Belper)Grenfell, D. R.Mikardo, Ian
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Grey, C. F.Mitchison, G. R.
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Grierson, E.Monslow, W.
    Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G.Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)Moody, A. S.
    Burden, T WGriffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Morgan, Dr. H. B.
    Burke, W. A.Gunter, R. J.Morley, R.
    Butler, H W (Hackney, S.)Guy, W. H.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
    Callaghan, JamesHall, Rt. Hon. GlenvilMorris, P. (Swansea, W.)
    Castle, Mrs. B. A.Hamilton, Lt.-Col. R.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham E.)
    Chamberlain, R. A.Hardy, E. A.Mort, D. L.
    Champion, A. J.Harrison, J.Moyle, A
    Chater, D.Harbison, Miss M.Murray, J. D.
    Chetwynd, G. R.Hicks, G.Nally, W.
    Cluse, W. S.Hobson, C. R.Naylor, T. E.
    Cobb, F. A.Holman, P.Neal, H. (Claycross)
    Cooks, F. S.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
    Coldrick, WHorabin, T. L.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
    Collick, P.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
    Collindridge, F.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)O'Brien, T.
    Collins, V. J.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Oldfield, W. H.
    Colman, Miss G. M.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Oliver, G. H.
    Comyns, Dr. LHynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Orbach, M.
    Cook, T. F.Irvine, A, J. (Liverpool)Paget, R. T.
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
    Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
    Corlett, Dr. JJanner, BPalmer, A. M. F.
    Cove, W. G.Jay, D. P. T.Parkin, B. T.
    Daggar, G.Jones, D T (Hartlepools)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
    Daines, P.Jones, J H (Bolton)Paton, J. (Norwich)
    Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Pearson, A.
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)Keenan, W.Perrins, W.
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Kenyon, CPoole, Cecil (Lichfield)
    Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Key, C. W.Popplewell, E.
    Davies, S O. (Merthyr)King, E. M.Porter, E. (Warrington)
    Deer, G.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EPorter, G. (Leeds)
    de Freitas, GeoffreyKinley, J.Price, M. Philips
    Lang, G.Pritt, D. N.

    great dissatisfaction with that date. So I ask, will he in the exercise of the discretion which he says he has, at least give us an assurance that the insertion of an earlier date in this Clause will be considered by the Government before the Report stage?

    Question put, "That the words 'is hereby repealed' stand part of the Clause."

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 138.

    Pryde, D. J.Soskice, Maj. Sir F.Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
    Pursey, Cmdr. H.Sparks, J. A.Warbey, W. N.
    Randall, H. E.Stamford, W.Watkins, T. E.
    Ranger, J.Steele, TWatson, W. M.
    Rankin, J.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Reid, T. (Swindon)Stokes, R. R.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
    Richards, R.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Ridealgh, Mrs. M.Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. (Lambeth, N.)West, D. G.
    Robens, A.Stubbs, A EWestwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Sylvester, G. O.Wheatley, J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)
    Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Symonds, A. L.White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Rogers, G. H. R.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Royle, C.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnel)Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
    Sargood, R.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Scott-Elliot, W.Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Segal, Dr. S.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    Sharp, GranvilleThomas, George (Cardiff)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
    Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
    Shurmer, P.Thurtle, ErnestWillis, E.
    Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Tiffany, S.Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
    Simmons, C. J.Timmons, J.Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H
    Skeffington, A. M.Titterington, M. F.Wise, Major F. J.
    Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.Tolley, LWoodburn, A.
    Skinnard, F. W.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.Woods, G. S.
    Smith, C. (Colchester)Ungoed-Thomas, L.Wyatt, W.
    Smith, Ellis (Stoke)Usborne, HenryYates, V. F.
    Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Vernon, Maj. W. F.Zilliacus, K.
    Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Viant, S. P.
    Snow, J. W.Walkden, E.

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    Solley, L. J.Walker, G. H.Mr. Joseph Henderson and
    Sorensen, R. W.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)Mr. Wilkins.

    NOES.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Harris, H. WilsonPeake, Rt. Hon. O.
    Amory, D. HeathcoatHarvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Haughton, S. G.Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
    Baldwin, A. E.Head, Brig. A. H.Prescott, Stanley
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
    Bennett, Sir P.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Ramsay, Maj. S.
    Birch, NigelHurd, A.Rayner, Brig. R.
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Hutchison, Lt.-Cm Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
    Bowen, R.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Renton, D.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Jennings, R.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
    Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Roberts, Peter (Ecclesall)
    Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Keeling, E. H.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamRobertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
    Butcher, H. W.Lambert, Hon GRobinson, Roland
    Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Langford-Holt, J.Ropner, Col. L.
    Eyers, FrankLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
    Challen, C.Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Linstead, H. N.Sanderson, Sir F.
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Lipson, D. L.Scott, Lord W
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Low, A. R. W.Shephard, S, (Newark)
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Snadden, W. M.
    Crowder, Capt John E.MacAndrew, Col. Sir CStoddart-Scott, Col. M.
    Cuthbert, W. N.McCallum, Maj. D.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Darling, Sir W. Y.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon M. S.Sutcliffe, H.
    Davidson, ViscountessMacdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
    Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Teeling, William
    Digby, S. W.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
    Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Manningham-Buller, R. EThornton-Kemsley, C. N
    Dower, E. L. G (Caithness)Marsden, Capt. A.Touche, G. C.
    Drayson, G. B.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Turton, R. H.
    Drewe, C.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Vane, W. M. F.
    Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Maude, J. C.Wadsworth, G.
    Eccles, D. M.Mellor, Sir J.Wakefield, Sir W. W.
    Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
    Fox, Sir G.Morris-Jones, Sir H.Wheatley, Col. M. J.(Dorset, E.)
    Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.White, J. B. (Canterbury)
    Gammans, L. D.Neven-Spence, Sir B.Williams, C (Torquay)
    George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Nield, B. (Chester)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
    Glyn, Sir R.Nutting, AnthonyWilloughby de Eresby, Lord
    Gomme-Duncan, Col. AOdey, G. W.York, C.
    Granville, E. (Eye)O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.
    Grimston, R. V.Orr-Ewing, I. L.

    TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

    Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Osborne, C.Mr. Studholme and
    Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 2—(Acquisition Of Agricultural Land Where Use In Existing Units Is Affected By Government War Work)

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 3, at the end, to add:

    "and
    (c) he has no power to acquire the land under the Agriculture Act, 1947, or any other enactment."
    It has been our contention throughout the discussion of this Bill that this Clause is unnecessary, and that the Minister of Agriculture already has full powers to acquire land for the purposes of the adjustment of boundaries under the Agriculture Act, We believe it will be far better if land to be used for agriculture, the boundaries of which require readjustment, is purchased under the auspices of the Minister of Agriculture, rather than under the auspices of a Service, or other requisitioning Department. For that reason, we seek to secure that this Clause shall only be used in those cases where the Agriculture Act is not applicable. I would remind the Committee of the wording of Section 84 (1, c) of the Agriculture Act, 1947:
    "Where—
    … (in any case) the Minister is satisfied that the full and efficient use of the land for agriculture cannot be achieved unless the land is used therefor in conjunction with other land and that it cannot reasonably be expected to be so used unless the Minister exercises his powers under this Subsection, … then he may acquire the land or any part thereof. …"
    The adjustment of boundaries between requisitioned land and other land where the efficient use of the land, either for agriculture or forestry, would otherwise be, prevented, can perfectly well be ensured under the Agriculture Act. I am supported in that view by the words used by the Solicitor-General in the Second Reading Debate. He said:
    "Clause 2, by way of amplification of the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Act of 1945, overlap to some extent at any rate with the powers conferred upon the Minister of Agriculture by Section 84 of the Agriculture Act, 1947."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; Vol. 445, C. 1592.]
    Having stated that there is an overlap, he went into some detail as to why that overlap was wanted. In order to save the time of the Committee, I will summarise what he said. The picture he gave was that it would first be acquired by a Service Minister under Clause 2, and then, when acquired by a Service Minister, it would he handed over to the Minister of Agriculture to work under the acquisition powers of the Agriculture Act. That seems a needless duplication and delay. If, for the purposes of agriculture, it is essential to adjust the boundaries, it is far better that that work should be done quickly.

    Under the Agriculture Act, land will be acquired under the Acquisition of Land Act, 1946, which gives ample scope for a public local inquiry. I understood that one of the reasons why the Government were inserting Clause 2 was that under the Requisitioned Land Act, 1945, there is scope for a public local inquiry. A public local inquiry is provided for under both Acts. It would be far better to leave the matter in the more capable hands, from an agricultural point of view, of the Minister of Agriculture and his Parliamentary Secretary, than to have it dealt with by a number of odd, and in some cases derelict, Departments.

    6.45 p.m.

    When land is required by the Minister of Agriculture, it is to be managed by the Land Commission. At present a great deal of land is being requisitioned by Service Departments and managed by branches of those Departments, in my submission, in a not very efficient manner. The Land Commission, when it is set up, should be composed of gentlemen well versed in agricultural knowledge and practice. It is unreasonable to think that the Air Ministry, for example, can manage agricultural land efficiently. For those reasons I hope the Government will accept the Amendment which does not curtail the powers of Clause 2 to any unnecessary extent. It merely says that Clause 2 shall not be used if any Section of the 1947 Act can be used. Clause 2 is primarily provided to deal with agriculture, and I submit that this Amendment is in the interests of agriculture.

    I wish to support the Amendment. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) I think Clause 2 as it stands is unnecessary although I do not suggest that its object is unnecessary. There is no doubt that great disturbance to agricultural holdings has taken place during the war by the making of runways and that disturbance should be put right so that it does not become a lasting disadvantage to agriculture. We have only to look out of railway carriage windows when travelling in a train to agricultural parts of England to see the damage which has already been done to the layout of farms. Little bits of fields are cut off by roadways and isolated from the remainder of their farms and in many cases this has involved a special crossing or cattle creep which is very expensive to the owner. The result has been the erection of unnecessary gates and fences.

    The same sort of thing is happening to day on airfields, many of which are derelict and will soon be going back to agricultural use, and it should be put right. For that reason I agree that the people who should put it right are those who know how to do so. My experience of agricultural land in the hands of Service Ministries has not been a happy one. Generally, to say the least of it, the land has been mismanaged, or worse. I have never been able to understand why the Minister of Agriculture is not included in this Bill or in the 1945 Act. He is most definitely concerned, but he is given no standing in either Measure. It seems as though the Treasury have tried to squeeze him out on all occasions, including this Clause. During the Second Reading Debate I asked the Solicitor-General a question which is relevant to this Amendment. He told me that Section 6 of the 1945 Act, as amended by Clause 2, will always be used, not Section 84 of the Agriculture Act. He never explained why, and I did not want to interrupt him again. I hope we shall hear tonight the reason why.

    I feel that it would be much simpler to let the Ministry of Agriculture undertake the whole of this revision of farm boundaries. My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton has spoken of the Land Commission. They seem to be a body ideally suited for this work, certainly very much more so than the land agents of some Service Ministry. For these reasons I hope that the Amendment will be favourably considered. The point was raised on Second Reading and no satisfactory answer was given to our plea that this arrangement is only overcomplicating the matter and that one Minister, the Minister of Agriculture, should deal with it in its entirety. His Department is qualified to do so, and it would be simpler and better in every way if the whole matter were referred to it.

    Having listened to what has been said on this Amendment, I hope that we can dispose of it fairly easily. It occurs to me that hon. Members are afraid that under this Clause the Minister of Agriculture will not be consulted and taken into account as much as he obviously should be. If that is the fear, or the main fear, I can set it at rest. The Committee will remember that when we were dealing with this matter on Second Reading, the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) asked why this Clause was necessary. He put forward the question then, and has done so again today—he has put his view into writing in this Amendment—as to why this could not be done under the Agriculture Act, 1947. On that occasion he referred mainly to Section 87 rather than to Section 84 (1, c), upon which he now relies. That being so, I have nothing to say about the reasons why Section 87 would be completely inappropriate in this direction.

    Section 84 (1, c) is rather different, and when this Bill was under consideration it was looked at to see whether it was not possible to do what we all desire to do in this direction under the Agriculture Act, 1947. It would certainly be possible to use that Act in some cases; I do not deny that for a moment; but it would be quite impossible to use the Act for many cases which we envisage as arising under this Clause when this Bill becomes an Act. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton read out a portion of Section 84 (1, c) of the Agriculture Act, 1947. I am sure that he did not mean to mislead the Committee, and he read only part of it in order to save time, but he did miss out something which is very much to the point in this connection. That Section comes into force when land has been severed, in pursuance of powers conferred by or under any enactment. Some of the land with which it will be necessary to deal under this Clause has never been severed at all in the sense which is understood in the Section of the 1947 Act to which the hon. Member referred. Also, some of the requisitioned land which will have to be dealt with has been severed, not as a result of work done under any enactment at all, but under the Prerogative.

    That being so, and for another reason which I shall now give, it was felt, I think quite rightly, that it would be wrong to rely on the powers conferred by Section 84 (1, c) of the 1947 Act. The way we argued was that under the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945, certain temporary and limited powers of a fixed duration were taken for the acquisition of requisitioned land and it would be unfair for the Government now to use for that purpose powers contained in a permanent Act of another kind which was not designed to deal with land, or the rehabilitation of land, affected by war works or war use. That it would be unfair to use the Act for that purpose and that it is much fairer to "come clean" and come to the House with this Bill and insert a straightforward amendment to the 1945 Act, will commend itself to Members in all parts of the Committee. That being so it is better that we should have this Clause and not try to rely on the Agriculture Act, 1947.

    In addition, I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Minister of Agriculture comes into this matter at every turn. A question was put on that point by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton. I can assure him that the drill followed is that the Ministry which happens to have a requisition, for example the Air Ministry, would acquire the land, but it could not attempt to do so without first receiving the certification of the Minister of Agriculture that it was necessary, in view of plans which were essential for the rehabilitation of that and other land as agricultural land. It is an essential prerequisite that the Minister of Agriculture should give his certificate in that way. The Ministry concerned would then proceed to acquire the land in the usual way. It would then be handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture and used in such way as is deemed desirable in the national interest. I hope that with that explanation, which answers the points made, and allays the fears voiced from the other side of the Committee, hon. Members will be satisfied and will withdraw this Amendment.

    7.0 p.m.

    May I ask one question? It may be rather stupid, but I do not quite understand to whom it would be unfair? As I understand it, these boundaries are going to be revised by a Service Ministry, or the Ministry of Works, or as we suggest, by the Ministry of Agriculture. From the point of view of the people going to be operated on—if I may use that term—I should have thought they would prefer to be operated on by the "professional" Ministry of Agriculture rather than by the "amateur" Ministry of Works.

    I am sorry if I failed to make myself clear. It may be that my phraseology was loose, and if it was I apologise. The Ministry of Agriculture will do the operating, in the sense that they will decide—where, for instance, an aerodrome was in existence, and it is uneconomic to grout up the runways—whether, in order to make the best use of that particular area, it is essential that certain farm boundaries should be altered. The Ministry of Agriculture will decide that in the light of what the nation requires in that direction, so far as that particular area is concerned. They will go to the Department—it may be the Air Ministry—which happens to hold the requisitioning powers over that land. The Air Ministry will be no more than an agent for the Ministry of Agriculture. It is all very plain and common sense.

    I should not like to say anything which would discourage the Government, or any Member of it, from "coming clean" to the House, but I think from the Financial Secretary's observations, that he really has not gone to the root of the difficulty in trying to compare Clause 2 of this Bill with Subsection (1, c) of Section 84 of the Agriculture Act. Under Section 84 there is power for the readjustment of boundaries where agricultural land has been severed from such other land in the exercise of powers conferred for purposes other than agricultural purposes by any other enactment. The right hon. Gentleman did not seek to define or describe in what way—to come within the purview of Section 84 Subsection (1, c)—agricultural land would have to be severed from other agricultural land. I should have thought that one obvious instance would be the particular instance to which he referred—that of a runway, that might sever agricultural land from other such land, that is to say, other such agricultural land, and so come within Subsection (1, c) of Section 84.

    It may be part of the farm, but it is severed by the runway within the words of the Act, in my view, from other agricultural land. Section 84 does not purport, where a farm is divided into two parts by a runway, that that farm shall be treated as one. What Section 84 deals with is not a farm, but agricultural land. It says that where agricultural land is severed from other agricultural land in the same or a different farm, Section 84 can operate for the adjustment of boundaries. I should have thought that Section 84 (1, c) was clearly drafted and designed to achieve the very purpose which is dealt with—or what purports to be dealt with—in the Clause of the Bill under discussion.

    We are told that the whole purpose of the acquisition under Clause 2 of the Bill will be to secure the adjustment of boundaries. When one part of a farm has been acquired and thrown into another farm, so as to make them more easily workable and efficient, what is going to happen to the land which has been compulsorily acquired? If a strip of "Black Acre" is thrown into "White Acre" so as to adjust the boundaries, it is contemplated, as I understand it from that Clause, that the whole of "White Acre" is compulsorily acquired, for the purpose of adding this strip to it—and, indeed, the whole of "Black Acre." Otherwise, land could not be taken from "Black Acre" and added to "White Acre."

    If this compulsory acquisition is to take place on that scale, what is to happen after the boundaries have been adjusted? Are the original owners to be offered the opportunity of buying back their farms for a price which takes into account the land that has been compulsorily added to the farm, or, on the other hand, the reduction in value due to the compulsory loss of part of the farm? I do not wish to delay long upon this Section, because it seems to duplicate to such a large extent the powers already contained in the Agriculture Act, but I do ask, before we pass from this Clause, that we should have a clear statement from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, speaking on behalf of his Ministry, of what the distinct policy will be, when land has been acquired for the purpose of adjusting the boundaries, and the adjustment has been made.

    What is the policy going to be with regard, for instance, to the two particular farms affected? I think that is a point which ought to be cleared up. I think also it would be extremely useful if we could be told what, in the view of the Government, constitutes severance of one part of agricultural land from other agricultural land to bring the case within Section 84 (1, c). If that could be explained it might be more easy to comprehend the reason why the Government, in their passion for legislation, are apparently indulging in excessive duplication.

    The situation, as it now stands, is very untidy. The reasons given by the Financial Secretary were, to my mind, completely inconclusive. I gathered that there were three main reasons. One was that it was unfair to use a permanent Act for temporary purposes—to use a permanent Act to deal with war works. I do not see that that matters at all. When we were discussing the Agriculture Act, we had many of these points in mind, which came about entirely through war Acts of various sorts. I am quite certain that nobody in the Committee, or any other part of the House, was in the least disturbed to hear that war works were going to be dealt with under the Agriculture Act. In fact, I believe we were certain at that time that a number of them would be so dealt with. I cannot go into them all, because that would go far beyond the scope of this Amendment, but I do remember one in particular.

    The Financial Secretary also gave as a reason the fact that, in a great number of cases—"in many cases" were his words—it would be impossible to use Section 84 (c) of the Agriculture Act. That may be so, but he did not give us any illustration of why it would be so. Perhaps we might, at least, have that statement substantiated to help us to understand what he meant by it. The third reason was that land had never been severed. The right hon. Gentleman gave the illustration of a runway. I do not know whether he has ever tried to farm a runway. He will know that it is a stretch of land which may be up to 30 or 40 yards wide. If a runway does not constitute severance as between the two pieces of land on either side of it, then I presume that the Great West Road, and a few of these other large arterial runways, also do not constitute severance.

    In the case of trunk roads, I am sure that we need not bother about the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act. These seem to be very poor reasons. The only real offer that the right hon. Gentleman made was that all this business of acquisition by any other Department than that of Agriculture would be done after close consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture. After we have been in this House for a few years, I think we are sufficiently cynical and sceptical about consultations to realise the value of that offer. The other point which interested me, and which was not fully developed, was on the question of certification which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. I have never heard anything about certification by the Ministry of Agriculture in the case of acquisition or otherwise. It is a new idea to me. The Committee is entitled to have an explanation of the machinery to be used if the Government insist upon it.

    My final point is that this matter is entirely agricultural. The reason for putting this Amendment into Section 6 of the 1945 Act is to include agricultural land. At present there is no specific inclusion. I cannot understand why it is necessary, when the Government realise that the powers they want are contained in the Agriculture Act, that they should go out of their way to cause confusion and delay in dealing with this war work on aerodromes. I conclude, as my hon. Friends conclude, that no case has been made out against this Amendment and, therefore, all war and other works which deal entirely with agricultural problems ought to be dealt with by the Ministry of Agriculture.

    No one who has ever had any experience of protests by the Ministry of Agriculture to Service Departments which want to requisition land will have his fears allayed by the very plausible defence put up by the Financial Secretary. Whereas there may be some case for riding roughshod over the Ministry of Agriculture in wartime when operational needs are paramount, there is surely no case whatever for putting agriculture into this subservient position now two years after the end of the war. It sounds very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Ministry of Agriculture is always taken into consultation, that certificates are issued and so on, but those people who have had experience of the working out of this sort of thing know that those certificates are not worth the paper on which they are written. If a Service Department has made up its mind that it intends to take any action, it always manages somehow or other to push the Ministry of Agriculture into second place. I hardly think that the speech of the Financial Secretary is designed to allay those very reasonable fears. I hope that he will tell us a little bit more. This seems to be a most retrograde step for which there is really no reasonable defence.

    7.15 p.m.

    The difficulty here is that there is some suspicion abroad which is hardly justified. There is no riding roughshod over the Ministry of Agriculture in this at all. This rather minor amendment of the provision of the 1945 Act arises not from the desire of these wicked fellows to ride roughshod over us, but from the fact that the Act of 1945 is a little restrictive, so far as the Ministry of Agriculture is concerned, in making sure that the best agricultural use is made of land about which there may be some argument whether or not it fits completely into the provisions of that Act. I hope I carry the Committee with me in saying that there is no ground for suspicion that other people are "pulling a fast one" over us. We are ourselves very concerned about this amendment to the 1945 Act.

    I thought also that the straining of words by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) was, by itself, very good evidence of the rightness of our decision not to proceed in these cases under the 1947 Act. Apparently there is a good deal of room for argument about what is and what is not severance. There are some cases where the land will have been severed within the meaning which we think attaches to the word "severance" in the Act of 1947. There will be other cases in which there may be the kind of argument which went on between the hon. and learned Gentleman and my right hon. Friend.

    The hon. Member has accused me of "straining words" which appear in an Act of Parliament. I do not in the least mind that sort of accusation from him, and I wish that the Solicitor-General would address his observation to it. Would he give some illustration of the interpretation which the Government place on the word "severance"?

    It is enough for the point I am trying to make to say that clearly there may be argument about what is and what is not severance for this purpose. I doubt very much whether in every case the creation of runways on a field would necessarily be held to be severance in accordance with the words in the Act of 1947. My point is not to prove whether it is or is not. There is room for argument. There may be some cases in which there will not be any real effective severance at all but in which it would be desirable, to ensure the best agricultural use of the land, that we should proceed with it in the way we originally had in mind. Therefore, for that first reason, it would be difficult for us to proceed under the Act of 1947.

    There is the further important point which nobody has mentioned. The Act of 1945 lays down a particular course of appeal to the War Works Commission by the people from whom the land is being acquired. If that appeal succeeds, the Government have no alterative but to accept the decision. That is what my right hon. Friend meant when he talked about being unfair. In those cases it seemed to us that, even if we had the power under the Act of 1947, we ought not to rely upon general powers which were given for quite different circumstances. We ought not to rely upon those general powers which would have the effect of nullifying a provision put into the 1945 Act for the protection of citizens whose land was to be acquired in this way.

    The point is whether we ought now, instead of honestly amending the 1945 Act and retaining the protections which it conferred on the citizens affected, to "scrub it out," if I may use the term, and rely upon general powers under another Act which do not provide that kind of protection at all. Several hon. Members have asked what will happen to the land. It will be acquired by the requisitioning Ministry, in practice, on the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture. In any case, it can only be acquired when the Minister of Agriculture has given his consent in the terms of the Clause which we are now considering. He will have to assert that the land is required under the terms of paragraphs (a) and (b) of the Subsection.

    Could the hon. Gentleman explain the machinery? Will this be done by advice from the Land Commission, or by advice from the county committees, or from whom?

    On the spur of the moment, I would not like to tie myself down to stating the specific machinery. It might conceivably be from either of those sources. In fact, it is almost certain to come from the county committees. I should think that it is likely, but I would not like to commit myself at the moment, that the initiative will be taken by the Ministry of Agriculture. In any case, the certification in the terms of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Subsection will be given by the Ministry of Agriculture. The land will have to be acquired by the requisitioning Ministry and will be passed over to the Ministry of Agriculture for management, and it may well fall to be managed by the Land Commission and farmed in that way.

    The Parliamentary Secretary said that it may well fall to be managed by the Land Commission. Does he mean that it will be, or that it will not be so managed? Will it remain in the hands of the Service Department or will it be restored to the Ministry of Agriculture?

    No, it will be handed over by the acquiring Ministry to the Ministry of Agriculture. I am quite certain about that. When I said "may well be," I was referring to the actual method which we adopt for securing the best use of the land. We may pass it on to the Land Commission, but it is quite certain that it will pass to us. The answer to the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry about "Black Acre" and "White Acre," is that we would acquire both and re-divide them into economic units, and they would again be farmed, probably by the Land Commission or in the same way in which we would deal with other holdings as economic holdings.

    I do not think there is much more that I can add, and I hope hon. Members will let us have this Clause. There is nothing suspicious about this; we are not trying to get round anything. We do not believe that under the 1947 Act we have all the powers which make the relevant Section of the 1945 Act redundant. We believe there is still something in the 1945 Act which is different. In any case, were that not so, I make a firm point of the fact that we entered into certain obligations under the 1945 Act to protect the people from whom we took the land, and it would be a retrograde step if we now used other more general powers and thus withdrew those specific protections.

    Am I to understand that when a small adjustment of boundary is to be made, the effect will be that the two adjoining farmers will be dispossessed of their farms in order to make an adjustment of possibly 20 yards to a boundary, and that as a general rule, the farm will then be farmed by the Land Commission? I think that is what followed from the hon. Gentleman's words.

    One can always think of extreme cases—I do not say that with any disrespect to the hon. and learned Gentleman—but it is impossible to believe that that sort of incredible thing will happen. In the main, we are dealing with land which is under requisition now, and as to which we have to decide whether we shall hand it back or whether we shall acquire it permanently. I do not think the extreme case which the hon. and learned Gentleman has put is likely to arise.

    I am not putting an extreme case. We are entitled to an answer from the representative of the Minister of Agriculture who will have to give his certificate before any action is taken under this Clause. This Clause deals with any land on which Government war work has been done or of which there has been Government war use. One can conceive of a wide variety of circumstances relating to Government war work or Government war use, but before we pass from this Clause—and I hope we shall be able to avoid a Division upon it—we ought to have a statement of principle from the Government. Will they say that when they operate this Clause, provided they are satisfied that the farmers whose lands are affected have been farming well, they will give those farmers the opportunity of continuing to farm that land after the adjustment of boundary has been made? I understand that it may well mean that because it is desired to achieve some adjustment of boundaries, farmers of high repute and good record will find themselves forcibly dispossessed of their farms and that in future their farms will be undertaken by the Land Commission. That appears to follow from what the hon. Gentleman has said. Will the hon. Gentleman say that, as a general principle, opportunities will be given to those who farm well to continue farming the land which they and their ancestors have occupied for generations?

    I am sure that we shall pass this Clause without a Division. It would be extremely unfortunate if hon. Members opposite were to divide against the protection which is afforded under the Act of 1945. As I understand it, the original provisions in the 1945 Act, which we are only slightly amending, relate to land for which total or partial rehabilitation is expedient in the public interest, and which is unlikely to be carried out by the owners themselves. Therefore, the point which the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised does not arise under this Clause. It might well arise under the 1947 Act when the relevant part is in operation, but at the moment we are dealing with land which needs rehabilitation, which cannot be dealt with as it stands, and where it is unlikely that the owners themselves will be able to deal with it.

    I am not satisfied with the reply. It would appear that the Ministry of Agriculture are not anxious to accept the aid which we have offered them. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

    This Clause raises a greater doubt than that which we have been discussing: namely, what will be the effect of this Clause, as drafted, on land which is contiguous or adjacent to the war damaged land? As the Committee will recollect, in the Act of 1945 Section 6 (1) dealt with the rehabilitation of war damaged land. Subsection (2) gave the Ministries involved the power to acquire not merely the land whose value had been diminished, but also any contiguous or adjacent land which, in the opinion of the Minister,

    "must be held with the first-mentioned land."
    Is it the intention of the Government that not only land on which there may be a runway will be allowed to be brought into this permanent adjustment, but also any land that is contiguous or adjacent to it? If so, this is a very wide extension of the rights or the disabilities of farmers under the Act of 1945.

    7.30 p.m.

    I find it very hard to decipher this, because it will be seen that the Clause as drafted merely adds Subsection (3) to Section 6 of the 1945 Act. Subsection (2) of Section 6, which deals with any contiguous or adjacent land, is limited to "any such case as aforesaid" and that, presumably, applies to Subsection (1), but not to the new Subsection (3). If that is so, contiguous or adjacent land cannot be dealt with under this new Subsection (3). It is always difficult, when we are dealing with legislation by reference, and are suddenly jobbing in a new Subsection to a Section of an existing Act, to weigh up the position.

    I maintain that if it is the intention of the Government under this new Clause not to deal with land which has been part of an aerodrome we shall be getting to the position of Ahab and Naboth's vineyard, and the Ministry will be saying, "We like that little bit of smallholding; it will help to make a big Government farm." That would be highly undesirable for the interests of agriculture. The mopping up of smallholdings by Government Departments is very bad procedure. I hoped to move a specific Amendment on this point, but as it was

    not selected I thought it better to raise the question on this Motion.

    I would like to support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), because it seems to me that in this new Clause we are greatly extending the present uncertainty of adjoining farmers and landowners. If we turn to Section 6, Subsection (2), of the 1945 Act we find that the test for acquisition of this adjacent land is that it must be held with "the first mentioned land" if such land is to be properly dealt with. That seems to be a fair test, but when we come to this Clause we find that it is made much wider, and that it is very much easier for adjacent land to be acquired. Paragraph (3, a) of this Clause states that the Minister has to be satisfied

    "… that without a permanent adjustment of boundaries between the land and other land the most efficient use of the land … for agriculture … will be prevented."
    There must be many farms which would be more efficiently run if they were to take over the best fields of an adjoining farm. Only a short time ago I was looking at a farm, and wondering whether its boundaries ought to be altered. In shape it was very elongated. When I went into the matter I found that the fields at one end were very good and those at the other end, were very bad. If the good fields had been chopped off that farm, and given to someone else, that farm would have been worse off, although I agree that the other farm would have been better off. We do not want the Government to improve their own holdings by chopping off good fields from adjoining farms, thus leaving them in a very much worse position than they were before. If there is to be any likelihood of that, many people will wonder what will happen to them under this Bill. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman can give us an assurance on this matter.

    I think I am in a position to give an assurance on this point. The anxiety felt by Members opposite can be put in this way: Does Subsection (2) of Section 6 of the 1945 Act become in any way attracted by reason of the insertion of this new Subsection (3)? I can assure the Committee that it does not. If Members will look at the new Subsection (3) they will see that it provides that in the event of certain conditions existing the power of acquisition shall be exercisable. If we look at the 1945 Act to see what the power of acquisition is we find that it is the power which is referred to in Section 4 of that Act. It is only that power of acquisition which is made exercisable by the insertion of the new Subsection (3). It is an extension of that power of acquisition which is created by Subsection (2); there is nothing which Subsection (3) provides which has the effect of attracting or making operative in those circumstances, the extending powers which are created by Subsection (2).

    In expressing my gratitude to the hon. and learned Gentleman, may I ask him to consider embodying a small Amendment in the Bill on the Report stage, so that this will be made perfectly clear?

    I feel that it is clear, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said, as we do not want any doubt about it.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 3—(Highways)

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, to leave out from "order," to "and," in line 9, and to insert:

    "could have been made under Regulation sixteen, fifty-two or sixty-nine A of the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, as in force at that time, stopping up or diverting the highway."
    As the Committee knows, this Clause provides, in Subsection (1), that in certain circumstances, where it has been impossible to obtain an order under Defence Regulations 16 or 52 to stop up a highway temporarily that omission can, in effect, be rectified and the stopping up made permanent by the use of the powers which are provided in Section 15 of the 1945 Act. This Amendment does not raise the question of principle as to whether this Clause is one which the Committee will accept or not; the House discussed it on Second Reading, but whether Members would like to ask any questions about it I do not know.

    All the Amendment does is to make a slight change in this Clause. It adds Defence Regulation 69A to the other two which already appear in the Clause— Defence Regulations 16 and 52. If there has been a failure to obtain an order to stop up a highway, and that order could have been made, not only under Defence Regulations 16 or 52, but also under Defence Regulation 69A, the like powers shall be available to use Section 15 of the 1945 Act.

    Since the Clause was drafted it has been brought to light that there have been a very few instances of highways which could have been stopped up by the appropriate authority—the Minister of Transport—under Defence Regulation 69A. This regulation gives the Minister power to stop up or divert any highway passing through land used, or intended to be used, for the purpose of a railway, and to prohibit or restrict the exercise of a right of way over any such land. There are a few highways in respect of which an order could be made under that regulation. All I seek to do is to add that regulation. If the Committee think that the Clause as a whole should be accepted, I put it as a matter of common sense that this addition or sligh extension should also be accepted, because the principle is the same as that of Subsection (I).

    The hon. and learned Gentleman has moved this Amendment in disarming fashion. He has pointed out that the only effect of the Amendment is to attract into Subsection (1) (a), Defence Regulation 69A. I was interested to hear him give some information about that regulation. I was wondering what it provided. I have here what I think is still the last volume of Defence Regulations, that which was published in February, 1946. One finds that that volume does not contain Regulation 69A at all. It is excluded from the book. The hon. and learned Gentleman has now been kind enough to hand to me a slip of paper on which is printed Defence Regulation 69A. The Regulation was made in 1941. I should indeed be grateful for an explanation why that Defence Regulation was omitted from the volume published in 1946, if that Regulation was in force in 1946 and is in force now. This becomes a matter of some importance, and the Committee ought to give it somewhat careful consideration.

    In 1945 we had a very clear statement from the Home Secretary during the discussion upon another Bill. Speaking on behalf of the Government, the Home Secretary said:
    "It has been agreed between the Departments that no fresh order for the closing of a road will be made without the concurrence of the Minister of War Transport. So far as it can be foreseen the power would only be required in two special types of case, one in order to facilitate open cast coal working. It may be necessary to break up a footpath and then open it to the public when the coal has been extracted from the land over which the footpath goes. It may be necessary in order that the existing closed road should be reopened."
    If I understand that aright, that was a definite pledge given by the Home Secretary when, in 1945, he was dealing with the subject of the closing of footpaths.

    It is a pledge which has been repeated, and indeed amplified, by the Home Secretary. I do not want to get out of Order, but I think I am entitled to point this out, when we are asked to agree to the giving of power for closing permanently not only highways and footpaths which have been closed temporarily under existing Defence Regulations, but highways and footpaths which could have been closed under existing Regulations. That is what is being sought under the Amendment. I think I am entitled to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government of the express statement made by the Home Secretary in which he gave pledges that the power of closing footpaths in ways other than the normal lawful fashion would not be carried out. I have a few passages which I wish to quote to the Committee. As recently 7th November, last year, the Home Secretary said:
    "I assured the House, when the 1946 Act was before it in the form of a Bill that this regulation would be sparingly used, and I think that an examination of what has been done under it will prove that that pledge has been carried out."
    That was a reference to Regulation 16, which is referred to in the Clause.
    "It is a regulation which I have always regarded with considerable misgiving."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 5947; Vol. 443, c. 2536.]
    I wish the right hon. Gentleman were here now to find that, apart from retaining power permanently to close footpaths under Regulation 16 where those footpaths had been closed temporarily, the Government are now seeking power to keep closed footpaths and highways which have not been closed under Regulation 16 or under Regulation 69A, but which might have been closed, if someone had thought of doing it in time.

    7.45 P.m.

    In the course of the discussion on that matter I was given a pledge and an assurance by the Under-Secretary of State. So recently as 26th November, 1947, speaking in the Debate on the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, he said:

    "where it was intended that a temporary stopping up should become permanent, there could be no objection to using the normal procedure, either under this Act"—

    that was the Town and Country Planning Act—

    "or the old procedure of quarter sessions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1947, Vol 444, c. 2013.]

    —he was prepared to see that that would always be done. It would be hard to find words which were more definite and more clear in their implication.

    In spite of what the Home Secretary said about there being so few cases in which powers had been exercised for stopping up highways by regulation, I would draw to the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman the fact that hardly a week goes by without a mass of regulations being made, signed by an under-secretary of the Ministry of Transport, and purporting to be made under the 1945 Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, for the closing of a highway. I deplore the intention expressed by the Amendment of the Government still further to widen the power of keeping a footpath or highway closed which has never been legally closed, but which might have been legally closed under Regulation 69A.

    I would like the Committee to consider for one moment what will be the position of one of those societies which do such good work in trying to keep open footpaths which have been in existence for a very long time. Let us examine a particular instance where the powers in Defence Regulation 69A have been exercised. Hon. Members will find that a path which was a public right of way before the war has been permanently

    obstructed and stopped up. They may then say, "We want to test this matter; we want to make inquiry to see whether the stopping-up is lawful or illegal." As I see it, they will have the greatest possible difficulty in determining whether or not that is lawful or illegal. They will have to find out whether that particular footpath could have been stopped up or diverted by Defence Regulation 69A, if they are sufficiently fortunate to be able to borrow a copy of it from the learned Solicitor-General, and I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his assistance. If he can provide them with a copy, it may facilitate their task a little, but, even then, to make sure that it is illegal, and before they start trying to get the matter re-opened, they would have to make inquiries to find out whether anyone did try to stop it up during the war period, which might have been done.

    I would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, bearing in mind the many speeches which ills right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made in favour of the preservation of footpaths, and the speeches he has given and the statements he has made, and in view of the power contained in Defence Regulation 16, to give this matter further consideration. It is my belief that there is apparently no reason why, in the specific case to which we were referred on Second Reading, reliance should not be placed now on the old procedure at quarter sessions. The case that was put to us was the case of a footpath or highway which was obstructed by a building erected during the war. I believe that these cases are very few in number, and I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to say so, indeed, I think they may not be more than ten. I think we ought to be given some indication of the particular kind of case to which this Clause will apply, but, supposing that that is the particular case, or some case similar, does the hon. and learned Gentleman say that it is impossible to obtain an order at quarter sessions in these circumstances, and that it is impossible to obtain one rightly?

    My experience is contrary to that, and I even have had experience of a footpath being closed at quarter sessions when that footpath had completely disappeared and there was doubt where it actually ran. I suggest that the Government could use the

    old procedure, that there is no need for incorporating this power in Defence Regulation 52, and that the quarter sessions procedure, whereby the public interested in the preservation of footpaths are notified of what is intended to be done, is far better in the interests of all those who are concerned with the good of the countryside. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will give further consideration to this matter, and that he will be able to say that this power is going too far and is unnecessary.

    I should like to apologise to the Solicitor-General for the fact that I did not hear the whole of his remarks, but I did hear a great many of his remarks at the end. I say frankly that I could only listen to a speech such as his, which was a series of quotations of this regulation, purely as a layman and with a feeling of hopefulness that some parts of it might have some relevance to the Bill. As laymen, we have to assume that it had, having had the higher legal authority of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), who again quoted a series of Orders on these matters. As I understand the Amendment which the Government are seeking to make to the Bill now, and if I can put it without quoting anything or using any legal phrases, the real effect of it is that the Government have discovered a weak point in the Bill, which is intended in every possible way to restrict all public rights in this matter.

    They have now found a small loophole in the Bill, so that, unless they have this Amendment, they cannot be quite sure that, if they wish to stop up a public road or footpath, they have the power, not just for a short time, for which they might excusably ask, but for a considerable period of five or six years. Even though the latter is a shocking proceeding, which we should regard as a grave and indecent thing, I believe that to close them up permanently is a very much more disastrous thing. Once we have done a thing permanently, the people lose all interest in the matter, but, if it is only a temporary matter, the people will look forward to the day when they get rid of the restriction. I am ready to give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman if he wishes to intervene.

    It was not really to answer the questions of the hon. Gentleman, but to make a suggestion by raising a point of Order, that I wished to rise. Both hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have referred to matters in the general substance of the Clause, and I am anxious, at the appropriate time, to answer them. Whether it would be convenient to answer these general observations on the Bill and the case against the Amendment, and to repeat them again later is, I think, rather doubtful.

    I am obliged to the Solicitor-General. The hon. Gentleman does appear to be addressing himself to the Clause as a whole, and that in a very wide sense, and not to the Amendment at all.

    It would be rather easier for me, as this is a technical point, if the hon. and learned Gentleman would say where I have gone wrong on this Amendment. I was only trying to deal with the point of the Amendment.

    Almost the whole of the hon. Gentleman's speech has gone wide of the Amendment, and he has hardly been on the point at all.

    Will the hon. and learned Gentleman, then, answer a few questions concerning Defence Regulations 16, 52 and 69A of 1939? In the first place, would they entitle the military authorities on, say, a moor to close up a highway which has never been officially closed before? I would like to know that, and I think it is quite a relevant question. Does that power come under Defence Regulation 52 or 69A? They are, apparently, two separate regulations. We have heard a certain amount about the use of these highways and footpaths. What is the position as far as footpaths which go along a cliff are concerned? Such footpaths were very often closed during the war, and have not since been officially reopened. Are they closed up under this particular regulation? It is a very complicated matter, but I would like to know where we are.

    8.0 p.m.

    I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that we are discussing highways, not footpaths.

    On a point of Order. Am I not right in saying, Major Milner, that, in law, the word "highway" always includes the word "footpath"?

    I thought the hon. and learned Gentleman used the word "footpaths," but if footpaths are out, and if it is only a matter of public highways, I really am rather beaten about it. Quite frankly, some of these paths were used in the old days as highways by smugglers with animals, so that, really, they are not footpaths. However, I will not develop that, except to say that, if they were then highways, they are just as much highways today. Of course, this goes back a very long way.

    I should like to have the hon. and learned Gentleman's view about the matter of access to beaches. There, undoubtedly, we have a highway where we could take a horse and cart in order to collect seaweed. They are blocked by military walls of some sort, but the matter could easily be put right. However, one has to approach at least four or five different Ministries, including the most incompetent of them all, that of Town and Country Planning. I want to know whether this has anything to do with the closing up of that kind of highway. It is a highway for that purpose, and has always been regarded as such. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell me whether it comes under either of these Sections, and, if so, whether they wish to close them at the present time.

    With regard to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. ManninghamBuller), Defence Regulation 69A expired some time ago, but, as he will remember, Clause 3 (1) of the Bill which we are discussing speaks of time before February, 1946. I think that is the answer to his point.

    With regard to the questions asked me by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), there is power under each of these regulations to stop up footpaths which are included in the expression "highways." These powers exist when the necessary conditions which are set out in the two Defence Regulations exist, but, without knowing the exact circumstances relating to each footpath, I cannot say under which Order it was made.

    Now that we have, apparently, to discuss footpaths and highways, I think that the Government, if they must force this Amendment into the Bill, should cease bringing in Amendments of this character—the original Bill is bad enough—in order to give themselves more power to do away with footpaths and highways, and to make life inconvenient for the country as a whole. However, I do not suppose they will have any sympathy with those who want to keep public footpaths open. This Amendment, as it stands, is a thoroughly bad one. It is only intended to make things worse in the rural districts, and no promise has been given by the Minister that he will use it harshly. When a Minister gives no such promise, one may be perfectly sure that the Government intend to take every possible advantage of a seemingly inoffensive Amendment such as this. I believe it has been deliberately put forward in order that they may close up many of these places.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the next two Amendments were taken together.

    I beg to move in page 3, line 11, to leave out:

    "as a result of those circumstances."
    I was going to suggest, Major Milner, that this and the next Amendment, in page 3, line 12, after "been," insert "continuously" should be taken together, as you have suggested.

    These are really drafting Amendments. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will find it possible to accept them because I think they make the object of this Clause better and clearer. In Subsection 1 (a), as I understand them, the words:
    "existing at a time before the twenty-fourth day of February, nineteen hundred and forty-six"
    mean that the conditions exist then which would entitle the authorities to close a footpath or highway under one of these three regulations. When we come to Subsection 1 (b), we find
    "as a result of those circumstances, the exercise …"
    has been prevented. Surely, it cannot mean "those circumstances." It is not because one could not have used the power if one had wanted to, that one has, in fact, been prevented from going along the highway or footpath. Therefore, with the greatest respect to those who drafted this intricate Measure, I think that there has been a drafting error in saying:
    "as the result of those circumstances."
    It means, in fact, as the result of quite different circumstances, although the circumstances existed whereby if one thought of doing it, one could close the footpath. There has to be the additional circumstances that the use of that footpath has been prevented.

    If these Amendments are accepted, it will mean that where the power existed under the Defence regulation, and where that power was not exercised, but where, in fact, the footpath has been continuously obstructed, an order could be made for its permanent stopping up. The word "continuously," is obviously necessary because, otherwise, the situation might arise that one had the power before 24th February, 1946, that the prevention of the use did not take place until after 1946, and that there was a gap in the prevention of the use. I hope that, with that explanation, which I have put as concisely as I can—I have attempted to make this purely drafting, but tricky, point clear to the hon. and learned Gentleman—he will give me the pleasure of saying he will accept the Amendment.

    I should like to express my gratitude to the hon. and learned Gentleman for having examined this Clause so carefully. I think his Amendment does substantially improve a very technical Clause for the reasons he has given, which I shall not endeavour to repeat because he has stated them much better than I can. He has made a case for the Amendment, and we feel quite satisfied that the case he has made is quite an adequate one, and that the Amendment does improve the Clause. I am grateful to him for the trouble he has taken over it and we accept this and the subsequent Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In line 12, after "been," insert "continuously."— [ Mr. Manningham-Buller.]

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 20, to leave out Subsection (2).

    This Subsection brings into the purview of this Bill, as extended to 1952, Sections 15, 16 and 21 of the Act of 1945. The Government will recollect that, at an earlier stage, we reminded them of the assurance and promise given by the Home Secretary in the Debate on the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill in 1945. He then said:
    "I have excluded altogether from the operation of the Subsection Part III of the Requisitioned Lands Act which deals with highways."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th October, 1945; Vol. 414, c. 1602.]
    He went on to explain that in future there would be no other power than the ordinary processes of law to stop up or divert highways.

    As I understand it, this Subsection (2) is an oversight on the Government's part, because it will allow the Government to stop up and divert highways and to retain the stopping and diversion of highways until 1952 instead of 1948, which was the year which the Home Secretary was alluding to. It is a remarkable oversight, I should have thought, in view of the reports that have been published recently giving the opinion of the advisers of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning on the diversion and stopping up of highways. To quote from one, the Report of the Committee on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside, published in December, 1947, paragraph 114:
    "We also hope that Parliament in future will not pass into law Clauses in public or private Bills authorising the closure or diversion of rights of way other than by means of the procedure which we have outlined, except where the closure or diversion is fundamental to the exercise of special power conferred by Parliament in a private Act."
    Paragraph no states:
    "We recommend that all applications for the closure or diversion of rights of way should be dealt with by Quarter Sessions acting through their rights of way committees in accordance with the procedure prescribed for the settlement of disputes in Chapter 3."

    8.15 p.m.

    I cannot really see why the Government have not acted on the very clear and specific promise of the Home Secretary, who has always been a great friend to access to the countryside; or why they have not paid attention to the Committee I have quoted, for it had on it very eminent people, including Sir Arthur Hobhouse and the late Mr. John Dower, who did so very much in the cause of

    access to the countryside in Great Britain. Therefore, I cannot believe the Government can say that there is any real party feeling on this matter. We would rather that Sections 15 and 21 were not continued until 1952. To cut out this Subsection would mean that Government Departments, if they wanted a continuation of a stopping up and diversion of highways in these areas, would have to go to quarter sessions for these powers. That does seem to be the proper place for them to go. There would be the quarter sessions procedure. Whether it is amended or otherwise, is not germane to the present subject.

    By that procedure we could have a proper publication of the matter—on the church door and so on; and the local authorities would know what was happening; moreover, the societies interested in access facilities—those representing hikers, for instance—and also the parishioners who cherish their rights of way, all would be properly notified. But if the Government have this power under this Bill, the who of the quarter sessions procedure is defeated. I would ask the Government to reconsider very carefully whether this Subsection is necessary, or whether they cannot adhere to the pledge given in 1945 by the Home Secretary.

    I am sorry to say we feel that we cannot accept the Amendment which is now proposed, and I will endeavour to deploy my reasons for saying so. The case for this particular Subsection, containing as it does the extension in point of time of the power to use Section 15 of the 1945 Act, really hangs upon the extension of time for the exercise of the powers conferred by Part II of the Act. If the Committee—or, indeed, if the House before the Committee—decided that it would be proper that the powers for the acquiring of land that are conferred by Part II of the Act of 1945 should be exercisable until December 1952, it follows, in my submission, that, as a matter of logic, these particular powers given by Section 15 should be equally exercisable for the same period. For this reason: if it is decided to acquire land under the powers given by Part II, there must be equal power to deal with footpaths and highways running across that land. It may not be possible for some time, in the case of a number of pieces of land, to decide whether they will be acquired under the powers contained in Part II or not. Until that can be decided, it cannot be decided whether footpaths running over them should or should not he permanently closed.

    That is why, if the Committee agree that the Government should have the power to use the provisions of Part II up to December 1952, it really follows as a matter of natural and reasonable consequence that they should also have power to stop up permanently footpaths and highways running across land within the purview of Part II, because the two hang together. I ask the Committee to envisage the position which would arise were we not to extend the powers given by Section 15. We might acquire land on which it was necessary to preserve the value of war works, and then find running across that land a footpath which had been stopped up only temporarily under the terms of a defence regulation. Clearly, if that land is to be acquired it should be possible permanently to stop up that footpath, and power should subsist for the same time as that for which we can acquire the land. The two hang together. If one is right, then the other must be right. That is the general case I make.

    In that connection, I am not sure that I understood the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) to quarrel with me very much. As I understood the burden of his argument, he said, "If you must use the power in Section 15 permanently to stop up highways you should resort to the ordinary procedure by way of quarter sessions." He then proceeded to cite the report of the Committee on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside, quoting it—and I say this without intending to give offence—rather inaccurately, because if he looks at the Report a little more closely he will see they recommended an amended process of resort to quarter sessions; a process which, among other things, would leave out the power of veto at present possessed by certain bodies such as parish councils. They recommended an amended and not the full process of resort to quarter sessions under the terms of the Highways Act, 1835.

    I turn to his argument that we should use the Highways Act, 1835, instead of the procedure laid down in the Act of 1945. If we stop up permanently a footpath under Section 15, we cannot do it by the exercise of a purely abitrary power. Supposing the Minister of Transport decides that he will close permanently a footpath which has been closed temporarily, what happens is that one of the amenities societies, for example, can raise an objection. If such an objection is raised, the matter has to be referred to the War Works Commission, who decide judicially whether or not the particular footpath should or should not be stopped up. If they decide that it should not be stopped up, if they overrule or go counter to the Minister's wish in the matter, one of two things happens.

    In most cases the Minister is bound by their report. In certain limited circumstances, however, he can override the report, and if so he has to come to this House for approval of his order permanently stopping up the footpath. That is to say, he has to make an order which is subject to negative Resolution of the House of Commons, which, therefore, retains the ultimate control over the destiny of any particular footpath. I am quite sure the Committee will agree that that is a procedure affording a very specific safeguard to those interested in the fate of footpaths. That procedure was devised by the 1945 Act. The question, therefore, before the Committee is: should we use that procedure, which was devised specifically by Parliament in 1945 to deal with this sort of question, or should we go back and use the cumbrous procedure of the Highways Act, 1835?

    Let me say a little about that latter procedure, which is extremely cumbersome. It may take six or seven months, even if no objections are raised. I have counted the steps, and there are no less than 11 separate steps which have to be taken in order to comply with that procedure, and many bodies have to be consulted. The Minister goes first to the highway authority, the county council; the county council then go to the district and parish councils for their consent; the parish council has to give public notice if it wishes to consent; and the resolution to consent must be confirmed not less than two months later at a subsequent meeting of the council. So the thing goes on, month after month, and finally, when all the necessary consents have been obtained, and when the necessary notices have been published, the matter has to go before a jury of quarter sessions. That jury has to answer two questions First, whether the new way—if there is a new way, which there has to be, instead of the old highway—will be nearer or more commodious to the public, and whether the highway proposed to be stopped up is unnecessary. The second question the jury has to decide is whether any particular complainant against the order is aggrieved by it. If either of those questions is decided against the Minister the whole thing lapses, and all that work over all those months comes to naught.

    Those are the two alternative procedures which are open, and we hope the Committee will think that we should adopt the specific procedure devised by Parliament in 1945.

    I would differ from the hon. Member. I may be wrong, but I thought I said "Parliament." I was saying that Parliament devised this in 1945. If by the word "we" the hon. Member implies this Government, I would point out that the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act was passed before this Government took office; it was passed, I think I am right in saying, in June, 1945, so it could not be this Government. I certainly intended to refer to Parliament, if I did not do so.

    The whole question is: Are we wrong in saying we will resort to that procedure? It might very well be said that we are wrong now in saying we should resort to that procedure, but it affords the best possible protection, and there is the War Works Commission. To a large extent the Minister is bound by their report. If he proposes to override it he must come to the House of Commons for their approval. Is not that an effective procedure, providing sufficient safeguard? I hope the Committee will agree with me that it is. For the reasons which I have advanced I should hope to have made out a case, (a) for the extension, in point of time, of the powers, and (b) on the assumption that there is a case for the extension in point of time, that adopting the procedure provided specifically by Parliament in the 1945 Act is sufficient.

    I cannot help thinking that the Committee have not been wholly convinced by the arguments put forward by the learned Solicitor-General. I listened with great interest to the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Mahon (Mr. Turton), and I thought he made out a very good one. The Solicitor-General pointed out that there would be certain difficulties were this Subsection left out, but he did not go to the root of the matter as far as we on this side of the Committee are concerned. My hon. Friend pointed out that when the Home Secretary was speaking on these matters at an earlier date he made it quite clear that we were no longer to have footpaths stopped up without the normal procedure being followed. The Solicitor-General has tried to convince the Committee that for yet another year or two we ought to allow the Government to have these powers.

    I do not know whether the Committee feel that the right to insist on the matter being brought to a discussion in this House is a very effective method of dealing with the question of stopping up highways or footpaths. What would happen? There would be a Prayer late at night, when everybody was tired, and very few hon. Members would take much interest in the Prayer because it would be in respect of the stopping up of a footpath in a remote part of the country. It might be a matter of interest for those living in that remote part of the country, but it would not be a matter with which hon. Members would wish to concern themselves. What would happen would be that, almost without exception, the Government would have very little difficulty in getting their proposal adopted.

    8.30 p.m.

    The old-fashioned procedure was a cumbrous one, as the Solicitor-General has said, but I suggest that that is a very good thing. We want to have a cumbrous system to prevent footpaths being easily stopped up. It is all to the good if parish councils, county councils and district councils have to be consulted, because we do not want this sort of thing to be done in a hurry. I do not think that the Government will find themselves in any practical difficulty if they have to do what other people have to do, and that is follow the ordinary rules and laws, which are laid down for the general convenience of the country, whereby the Government

    must convince the various authorities concerned that it is a very desirable thing that a footpath should be stopped up. The Solicitor-General said that it was a matter of logic. He said that if we accepted Part II, we must accept this Subsection as a logical consequence. But logic is not everything, and I suggest that this is an occasion when we should take the commonsense view, rather than the strictly logical view. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will see fit to press his Amendment to a Division, in which case I shall be glad to support him.

    Can we be told what has changed the mind of the Government since the time when the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act was being considered? What has caused them to alter their decision? The Committee will recollect that the powers to acquire requisitioned land for economic purposes extended up to 1952 in 1945. It was then the considered decision of the Government, in regard to the stopping-up of highways, that they would use the proper legal procedure, cumbrous though it may be, and even if it required amendment, because it was fairer. There was a solemn pledge given by the Home Secretary that the Government would not in future use summary powers to stop up highways by Ministerial edict, but would resort to quarter sessions procedure. Since then, the only thing that has happened has been that the Hobhouse Committee have reported, approving the action taken by the Home Secretary. I agree that I did not read the whole of the Committee's Report,

    Division No. 59.]

    AYES.

    [8.35 p.m.

    Adams, Richard (Balham)Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Cook, T. F.
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Corlett, Dr. J
    Alpass, J. H.Bramall, E. A.Cove, W. G.
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Daggar, G.
    Awbery, S. S.Brown, George (Belper)Daines, P.
    Ayles, W. H.Brown, T. J. (Ince)Davies, Edward (Burslem)
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G.Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
    Bacon, Miss A.Burden, T. W.Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)
    Baird, J.Burke, W. A.Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
    Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Deer, G.
    Barstow, P. G.Callaghan, JamesDiamond, J.
    Barton, CCastle, Mrs. B. A.Dobbie, W.
    Battley, J. R.Champion, A. J.Dodds, N. N.
    Bechervaise, A. E.Chetwynd, G. RDonovan, T.
    Belcher, J. W.Cluse, W. S.Driberg, T. E. N.
    Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Cobb, F. A.Dumpleton, C. W.
    Benson, G.Cocks, F. S.Durbin, E. F. M.
    Berry, HColdrick, WEde, Rt. Hon. J. C.
    Bing, G. H. C.Collick, P.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)
    Binns, J.Collindridge, F.Edwards, W. J (Whitechapel)
    Blyton, W. R.Collins, V. J.Evans, A. (Islington, W.)
    Boardman, H.Colman, Miss G. M.Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
    Bottomley, A. G.Comyns, Dr. L.Evans, John (Ogmore)

    but if I had done so we should have been sitting here until the early hours of tomorrow morning. Therefore, I confined myself to the two relevant passages. I should certainly support any Amendment to revise the procedure at quarter sessions, as proposed by the Hobhouse Committee.

    The Solicitor-General has not attempted to answer the point which was put, namely, what has changed the mind of the Government since 19th October, 1945, when the Home Secretary gave a specific pledge that he would no longer use Ministerial edicts? Today, the Solicitor-General says that it is much better to do so, because, after all, eventually the matter can be decided by the House of Commons. As my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) has said, it is ridiculous to expect the House of Commons, sitting in the late hours of the night, to decide whether the right of way across Little Puddlebury Common should be closed or not. The right place to decide that is at the quarter sessions of the county. We do not want to waste the time of the House of Commons on small matters which should be decided by the appropriate court in the appropriate county. We do not want to treat all these matters as matters of party difference, but we do not like to find the Government breaking their pledge.

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

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 97.

    Ewart, R.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Skeffington, A. M.
    Fairhurst, F.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Fernyhough, E.Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Medland, H. M.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Mellish, R. J.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
    Gibbins, J.Middleton, Mrs. L.Solley, L. J.
    Gibson, C. W.Mikardo, IanSorensen, R. W.
    Gilzean, A.Mitchison, G. R.Soskice, Maj. Sir F
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Monslow, W.Sparks, J A
    Grenfell, D. R.Moody, A. S.Stamford, W
    Grey, C. F.Morley, R.Steele, T.
    Grierson, E.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Stubbs, A. E.
    Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Symonds, A. L.
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J (Llanelly)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham. E.)Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Gunter, R. J.Mort, D. L.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Guy, W. H.Moyle, A.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
    Hall, Rt. Hon. GlenvilMurray, J. D.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Hamilton, Lieut-Col. R.Nally, W.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Hardy, E. A.Naylor, T. E.Thomas, John R. (Dover)
    Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)Neal, H. (Claycross)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Hewitson, Capt. M.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Thurtle, Ernest
    Hobson, C. R.Oldfield, W. H.Tiffany, S.
    Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Oliver, G. H.Timmons, J.
    Horabin, T. L.Orbach, M.Titterington, M. F.
    Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Paget, R. T.Tolley, L.
    Hughes, Emrys (S Ayr)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Ungoed-Thomas, L
    Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Palmer, A. M. F.Usborne, Henry
    Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Pargiter, G. A.Vernon, Maj. W. F.
    Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)Parkin, B. T.Viant, S. P.
    Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Walker, G. H.
    Janner, B.Paton, J. (Norwich)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Pearson, A.Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
    Jones, D. T. (Hartlepoos)Perrins, W.Warbey, W. N.
    Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)Watkins, T. E.
    Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Popplewell, E.Watson, W. M.
    Keenan, W.Porter, E. (Warrington)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Key, C. W.Porter, G. (Leeds)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EPritt, D. N.West, D. G.
    Kinley, J.Pursey, Cmdr. H.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Lang, G.Randall, H. E.Whealley, J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)
    Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Ranger, JWhite, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Rankin, J.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Leslie, J. R.Rees-Williams, D. R.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Levy, B. W.Reid, T. (Swindon)Wigg, George
    Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Richards, R.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Lewis, T (Southampton)Robens, A.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Lindgren, G. S.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Rogers, G. H. R.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
    Lyne, A. W.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Willis, E.
    McEntee, V. La TRoyle, C.Wise, Major F. J.
    McGhee, H. G.Sargood, R.Woods, G. S.
    Mack, J. D.Scollan, T.Wyatt, W.
    McKay, J. (Wallsend)Scott-Elliot, W.Yates, V. F.
    Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Segal, Dr. S.Younger, Hon Kenneth
    McKinlay, A. S.Sharp, GranvilleZilliaous, K.
    Maclean, N. (Govan)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
    McLeavy, F.Shurmer, P.

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.Mr. Snow and
    Macpherson, T. (Romford)Silverman, J. (Erdington)Mr. Wilkins.
    Mallalieu, J. P. W.Simmons, C. J.

    NOES.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.
    Aitken, Hon. MaxDigby, S. W.Hurd, A.
    Amory, D. HeathcoatDodds-Parker, A. D.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. RDower, E. L. G. (Caithness)Jeffreys, General Sir G
    Baldwin, A. E.Drayson, G. B.Jennings, R.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Drewe, C.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
    Bennett, Sir P.Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Keeling, E. H.
    Birch, NigelGalbraith, Cmdr. T. D.Lambert, Hon. G.
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
    Bowen, R.Glyn, Sir R.Lipson, D. L.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
    Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Grimston, R. V.McCallum, Maj. D.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
    Carson, EHarvey, Air-Comdre A. V.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)
    Challen, C.Haughton, S. G.Maclay, Hon. J. S.
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir CMacpherson, N. (Dumfries)
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Hogg, Hon. Q.Manningham-Buller, R. E.
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Hope, Lord J.Marples, A. E.

    Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)Turton, R. H.
    Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Robinson, RolandVane, W. M. F.
    Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Ropner, Col. L.Wakefield, Sir W W
    Neven-Spence, Sir B.Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)Walker-Smith, D.
    Nicholson, G.Sanderson, Sir F.Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
    Nield, B. (Chester)Scott, Lord W.Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorset. E.)
    Odey, G. W.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Orr-Ewing, I. L.Snadden, W. M.Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)Studholme, H. G.York, C.
    Prior-Palmer. Brig. O.Sutcliffe, H.
    Ramsay, Maj. S.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)

    TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

    Rayner, Brig. R.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)Lieut.-Colonel Thorp and
    Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Thornton-Kemsley, C NBrigadier Mackeson.
    Roberts, Peter (Ecclesall)Touche, G. C.

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

    I want to put one or two posers either to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport or to the Solicitor-General. The first is with regard to roads. There is certain land in Breconshire held under the Defence Regulations. The roads are now open. It is proposed by the War Office permanently to acquire those roads. If the roads are permanently acquired, will they remain open? In view of what the learned Solicitor-General has said, will it be possible for them to say, in reply to representations made to have the roads kept open, "Oh, we could have closed those roads, but we did not do so. We intend to do so now in spite of anything that may be said." If they do that, will the normal procedure be gone through for the closing of the roads?

    In the case of footpaths, during the war certain of my constituents agreed to footpaths being closed because they were on military ground taken over under the Defence Regulations. It is now proposed in certain districts which I have in mind permanently to acquire that particular land. The footpaths are still closed. Will the normal procedure about notices and representations be carried into effect? I want an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport that in the event of any footpaths or roads being closed, all the local authorities interested will be advised that they are to be closed, and any representations made against their closure will be given due consideration.

    8.45 p.m.

    I find this Clause difficult to understand. I am not at all sure that I understand it, but if I do, I do not like it. I am not at all sure, if my understanding of it is correct, that we are not continuing something like a constitutional revolution in the apparently modest and harmless language of this Clause. As I understand it, the Clause will make legal, at some time in the future, something which would have been legal if done under an order of the past, if we had thought about using the order of the past at the time, but we did not. This is an extraordinary and astonishing departure from the ordinary processes of Parliamentary legislation. Up to now, with one qualification to which I will refer later, the position of the subject under British law has been that he was governed by the law of the day as it stood, and he suffered the disability of the law or took the advantages of the law, as the case may be.

    It has often happened that decisions given in the courts under the law as it stood at the moment were unpalatable to the Government of the day. In my lifetime, we have seen growing up what I regard as the first of the serious departures from equity, the practice of carrying through retrospective legislation to undo decisions given in the courts on the basis of existing law which was unpalatable to the Government of the day. That, I think, is wholly bad. Where do we get under this Clause?

    Under this Clause the position of the subject will be governed not by the law as it stands or as amended by a new Act of Parliament, but by what a Minister might have done in the past if he had thought about it at the time. It seems to me to be an astonishing position in which the subject is placed. If I am wrong about this I can be corrected because I should hate to think that this would be the outcome of the Clause as it stands, but to me the meaning seems to be clear. It is not easy for the untutored, rude, rough mind to comprehend fully the intricacies of this para graph, but my untutored mind tells me that this is what the Clause is. If my argument is right then concealed in this harmless Clause are the seeds of revolution, and as a believer in constitutional Government I must resist the rush of Bolshevism on the part of the Front Bench opposite.

    As regards the questions put to me by my hon. Friend for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) I am afraid my answer must be a negative one because I do not know the precise details of the places he described in his speech. Clause 15 of the Bill does enable paths, which were temporarily stopped up in war time, to be permanently stopped up. It may be—and I do not know without fuller information—that this particular Section would be applicable, but that is the only answer I can give on present information to the question that I was asked.

    I should like to say a few words about the observations addressed to the Committee by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). His understanding on the effect of the Clause was correct, but if one looks at the practical application of the Clause he will agree it is not of the sinister nature that he apprehends. The situation with which we are dealing is that in the early part of the war, in the rush and hurry of events of those days, in many cases an order could have been made with little formality by the appropriate Minister or his deputed representative which would have resulted in the path being stopped up. Sometimes that was overlooked. It might have been overlooked by a military commander taking possession of a particular area of ground for military purposes and a footpath, which he had not even noticed, ran across it.

    It would not have been reasonable to expect every officer in those days with the grave cares which burdened all officers in authority in, say, 1940, always to remember the exact provisions of the Defence Regulations. In consequence there were various occasions when it was overlooked and an order should have been made temporarily to stop up a footpath which ran across a piece of ground. Perhaps on that ground Government works were built or it may have been the case that a factory was put on it, and yet nevertheless under the strict law there is a footpath running across the area on which the factory stands, because no formal order was made owing to pure inadvertence. The question of principle which he raised, and which in other circumstances might be serious, in this connection really does not amount to anything really very much. This was a pure case of oversight in the case of footpaths in the rush and hurry of events of those days.

    What are we to do? Are we to allow an illegality to stay or are we to ask this Committee to say that if an order could have been made—and it really was the lack of a mere formality, which has brought about the present position—cannot we say that we give the right to treat the matter as it would have been if it had been treated then with due formality? It does not go any further than that and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that no constitutional question is involved.

    I understand that in the arduous conditions of war all kinds of informalities were permitted to overburdened people. The last thing I want to do is to make a song about it, but in the stress of the same events very many poor citizens overlooked and failed to exercise rights which they possessed. For example, there were many matters in which claims had to be in by a certain date. There were all sorts of circumstances in which a man might fail to exercise his rights under the law, but that failure has not excused him, and although, as a result of that failure, he has suffered monetary loss or injury, no kind Government has come along and said that it will pass an Act of Parliament to revise the rights of those who were overburdened during the war and failed to exercise the rights they possessed. That is what the Government are now asking us to—

    It is exactly the opposite. My hon. and learned Friend overlooked this point, although it was very much in his mind. One of the things this Clause does, in addition to all that he stated, is to give those who feel aggrieved because a footpath has been stopped up the right to be heard. That is a very real right, and unless we pass this Clause that right will not be available. We are therefore doing exactly what the hon. Gentleman wants us to do. Such people will be able to put in a claim for the restoration of the old footpath, if that is possible, and if a Government factory is now there and that is not possible, for some alternative route.

    In other words, we can only apply for the restoration of footpaths in the full knowledge that the application is foredoomed to failure before we start because a factory is stuck in the middle of the path?

    I am deeply obliged for the advice of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). He speaks with great weight and authority on anything concerning the law. I submit that the Government are asking us for a post facto excuse for failure to exercise given rights at a given time. I do not know that I am disposed to give them that post facto excuse. I take what the Solicitor-General says as representing the situation substantially, but I trust that when some other Member of Parliament raises the failure of some humble citizen to exercise his rights within a given time and represents that the citizen will be damnified as a result, we shall not hereafter find the Government sheltering behind mere technicalities but willing to treat the citizen as we are prepared to allow the Solicitor-General to treat these officers, as human beings.

    I did not quite follow the arguments of the Solicitor-General or the rather disarming intervention of the Financial Secretary in regard to Subsection (1). Why cannot they go to quarter sessions instead of using this hammer-like method of Section 15 of the 1945 Act? The matter could quite properly be decided at quarter sessions and a substitute could be given to parishioners who had lost a right of way. The proper way to deal with the matter would be to go to a local jury at quarter sessions and get an order.

    Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill" put, and agreed to.

    Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 5—(Minor And Consequential Amendments)

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

    9.0 p.m.

    I would like a short explanation of the Clause because it seems a little complicated. It reads:

    "The Act of 1945 shall have effect subject to the Amendments specified in the Schedule to this Act, being minor Amendments and Amendments consequential on the foregoing provisions of this Act."
    What happens to major Amendments? Is this not a unique Clause and is it really thought necessary? I have read many Clauses in Bills in my time, and I do not see the necessity for this one. Why is it necessary to bring in a small Clause like this to deal with minor Amendments which are not in the Schedule? I would have thought that they should have either been in the Schedule or else dealt with properly. Could we have a definition of what is a minor Amendment?

    I do not want to delay the hon. and learned Member. By the time he has given me the answers to those points, he will obviously have raised many more difficulties on this Clause.

    My definition of a minor Amendment would be one which, in point of importance, is unimportant in comparison with a major Amendment. Clause 5 is, I believe, in almost common form. The next question was, where are the major Amendments if the minor ones are in the Schedule? The answer to that is that the major Amendments are in the preceding Clauses of the Bill.

    I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his clear definition of the difference between a major and a minor Amendment, but I doubt if he would get away with that in a court of law. I do not know courts of law but I should imagine that it might gain him considerable dislike if he gave it there. As far as this Clause is concerned, when we have to rely on a Government answer and that kind of definition, it shows quite clearly how natural and right it is that, at any rate, one or two Members should be interested to know exactly what the hon. and learned Gentleman meant, and to know how little he really meant.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 6—(Amount Of Rental Compensation For Requisitioned Land)

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 16, at the end, to insert:

    "(c) the rental compensation shall be assessed on the assumption that the tenancy is limited to expire not earlier than the first day of January nineteen hundred and fifty-four."
    This Amendment ties up to some degree with the Amendment to Clause 7, page 5, line 26, to leave out Subsection (2). It is taken as to its language out of Section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act of last year, and it raises the question of the assessment of prices for land and of rental compensation by reference to 1939 prices. During the war, when we had rapid and violent fluctuations in the value of property, according as it was or was not subjected to enemy bombardment, it was felt just to fix an artificial standard by which the land values could be assessed as at March, 1939, and that remained throughout the war the standard of values. As events developed, as the value of money changed, the 1939 standard itself was not adhered to rigidly, but in the Act of 1944 and in the Bill which became the Act of 1947, there were included provisions whereby the 1939 level of prices could be augmented by a percentage proportion.

    During the rather accelerated progress of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 through this House and Committee upstairs, my hon. Friends and I strove to persuade the Government that it was no longer consonant with sound valuation or justice to refer to a standard which was so remote as March, 1939, then was, and which with every passing day became still more remote and fantastic. The Government in effect accepted this argument, and in the Committee on that Measure the Clauses as drafted were withdrawn, and a new set of compensation provisions was inserted The standard under the Town and Country Planning Act as it finally stands is the market value of the land restricted to its present user. That, I think, is an accurate statement of the position.

    For that reason, I observe with regret the retrograde step the Government are proposing in this Bill in seeking to assess rental compensation by our old friend the 1939 standard, even though it is augmented by 60 per cent., because it is the standard itself which matters. If, indeed, the 1939 price is itself impossible to ascertain with accuracy, the percentage addition to it merely becomes a magnification of the original error. The mere fact that we have 60 per cent. on a foundation price, which in my submission is not ascertainable, means that we are building on sand. The fact that we have something so remote and fantastic is no answer at all.

    By this Amendment we propose, if the Government accept our proposal, to make them pursue with consistency and perseverance the line they adopted in the Town and Country Planning Act, and to adopt mutatis mutandis the provisions this House enacted, after much argument, in that Act. When the Bill was before the House for Second Reading on 16th December last, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury explained this Clause to us by taking some examples, and said:
    "If the current restricted value was as much as £2,000 a year, then only the £1,600 would be paid."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1522.]
    I fail to see the justice of that. If it is worth £2,000, what can be the justification for this House refusing to pay the price which it is admitted to be worth? Let the Committee mark well that in this Bill we are asked to adopt the restricted use of the land as one diminishing factor on the price, and if on top of restricting the price which can be got by the user of the land at the time, we introduce another highly artificial ceiling, we are introducing two factors of a character tending to depress the price of the land.

    If the current value of the rental is £2,000 one has no right to pay £1,600. It is just as wrong for the Government to do that sort of thing as it would be in the course of business for someone to refuse to pay a man his proper wages or to pay a proper rate of hire for some commercial service. When the Solicitor-General replied to the Second Reading Debate, he said that the reason for this 1939 plus 60 per cent. ceiling was to cut out scarcity values. That argument was used during the passage of the Town and Country Planning Act. It was felt that, especially where vacant possession could be given, there was such a demand in these abnormal times that some artificial check must be superimposed.

    The check that was put in that Act was the one I am seeking to put in this Bill. Under the Town and Country Planning Act a notional lease which expired in January, 1954, had to be imagined, so that the added inducement to the purchaser of immediate vacant possession was cut out. Here again exactly the same principle ought to be introduced. That is the way to cut out the scarcity value—the way envisaged in the Town and Country Planning Act. The result would be to have a code of valuation which is coherent. It seems absurd that this Committee should father the proposition contained in the Bill as now drafted, having so lately adopted a contrary attitude.

    What are valuers and petitioners to think in view of the force of the argument which led us to abandon the standard based on 1939 prices? Why are we seeking to revive that standard here? That it is artificial I can show the Committee in a moment. When any transaction in land takes place, whether it be a tenancy or a freehold changing hands, valuers set about it by using their knowledge of similar transactions with similar land. Who can say at this stage what the 1939 value is? Not only are the facts of that time becoming more and more blurred in men's memories, but there has been a great change in the value of money. The statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which we listened yesterday—and we wish him well in his great task of currency stabilisation—does not put an end to all fluctuations in the value of money. Why not pay a man who is affected by requisitioning what the requisitioned land is worth at the time it is acquired and leave the matter to arbitration?

    That is what is suggested by this Amendment. I claim for it first a gain in consistency, not with some old hoary outmoded standard, but something as recent as last year, which was passed by this House. Let us get rid once and for all of all ideas that a ceiling can be arbitrarily fixed, based on past methods, without the slightest knowledge of what future com mercial transactions may be. I am sure that if the arguments which we put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Town and Country Planning on the other Measure are adopted here, we shall not only get a consistent code, but we shall give the man who is affected by requisitioning a sense that he is being fairly treated. I urge the Committee that if they import an obvious sense of fairness into all these transactions much bitterness and rancour, which inevitably attend the forcible seizure of property, will disappear.

    9.15 p.m.

    I am sorry to say that I feel that we cannot accept this Amendment which has been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. He proposes that in Clause 6, Subsection (2), a third requirement should be inserted, that requirement being that it is supposed that there is an existing tenancy limited to expire not earlier than the 1st day of January, 1954. As I understood the burden of his argument it was largely directed to a criticism of the quantum of the ceiling provided in Clause 7 of this Bill. What we have done—

    I was not criticising any quantum, but the fact that a ceiling will be imposed at all.

    It surprises me, after listening to the right hon. Gentleman's argument, to think that it was in support of the Amendment on the Order Paper. The Amendment does not remove the ceiling, or alter the amount of the ceiling. It proposes that a notional lease should be adopted—even if there were a notional lease—limited to expire not earlier than January, 1954. What would be the effect? It might be that the rental compensation, assessed in terms of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, might be raised or, according to the type of property, it might be lowered. The Amendment that the right hon. Gentleman proposes certainly would not effectuate what he has in mind. It might even, in certain types of property, mean that the amount of rental compensation, which would be payable in the terms as drafted in Clauses 6 and 7, would be less actually than the amount provided for by the Clauses. His argument is that because, when assessing a completely different measure of compensation for the purpose of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, we used the device of a notional leae for that particular purpose, we therefore should incorporate it in a different context in order to assess a completely different type of compensation. The Town and Country Planning Act embodied the conception of a notional lease expiring in 1954 in order to limit the element of scarcity value in paying a lump sum payment by way of capital compensation.

    We are not computing a lump sum payment in Clauses 6 and 7. We are computing a payment in respect of rental compensation under the terms of Section 2, Subsection (I, a) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. The two things are not analogous in the least. If the conception of a notional lease is introduced into the calculation of a rental compensation one does not know what the result will be. It may raise or lower the rates, and that is all that this Amendment would do. Clauses 6 and 7 provide that a person whose property is requisitioned is to be paid rental compensation. That rental compensation is to be assessed at current rates, if the requisition is after the date of the Royal Assent to this Bill, and the rates current at the date of the Royal Assent if it was before the date of the Royal Assent. Then, having provided that the rental compensation is to be assessed on that basis, a ceiling is provided. In the case of rent restricted property it is a ceiling equivalent to the permitted rent; in the case of non-restricted property, it is equivalent to the 1939 rental plus 60 per cent. It may be that that is too much, it may be too little. If it is too little, that will not be cured by this Amendment. What the Amendment seeks to ensure is that in assessing the compensation one must first—as we do —find the current rental value. Then one must say, "What is the rental value of a property of that sort subject to a lease" upon the assumption, of course, that it is not rent restricted property. One must then suppose that the lease, by reference to the terms upon which one is assessing the current rental value, will continue to 1954.

    What is the effect? Rent payable under lease which will continue until 1954, might be more or it might be less than rent payable under a lease which will continue until 1950 or 1952. It depends upon the type of the property. The Amendment does not achieve this purpose in the slightest degree. It has very little effect and I advise the Committee not to accept it, not only for that reason, but for different reasons altogether. The reasons which I would advance against the Amendment are these. As the 1939 Act stands at present, there has grown up something like a system of case law. No notional period is provided for in that Act. There being no notional period provided for, there has grown up something like a body of case law which assumes, in the case of rentals assessed under the terms of Section 2 of that Act, that the lease continues so long as the power to requisition exists. That has been found to work well. It has worked for something like eight and a half years. I advise the Committee that there is no adequate reason for disturbing that arrangement which has been found to operate satisfactorily.

    Not only is there no reason to disturb it, but there is a very compelling reason why one should not adopt this notion of a lease expiring in 1954 even if it achieved any purpose—which it does not. That reason is that it would mean that one is assuming in the case of requisitioned property—the requisition being simply a compulsory hiring—that that hiring will continue for at least two years beyond the latest date to which it can go. In other words, one is assuming that it will continue until 1954 when we know that the requisitioning cannot continue beyond December, 1952. That is creating a completely artificial situation. It is introducing a conception which is entirely false. It would mean that the Government would be paying a rental assessed by reference to the terms of a letting which in point of fact they have not undertaken and which is much longer in point of time than the hiring which has been undertaken. For those reasons, I submit to the Committee that the Amendment is utterly undesirable. To start, it is useless; to continue, it disturbs an existing practice which has been found to work perfectly well; finally, it is completely and utterly false in conception in that it supposes that a state of affairs exists when in point of fact it does not.

    There are a number of other things which I could say about it. However, I hope that the Committee is satisfied. I infer from what my hon. Friend says, that he feels at any rate that I have made out something of a case against it so far, and I leave it there for the time being.

    The hon. and learned Gentleman has used what, for him, is strong language in describing this Amendment. It seems to me that he has disclosed the fact that really he has not appreciated its effect and, indeed, its purpose. He started by treating this Amendment as being quite dissociated from the Amendments to Clause 7 which he mentioned. He was not really doing justice to his argument when he referred to Clause 7 without any regard at all to the Amendments proposed to that Clause. He said, in summarising his argument, that this Amendment was useless, that it disturbs existing practice and that it deals with a state of affairs which does not exist.

    I would challenge each one of those observations as being entirely unjustified. When he says that it disturbs existing practice, is not that what this Bill does—a Bill which alters the whole basis of the assessment of compensation under the 1939 Act? Under the existing practice, on which this valuable case law has been set up, we take no account of the increased values due to the emergency. That is disturbed by the Bill with which the hon. and learned Gentleman is dealing. We make no complaint of that, but when it is suggested that this alteration and emendation that we put forward should not be accepted because it makes a change in existing case law, I would suggest that that argument has no foundation at all. Then, there is the argument that it is useless.

    Would it not be better to complete the quotation from the Solicitor-General, who said that it would not merely disturb existing practice, but a practice which has worked extremely well?

    Whether it be true or not that that practice has worked extremely well is irrelevant to this point, because, whatever the practice was and whether it worked well or badly under the 1939 Act, that practice is bound to be altered by this Bill, whether or not this Amendment is included in the Bill at all. So the argument is completely fallacious if it would seek to represent to this Com mittee that the existing practice, whether it worked well or not, will not be disturbed by this Measure. Of course, it will. The whole purpose of this Measure is to alter the basis of compensation under the 1939 Act. It is quite true to say, of course, that under the Town and Country Planning Act we are not concerned with the assessment of rental compensation, but we are concerned with the values of all the interests, whether they be freehold or leasehold, and it was with a view to avoiding the enhancement of values owing to scarcity that, in our Debates on the Town and Country Planning Bill, this idea of a notional lease was incorporated. I think we are all on common ground there.

    Where I differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman is in his argument that the existence of the notional lease here in assessing rental compensation would serve no useful purpose at all. In my view, it would. Obviously, if we are going to seek to take a lease of property of which we can get vacant possession now, the rent would probably be higher, and would almost certainly be higher in many parts of the country, then if we were trying to assess what was the proper rent of those premises on the assumption that they had been made the subject of a lease which would not expire before that date in 1954. I should have thought that any valuer would have no difficulty in arriving at that and in eliminating the scarcity value.

    9.30 p.m.

    The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think that it was an argument against this Amendment, that, if the Amendment were accepted, it would result in some people getting more than they would under the Bill as it stands and some people getting less. I think that was his argument, but, again, I think there is not the slightest force in it. What does it matter, provided they get what is the right value of their property, whether the property has gone down or not? If the correct rental value is less than it is under the Bill as it now stands, upon the assumption that the property is let or subject to a lease expiring not before 1954—if the corrected value is less than it would have been under this Bill, then, in my view, that compensation for

    requisitioning should not be more than that rental value. If the correct rental value is more—to take the alternative—than the amount of compensation that he would get under the Bill as it now stands, owing to the application of the 60 per cent. ceiling in Clause 7, what is the argument against his not receiving that correct rental value as compensation?

    In dealing with this Clause, we cannot ignore the existence of the ceiling, and the injustice it is bound to perpetrate. In his argument, in the course of which he spoke, as I said, with more warmth than is, perhaps, customary to him, the hon. and learned Gentleman never sought to justify that ceiling. If the true rental value of any property at the present time is more than 60 per cent. above 1939 values, what is the justification for paying that man only 60 per cent. above 1939 values when, if he is dispossessed from his farm, from his shop, or from whatever it may be, he will have to pay, on requisition, in order to get equivalent premises, probably something more than 1939 value, plus 60 per cent.?

    I really deplore the manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman has sought to deal with this argument. I cannot but believe that he has really not given full consideration to the points that have been raised. I hope that, if this Debate serves no other purpose, it will, at least, cause him to reflect before the Report stage on the arguments put forward, and to realise that there is no justification for the imposition of the ceiling, and that the purpose he desires to achieve can be effected by the incorporation in the Bill of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend.

    I want to reinforce what my hon. and learned Friend has just said in regard to the arguments about which the Solicitor-General got so excited. It seemed to me that his main trouble was that the Amendment would be different from what is in the Bill. That, in itself, seems to be no argument at all. What we want, as my right hon. Friend said, is to get equity in this matter, to get the fair value, irrespective of whether this be up or down on some artificial value. The second point about which the Solicitor-General got excited was that he did not like an artificial restriction of four, five, or six years to the rent. The answer to that is, take it off altogether and let it be the ordinary rental value.

    This seems to me to be a retrograde step altogether. When we had the first nationalisation Bill—the Coal Bill—before us, it at least talked about compensation between a willing buyer and a willing seller of the assets to be taken over. So far as that Bill had any good points at all, that was possibly one of them. I very much object to the Socialist principle of going back and saying, "We are going to penalise the owners of property, whether they be large or small owners."

    I want to draw attention to a matter which was raised this afternoon—the question of the Stanford battle area. That is a case where people are being turned out of their homes, and one which seems to have escaped the Solicitor-General in this argument. It is not only a question of dealing with compensation for property, but with turning a man out of his home or his farm, and stopping him carrying on his way of life. Yet he is told, "We are not going to pay you a fair compensation. We are going to penalise you, and put artificial restrictions upon you." That, I consider, at this stage—two years after the war—is quite unnecessary and unfair. In principle, we should get away as far as possible from these restrictive activities, and try to deal with property owners in a fair and reasonable manner. We should deal with them on the basis of what the property is worth. I was astounded at the Solicitor-General's trying to maintain the old 1939 value merely because it worked in the past—which is doubtful. I suggest that the only reasonable way is to deal with this on the basis of what the property is worth when it is taken over.

    I am not concerned with the defence or the expropriation of proprietors of land. What I am concerned with is, that in our compensation arrangements there should be recognisable some clear basis of principle on which we can depend, and which should be applied with even-handed justice to everybody who is affected by it. I affirm—and I affirm this without the slightest hesitation, and with considerable experience of the working of Section 21 of the Act of 1939, which is the basis of the learned Solicitor's proposals tonight—I assert that throughout, from 1939 until today, there has been not coherence, nor principle, nor justice about the various compensation arrangements that have been made from time to time. Even within the terms of the 1939 Act there is the grossest disparity between the treatment of one class of property and another. Ships are dealt with on one basis, land on another, chattels on a third, in a way which makes neither sense nor principle; and certainly it does not make justice. Consider every successive compensation arrangement which we have made, and we find that there is no clearly discernible principle whatever.

    In one case—mines—the value is that agreed between a willing seller and a willing buyer. In the case of railways a Stock Exchange quotation at a given point of time was the basis. With another kind of industry there is a third basis. No single one of them corresponds to the elementary justice of the situation. The elementary justice of the situation—and I am entitled to my view about that—is that if we take away a man's property, whether a small house or a big one, whether his chattels or whether his land, we ought to pay him as compensation what that property would realise in the open market as between a willing seller and a willing buyer.

    I have not come to that. I am talking about principles at the moment. If, however, I am invited to deal with the question of scarcity value I would answer with one question. Which section of the community is there which does not use scarcity value when it suits it, including trade union leaders? When I have been arguing on behalf of a category of members of my organisation—

    Let me make my case in my own way, the sensible way. When I have been arguing on behalf of members of my trade union, and could show that the existing conditions of pay were resulting in a scarcity of recruits for that occupation, I have utilised that argument for all it was worth. So does everybody else in this country. The idea that on that side of the Committee there is no one but high-minded idealists who would scorn to use the scarcity value argument, and that on this side there is no one but black-hearted landlords who believe in nothing else but that argument, is a travesty. I affirm that it is not the basis adopted in this Bill. The basis adopted by the Bill is 1939 values with an addition of 60 per cent.

    It does not matter if it is peace damage; that does not affect the merits of the argument. I must say, there is a tendency to verbal diarrhoea in some quarters of the Committee. I am suggesting that, in 1948 and subsequent years, to try to find out the 1939 rental value of a particular piece of property is to start on a wild goose chase. The data simply is not there, and it grows less and less every year, for an assessment of what the rent might have been way back in 1939.

    From what does the 60 per cent. derive? Does it derive from anything except the coincidence that it appears in another Bill? On what is it based? Is it based on the assumption that rents have gone up by 60 per cent. where they are not controlled? Is it based on the assumption that the value of land has gone up 60 per cent.? Or is it just a figure somebody thought of and stuck in one Bill, and which must, therefore, be stuck in this Bill? I do not know. There has not been a single argument advanced in this Committee tonight directed to the adequacy or otherwise of the 60 per cent. Not a single argument has been addressed to that point in the Clause. For intelligibility, this Amendment must be taken with the proposed Amendment to Clause 7: In page 6, line 13, to leave out from "tenancy)," to the first "the," in line 18, and to insert:
    "in the case of which the following conditions are fulfilled, that is to say—
  • (a) that immediately before the time when possession was taken of the property or part thereof in question the property or part was being used for residential purposes, or if it was not then being used that it had been used for residential purposes when last used before that time, and
  • (b) that if an unfurnished tenancy of the property had been granted immediately before the said time."
  • In effect, the compensation proposed by these Amendments is based on a current rate, with a ceiling eliminating or qualifying the element of scarcity value.

    If I had any difference at all with the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) it would be in relation to scarcity value. There is only one basis, and the more one plays about with it, and tries to dodge and deviate from it, the more injustice will be perpetrated. The whole basis of the principle is that if the State takes a man's property it ought to give him the fair market price for it. Every time we depart from that basis we do wrong by the individual affected by our decision, and we do harm to our own reputation for elementary common justice. I support this Amendment.

    I wish to say a few words on the last long, dreary trail over which the discussion has roamed. The basis of compensation for property has always been that the family affected depended on the property for their livelihood. On that basis, how is it that the champions of compensation for the loss of property have never considered compensating ordinary working men for the loss of their means of livelihood? In the past, in every case where a concern has been taken over by the Government —even to the office boy in the old parish councils—compensation was paid. But in the ordinary life of the people, from whom taxes were raised to pay compensation, the ordinary workers in industry could be chucked out of their jobs at five minutes' notice with no compensation at all. If hon. Members on this side of the Committee, representing people who received that sort of treatment were to apply the same principle, they would simply take this land—I hope for a better purpose than the one for which it is being taken—and give no compensation, thus applying the same principle which was applied to the working class.

    9.45 p.m.

    I dare not go too far in answering the intervention of the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan). So far as it was relevant, the principle to which we shall come in Clause 10, and upon which we shall have a good deal to say, is probably the answer, namely, that in most instances the State will refuse to accept the loss of profit as a basis on which to put the compensation value. I dare go no further in dealing with that matter.

    I want to come now to the Solicitor-General's defence of the Government's present position. As I understand it, there are three main lines of argument against this Amendment. First, the Solicitor-General did not like the idea that the rate of compensation might be lowered or raised. He seemed to have some objection to that, although I am not at all clear what it was. We, on this side, take no exception to it being raised or lowered. That is not relevant at all. What we want is a fair measure of compensation, and whether it is up or down depends upon the facts of the case. Secondly, he said that the rent compensation over the last 8½ years had worked very well. That is a pure travesty of the facts. It is true that the great majority of owners, both public and private, were prepared to accept the position during the war because of the conditions of the time, but subsequent to 1945 we find an ever-increasing number of quarrels going on with the various Government valuers concerned with assessment and compensation.

    We see increasing evidence of interference with the present basis. I agree that long-standing rental compensations settled some time during the war have, not been questioned in a large number of cases, but that is possibly due to laziness both on the part of the agents of the property, as well as on the part of the various valuers. To say that the present method of rent compensation is working well, is completely untrue. The Government valuers, of course, like the old system. They are all fundamentally opposed to any unnecessary change in the method of compensation. They have got into a rut, and, like so many people in secure jobs, they dislike being moved out of that rut, but that is no reason why the whole of the country, or those people who have property, should suffer.

    Thirdly, he said that the 1939 valuations had built up a nice collection of case law. I really do not think that that argument is at all relevant. If a system is not working well, or is causing considerable anxiety, to say that it should not be changed because there is a nice file of case law on the subject seems to me to be the most intolerable argument; it is riot only intolerable, but is a bureaucratic argument which should not influence any reasonably-minded man. Let me give one case as an illustration, which will come up later.

    Take the case of rental compensation in respect of a farm, part of which has been taken over for opencast coalmining. We know that the rental values of the farms have increased very materially, and particularly in certain areas. It may well be that in order to achieve any degree of solvency the farmer demands a decrease in the rent of the remainder of the farm. Even so, it is going to be extremely difficult for him to get anything like a living out of the land. The owner of that farm, if it is a tenanted farm, has to give to the tenant a rebate of rent, but he is not entitled, under this Clause as it stands, to any increase over and above the 160 per cent. advance from the Coal Board.

    The owner-occupier has no redress at all. He has a large part of his farm taken off, and he has to eke out a living on what is left. He is only entitled as rent compensation to 160 per cent. It is patent to everyone that the farmer is being unfairly treated. In particular, I think that it is most unjust in regard to housing property, particularly the medium-sized house. Probably before the war such a house cost £2,000 to build. It will cost anything up to £6,000 or £7,000 to build today. It is not unnatural that a house which cost £2,000 before the war would bear a rent of about £100 a year. A house that cost £7,000 to build before the war, in that proportion, would have a rental value of about £350 a year on building costs. That would have nothing to do with scarcity values, but be merely on the cost of labour and materials for the building of the house. If the owner of the house has the land taken away from him, he gets 160 per cent. of the 1939 value. Is there any justice in that? We on this side of the Committee cannot see that there is.

    We accept in theory the argument of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). We realise that under present political conditions, with a heavy Socialist majority, most of whom for inherent reasons are against all ownership of property, it is most unlikely that they will come to a solution based on justice. Therefore, we put forward what I consider to be a reasonable compromise. We give them a method which, despite what the Solicitor-General has stated, is in our view practicable. It is to do away with scarcity value in rental compensation. It would be just as easy—probably far easier —to value on the basis which ends in 1952 as it is to value on the basis of 1939 values. If I were doing a job of valuation and were offered those two alternatives as a basis, I would prefer to take the value in four years' time to a purely hypothetical basis of 1939 values. I consider that the Solicitor-General offered scant argument against the Amendment, and I hope that the Government will reconsider whether or not they can bring rental compensation into line with capital compensation as laid down in the Town and Country Planning Bill.

    I do not want to detain the Committee, but when I find myself in accord with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) and the mover of this Amendment there can be no shadow of doubt that I am right. The point at issue is that we must get rid of this 1939 basis of valuation. It is artificial, it is an anachronism and it is becoming increasingly unworkable. There is no more logical ground for having the 1939 valuation than there is for having the Domesday Book valuation. As a matter of fact, the Domesday Book property valuation with an appropriate increase in percentage values to cover the increased cost of living between now and then would be far more logical and acceptable, because there is a rate of values in the Domesday Book which we never had in 1939. We must get away from that 1939 valuation because in addition it is becoming impossible to apply the 1939 value.

    Admittedly there has been little building of houses during the last few years, but there has been a great deal of destruction in the war years which has completely altered the face of large parts of the country. Further, there has been a great deal of agricultural development which has altered the face of the countryside since 1939. More and more there are people coming into the valuing profession who have no knowledge of the 1939 values at all. Unless we get on to the basis of a willing buyer and a willing seller or a willing renter and a willing landlord we shall not be able to get out of the state of chaos and confusion in which the rental position is at the present time.

    I disagree with the Solicitor-General, who said that this system worked well for the past eight and a half years, because I know from my own locality at the present time of a number of cases of hardship with regard to rentals, and this will be accentuated and perpetuated as long as the Measure remains in force. I know there is a scarcity value, and it is in order to meet that, that this Amendment is introduced, for it is one which was acceptable last year in regard to the Town and Country Planning Act. If the Government do not like that particular way of overcoming the difficulty I would say that they have not suggested any other satisfactory way themselves, because what the Solicitor - General called the selling optimum, which I gather is a maximum limit, does not by any means deal with all the scarcities. I believe firmly that this Amendment deals with scarcity cases, but if it is not considered by the Government to be necessary let it go. One thing I would urge is to get away from the 1939 value.

    It is a long time since the Solicitor-General delivered his very lengthy reply upon the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) and in the interval there have

    Division No. 60.]

    AYES.

    9.59 p.m.

    Aitken, Hon. MaxHogg, Hon. Q.Ramsay, Maj. S.
    Amory, D. HeathcoatHope, Lord J.Rayner, Brig. R.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Hulbert, Wing-Cdr N JRoberts, Peter (Ecclesall)
    Baldwin, A. E.Hurd, A.Robinson, Roland
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Ropner, Col. L.
    Beechman, N. A.Jeffreys, General Sir GRoss, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
    Bennett, Sir P.Jennings, R.Sanderson, Sir F.
    Birch. NigelJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Scott, Lord W.
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Keeling, E. H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
    Bowen, R.Lambert, Hon. G.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Studholme, H. G.
    Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Sutcliffe, H.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.McCallum, Maj. D.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
    Challen, C.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Thorp, Lt.-Col. R.A.F.
    Clifton-Brown. Lt.-Col. G.Mackeson, Brig H. R.Touche, G. C.
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Maclay, Hon J. S.Turton, R. H.
    Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Vane, W. M. F.
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Wakefield, Sir W. W.
    Digby, S. W.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Walker-Smith, D.
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
    Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Maude, J. C.Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorsal. E.)
    Drayson, G. B.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Drewe, CMott-Radclyffe, C. E.Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Neven-Spence, Sir BWilloughby de Eresby, Lord
    Fox, Sir G.Nicholson, G.York, C.
    Grimston, R. V.Odey, G. W.
    Harvey, Air-Comdre A. V.Orr-Ewing, I. L.

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    Haughton, S. G.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Commander Agnew and
    Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.Major Conant.

    been many excellent speeches from this side of the Committee. Therefore, I hope he will take the opportunity to reconsider his decision. I do not know whether everyone in the Committee heard what my right hon. Friend said some considerable time ago but he made a case which subsequent speeches have shown to be right. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) put the case in all its stark reality for real justice. The Amendment on the Paper is only an Amendment for half justice, but for my part I would rather have some improvement than leave the matter as it is now. The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) preferred the Domesday Book valuation to 1939. There has been a certain amount of property building since then.

    Unless the Government are prepared to think again and make some concession in the matter we shall have to divide the Committee.

    Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 256.

    NOES.

    Adams, Richard (Balham)Gilzean, A.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Palmer, A. M. F.
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Grenfell, D. R.Pargiter, G. A.
    Alpass, J. H.Grey, C. F.Parkin, B. T.
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Grierson, E.Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
    Awbery, S. S.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Paton, J. (Norwich)
    Ayles, W. H.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Pearson, A.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Gunter, R. J.Perrins, W.
    Bacon, Miss A.Guy, W. H.Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)
    Baird, J.Hall, Rt. Hon. GlenvilPopplewell, E.
    Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Porter, E. (Warrington)
    Barstow, P. G.Hardy, E. A.Porter, G. (Leeds)
    Barton, C.Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)Pritt, D. N.
    Battley, J. R.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Pursey, Cmdr H
    Bechervaise, A. E.Herbison, Miss M.Randall, H. E.
    Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Hobson, C. R.Ranger, J
    Benson, G.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Rankin, J
    Berry, H.Horabin, T. L.Rees-Williams, D. R.
    Bing, G. H. C.House, G.Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Binns, J.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Richards, R.
    Blyton, W. R.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
    Boardman, H.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Robens, A.
    Bottomley, A. G.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
    Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)Rogers, G. H. R.
    Bramall, E. A.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Janner, B.Royle, C.
    Brown, George (Belper)Jeger, G. (Winchester)Sargood, R.
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Scollan, T.
    Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G.Jones, Erwyn (Plaistow)Scott-Elliot, W.
    Burden, T. W.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Segal, Dr. S.
    Burke, W. A.Keenan, W.Sharp, Granville
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Key, C. W.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
    Byers, FrankKinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EShawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)
    Callaghan, JamesKinley, J.Silverman, J (Erdington)
    Castle, Mrs. B. A.Lang, G.Simmons, C. J.
    Champion, A. J.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Skeffington, A. M.
    Chetwynd, G. R.Lee, F. (Hulme)Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Cobb, F. A.Lee, Miss J. (Cannook)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Coldrick, W.Leslie, J. R.Smith. S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
    Collick, P.Levy, B. W.Solley, L. J.
    Collindridge, F.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Sorensen, R. W.
    Collins, V. J.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Soskice, Sir Frank
    Colman, Miss G. M.Lindgren, G. S.Sparks, J. A.