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Orders Of The Day

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 28 January 1948

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

Read the Third time, and passed.

Requisitioned Land And War Works Bill

Considered in Committee [ Progress, 27th January.]

[Sir ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair]

Clause 7—(Maxima For Rental Compensation)

4.12 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 6, line 13, to leave out from "tenancy)," to first "the," in line 18, and to insert:

"in the case of which they 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."
  • The second and third Amendments on the Order Paper—in page 6, line 16, leave out from "that" to first "the" in line 18; and in line 19, leave out "would have been," and insert s" was "—are not being called. Therefore, we will discuss the first, fourth and sixth Amendments.

    These and two Amendments that come a little later on the Order Paper do hang together. The Amendment is designed to amend certain flaws which, on further consideration of this Bill, have revealed themselves in the definition of rent restricted property in Clause 7. The intention of the Government, as I indicated last night when we were dealing with another Amendment, so far as rent restricted property is concerned, is that the owner should not be in a position to receive a greater rental compensation from the Government than he would have received from an ordinary tenant if the property had not been requisitioned. It does follow from that, I think, that if he could legally have obtained a higher rent if the premises had not been requisitioned, he should be allowed to have the correspondingly higher compensation, subject of course to the ceiling laid down.

    The question always is what property does the Rent Restriction Acts operate on when it comes to a letting? It depends on a variety of factors. The first is whether the property is residential or not. If it is not, it does not come within the four corners of the Rent Restriction Acts. It also depends in what part of the country the property is situated, because on its rateable value and its situation, either in the provinces, the Metropolitan area or Scotland, depends whether it comes within the Rent Restriction Acts or not. Its past history has to be taken into account. If the house was never previously let, obviously it is outside the Rent Restriction Acts. Looking at the definition given in the Bill, we found that, as it stands, it leaves uncertain the question as to what are or are not to be recognised as rent restricted properties. In our view, the definition is too vague. For example, it is silent as to whether the notional tenancy which is there referred to was a letting for residential purposes. It is also silent as to whether the notional letting should be considered as an unfurnished or a furnished letting.

    We, therefore, propose to leave out certain words and to insert those on the Order Paper in order to resolve the difficulties and make plain the intention of this particular definition and the kind of property we wish to catch. When the changes are embodied in the new definition it will avoid the difficulties to which I have referred, and a property will be treated under the new definition as rent restricted only if its use or its last use before requisitioning was residential. That would be a question of fact easily determinable, and then it will be treated as rent restricted, even though it could have been let furnished. We are going to assume that its notional letting was unfurnished. I wish to make it clear, as I tried to do when we were discussing an earlier Amendment last night, that this change of phrasing, this tightening up of the wording of the definition, does not make any alteration to the law as it stands so far as what does or does not come within the Rent Restriction Acts. Houses which have yet to be let for the first time will not be caught by this new definition, and where the rateable value of a house takes it, according to its location, outside the Rent Restriction Acts it will continue to be outside. As the intention here is to clarify rather than alter, I hope the Committee will agree with us in this Amendment and accept it.

    We on this side of the Committee do not object to the intention of the Government by this Amendment to achieve the desirable purpose of clarification. The words proposed are clearer than those in the printed text of the Bill. Indeed, they could not very well be more obscure than those first put before us. However, some objection still remains to the draft which the right hon. Gentleman has put before the Committee. In the first place, the alteration of the definition leaves in the words:

    "… property (whether or not the subject of a tenancy) …."
    His alteration starts after the word "tenancy." Many of us feel that one characteristic of a really rent restricted property is that a tenancy must be subsisting. We should have preferred to see these words omitted. There is a wider question about the whole treatment of rent restricted property which I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers will consider between now and Report stage. I do not propose to ask the Committee to divide upon this Amendment.

    The argument which I submit is that the principle from which comes the whole treatment of rent restricted property for the purpose of this Bill is wrong. Earlier in our deliberations the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), have said that the principle of compensation for compulsory acquisition of rent restricted property should be that the owner should get no more than he would get from a private tenant. At first sight, that has a spurious resemblance to the principle of fair market value—the price that would be agreed upon by a willing seller and a willing buyer. But in reality it is not as fair as it looks, because in the case of rent restricted property the true market value has been distorted by the operation of an Act of Parliament.

    In my constituency in the parish in which I live, council houses of timber have recently been erected for which the rent is 16s. 6d. a week. In the same village we find stone-built Cotswold cottages for which the rent is from 3s. to 4s. a week. That gives rise to great disparity of expenditure between two persons exactly similarly situated as far as occupation and emoluments are concerned. That shows that the rent restricted value of a property is not its true value. If it were, then the county council should not have to charge 16s. 6d. for a property when, for its equivalent, a private owner is only allowed by Act of Parliament to charge 3s. or 4s. a week. What the owner can get under the Rent Restriction Acts is not a fair measure of the market value. It is a measure which has been distorted by the action of this House.

    When we reach that state of affairs, we must ask ourselves the question: how far should that distortion be carried? The purpose of the Rent Restriction Acts is to protect the tenant. The general argument I adopt is that, once that main purpose is frustrated, there is no longer any ground for the operation of those Acts. In this case, we are considering the compulsory acquisition of property, its requisition by force by the Government. It is clear that the protection of the tenant is no longer a consideration. Before one can imagine this Clause with its new definition coming into effect, one must envisage the tenant not only not protected but forcibly ejected by a Government Department.

    We ought to give more consideration to the whole problem. I am not now debating the merits or demerits of the Rent Restriction Acts. They are a code for which many parties have been responsible. Their purpose was the protection of tenants. Once the protection of tenants is removed from practical application, if property is requisitioned or acquired compulsorily, the owner should receive its true value and not a value distorted by reference to a purpose which is now no longer possible.

    As far as I understand it, if these words:
    "… whether or not the subject of a tenancy …."
    are left in, there is no longer any criterion left of what is a proper subject for rent restriction and what is not, except merely the rateable value dependent upon whether the property is in the Metropolis, the provinces, or in Scotland. The result is that for the big houses above those limits, as the right hon. Gentleman said last night, the sky is the limit for compensation—

    I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if a house had never before been subject to a tenancy and it was requisitioned, then its rental compensation would be determined at that time and would be independent of any Rent Restriction Acts.

    What the right hon. Gentleman said is so. I should not have used the phrase, "the sky is the limit." It is open to misunderstanding. What I meant—and what I am sure that he and the Committee understood me to mean—was that where a house is now first let it begins outside the Rent Restriction Acts, and, therefore, its first letting can be for any sum which the owner is fortunate to get a tenant to give for a tenancy when he rents the house. In that sense there is no limit.

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. I was under no misapprehension about his meaning. The position still remains that if a house is outside the Rent Restriction Acts, by the only criterion which now remains—namely its rateable value—it can receive as a rental compensation any sum that is judged adequate. On the other hand, by the mere criterion of being a small house and, therefore, below the rateable value maximum to bring it within the Rent Restriction Acts, the compensation is artificially distorted downwards.

    There is a very much lower ceiling, indeed, there is a basement, in the case of the small dwelling.

    The consideration I urge upon the Committee is that we should beware of placing deterrents in the way of the construction of small houses. It is a fact that the people are suffering from a lack of housing at present. I do not want to go into that question. Many things have been done to make it a very unremunerative and difficult business for the small house to be produced. I do not want to widen the argument further than is necessary. In this matter of compensation, if one builds a big enough house with a rateable value above a certain amount—and that is the only criterion—then, if it is requisitioned, one can get a high compensation; but if one builds a small house, so that its rateable value brings it within the definition, there will be no sort of upward movement. Consequently, that is a deterrent.

    4.30 p.m.

    I think it is well worthy of consideration, and I would like the point seriously considered by the Government whether, in this matter of compensation for requisition, we should not take the broad line of giving the property owner—the small man with one cottage in which he lives himself, or the man or widow who has been left two cottages, which is very common in the countryside—the value of the property free from the artificial distortion of the Rent Restriction Acts, which no longer apply because the purpose for which the Acts were introduced—the protection of the tenant—has been destroyed by the act of requisitioning. In other words, I do not think that the principle of compensation should be to secure that an owner gets no more than he would get in the open market if, in fact, the open market is distorted by Acts of Parliament for another purpose.

    I believe that, where we defeat the purpose of the Rent Restriction Acts by requisitioning property and ousting the tenant, we should give the market value free from this restriction. Perhaps I have introduced this principle at a late stage of these discussions, but not too late for it to be considered. I believe that the consequences that would flow from the adoption of my suggestion might be that we should get, if not a great stimulus to, at least the removal of one deterrent from, the provision by private agencies of small houses for the people, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman seriously to ponder whether his Amendment contains a proper principle, or whether it should not be what we have tried to secure throughout the discussion on this Bill—the payment of fair compensation for property seized.

    May I put two points to the Financial Secretary? Is he not making a mistake in this Amendment by inserting these words after "tenancy"? Surely, they ought to operate after the word" property"? The question of vacant houses that are requisitioned, with which we were dealing last night, is really dealt with as part of the suggested Amendment, which reads:

    "or if it was not then being used that it had been used for residential purposes."
    That seems to me to cover adequately the whole of the argument on the vacant house. Nobody wants an owner to gain because, at the time when requisitioning happened, his house was vacant, and, therefore, I should have thought that it was no longer necessary to have those misleading words "whether or not subject to a tenancy." I hope the Financial Secretary will give careful attention to this point, which is properly a drafting point.

    Concerning the second point of the Amendment, I should like to support what has been said by my right hon. Friend. I am quite certain that in this Amendment we are making a mistake in our treatment of the owner-occupier who has had his property requisitioned. Let me take the position of the owner of a house which is a rent restricted property. When the Government Department took over this property, he was merely losing that rent which he used to obtain from a tenant, but the owner-occupier is being put to much greater loss. He is, in fact, losing the roof over his own head, and he has to go out into the open market in order to obtain another roof. He has had to do that during all this war period, and is, in fact, having to pay a great deal more than 160 per cent. of the 1939 rental of his house. I ask that this Amendment should make it clear that that owner-occupier should get the 160 per cent. over the 1939 value, but, as the right hon. Gentleman has drawn his Amendment, he would be limited to the permitted rent.

    The right hon. Gentleman says that the owner-occupier is in a different position, because, not having a standard rent for his house, he can judge what that standard rent should be by what was the rent prevailing at the time of requisition. If that is true, if the house was requisitioned in 1940, at the beginning of the war, he is tied to a rental value that is indeed less than the 1939 value. If we take a householder who was in a coastal resort in 1940, when the Army moved in and he moved out, his compensation rental, under this suggestion by the right hon. Gentleman, will, in fact, be on a lower level than that of 1939.

    It is perfectly true that, if it was not requisitioned then, but was requisitioned after V.E.-Day, his limit for his permitted rent is a great deal higher, and is probably on the level of the 160 per cent. above the 1939 level. I am much more concerned with those owner-occupiers who have been moved out of their houses all through the war and who, on this basis, will get only a permitted rent on the 1939 level, and who will see the wealthier people, who are the owners of non-rent restricted property, being given the 160 per cent. over the 1939 value.

    That is an anomaly which nobody on any side of the Committee would wish to see perpetuated by this Act of Parliament. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look again at his Amendment and to cut out those words "whether or not subject to a tenancy," which are not really necessary, and also to deal with this problem of the owner-occupier, with which his Amendment does not deal. I think that last night there was not sufficient recognition by the right hon. Gentleman of that difficulty of the permitted rent of an owner-occupier in 1940 being entirely different from the permitted rent in 1945. The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) put it quite clearly, and I was very sorry that the learned Solicitor-General had another engagement and could not be with us at that time to guide us on that question of the permitted rent under the Rent Restriction Acts. Because of that anomaly, I think the Committee should deal with it now, or, if that is not possible, that the House should deal with it on the Report stage.

    I regret that I was not able to hear the early part of this discussion, and I do not want to cover the ground which has been covered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester (Mr. Morrison). But I want to add my plea for more consideration to be given to this matter, and to put forward an argument which I do not think has been covered already.

    The whole object of this Clause as drafted, is to fix a ceiling for rent-restricted property for the purpose of rental compensation. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with that. It is, of course, quite easy, where the property is not subject to the Rent Restriction Acts. The difficulty arises where we have a property of such a rateable value that it is within the scope of the Rent Restriction Acts, but not coming under that Act because it had never been let. That is where the real problem arises, and I think I am right in stating that. Supposing a requisitioned property is vacant and has never been the subject of a tenancy, then the question arises of what should be the rental compensation for that requisition.

    The right hon. Gentleman said that there would be no limit for the first letting, but, of course, the case I am putting is a case where there has been no letting before the requisition. How then, are we going to calculate, under the wording of this Clause, the ceiling rent for such a property? The permissible rent for such a property would be the rent at which it was first let. The property I have in mind for the purpose of my argument has not been let. It is requisitioned before being let. There may a great deal of argument between the requisitioning authority and the owner of the property as to what the compensation should be, and they will have to look at this Clause to see that it must not exceed the permissible rent under the Rent Restriction Acts. As this particular property has never been let, how will the permissible rent be calculated? The ceiling which purports to exist is impracticable, and I do not think the permissible rent can be worked out at all. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give careful consideration to this point, because the Subsection is badly drafted and will, I think, lead to a great deal of trouble and expense.

    We are always willing to look at the phrasing of a Bill to see whether it can be improved, particularly a Bill like this, which is of an extremely complicated and technical character. I do not pretend that in every case we have the best possible words, although I think it will be agreed that we have some competent draftsmen and officials at the Treasury, who know this matter from A to Z. We must, how- ever, retain the words in the brackets. If a tenancy is subsisting, most of the queries are often answered in advance. It will be known what is the standard rent and the rateable value, whether the property has been let as a residence, furnished or, unfurnished, and so on. But many of the queries which would arise would not answer themselves if the house were empty or unlet. The words must be inserted because the definition applies to both, although I agree that if the house was let to a tenant, many of the questions could often be answered at the time the place was requisitioned. Many of these requisitionings take place when the property is empty, when it is impossible to know what the owner was about to do with the property or would have done had he had the opportunity.

    We are setting up certain notional facts which may or may not concur with what the owner intended at the time the house was requisitioned. Criticisms have been directed by the Opposition against the anomalies and—I hesitate to use the word, but it will have to do—against the injustices which are inherent when there is rent restriction legislation on the statute book. Because a house comes above the rateable value the owner can extort or ask any rent he likes; if it comes just below he is bound by the law, and all he can ask, without putting himself info the county court at any rate, is the standard rent applicable to the house. The small house to which the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. ManningharnBuller) referred would be let at such a rent as it would command. It would be outside the scope of the Rent Restriction Acts, because no standard rent, as I understand it, had been fixed for the new small house which he visualises somebody might build. I am grateful to the Opposition for the way in which they have accepted this Amendment. We will look at these words again, and see if it is necessary to make any changes. If it is, we shall be happy to do so.

    4.45 p.m.

    We accept the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that he will give further consideration to this matter, but I hope he will not be under any misapprehension that my points about the provision of small houses were adequately covered by his reply. Under the Bill, if the small house is requisi- tioned, whether or not the tenancy is subsisting, it will be deemed to come under the Rent Restriction Acts.

    Only if it has at some time been let. If it has never been let it does not come in. Unless a standard rent has been fixed, we do not bring it within the definition.

    I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look at this matter again, and give effect—which I do not think the words of the Clause do—to what he has just said.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 6, line 26, leave out "a tenancy granted as aforesaid," and insert:

    "the tenancy referred to in paragraph (b) of the last foregoing definition."—[Mr. Glenvil Hall.]

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 28, after "usual," to insert "tenant's."

    I need only say, on this Amendment, that it seeks to bring the Clause into line with Section 2 (1, a) of the 1939 Act, in which this phrasing is used. In Scotland the rates are divided, I understand, into two sections—for tenant and landlord—and we think it better to make this change here so as to avoid the need for an Amendment when we come to the Scottish Clause later in the Bill.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 6, line 34, at end, add:

    "'unfurnished tenancy' means a tenancy under which a property is let for residential purposes, not being a tenancy where the application of the said Acts of 1920 to 1939 is excluded by reason of the property, being let at a rent including payments in respect of board, attendance or use of furniture."—[Mr. Glenvil Hall.]

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

    Before we part with this Clause. I would like the Financial Secretary to tell the Committee in what form, or to whom, the rental compensation is to be paid? Under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, it is possible for land to be requisitioned either from the tenant or from the owner, or from both. The rental compensation can be paid to one or the other. In the Bill the position does not appear to be very clear. I am wondering whether it is proposed that the 160 per cent. compensation is to be paid to the owner or to the tenant, who may have to leave the requisitioned land for some time and then return to it. If the 160 per cent. is paid, can the Financial Secretary tell me whether the extra 60 per cent. is a compensation payment made to the owner or to the outgoing tenant?

    The answer will be found in Section 2 (2) of the Act of 1939. Briefly, the answer is that the compensation goes to the occupier.

    Attention should at once be called to the fact that we have on the other side of the House an expert in these matters, who, despite his great knowledge, has not the haziest idea to whom this money is to be paid. That matter is worth commenting on. We have before us a longish Clause, and I do suggest that at some stage words should be put into it to determine who is to draw this money. It should not be left as a matter to be decided by referring back to an Act of 1939. The Financial Secretary has just told us that the money will go to the occupier. I assumed that that was the case, but I did not like to raise that point myself. I thought it would be absolutely obvious. When a real expert in these matters has the great courtesy to help us and to explain the difficulties, I feel sure that we all owe him our gratitude. He has tried to clear the matter up where there is an obvious blemish in the Measure. Instead of putting the matter right in the Clause, we shall leave it, apparently, in such a state that it will always be necessary to say, "I refer you to the statement made on the matter by the Financial Secretary in 1948." It is very unfortunate that we should be legislating in such a manner.

    Question put; and agreed to.

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

    Clause 8—(Application Of Provisions As To Rental Compensation Where Land Requisitioned Before Commencement Of Act)

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 2, to leave out from "in," to "to," in line 3, and to insert "writing."

    I suggest that we might discuss with this Amendment the next Amendment in line 5, to leave out "six months," and to insert "two years." A limit is placed in the Clause upon the time within which a person can claim an increased compensation to which he may be entitled under this Measure. A form is provided, under regulations made by the Treasury. Copies of the form are not very easy to procure. I have seen the form, which is fairly long and detailed. The applicant has to complete that form and to send it in in the manner prescribed in the rules made by the Treasury, and to do so within six months.

    I know that the six-months period is prescribed under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, Section but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that it is one thing to say that a person who has had his property made the subject of a fresh requisition should have only six months in which to claim it—which is an unjust and much too short period—and another thing to say that a person who has already had his land held on requisition should have only six months within which to claim the increase. That is the effect of the Bill as it stands.

    I suggest that great injustice can be done to the ordinary person in this country by prescribing that unless he makes his claim in the prescribed form and manner and within the period of six months, he may be entirely deprived of the increase he is claiming. It may be that some individuals would be entitled to claim a substantial sum by way of increased compensation. On the other hand, there may be many small occupiers of property who, as we have just been told, will receive the compensation and to whom an increase, although small, will mean quite a lot. Are these people to be debarred from obtaining that increase merely because they have not claimed it in the form and manner prescribed in regulations made a long time ago?

    From the paint of view of the requisitioning authority, it would be sufficient, I suggest, that there should be a claim in writing and that it really is not necessary to stipulate, from the very first, that there should be a detailed claim such as is now required under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. If there is a claim in writing, the requisitioning authority will know that Mr. A wants to avail himself of the benefits offered by this Measure and to, get the increased compensation. If the property is already held under requisition, nearly all the information will be already available. What justice is there in saying, as it can be said, "Although you claimed in writing within six months and although you have given notice of your claim, none the less the claim was not made upon the prescribed form, and therefore we are going to stand upon our rights and refuse to pay you anything."

    The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I can tell him that I have personal knowledge of a case under the 1939 Act in which the Ministry of Food adopted that very line in relation to property worth a very considerable sum. The property was requisitioned during the war. There was a claim in writing, but no claim in the prescribed form and manner, in six months. The particular form prescribed by the regulations had not been filled in. Therefore, the claim was refused, and an ex gratia payment was offered. That has happened. So far as lies in my power, I want to ensure that that kind of thing will not happen to occupiers of small property. Under this Measure, if they do not claim in the right form, they will not be entitled to the increased compensation. I suggest again to the right hon. Gentleman that if he says that claims should be in writing, that will give him all the notice that he requires. So much for the Amendment under consideration.

    5.0 p.m.

    The second Amendment, to which I am referring, is in regard to time. Why should this matter be limited to six months? It may mean very great hardship if this provision is adopted. Surely, a period of two years would be reasonable. Two years is now becoming almost a normal period for a limitation of claims. Why should the subject be deprived of his statutory right to increased compensation merely because he has not submitted his claim within six months? It means that when that period has passed, the requisitioning authority can continue to pay the reduced compensation, thus depriving the subject of the benefit of this Measure. The right hon. Gentleman should not be guided in this matter by the Measure passed just before the beginning of the war, in fixing a period of six months.

    I desire to support my hon. and learned Friend. Government and official circles do not appreciate sufficiently the lack of information among owners of requisitioned property. For example, the owner of a house of considerable size in my constituency came to me the other day in great distress and said, "The War Office have had my house for a number of years. I hoped they were going to give it up, but I hear that it has been taken over by the Ministry of Works. What does that mean?" Of course, it only meant that the War Office were giving up the house and that the Ministry of Works, who are a sort of land agent among the Ministries, were taking it over with a view to seeing whether it should be derequisitioned or passed to some other Ministry. There was nothing to be frightened about, but the owner of the house had never been told that the Ministry of Works had taken the place of the War Office.

    There is a sequel to that story. In the Second Reading Debate, I declared an interest in this matter because I had a house which was requisitioned. I went back and found that my house had been in the possession of the Ministry of Works for six months, and I never knew it. There is a considerable lack of information about these matters, and for that reason I submit that six months is too short a period in which people should give notice. If I, as a Member of Parliament, write to the War Office, often I do not get a reply giving the information I want for two months. Other people who are not Members of Parliament probably do not receive replies for considerably longer. If one has only six months, it does not give much time in which to have proper correspondence with a Government Department.

    On the subject of the prescribed form, I do not think one can expect the owner of a small house which has been requisitioned—and in my constituency a lot of cottages were requisitioned for munition workers—to write out the application in the prescribed form. If he is very conscientious, he will go to his local solicitor and get him to make the application in the prescribed form. That will be to the advantage of the solicitor who, if there are many cottages, will do quite well out of it. Surely, a reasonably sensible letter is all that should be expected from the owner of small property, or, indeed, of large property. For those reasons, I hope these two Amendments will be considered. If the Clause is passed as it stands, it will be onerous on owners of property and particularly small owners.

    The two conditions which the Government propose for the payment of increased compensation are distinctly unfair. First, with regard to the period of time, I do not understand why the Government are so sure that all the owners of property affected will be aware of the coming into effect of this Measure, so that immediately the six months begin to run, they can start to take steps to ascertain whether they are entitled to fresh compensation and, if necessary, make the necessary application for it. On that point alone, a great many people are in danger of never knowing, until it is too late, that they might have rights in this matter.

    As to the prescribed form, if I may say so without undue digression, I wrote to various Government Departments not long ago asking for all the more common forms which they send to the public. The result was that I had to buy two large filing boxes to hold all the forms. I am certain that in this case if I tried to find the prescribed form from among all those forms, it would be quite impossible to do so. These forms are very varied. Even the headings of the forms vary enormously. In the book of advice which is issued by the Stationery Office on the compilation of forms by Government Departments, the only point which is not mentioned is that they should be easily intelligible to the people who have to fill them in, which to me seems the most important point.

    There will be real difficulty for people who do not act through solicitors in getting the right form. Perhaps the Financial Secretary, could say how ordinary individuals, who cannot afford to employ solicitors, are to obtain that form. Do they have to fill in a form to get the right form, or what do they have to do? This is an important point, because it seems that Government Departments will have everything to gain by the procedure being as confused as possible. A premium is being set on making these matters difficult for the public. That is absolutely wrong in principle. A very strong case will have to be made out by the Government if we are not to press these Amendments to make sure that all these terms of compensation which we have been discussing at some length will really mean something, not only to solicitors but to ordinary men and women who only have small properties and who cannot afford additional charges.

    I am sure the Financial Secretary is not hypocritical, and therefore he will see my point. In Committee yesterday he said the Service Departments had had difficulty in making up their minds in two years, and that therefore they had better have a few more years in which to make quite certain what they want. On the other hand, the subject of the Crown is told, "Six months is all we shall give you; we can take two years or seven years to make up our minds, but you must fill up these forms in six months. Come along and double up about it." I am sure that is not what the Financial Secretary wants, because I am certain he wants to be fair. He cannot let it got out from this Committee that that is the Government's intention.

    Having listened to the admirable proposition of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), it seems that the purpose of this Clause is to meet the convenience of civil servants. I can imagine the draftsmen appealing to the civil servants who have to administer the provision, and saying, "What is the easiest way? You want the form filled up so that it is easy for you to deal with." I ask the Financial Secretary to consider the subject and, as a representative of the people, to say to the civil servants, "You have got to do a little more yourself. You have got to read through the rather illiterate handwriting. Possibly it will not be written in a legal manner; it will probably take you five minutes more, but, nevertheless, we feel that will be best for the individual."

    I ask the Financial Secretary to consider the arguments which we on this side of the Committee have submitted in all sincerity, and to try to get away from the system, with which we seem to be getting entangled, by which legislation appears to be for the benefit of the civil servants rather than for the benefit of His Majesty's subjects.

    We are all agreed that none of us likes filling up forms. We all look forward to the time when the present emergency will have passed away, and the enormous number of forms which are now, unfortunately, necessary will be a nightmare of the past about which we will tell our children when we desire to frighten them. But that, unfortunately, is not yet. What we have to do in this matter is to be reasonable.

    We are in the process of putting this Bill through, and, among other things, we are going to increase the amount which will go into certain people's pockets by way of rental compensation. We are dealing here with compensation for rent, not terminal compensation. Some people have been receiving, in many cases for all too long, a quarterly payment by way of rental compensation. After the Royal Assent to this Measure is obtained, they will be entitled to an increased amount, and the suggestion contained in the Bill is that people should apply for that increase. I do not think that is unreasonable. They can apply in two ways. As the hon. Gentleman said, they can apply in an ordinary letter, and let it go at that. There may be something to be said for that, but the difficulty is that there is an enormous number of cases to be dealt with in the Department, and a shortage of staff. Letters will come, in all sorts of handwriting, from people who have not the faintest notion what details they ought to give, or what are fundamental to the claim, and would help that claim to he traced quickly.

    We did not start this. The kind of form we are using here is almost exactly the same, except that experience has shown that it can be slightly simplified, as that started by the Conservative Government in 1939. Under Section 11 of the Act of that year, these forms were prescribed by the Treasury. I will come to that point in a minute. The matter was continued in Section 45 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945. Therefore, these forms are still in existence, although they have been simplified. There are now very few of them, I am delighted to say. They are there as a convenience, not only for the Department handling the matter, but for the claimant. It gives him a chance of knowing what information we want him to give, and no more. Up to now it has worked extremely well, and we suggest that it should continue as, otherwise, it will lead to a tremendous amount of work. Of course, some old lady who is entitled to claim may have to go to a solicitor because she just does not know what she must do.

    The Financial Secretary mentioned that there was a quarterly payment. Would he consider issuing instructions that, with the final quarterly payment, notice should be sent round from the Department concerned saying that the Bill has been passed, and that action should be taken by the claimant?

    I would certainly look at that, but it is very easy for me to promise that somebody else shall do a great many things. The Civil Service is greatly overworked. Hon. Members realise that by the time it takes even with the best will in the world, to answer the letters they send it. I am anxious not to make promises which might impose an undue burden on the Civil Service. Nevertheless, if it is possible, without too much difficulty in regard to labour, to inform the public, or those entitled to this, in due time of the fact that they should make application in some simple straightforward way, we should be only too glad to do it. It is our duty, if possible, to do it, either over the wireless, through the Press, or, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, by inserting a notice when the quarterly payment is made for the last time at the old rate. At any rate, that is why we believe the forms are necessary, and why we want them to be included in this Bill as being necessary.

    I will now come to the other point put by the hon. and learned Gentleman and other hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the period. We do not think that six months is unreasonable. It was the period inserted in the 1939 Act, and it worked very well. It was also the period put into the 1945 Act. We think that six months is not an unreasonable period, because it is coupled with the proviso that, if the circumstances are such that it is not reasonable or possible for the claim to be made within that period, it can be received at some later time.

    5.15 p.m.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that proviso has ever been exercised by the Treasury under the 1939 Act?

    Perhaps I may say here what I was going to say later on in the time allotted me. Qf course, I do not know the circumstances surrounding the case which the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted about the Ministry of Food—that, because some claim was not made in the proper form, it was disallowed. Of course, I accept what he says, but I would add that it surprises me enormously, and I would like to have details of the case, because it does not march in any sense, shape or form with the information that I have had, and the experience that has come my way. What we have had—and this has occurred since the Government have begun to pay sums by way of war damage—is an enormous number of people who thought, "Good Lord, this money is coming along," and who searched about to see if they could not, even at this late time, make application for some of it. We have had some astonishing out-of-time claims, and the War Damage Commission have, down the years, been accepting certain of such claims. But now we are getting some distance from the day when the last bomb fell, and a great deal of damage which might have been attributed to the bomb has been overlaid by wear and tear. We have to consider the taxpayers' money. We cannot accept, five or six years after the damage is reputed to have occurred, an application for recognition of that damage as war damage. That is the kind of claim which, I agree, the War Damage people have had to turn down flat as definitely out of time, although, even there, where a good case could be shown, they have been willing to consider it. But here, any legitimate claim, even though out of time, would be considered.

    We put in six months because we thought it fair. As I say, the people concerned will be getting their quarterly cheque, and will know beyond any doubt what is the amount they should claim. It is quite a simple calculation, and we do not think that the period of six months is out of the way, particularly as it is money going out. We are not claiming money from people. At any rate, two years is far too long because it means two years plus, just as the wording of this Clause means six months plus. As I say, we think six months plus is reasonable, and I hope the Committee will allow us to keep the words.

    I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has met the point. He has put forward quite an interesting argument about war damage, which is really not relevant to the matter under discussion. In the first place, I wish to deal with his argument with regard to the first Amendment. He said that forms are useful. I am willing to concede that the form may be useful to the civil servants who have to, operate this business, and that it may be useful to get that form from the claimant. But this Amendment does not stop that form being asked for. All it does is to say that the claimant shall not be disqualified from receiving compensation because he has not put his claim on the appropriate piece of paper. Indeed, if the practice under this Measure is going to be the same as it is under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, people will have to fill up a long form, asking all sorts of questions, in order to comply with the regulation. If they do not, the Ministry in question can, and has a discretion, to reject their claim.

    Why should the Ministry have discretion to reject a perfectly proper claim purely on that ground? That is the point. Why should it not be permissible for the subject to submit his claim in writing—for the occupier of some small premises which have been requisitioned for a rental compensation to write and say, "I want my extra compensation," and to sign his name and give his address? If he does that, it is perfectly open to the civil servant to write back and say, "We will give you your compensation when you have filled up this form." There is no difficulty about that.

    It is not the same thing at all. I am sorry that the hon. Member has not followed my argument.

    Obviously, the hon. Member has not. Unless the claim is in the prescribed fashion and sent in within six months, there will be no compensation. The point is this: whether a man gives detailed information at some time or another, his claim for compensation should not be barred merely because he has sent it by a letter and not on the prescribed form. I hope that is clear to the hon. Member. I am sure it will be if he reads the Bill.

    The second point the right hon. Gentleman dealt with was the six months' period. He made an extraordinarily thin case in saying that the subject must claim within six months; and it was a contradictory case. He sought to justify it by saying, "After all, there is power for the authority to extend the period." Why should the authority have this discretion? On what principles do the authority exercise that discretion? Do they refuse to exercise it properly? If they do not, what are the principles on which it is exercised?

    The proof of the pudding is very often in the eating. What we do know is that this thing has been running for some years now. So far as I know—I speak subject to correction—there has not been, and I cannot remember, a single Parliamentary Question about it. The thing does work. We ask people to make their claims in six months. As the money is coming to them, that is reasonable. We do not tie them down to an exact date.

    The right hon. Gentleman says that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I am surprised that the particulars of the case I referred to have not yet come to his attention at the Treasury. The proof of the pudding is in the eating: we have a Ministry rejecting a claim on the ground that it is not in the proper form, when notice of claim has been given by a firm of solicitors, and the application has been made to the Treasury under the proviso to Section 11 to extend the time. Why should that have to be done? What harm is there in asking for 12 months' time?. The right hon. Gentleman says that two years is too long. What about 12 months? We can compromise on that, perhaps.

    What I am saying is that it is quite wrong here to assume that people throughout this country will have the knowledge to make their claims within six months in the prescribed form; and that it is quite wrong that it should rest 21 the discretion of a Government Department whether or not a claim should be recognised if it is made after that date. The right hon. Gentleman's answer to this point is really very unsatisfactory. He did not give an assurance that he would consider the matter again. It is a point of some substance, as I am sure he will find that there have been cases under the 1939 Act in which property has been seized and payment has been refused on the ground that the claims have not been made in six months, the prescribed time.

    I thought that the Financial Secretary's argument was extremely good except for his conclusion. I was under the impression that he was thoroughly in favour of two points in our Amendment, but he refused to accept them. That was the impression I had, and which I think most Members in the Committee had. He argued that he could not agree that people should be allowed to send in letters stating their claims, but that they should have to put the details of their claims on to a prescribed form. We quite agree with that. That is a completely reasonable outlook.

    All we are asking by this Amendment is that the writing of a letter asking for the form should be tantamount to putting in the claim. Of course, the claim would not be paid until the prescribed form had been returned, and, therefore, the Treasury would have the perfect safeguard that they would not consider the claim in detail until the prescribed form had been returned. The fact that the prescribed form had not been returned within six months, however, would still not debar that claimant from his claim. I am quite convinced that the Financial Secretary is in agreement on this point. He is sympathetic. The only thing that seems to stop him accepting our proposal is the consideration that he cannot accept an Amendment from this side of the Committee. That is altogether an unreasonable outlook.

    As to the second point, the arguments put forward were even more astonishing. The main ground on which the right hon. Gentleman objected to our second point—the period of two years—was that the War Damage Commission had had claims which were four, five and six years out of date, and that it was unreasonable to expect the taxpayer to bear the financial cost of claims which had arisen so long ago that the bomb holes had been blown over. I agree with him that that would be a reasonable outlook; and if we were asking that these claims should be considered four, five and six years after the passing of this Bill, I would agree with him that that would be an unreasonable request. The fact of the matter is that we are asking only for a period of two years. As he has already advanced the argument that six months is not, in fact, the amount of time which is allowed, but that it is six months plus, and that that "plus" is an indefinite period, then, surely, it would be much more reasonable to make a definite time of two years and stick to it.

    I am certain that the Financial Secretary agrees with us on this matter. I ask him to reconsider the matter, especially in view of the concrete evidence which has been placed before him that the present law has, in fact, caused an injustice which could easily be put right by a simple Amendment which would in no way cause additional money to be spent, but which would have the effect of ensuring reasonable justice to claimants.

    The Financial Secretary used the argument that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and he referred to the fact that it was an excellent Act in 1939, and that it had run quite smoothly and quite well ever since, as far as he knew. Of course, the evidence we have heard during the discussion of this matter does not show that he knows very much about it. Let us look at the curious argument that, because a thing is working well, when it applies to a citizen of this kind, who is having his property, or has had his property, taken away from him, we are not entitled to ask for extra safeguards to help to protect him in the future. That is the line which is put forward by the Government—that the citizen is really not entitled to ask for safeguards at this time, because the thing has gone all right, and that apparently, so far as the Financial Secretary knows, there has been no trouble.

    Shall we apply that all round? The right hon. Gentleman will remember a very vivid speech made from the Government Front Bench in respect of another Measure, in which it was argued that the Government had to be prepared against any trouble. I use that only as an illustration of the futility and unfairness involved. I think the Committee will recognise the Bill to which I refer, which was designed for the protection not of citizens but of a political party. We are here dealing on a much higher plane than the future chances of a political party, for we are concerned with the protection of the ordinary citizen.

    5.30 p.m.

    That brings me to an aspect of the Financial Secretary's speech, on which we are in agreement to a certain extent. He argued that it is his duty, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to look after the interests of the ordinary taxpayer of this country. He illustrated that by means of the compensation for bombing, where there were a number of claims which were not very strong, to put it mildly. He would not have made that speech with quite the same ease had any of the Plymouth Members been present to listen to him, for there would have been a considerable uproar had he done so. The fact remains that it is his primary duty to protect the rights of the citizens; but it is also the primary duty of this Committee to protect the rights of the individual whose property is being taken. We have had illustration after illustration, in one of which it was recounted how the transfer of a house had taken place from the War Office to the Ministry of Works, with which the hon. Member concerned was closely acquainted for six months, without his having the foggiest idea that it was being done.

    When a transfer is being effected, the first thing should be, not that the individual has to write to the Treasury—as is apparently laid down here—but that the Department concerned should inform the individual, and that there should be a form which the Department must send to the individual concerned straightaway. If we could be assured that no difficulty would be raised by the Treasury to letting the individual have the form at the earliest possible moment, that would help us. It is the responsibility of the Treasury to let the individual have the appropriate form, and see that he knows what has to be done.

    The right hon. Gentleman asked us to be sorry for the officials who have to deal with this vast number of forms, and he pointed out how much more difficult it would be to deal with private letters. I suppose an official automatically becomes used to forms, and it is easier. Un- doubtedly, in this respect the Treasury, like other Government Departments, is overburdened with work. It is not so easy for an ordinary citizen, who is not a professional form filler, as a civil servant must be, to understand how to fill in these forms, so I ask that it be a fairly simple form. Wherever possible—it would not be very often—the individual concerned, or his representative, should be able to visit some central office to see the officials and try to transact the negotiations quickly. If the right hon. Gentleman would meet us on that point, I believe we should be getting somewhere. I think he secretly wishes not to put an undue burden on citizens in this respect.

    I turn to the rather more controversial matter. We are here dealing with two Amendments of considerable importance. The Financial Secretary has not really dealt with the fact that only yesterday he was arguing that Government Departments must have a greater length of time for reaching decisions on matters of vital importance, even with first-class brains and experts to assist them. The six months allowed here is much too short, although I am not saying that two years is the ideal time. We have had evidence from more than one hon. Member that it often takes a Government Department two months to acknowledge a letter. I do not know whether my letters are more vigorous, but I must say that has very rarely happened to me—and I have sent a large number of letters. Government Departments do not generally take two months to acknowledge my letters, perhaps because they think there would be more trouble coming to them if they delayed. However, apparently that delay is the fairly common experience of some hon. Members. It takes an infinite time for a form of the kind with which we are dealing to roll on through the Department, with all the chances that it is an overworked Department; also, the form may get lost—anything may happen to it.

    In view of the fact that there has been considerable evidence adduced this afternoon on the question of delay, I urge that six months is too short a period. The Financial Secretary made no considerable effort to rebut that argu- ment, except using the illustration of bomb damage. Would he extend the six months, or consider extending it between now and Report stage, to a year? I do not believe he wants to be harsh, and I am the last person to urge him to do anything which would involve lax Treasury administration.

    The right hon. Gentleman argued that people were being given money. They are not. Something is being taken from them, and they are being compensated in respect thereof. They are not being given money in the sense that it comes out of funds in other ways—in the sense that money is given to us as Members of Parliament. In many cases people's whole lives have been disturbed. I only wish we had someone here with a really fine heart, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, I am sure, would at once meet us on this point and give us the longer period. I believe the Financial Secretary would like to, and I cannot imagine that anybody would turn on him were he to do so. Of course, I know the hon. Members behind him will take no part in helping us here; but suppose it happened to be a local authority—for a local authority can come into this. Suppose a local authority had made a mess of it, were incompetent, and nothing happened, and at the end of six months they were told their claim fell to the ground?

    I am sorry that I have not been able to develop this matter as fully as I should have wished. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to go half-way towards making a concession a few minutes ago. Will he not therefore accept this period of two years, or, if necessary, some shorter period, to meet the case of these humble people who have been turned out of their homes, and have not the same sources of information available to them as the right hon. Gentleman? I ask him to approach this matter with some sympathy. I feel sure that if he realised the great difficulty in which these people are placed, he would be prepared to make some concession.

    This is a relatively small matter. It is really a matter of administration. There is no great principle involved. The Opposition take the view that the period should be two years, and we take the view that it should be less. If I had been convinced by the arguments which have been used, and if the Department had had any further information to give me, I should have been willing to meet hon. Members in this matter. From my own experience, however, and from the experience of the Departments, I am convinced that the provisions made in the Bill are reasonable. They are flexible, and many of the fears which hon. Members opposite have voiced are without foundation. We are all very anxious to speed up public business. Members are constantly trying to get civil servants to speed up their decisions, but what we want to do here is to get the public to do likewise. We have fixed the period of six months for these claims to be made. I do not think we are being unreasonable, particularly as it is provided that where the circumstances are such that this cannot be done within six months, an extended period will be allowed. We consider that it is far too much to stretch the period to two years.

    5.45 p.m.

    The hon. Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts) suggested that we might send out a notice with the quarterly cheques. All we are asking these people to do is to apply for the extra amount to which they are entitled under this Bill. I have been considering the suggestion, but the difficulty, apart from the difficulty of increasing the work of the Civil Service, is that the Royal Assent will not necessarily be given at the time when we are sending out these quarterly cheques. Nevertheless, we will consider whether we can, without involving too much extra work, issue these forms with the quarterly cheques. As I have said, we cannot accept this extended period, which we think is unreasonable.

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

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 255; Noes, 116.

    Division No. 62.]

    AYES.

    [5.47 p.m.

    Acland, Sir R.Gooch, E. G.Oliver, G. H
    Alpass, J. H.Grenfell, D. R.Orbach, M.
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Grey, C. F.Paget, R. T.
    Attewell, H. C.Grierson, E.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
    Awbery, S. S.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Parker, J.
    Ayles, W. H.Gunter, R. J.Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Hall, Rt. Hon. GlenvilPaton, J. (Norwich)
    Bacon, Miss A.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Pearson, A.
    Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Hardy, E. A.Perrins, W.
    Barstow, P. G.Harrison, J.Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)
    Barton, C.Haworth, J.Popplewell, E.
    Battley, J. R.Herbison, Miss M.Porter, E. (Warrington)
    Bechervaise, A. E.Hewitson, Capt. M.Porter, G. (Leeds)
    Belcher, J. W.Hicks, G.Price, M. Philips
    Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Holman, P.Pryde, D. J.
    Benson, G.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Pursey, Cmdr H.
    Berry, H.House, G.Ranger, J.
    Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Rees-Williams, D. R.
    Bing, G. H. C.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)Reeves, J.
    Binns, J.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Richards, R.
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
    Bramall, E. A.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Irving W. J. (Tottenham, N.)Royle, C.
    Brown, George (Belper)Janner, B.Scollan, T.
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Jeger, G. (Winchester)Scott-Elliot, W.
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Segal, Dr. S.
    Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G.Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)Sharp, Granville
    Burden, T. W.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
    Burke, W. A.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Shurmer, P.
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Keenan, W.Silverman, J. (Erdington)
    Callaghan, JamesKenyon, C.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
    Carmichael, JamesKey, C. W.Simmons, C. J.
    Castle, Mrs. B. A.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.Skeffington, A. M.
    Chamberlain, R. A.Kinley, J.Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
    Champion, A. J.Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.Skinnard, F. W.
    Chetwynd, G. R.Lang, G.Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Cluse, W. S.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. JSmith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Cobb, F. A.Lee, F. (Hulme)Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Collick, P.Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Solley, L. J.
    Collindridge, F.Leslie, J. R.Sorensen, R. W.
    Collins, V. J.Levy, B. W.Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
    Colman, Miss G. M.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Sparks, J. A.
    Comyns, Dr. L.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Stamford, W.
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr G.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Stokes, R. R.
    Corlett, Dr. J.Longden, F.Stross, Dr. B.
    Cove, W. G.Lyne, A. W.Summerskill, Dr. Edith
    Crossman, R. H. S.McAllister, G.Sylvester, G. O.
    Daggar, G.McEntee, V. La T.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Daines, P.McGhee, H. G.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)McGovern, J.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Mack, J. D.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Davies, Harold (Leek)McKay, J. (Wallsend)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)McKinlay, A. S.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Deer, G.Maclean, N. (Govan)Thurtle, Ernest
    Delargy, H. J.McLeavy, F.Tiffany, S.
    Diamond, J.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Timmons, J.
    Dobbie, W.Macpherson, T. (Romford)Titterington, M. F.
    Dodds, N. N.Mainwaring, W. H.Tolley, L.
    Driberg, T. E. N.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
    Dumpleton, C. W.Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
    Durbin, E. F. M.Medland, H. M.Vernon, Maj. W F
    Dye, S.Mellish, R. J.Viant, S. P.
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Middleton, Mrs. L.Walkden, E.
    Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)Mikardo, IanWalker, G. H.
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Mitchison, G. R.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Evans, A. (Islington, W.)Monslow, W.Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Moody, A. S.Warbey, W. N.
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Morgan, Dr. H. B.Watkins, T. E.
    Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Watson, W. M.
    Fairhurst, F.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Foot, M. M.Mort, D. L.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Forman, J. C.Murray, J. D.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Nally, W.Wheatley, J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)
    Gallacher, W.Naylor, T. E.White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    Ganley, Mrs. C. S.Neal, H. (Claycross)White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Gibbins, J.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Gibson, C. W.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Wilkins, W. A.
    Gilzean, A.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)O'Brien, T.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)

    Williams, D. J. (Neath)Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.Zilliacus, K.
    Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)Wise, Major F. J.
    Williams, W. R. (Heston)Wyatt, W.

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    Willis, E.Yates, V. F.Mr. Joseph Henderson and
    Wills, Mrs. E. A.Younger, Hon. KennethMr. Richard Adams.

    NOES.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gammans, L. D.Nutting, Anthony
    Amory, D. HeathcoatGeorge, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Odey, G. W.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Glyn, Sir R.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Granville, E. (Eye)Osborne, C.
    Bennett, Sir P.Grimston, R. V.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Birch, NigelHarvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Prescott, Stanley
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Head, Brig. A. H.Rayner, Brig. R.
    Bowen, R.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
    Bower, N.Hollis, M. C.Roberts, Peter (Ecclesall)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hope, Lord J.Ropner, Col. L.
    Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanHulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.Sanderson, Sir F.
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Hurd, AShephard, S. (Newark)
    Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Jeffreys, General Sir G.Smithers, Sir W.
    Byers, FrankJennings, R.Snadden, W. M.
    Challen, C.Keeling, E. H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
    Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Langford-Holt, J.Studholme, H. G.
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E A (P'dd't'n, S.)
    Cooper-Key, E. M.Lipson, D. L.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
    Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Low, A. R. W.Thorp, Lt.-Col R. A. F.
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lucas, Major Sir JTurton, R. H.
    Crowder, Capt. John E.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Vane, W. M. F.
    Cuthbert, W. N.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Wadsworth, G.
    Digby, S. W.MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.Walker-Smith, D.
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.McCallum, Maj. DWard, Hon. G. R.
    Donner, P. W.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
    Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G (Penrith)Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
    Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Wheatley, Col. M J (Dorset, E.)
    Drayson, G. B.Manningham-Buller, R. E.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Drewe, C.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Maude, J. C.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Duthie, W. S.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
    Eccles, D. M.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)York, C.
    Eden, Rt. Hon A.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
    Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.Neven-Spence, Sir B.
    Fletcher, W. (Bury)Nicholson, G.

    TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

    Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.Nield, B. (Chester)Major Ramsay and
    Gage, C.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Brigadier Mackeson.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 6, to leave out "that authority," and to insert "the Treasury."

    This point is cognate with that which we were discussing on the last Amendment. The subject matter is the amount of time allowed to the applicant to send in his claim. We have tried to get the time extended from six months to a longer period, but that has been resisted by the right hon. Gentleman on many grounds, one of which was that there was a discretion to the authority to extend the time limit in suitable cases. As the Bill is drafted, this semi-judicial discretion to say whether or not a claim shall be considered to be in time, even though it is later than six months, is spread among every authority which can requisition land.

    The Amendment seeks to substitute the words "the Treasury" for "that authority." The general argument is that we think that if there is to be this power to extend the time within which a claim can be considered valid, that power ought to be in the hands of one single authority, namely, the Treasury, rather than be spread about among the other authorities which can requisition land. In support of that, I would refer the Committee to the statute on which this Bill is fundamentally founded, the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, in Section 11 of which there is a similar time limit to that which we were discussing on the last Amendment. It says notice must be given
    "to the prescribed authority within the period of six months, or such longer period as the Treasury may, either generally or in relation to any particular claim allow."

    6.0 p.m.

    Yes. The power given to the Treasury by Section 11 of this Act allows them to decide that a certain claim shall be considered valid, even if it is out of date after the six months, and they may make their decision either generally or in regard to a particular class of claims or particular individual claim. That is a better way of setting it out than is proposed in this Bill. There is liable to be a great difference where people are treated according to the Department to which they apply.

    We must note in every case here that the authority which has power to extend the time limit has acquired land, or is a requisitioning authority, whose interest it is to get the land as quickly as possible and save confusion. I can conceive, unless this Amendment is accepted, great inequalities of treatment in the future. It may he that the Ministry of Works, not acting through any bad motive, will adopt one set of rules to say where the time limit should be extended; the Ministry of Health for their purposes may adopt another; and we may get two citizens, who have in common that their land is being requisitioned, receiving differences of treatment when the question of a time limit is proposed.

    I would prefer to see Section 11 of the 1939 Act duplicated, because I think there is merit in the Treasury being made the power to extend the time limit generally as well as in particular cases. In reply to the last Amendment, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury dealt with the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts) to the effect that notice' might be given to the people of this time limit so that they would not be kept in ignorance of the law as to what their rights were. His answer to that was valid so far as it went—that the payment of cheques with which it was proposed to circulate the required notice might not coincide with quarter day, and might be useless for the purpose of having relation to the date on which the Royal Assent to this Bill is given.

    If the right hon. Gentleman were to adopt the wording of the 1939 Act he would be able to make six months run from the date of the notice. That would be no hardship on the Treasury though we still think the time is too short, but it would be mitigation of the hardship to a man who might be misled into thinking he had no rights, when, in fact, he had. I hope this point will be reconsidered by the right hon. Gentleman. The argument is that there should be one set of rules for judging whether time limits should be extended in a claim, and that the central body to make it should be the Treasury. It should not be the duty of a number of modern Departments which have no experience. Perhaps they have not got any permanence like the Treasury, because many of them are wartime departments, and certainly they lack the experience to make general rules as to when a claim should be accepted even though it is without the six months. The Treasury should take advantage of its power to send out a notice informing people of their rights and dating it from the time when the cheque is delivered. There are other Amendments on the paper to the dame effect, but the general argument which I have applied to this one applies to them all.

    The reason why in this case we have not followed the wording of Section 11 of the 1939 Act is a simple one, namely, that the circumstances here surrounding claims are different from those which surrounded the many claims envisaged under that Section. I was able to interrupt the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) when he was quoting from the relevant Section of the 1939 Act because I wanted him if he would—and he was kind enough to do so—to remind the Committee what the words originally meant which were included in the Section, namely "class of claims." The fact that we have left the phrase "class of claims" out of the present Bill is deliberate and not casual at all.

    During the war there were a number of men in the Forces, and they might be in Tobruk or in the Far East; therefore, there was a particular class to which we could refer globally. It was desirable that some direction for a global class of that kind should come from the centre, namely, the Treasury. Nothing of the kind, I am glad to say, takes place here. We are dealing almost exclusively with individual cases, and the circumstances which might lead to an extension of time being given will arise almost entirely with regard to the individual. That is why we have used the words that we have, and one reason why we have not followed the wording and the plan of the 1939 Act, which makes it essential that these applications should go to the Treasury. We suggest in the Bill that they should go to the requisitioning Department concerned in order to save time.

    Even if the Amendment were accepted and we inserted the word "Treasury" instead of "authority" as is suggested, an applicant would still have to go back to the requisitioning Department because it is that Department which considers the individual case. It is the man on the spot who knows, and he should be ready to judge the merits of a particular case and say, "Yes, this is a fit case for extension. This man' has been abroad, or has not been very well, or this has happened or that has happened. It is quite unreasonable that he should be expected to put in his claim in the proper time, so we of the requisitioning Department, who know this case, recommend and decide that an extension is reasonable."

    I that should come through the bottleneck of the Treasury and then have to pass to and fro between the Treasury and the Department concerned, it would add to labour and correspondence, and make for delay. I hope that, having pointed out what I am sure has been overlooked by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, he will be willing to withdraw his Amendment. What we suggest is, I venture to think, the most reasonable way of handling this matter.

    I listened with care to what the right hon. Gentleman said, but I am not convinced by his arguments for departing from the principle laid down in Section it of the 1939 Act. It is quite true that that Act permitted extensions of time to be decreed generally or for classes, but it also made the Treasury the authority for extending individual claims. Nor was his answer about classes quite as strong as he seemed to think. There are still many of our men in various parts of the world. The disruption of the war has not so totally subsided as to remove altogether from consideration the facts which made the Treasury in 1939 have the power to make classes exempt from the time limit. There are also classes who ought to get a little more extension of time, as in cases where land is vested in trustees. It may be that the trustees of a charity are dispersed, and to call them together in order to get a conjoint application with all the names on it takes time. In such cases there is a valid case for extension and for the Treasury to make certain rules to enable that to be done.

    I was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman refer to the great Department as a "bottleneck." I had always understood that it was the soul and inspiration of the entire Civil Service, goading them to fresh activities, and that far from being a strangulating influence, it inspired them with great zeal and vigour in the public service. While I agree that in these days a great deal must be left to the man on the spot, it would be to the public advantage if the right hon. Gentleman accepted this Amendment and considered issuing to Departments some general principles to guide them.

    What I apprehend, and why we move this Amendment, is that we may get different treatment from different Departments. The right hon. Gentleman knows that we are not now dealing with experienced men in every case in the Civil Service. We expanded the Service during the war and for reconstruction purposes we have included a lot of men who have not gone through the profound experience of the old-fashioned Civil Service. I am anxious that grievances should not arise. I have made my point, I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman and I have given my reply to what he was good enough to say. I know that he and his Department will consider the matter, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 28, at end, to add:

    "or the date when the person making application for the increase became entitled to the rental compensation, whichever is the later."
    This is an Amendment of a rather technical nature designed to provide for a case for which the Subsection as drafted does not properly provide. A property may change hands, say, some three months after the Royal Assent to the Bill has been given, and the former owner may not have made a claim for the increased rental compensation. Obviously in those circumstances, if the new owner makes a claim for the increased rental compensation, he should receive it as from the date when he becomes the owner and not from the anterior date, namely, the date of the Royal Assent. Otherwise he would be receiving rental compensation in respect of a period when he did not own the property. That is obvious commonsense, and the Amendment provides for that case.

    The Amendment is an improvement and may meet a case that may arise. Therefore, I hope the Committee will accept it.

    Amendment agreed to.

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

    Clause 9—(Amount Of Compensation Inrespect Of Making Good Requisitioned Land)

    6.15 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 37, after "but," to insert:

    "subject to the provisions of Subsection (4) of this Section."
    This Amendment will appear to be a purely formal one, but if hon. Members look at it more closely they will see that its object is to introduce the long and rather complicated Amendment later on the Order Paper in page 8, line 23, at end, add:
    "(4) Where during the period for which possession of the land was retained damage (other than war damage) occurred to any such work as is mentioned in paragraph (b) of the last foregoing subsection, the amount to which the compensation is limited by virtue of subsection (1) of this section shall be increased so as to take account of that damage to such extent as may be just having regard to any such expense, agreement or payment as is mentioned in subsection (2) or (3) of the said section forty-one.
    "(5) Section fifty-four of the Act of 1945 (which provides for, certain purposes that where a payment in respect of the value of works has been made under Part II of that Act the provisions as to compensation of section two of the Act of 1939 shall have effect as if a new period of requisition had begun on the date of the payment) shall not have effect as respects compensation under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of the said section two."
    If the Committee accept the first Amendment, they are by implication committing themselves to the second, longer Amendment. Therefore, it will perhaps be convenient if I now give the reasons I shall urge hereafter in support of the second Amendment. The second Amendment is designed to increase the compensation provided for in respect of the terminal payments under Clause 9 in a particular set of circumstances. The circumstances are those in which the owner of the property has made a payment in respect of war works under the terms of Section 10 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945. As the Clause is at present drafted, the effect of the application of Section 54 of the 1945 Act to Clause 9 would be that the owner, having paid that sum for war works under Section 10 of the 1945 Act, would, nevertheless, not receive the benefit of that payment. We therefore seek by introducing the new Subsections (4) and (5) to increase the maximum limit of the terminal payment so as to include the payment by the owner in cases where he has made a payment under Section 10. That is obvious justice to the owner, and I feel the Committee may well think that it is an improvement to the Bill.

    I welcome the explanation of the Solicitor-General. Of course, the Amendment with which we are now dealing is really introductory to the main Amendment which inserts the new Subsections (4) and (5). The object the Amendment seeks is praiseworthy, and the Committee should agree with it.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 38, after "compensation," to insert:

    "in respect of land other than land referred to in subsection (2) of section one of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act, 1946."
    Clause 9 is designed to set a new maximum for terminal compensation, and it is designed to do so, as the Financial Secretary explained, in the interests of landowners. It is designed to remove the unfairness of the 1935 level of values, but it is provided that the new maximum of compensation shall not exceed the difference between the value of the land in the state in which it was taken over and its value in the state in which it was handed back. That is a test which in ordinary cases would be eminently fair, but it may work very unfairly in the case of certain public authorities.

    Perhaps I may quote a case which makes me interested in this Amendment. In Northampton we have a central park or sports ground. It was the old racecourse, and Northampton has grown all round it. During the war the War Office took it over and built a very elaborate camp on it. They put up a lot of extremely valuable brick buildings, a lot of drainage works, road works and so on, and it may well be argued that in the case of a private owner those new buildings on the racecourse have made it more valuable than it was before when it was taken over as an empty space. If that be so, then under Clause 9 the Borough of Northampton is entitled to no compensation at all, but the fact that those buildings are valuable buildings in the hands of somebody else, is not of much assistance to the Borough of Northampton, which is under a statutory obligation to take them away and re-create the open space. It would be very unjust indeed if the War Office, who put up those buildings, did not take them away again, or, at least, pay for them to be taken away. We ought not to be required to do it. That is one striking instance to illustrate this principle.

    The way I have suggested doing it in my Amendment is to take the ceiling off the properties referred to in Section 1 (2) of the 1946 Act. That Subsection reads:
    "The purchase, in a case falling within the last foregoing Subsection, of land—
  • (a) which is the property of a local authority or which has been acquired by statutory undertakers for the purposes of their undertaking,
  • (b) forming part of a common, open space or fuel or field, garden allotment, or held inalienably by the National Trust, or
  • (c) being, or being the site of, an ancient monument or other object of archaeological interest, …"
  • Those all seem to be cases where buildings which might be of value to a private owner are none the less a liability to the particular type of public owner who holds those properties. They are all cases where that particular type of owner has to remove them and clear the land. A factory may be a very nice and valuable factory, but if the National Trust is, by reason of its constitution, obliged to take away that factory, it is no asset to the National Trust. Therefore, in these cases this ceiling ought to be removed.

    It may be said that this Amendment is unnecessary because there is power in the discretion of the Minister to go over the maximum compensation where it is a question of clearing land under Section 52 of the 1945 Act. Of course, if I receive an assurance that that Section will be brought into operation in the sort of cases have in mind, and, in particular, the specific case in Northampton, I shall be quite satisfied, but this is a point which ought to be cleared up.

    My hon. and learned Friend has described a particular class of case in which a local authority finds itself in a genuine difficulty having unwelcome buildings upon land which has been requisitioned. It cannot dispose of the land, very often it cannot remove the buildings, nevertheless, in relation to that land, it has a public duty to discharge. However, this Amendment goes much wider than the case he has in mind. Section 2 of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act, 1946, refers only to local authorities, the National Trust and so on, but it refers generally to statutory undertakers. Even if I felt that an Amendment were necessary, this one goes much too wide. However, my hon. and learned Friend has called the attention of the Committee to Section 52 of the 1945 Act, and that Section is the answer to the argument propounded for it is specifically designed to cover that kind of case.

    He has asked me for a specific assurance with regard to the local authority he mentioned. I am not sure, without further investigation, that I could give such an assurance, but I can say that there is ample power to deal with the situation described, not only in the case of the particular local authority he mentioned, but in the case of other local authorities. That is the Section which would be used for the purpose of considering the case of those local authorities. It would be wrong for me to go further and give specific undertakings without knowledge of the particular sets of circumstances which may obtain in any particular case, but there is the power, and the power in proper cases, where the public interest requires, can and will be used.

    It would be right also that I should say this: in a great many cases, before the land is handed back to the owner by the requisitioning authority, the buildings will have been removed by that authority. In cases in which it has not been done Section 52 can, if a suitable case is made out, be made use of, but often the question will not arise because already the buildings will have been removed. They have not been in the case described by my hon. and learned Friend, and there the question would be whether it falls fairly and squarely within the discretion to be exercised under Section 52. As my hon. and learned Friend said he would be prepared to accept an assurance if he thought it went far enough, I hope he will think it does so and that, in those circumstances, he will see fit to ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.

    I think the Solicitor-General has dealt fairly with the point raised and that we should congratulate the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) on his success but, of course, exactly the same circumstance arises where an unwanted building is on the land of somebody who is not a public authority. Exactly the same argument can be advanced to protect the interests of people who have statutory obligations but who are not public authorities, notably the landowners, who have statutory obligations under the Agriculture Act, 1947, to manage their land according to the rules of good estate management, and where the buildings are preventing proper management of the land. I hope that the Solicitor-General's general undertaking will also include that sort of case, and that Section 52 of the 1945 Act will be used there.

    6.30 p.m.

    I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is satisfied with what the Solicitor-General has said. He asked for a right, and this same thing might apply to Sheffield, where war works have been put on to their land. I think there is a right to have that land put in order. I would support the hon. and learned Member for Northampton in asking for the right. On the other hand, if he is satisfied with the Solicitor-General's reply, representatives of other local authorities might not be satisfied. I do not think the right should be taken away from owners, whether local authority or private owners. We ought not to accept a permission instead of an obvious right.

    I feel there is something to be said for the proposition that this ought to be a right, but my difficulty is that when I looked into the Amendment I found it was obviously too wide. In the Section from which we get the ceiling, we are dealing with such a wide variety of properties that it world he quite unjust to the public to say that any owner who, from a market point of view, has had the value of his land increased can say he thinks it would be more valuable if it were cleared and demands that it should be cleared. One has to weigh public and private rights together, and that would not be a reasonable thing. I think that right and discretion will, in substance, come to the same thing. Therefore, with the permission of the Committee, and I hope the hon. Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts) will join in giving me that permission, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 38, after "not," to insert:

    "where the interest in the land of the person entitled to possession of the land at the date when such compensation accrues clue is a freehold interest."
    There is a consequential Amendment which might also be considered, in line 43, at end, insert:
    "and where such interest as aforesaid is a leasehold interest shall not exceed the damages which would be recoverable by the lessor at the date when such compensation accrues due under the lease under which such interest is held for a breach of any covenant in the lease not to assign or sub-let or alter the demised premises or to keep or put the same in repair during the currency of the lease or to leave or put the same in repair at the termination of the lease, less such amount as is shown to be due in respect of breaches which have occurred before the date when possession of the land was taken."
    This Amendment is designed to safeguard leasehold property. Let us regard the Government's drafting as satisfactory for freehold property for the moment; there is clearly a gap in the case of leasehold property. The excrescences put by Government Departments on land, and alterations to land, may not diminish the compulsory purchase price of the land, yet, by being there, they may impose a very considerable obligation on the lessee. It always helps if a concrete illustration is given, and we might take the conversion of a single dwelling into two or more dwellings, which might increase the value for compulsory acquisition. There would be no ceiling under this provision, but for the lessee that alteration might make him liable to a very heavy claim for the cost of returning it to its original position at the end of the lesase. This Clause does not deal with that situation, and I think it should do so.

    I was a little surprised to hear the argument which has been advanced, and I hope the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) will not think I am in any way lacking in deference to his skill and judgment as a Parliamentarian when I say that I rather expected that argument to be advanced in respect of the next Amendment, in line 43, at the end, to insert:

    "increased by the amount of any expenses incurred in the rehabilitation of the land."
    I thought the argument was rather more relevant to that than to the present Amendment. I must ask the Committee not to accept this Amendment. It is a composite Amendment which, if our minds are ad idem should be read with the second Amendment to line 43, which the hon. Member has already quoted. There are very serious difficulties in the way of these two Amendments. They would result in a situation in which there would be a kind of dichotomy in the cases where there is a freeholder and a leaseholder. The leaseholder would receive terminal compensation measured in terms of the liability he assumes to his landlord in respect of repairs under the terms of the covenant contained in his lease, and the freeholder would receive compensation measured by the terms at present provided by the Clause.

    If one looks at the position of the leasehold, one finds that different classes of repairing covenants impose different measures of liability. It seems unsustainable that the requisitioning authority acting on behalf of the ratepayers should have the measure of compensation determined by the nature of the obligation which the lessee has undertaken to his lessor. That, so far as the requisitioning authority are concerned, would be a mere matter of chance. They are not concerned with the contractual obligations undertaken by the lessee towards the lessor. Those obligations may be more or less exacting, and, if the Amendment were accepted, it would mean that the measure which is to be applied in respect of terminal payments would vary according to the form of the repairing covenant.

    Secondly, the difficulty arises that sometimes it is the landlord, the owner, or freeholder, who is entitled to the terminal payment, and sometimes it is the leaseholder. It depends on each case within the category of owner as defined under the 1939 Act. The owner, as was defined, is the person who under the terms of the Act is entitled to receive the terminal payment, and the owner is defined in the definition Section of the Act as the person entitled to receive the rack rent. It may be either the freeholder or the lessee holding under the terms of the lease under which he pays a ground rent, but not a rack rent, and he would be entitled under the 1939 Act. The Legislature have already provided for the adjustment of the liability and right as between the lessee and the owner, and have done so by Section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant (Requisitioned Land) Act, 1944. That Section enables the lessee to obtain the benefit of payments made from the lessor to the freeholder.

    Provision has already been made that once the terminal payment has gone out to those entitled to receive it, a fair apportion shall be made between them under the terms of Section 2 of the Act. I urge the view that the division of the terminal payment is not of concern to the requisitioning authority, and in justice ought not to be the obligation of the requisitioning authority.

    If the terminal compensation in the case I gave were nil, how would that be divided between the lessor and the lessee—what would be the obligation of the lessee who has to pay heavy damages?

    I can answer that quite easily. If there is no obligation in that particular case to pay more than nil the division is equally nil. I am dealing with the case where there is an obligation to make a terminal payment because there is damage in terms of Section 2 of the 1939 Act. It may sometimes go to the freeholder, sometimes to the leaseholder. We have already embodied in our legislation the requisite machinery for determining between them who is to receive it and in what proportion.

    There are other difficulties quite apart from that situation. First, there may be the case of a lease with no repairing covenant. Such leases are very rare but they may exist, particularly in verbal tenancies. In short leases one might find that sort of thing. In that case we may get the situation that there is no ceiling provided. Equally, there is a specific Act, the Leasehold Property (Repairs) Act, 1938, which applies to a certain category of property, and which exonerates the lessee from obligation to comply with the repairing covenant. Under Section of the Landlord and Tenant (Requisitioned Land) Act, 1944, in the event of the lease expiring during the period of the requisition, the lessee is relieved from the obligation to comply with his repairing covenant. In all these cases, the Amendment will not work because no ceiling will be provided.

    Quite apart from that the substance of the matter is that what should be paid should be measured in terms of the actual physical damage done to the property; it should not be determined by the fortuitous circumstance of the existence or nonexistence of a repairing covenant and, if there is one, the form in which it is drawn. It would be extremely difficult to work as a matter of practice. The Amendment contemplates that when the quantum of the terminal payment is assessed there should be deducted from the amount of damages which will be payable under the repairing covenant a sum equivalent to the amount of damage incurred before the requisition began. It would be extremely difficult to do that in the case of many leases.

    For example, take a lease which began 20 years ago, and which has a general repairing covenant. How, without knowing what the state of the premises was 20 years ago, when the lease began, is one to apportion that quantum of the damage which must be attributed to the pre-requisition period and that which must be attributed to the post-requisition period? From the point of view of the valuer it would not be practicable to do that in a vast number of cases—it would be a mere wild guess founded on insufficient information. From the necessity of the case it would not be workable. One would have to guess the damage that had been waived, the damages which had already been paid and various other circumstances.

    In order to assess the compensation fairly and squarely in terms of the Amendment all these various circumstances, about which it might be next to impossible to obtain accurate and reliable information, would have to be taken into account. Such information might not be possessed by the lessee. It might only be in the knowledge of an assignor to him, or within the knowledge of a person deceased or within the knowledge of a land agent or estate agent who was no longer to be found. Quite apart from anything else, the proposal would be quite unworkable. For this and other reasons I hope that the Committee will agree that the Amendment should not be accepted, and that the terminal compensation should be subject to the terms of the Clause.

    6.45 p.m.

    I am sure that the Committee is indebted for the learned answer which the Solicitor-General has given to the Amendment. Although I have heard a few legal arguments in my time, quite clearly it could not be expected that we should profess to have absorbed in one gulp the copious flow of legal instances which the hon. and learned Gentleman has poured upon us. I am sure he has done his best to give us an answer and I think that his answer deserves further consideration by us. I cannot quite feel that he answered the case made by my hon. Friend. There seemed to run through his speech the idea that this Amendment was directed to the method of ascertaining compensation, whereas it is not. It prescribes a ceiling above which the compensation cannot rise when it has been ascertained by the other provisions of the Bill. This ceiling is arrived at by taking the compulsory purchase price of the property in the state in which it was when it was requisitioned, and deducting from that the compulsory purchase price of the property in the state at which it is when the compensation accrues, and that is the limit which can not be exceeded. That is to be the ceiling.

    I wanted to make that clear, because the Solicitor-General's argument was so phrased as to apply to the method of ascertainment of compensation rather than to the limits to be placed upon it. I hope that he will consider The matter further.

    The general feeling which my Friends and I have about Clause 9 is that fixing this ceiling by the method I have described does not adequately discriminate between the problems which arise as between a leasehold on the one hand and a freehold on the other. It is evident that there will be instances in which it is to be the leaseholder who is to get this terminal compensation. Although I should like an opportunity of considering in greater detail what the Solicitor-General has said, I do not think he has quite met my hon. Friend's case. He said, quite truly, that what is to be compensated is the measure of damage to the property. The property of the leaseholder is the remainder of his lease, less the burden of the covenants contained in the lease. That is his interest which has to be compensated, and if, as in the case my hon. Friend mentioned, structural alterations are done to the property which may increase its value, then he gets no compensation. My advice to the Committee in this extremely complicated matter is that we should study, with wet towels round our heads or otherwise, the Solicitor-General's speech on this Amendment, and if we feel the necessity of bringing it forward later, it should be understood that we shall do so.

    The Solicitor-General has put forward the point of view that my suggestion is too cumbrous and unworkable. I am prepared to believe that it is, for we have not got the drafting facilities which are at the disposal of the Government. What the Solicitor-General must make clear to the Committee and what he failed to do—

    I did not mean to say that the language used in the Amendment was cumbrous but that the hon. Member's proposal was not workable as a matter of practice.

    The Solicitor-General made the point, which may be right or wrong, but what he did not do was to show that the Government, by their wording, were treating the lessee fairly. They have put forward in Clause 9 a ceiling different from that previously ruling under the proviso in Section 2 of the 1939 Act. Under that proviso there would have been a perfectly good ceiling for that lessee in a case where, as I instanced, a house was split up into two or more separate dwellings. He would have had, under this proviso, a fund from which he could pay his landlord terminal compensation for contractual alterations, but under the Government's plan there is not a penny piece. He owes his landlord a very large sum of money for the work done by the Government Department, and the Government, by their drafting, are giving not a penny to this wretched lessee. That is where I think the Solicitor-General has to find a better argument. We are dealing with a situation which is in the interest of lessees all over the country, and it does affect every lease, other than a verbal lease. It is important that the Government should, before the Report stage, devise ways of securing justice for the leaseholder.

    I do not think any of us could have listened to the Solicitor-General without being confident that it was nothing but a volume of words which had little meaning to the lay mind. He gave us a flow of words with no sympathy or kindness of heart in his outlook, and just barely laid it down that the thing will not work. No doubt he sets considerable store by them, but, naturally, we begin to look suspiciously at the words he uses. As I understand it, the object of this Amendment is that a lessee under this Bill whose house, for the sake of argument, has been destroyed or damaged, or injured in some way is not able, when it is put right, to get any compensation—unless this Amendment is included. I will give way if the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to interrupt me, but that is how I understand his argument. He was against the lessee getting anything. If I am wrong I hope he will explain to me.

    The lessee may well be the owner, within the meaning of the definition under the 1939 Act, and therefore would receive the terminal payment himself.

    Of course he may be the owner under the definition of the 1939 Act. I quite understand that. On the other hand, he may not be, and then apparently he would not get anything at all. That is my point. The hon. and learned Gentleman can quote other Acts and say that the lessee may be this or that, but the fact remains that there is a residue of people with leases who are apparently left out. My hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the Committee want, at dome period, to see that section of the community guarded.

    May I give one illustration, which I am sure will appeal to some hon. Members? If property is let to a local authority who have a building on it, they are not the full owners under the 1939 Act. Supposing damage is done to that building. They are not the proper owners but, somehow or other, they have got to put the building right. That local authority might find itself in very great difficulty, and that is only one instance. A co-operative society, for example, might very easily be in that position, and the hon. and learned Gentleman would have let them clown. There are all sorts of people who might be affected, apart from the ordinary landlord. The fact remains that unless they happen to be guarded by the 1939 Act they are left out, and the right hon, and learned Gentleman with a hardness of heart no one would suspect—unless they have listened to a lot of his speeches—is deliberately cutting them out.

    I am glad this Amendment was brought up. Naturally the hon. and learned Gentleman has other types of people in mind, and he hopes, I suppose, eventually to get the whole of property under the State, and ignore the lessees altogether. That is the possibility at the back of his mind. It is a very great pity. It is not a very honourable position which he has taken up in regard to this particular Amendment. I would ask the Government if they might not look at it again from a rather wider point of view than they are at present taking. We are not all lawyers, and we are not only legislating for lawyers. Most of us are trying to legislate for ordinary humble people, such as back benchers on both sides of the House. I am amazed at the attitude the Government have taken and that this Committee is so docile under the fluent and flatulent phrases of the Solicitor-General. I am glad that I have never yet heard anything of the same sort coming from any Tory Member anywhere at any time.

    In the hope and expectation that the Government will reconsider this matter before the Report stage, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 43, at the end, to insert:

    "increased by the amount of any expenses incurred in the rehabilitation of the land."
    This is a major Amendment and deals with a very great injustice contained in the Bill as drafted. May I clear up a point that was raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman for Northampton (Mr. Paget)? I presume that this new ceiling does not affect the work carried out under Section 52 of the 1945 Act, in any case, not merely the case which he quoted of his own town council, but of any owner in any category, whether under the Acquisition of Land Act special proviso or not. Since the Government brought out this new draft of the ceiling under Clause 9, there has been anxiety amongst most of the people who care for the restoration of the countryside as to whether the Government were trying to burke their responsibility under Section 52.

    This new ceiling will hit very hard land that is of an undeveloped nature and of a low annual value. It will also hit land which has, or had up to the passing of Clause 9, a development value. I think we must put before the Committee those two specific cases where this Clause 9 is injuring the interests of rehabilitation, and, in particular, those cases of opencast coal workings, where the land has to be restored. The procedure, which I think is known to most hon. Members, is that at present, working, I presume, under Section 52, the Government Department restores the land to the extent of back filling and re-levelling the soil. The rest of the work of rehabilitation of that land includes the re-setting of the drainage, and the improvement to the top soil where it is possible—it is not very easy to improve the damage caused by the loss of fertility to the top soil—and also the replacement by quick hedges of the concrete I osts, which I believe the Government instal, under Section 52.

    All that comes under that part of the terminal compensation covered by the new ceiling under this Clause. We must see whether the Government's ceiling for land which has been subject to opencast coal working will be sufficient in normal cases to provide for those three problems—drainage, recovery of fertility, and the alteration from concrete posts and wire to some better division in the form of quick hedging.

    7.0 p.m.

    If we take a type of land that is of the present value of £30 an acre, that land, after the coal has been taken out, presumably has a value of 5s. an acre per year, which is the lowest agricultural annual value. Therefore, in the case of ten acres of land subject to opencast coal work, its purchase price, before the Government came on the land, would be £300. Its value at the end of the working would be 5s. an acre which, commuted to 20 years' purchase, would mean that the land would be worth something in the region of £50. That means, therefore, that the Government are putting a ceiling on this land of £250, whereas before the introduction of this Clause there was a ceiling of £300. It is the experience of those who have been helping in this work of rehabilitation of opencast coal land that the previous ceiling was insufficient to secure the complete rehabilitation of the land. Unless this Amendment is accepted, this Clause will mean that less money will be spent on rehabilitation because there is this notional value on the land when the coal working has been concluded.

    That is highly undesirable. It is perfectly simple to cure that state of affairs, and the method we suggest is the right one. We say that the ceiling should be increased by the cost of rehabilitation. Probably, at first sight it may appear to be more economical to leave all land damaged by opencast coal working completely unrestored, and to say that we need not bother about agriculture. That would be a very shortsighted view. It is important that, by his attitude to this Amendment, the Solicitor-General should secure that this land is properly rehabilitated. The way to do that is to increase the ceiling by the quantum of rehabilitation.

    I said that there were two special cases where the ceiling was insufficient. There is the case of undeveloped land at £30 an acre, where it is a bad ceiling, because after land has been damaged there is always a residual value. Also, there is the case where land had a development value. Under this Clause the development value must be excluded. If I quote an actual case from Derbyshire, it may illustrate my point sufficiently vividly for the Solicitor-General to accept my argument. There was an area of one and a half acres of land used for agricultural purposes which had some development value. That land was damaged by opencast coal workings. The ceiling proviso under the 1939 Act was in the neighbourhood of £250. The cost of making good the damage was agreed between the Government Department concerned and the valuers at £150, and that was paid under Section 2 (1, b) of the 1939 Act.

    Under this Clause the development value must first be eliminated. In the case of that one and a half acres, the development value was estimated at £150. Therefore, the value at existing use is put at £100—£250 less £150. The ceiling becomes even less, because although it will cost £150 to rehabilitate the land fully, probably the land could still be let for £1 an acre. Capitalising the £1 an acre at 30 years' purchase, that would give a capital value of £45. The ceiling becomes not the £250 under the 1939 Act, but a figure of £55 which is a little more than one-third of the cost of restoring that one and a half acres of land.

    That illustration was given to me by a firm who deal with the opencast coal workings in the Midlands. It is a concrete case. This Clause reduces the ceiling to such an extent that land of this kind will not be rehabilitated in future, unless this Amendment is accepted. I make no party point when I say that I have been alarmed, ever since the war, to see how little the land of England has been rehabilitated. I have been appalled to note in my constituency not only the lack of speed at which rehabilitation has progressed, but the fact that owing to increased costs and stringency of labour very little work has been done. That is not only a loss to the owner or occupier of the land; it is a great national loss. I hope that by this Bill we shall not introduce a ceiling which will prevent the rehabilitation of that land. However poor the nation is, this is a matter on which we can afford to be generous.

    I wish to support what my hon. Friend has said. I spent part of the last Recess in personal observation of the immense amount of damage done to certain land in Leicestershire by opencast coal working. My hon. Friend instanced a case in Derbyshire. I imagine that the position is about the same in Leicestershire. I know that the regulations according to which the opencast workings are made, provide that the top soil shall be separated from the rest, but, in every case in Leicestershire where these workings have occurred, that has not been done, with the result that, when the land has been handed back to the farmer, it is handed back as a beautiful, smooth, level and brown stretch of land, but, within about two months, it is holding water all over it, and, in five years' time, it will be full of potholes and will not even grow a crop of grass. Surely, farmers placed in that position, and having their land handed back to them in that state, are entitled to a much higher ceiling of compensation than they get under this Bill? It may be that the ceiling laid down in this Bill is based upon the belief of the Government that the land is, in fact, handed back in good order. I would ask the Government to believe me when I say that that is not the case, and, if they do not believe me, they should go to Leicestershire to the places where these workings have been carried out, consult the members of the local N.F.U. and see the situation for themselves. That land is not draining properly and will not even grow a crop of grass. I strongly support the Amendment, and I hope the Solicitor-General will accept it.

    May I also support this plea as strongly as I can? I have taken a double interest in opencast coalmining, not only from the point of view of the state of the sites where it has happened, but also in association with drainage authorities who are extremely interested in this matter. I would like to state one case in which the Government gave an assurance to a drainage authority that they could go ahead with their work because the land was not going to be requisitioned. The Ministry of Fuel and Power then changed their minds after the work had been done, and that work had cost over £700. It means that all that work has been wasted, and no benefit from it has been obtained in any way. That work was most necessary at the time and it will still be necessary afterwards. I ask the Solicitor-General to realise that when there is interference with land drainage, it does not only affect the land which is being torn up for opencast coal-mining, but the contiguous land as well. If ever there was a case of one particular section of the community being treated most unfairly, it is the case of the farmer whose land has been taken for opencast coal working.

    I also wish to support the Amendment and to make a plea for ordinary fairness. We have now got to the stage where the Government can deal with the situation on its face value, and I see no reason why there should be this restriction which the Government now suggest. I consider that the right way to deal with the matter is for the Government either to restore the land or pay for its restoration. If they do not, the result will be that the land will not be restored and we shall lose all benefit from it.

    I would like to give a few illustrations, but, before doing so, I wish to declare that I have an interest in this matter, as I have certain land which is under requisition, and that fact has drawn my attention all the more to the injustice of this Clause. First, let me take the case of small pieces of land of smallholders and small farmers, whose land has been taken over, and on which, possibly, a hut has been built with a concrete foundation. It might be the case of half-an-acre of land on which a searchlight was placed. The cost of that land might possibly have been no more than £5, yet, to take up the concrete foundations and put back the land in order to grow cabbages or potatoes would cost about £30. Under this Clause, all that the farmer or smallholder will get is something less than £5. He is faced with having to pay £25 out of his own pocket to take away the concrete foundation which the Government left behind. There are many other examples which I could give, and I see no reason at all why the Government should not pay sufficient money to the owner or to the tenant of that land to put it back in its original state.

    My second illustration, and perhaps hon. Members from Norfolk will bear me out in what I say upon it, is the Stanford battle area which was taken over. There is a great deal of agricultural land in that area. As a result of what the Government have done there in the last four or five years, the drains are blocked up and the place has become a wilderness. Before it was taken over, it had a good value, but the result now is that to restore it for agricultural use when the Government give it back will cost far more than the amount provided under this Bill. In that area there are the homes of agricultural workers and small farmers, and, under the present conditions of building, it is going to cost them, to repair their homes and property, far more than the original value of the land. Are the Government now going to say that they will get their compensation and can go somewhere else? That seems to me a most hard-hearted and impersonal way of treating them. I hope we shall have some support from hon. Members from Norfolk in this case, and that they will suggest that, if we are to get this Stanford area back into use as agricultural land, somebody will have to pay the cost of its restoration, and I suggest that, in all fairness, it should be the Government.

    7.15 p.m.

    I will not go into the subject of opencast coalmining at great length. All I can say is that, in the Sheffield area and in South Yorkshire, the most dreadful inroads into the agricultural population have been made in this way. I can bear out what my hon. Friend has said about drainage and the restitution of this land. We have another Amendment on the Order Paper which deals with that matter and its effects over the years to come, and I hope that the Government will accept both this Amendment and the one which deals with that particular point. We have had references to Section 52 of the 1945 Act, and I want to draw the Minister's attention to this, because I understand that his case is that, where there is hardship, the Minister has a discretionary power to pay more. What Section 52 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945, says is that this money will only be payable if—
    "in the opinion of a Minister it is expedient in the public interest that the land should be dealt with in a particular manner with a view to the total or partial rehabilitation thereof."
    The suggestion is that, in all these cases, these people have to put their case to a Minister who discusses the matter of the public interest. We should now realise that the public interest demands that agricultural land should be restored so that it can go bad to its proper use and not be lost to the national economy altogether. Why should we say that everyone must go to a Minister; or is it that they want the people to go to one Minister, and, when turned down by him, go to another? In any case, what is the definition of "a Minister"? It means a Minister of the Crown, and that includes the Admiralty, the Commissioners of Works, the Board of Trade, the Minister of Education, but it does not include a Minister for Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, there are innumerable difficulties with which anyone with half-an-acre of land will have to contend in order to get it put right. I do not think that is a principle which the Government should accept. I say that it is in the public interest that the land should be restored and that, where the cost of restoration cannot be borne by the amount of compensation as already laid down, this Clause should be amended and the extra cost of restoration paid by the Government, who originally caused the damage.

    I would like to begin my answer to the arguments which have been advanced by dealing with the specific question asked by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). He wanted to know whether Section 52 of the 1945 Act was applicable to the new ceiling, that is to say whether it was usable as a matter of law. I would advise the Committee that it can be used. The fact that a new ceiling is substituted for the old ceiling does not in any way affect the powers given by Section 52. In other words, the power is still available in the event of its being thought proper to increase the amount of the terminal payment which is forthcoming notwithstanding that it exceeds the ceiling provided for in the Bill.

    I will now deal, in more general terms, with the argument which has been put forward for this Amendment, and which has been supported by frequent reference to opencast coal working. On the Order Paper there is an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton which, if you select it, Major Milner, will no doubt, involve the specific question of opencast working more particularly than does the present Amendment. The new ceiling provides that the terminal payment shall not exceed the diminution in value between the compulsory acquisition price of the property as it exists, and what would have been the price had it been in the condition it was when requisitioning was first begun. We feel that that is fair. In the case of opencast working, it would not, ordinarily at any rate, unless there were any special features, be any less favourable than the maximum which was provided in the 1939 Act.

    The amount of the compensation subject to the ceiling is defined, and has to be measured, in terms of Section 2 (1) of the 1939 Act. It is the estimated amount necessary to make good the damage. More than one hon. Member has referred to the case of a holding, an agricultural unit, which has a lot of opencast working on it, and has asked what happens in connection with the damage involved by that working. That is the sort of damage which would come within the scope of the estimate which has to be made for the purpose of assessing the terminal payment under Section (2) of the 1939 Act. The new ceiling does not operate, so far as that is concerned, in any way adversely to the owner of the agricultural unit.

    We have, first, to see what damage has been done; then we have to estimate the cost of making that damage good. If the damage consists of the general disorder created by the opencast working, we must see what is the cost of making good that disorder. When that has been done we have to see what is the ceiling. As the law is at present, the ceiling is 1939 unrestricted value. Now the substitute is this: it is the diminution in value between the two amounts I have indicated—the amount of the compulsory acquisition price for the unit as it would have been, and the unit as it is. The compulsory acquisition price has to be ascertained in terms of the code laid down in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and previous Acts with which it has to be read.

    In both cases—the compulsory acquisition price as it would have been if the property had not been damaged and the compulsory acquisition price as it would be for the damaged property—we have to take into account the elimination of development value. We have to take into account, also, the elimination of the scarcity value on the supposition of a notional lease ending in 1954. Those adjustments have to be made in both cases, and the result is that we have what is fairly and squarely the amount of the diminution in value caused by the damage. I submit that that is extremely fair. That is the right way to assess the ceiling.

    Opencast coal working has been mentioned as an example, and I have said that the damage caused by the disorder in doing that work is the damage which would have to be made good as a first step in the computation of the terminal payment. The question is raised by this Amendment, which is general in its terms, as to what is to happen if the owner of the property gets back a converted property? He may have had a house which has converted to some other purpose—for instance, a block of flsats—and tie question arises as to what is fair compensation in that case.

    If this Amendment were adopted it would have the result that, although the owner would get back a changed property, increased in value owing to the war work done on it, he would be entitled to recover, as part of the compensation he would get, any actual loss in terms of e diminution in value, and also the cost of doing what would be unnecessary and undesirable, namely, the undoing of value which had been brought to that property by the change in Government user. Suppose a person had a plot of ground which was comparatively valueless, and the Government requisitioned it and put a factory on it; suppose that person got back the plot of ground and the factory. If the Amendment were adopted it would mean that he could recover the expense of a useless and anti-social proceeding by saying, "I will do away with the factory; I will rehabilitate that ground to the condition in which it was before."

    Could the hon. and learned Gentleman give us a concrete example?

    I mentioned the case of the house converted into a block of flats. Its value would be increased. I agree that it could be said that the owner might want to get back his house, and not a block of flats. Nevertheless, I suggest that it would be an extremely wasteful proceeding, from a national point of view, that he should be entitled to recover the expense of reconverting the block of flats into a less valuable unit, although perhaps a more valuable unit from his own point of view. That would simply be destroying wealth. That is the effect which the Amendment would have, and I hope the Committee will agree that it ought not to be accepted.

    The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that he will deal with opencast coal working in a later Amendment. Could he tell us which Amendment he means?

    Certainly. Perhaps I was rather presuming in thinking that the Amendment would be selected, and that this point would be raised upon it. I had in mind the Amendment to Clause 10, page 8, line 29, which specifically deals with the question.

    May I point out, first of all, that that Amendment does not deal specifically with opencast coal working, any more than does this? Nor does it deal with the rehabilitation of the land. This is the only opportunity we shall get to deal with the problem of rehabilitation of land damaged by opencast coal working. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will really deal with the problem of opencast coal working.

    7.30 p.m.

    Perhaps I made a wrong assumption as to what would be involved in this Amendment. If so, I am sorry, and I withdraw it. I do not feel that I can add much to what I have said. I have made two points with regard to opencast coal working. The first is that the ceiling, the maximum suggested, is not necessarily less generous in the case of opencast coal working than was the preceding ceiling. It does not in every case limit to a greater extent than the preceding ceiling the maximum amount of the terminal payment that can be made. The second point I made was that when there is a piece of ground or property which has been thrown into disorder owing to opencast coal workings upon it, one looks to see what is the terminal compensation that one would get. One finds that the damage done is just what has to be taken into account in assessing the amount, which is subject to the ceiling. I have submitted to the Committee that there is no reason to assume that the ceiling is less generous than it was before.

    A little time ago the hon. and learned Gentleman put forward a proposition that, in the assessment of damage, we should include the cost of the rehabilitation of the land. Is that so? I would like to ask him to expand his statement a little more. Has it been the practice up to date, to take into account, in the case of opencast coal mining, the cost of rehabilitation of the damage? One would have thought that the proper rule was to take the value of the land before the operation, and the value of the land after the operation was complete. The hon. and learned Gentleman has said, in terms, that in assessing the extent of the damage the cost of rehabilitation would be taken into account. I regard that as a very important statement.

    We are getting away from the value of the existing conditions, and we are taking into account not the difference between the existing condition and the condition beforehand but what, in fact, should be taken into account, the cost of putting the damage right. Has that practice up to now been the rule, with regard to opencast coal mining? Could the right hon. Gentleman inform us of that? That is a very material point in discussing the Amendment. Although I hesitate to venture an opinion upon that matter, I do not think that in the ordinary assessment of damage to property of that character we take that element into account.

    I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his intervention. I will endeavour to answer it. I am informed that it is the practice to take it into account. Whether it is the practice or not, I would advise the Committee that, in my view at any rate, in so far as it can be said that there is damage—and there must be damage to the holding—it must be taken into account. There are two stages involved. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that we should simply take into account the difference in value. That is not quite accurate. What we have to do first is to turn to Section 2 of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. We find that it provides for the compensation that is payable. Then we look at Subsection (1) and we find that the first computation we have to make is in regard to that paragraph (b), that is, a sum equal to the cost of making good any damage to the land.

    As a matter of terminology, those words clearly include any damage done by opencast coal working. We work out the sum which would include that damage and we then proceed to a further stage. In both cases, under the old Act and under the Bill, we have then to ask what the ceiling is. What is the maximum amount of terminal payment that can be awarded in respect of making good that damage? Only then do we get to the stage of ask- ing what the ceiling is. The ceiling is measured by the difference in the diminution in value, the contrast between what would have been the compulsory purchase price of the land when it was first requisitioned, and the compulsory purchase price of the land in the state in which it now is, when handed back to the owner. We take the difference between those two, and it constitutes the diminution of value which is to be the maximum amount, the ceiling, which is to limit the total amount of money we can pay out by way of making good that damage.

    Does it not follow from what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, that we recover, in fact, far less than the cost of restoration?

    It depends upon the figures and the nature of the damage in each case. I must confess that I am not an expert in these matters and that I speak subject to correction, but ordinarily it would be less than that ceiling. With property which has diminished in value substantially because it has been converted from a fine piece of land which could have been put to a particular purpose into a rather gloomy waste because of opencast coal working upon it, the diminution of value would be very considerable and might be very much in excess of the actual cost of making good that work.

    On the other hand, I can well conceive cases in which the cost of making good the damage would exceed the diminution in value. That position would not be limited to land which has had opencast coal workings carried out upon it. It would include any form of property where we might find that the cost of making good would be limited by the ceiling. If hon. Members object to the existence of a ceiling—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—if the Amendment is designed to remove the ceiling and to do away with it altogether, that is a point of principle upon which we would find it quite impossible to give way. There must be a ceiling beyond which the cost of restitution cannot go.

    In my Second Reading speech, I explained why there must be ceilings to deal with the matter of scarcity value, and so on. We have adopted what we consider to be a fair limit. The Act provides that the cost of making good that type of damage together with other types of damage can be included within that ceiling. For those reasons, I ask the Committee to say that the Amendment ought not to be accepted.

    As is his custom, the Solicitor-General has given us a very interesting speech, but he did not say one word to convince the Committee that they should not support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Mahon (Mr. Turton) and supported by other Members on this side of the Committee. The legal dissertation which he gave to the Committee was of great interest but the logical conclusion of his speech seems to enforce the argument which we have used that some words should be put into the Bill to ensure that rehabilitation takes place. The objection which my hon. Friends have to the particular ceiling is that it will stop rehabilitation.

    Leaving the legal side of the question for the moment, I believe a question of principle is involved, and the principle is that, although we may not like it, we are now engaged in this new industry of opencast coal mining because it is necessary for the nation, and year by year very large areas of agricultural land are being damaged. Looking to the future, if, on the one hand, we are to benefit from the coal which is necessary for the nation today, and, on the other hand, rehabilitate the areas from which the coal has been taken, every facility should be given to ensure that land which has been used for opencast coal mining should be put into a proper state for agriculture in future years. We believe, further, that this can only be done if legislation by the Government of the day is fair to the owners of the land, and the compensation is sufficient to ensure that the rehabilitation is properly carried out.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) gave us instances in Leicestershire where he has seen land handed back looking suitable for agricultural purposes, but in which, after a very short time, potholes have developed, so that great expense was incurred by the owners in getting it into good productive order and into good heart. For these reasons we believe that there should be some Amendment in this Clause dealing with the new ceiling to ensure that rehabilitation can take place.

    My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) referred to drainage. That, again, is an extremely important point in this connection, because the work of opencast coal mining affects drainage in areas far beyond the area in which the actual working takes place. I am glad my hon. and gallant Friend mentioned that point. I do not wish to repeat the details of the case put forward by my hon. Friend, but, in view of the very unsatisfactory reply which we have received from the Solicitor-General, I must advise my hon. Friends to vote in favour of this Amendment.

    I am not a lawyer, but I think I understood what the Solicitor-General said in his explanation, and to me it would appear to reveal a very serious position. Supposing one assumes that it is reasonable to have a ceiling for compensation in respect of land compulsorily taken, what I presume hon. Members who support the Amendment are saying is that there are concrete cases in which this ceiling will not be sufficient to compensate the farmer or owner for the damage done on his land. It will not enable the farmer or the owner to put his land back into the state in which it was before it was taken from him compulsorily. If that is the case, surely the Solicitor-General cannot believe that the formula is satisfactory.

    7.45 p.m.

    To begin with, it is completely unjust to a man who has his land taken for these purposes. It may be that in the interests of the community it is not worth restoring the land. If that is so, the owner must be compensated or dealt with in some other way, but if the formula which provides for the maximum compensation—the ceiling—does not give justice to the individual concerned, it seems to me to leave the position in a most unsatisfactory way. I hope the Solicitor-General will reconsider the point.

    From the wider point of view, there is also a very strong case for saying that the land ought to be restored to the state in which it was before the coal was taken out, in so far as that can be done. That, however, is in the national interest; it is not a question of justice to the individual concerned. It might be better to take the land from the owner and rehabilitate it; that is quite a different question. The immediate question which this Amendment raises, and which is left in an unsatisfactory way, is that the formula will not give the compensation which the ordinary layman, with a reasonable sense of justice, feels the owner should have. He has had his land taken from him compulsorily, and he ought to be compensated so that he has some asset which is equal to the value of the land before it was taken from him. The Solicitor-General has suggested that the operation of the ceiling may make it impossible for that to be done.

    The answer given by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General might be quite clear and to the point in this Committee, but how the farmers will understand it I do not know. I had much difficulty in following his answer. Two very interesting points have been submitted which have made this almost a major discussion. I refer to the question of the damage done to good arable farming land by outcrop coal excavation. The question of the payment of compensation to farmers is of vital importance. To my own knowledge, the damage done to farmland in Lancashire is almost irreparable, perhaps because the people there do not know how to treat the land, and it may be that with experience they will be able to do more justice to the land as time goes on. The fact remains that in the country at the moment their are thousands of acres of land in such a condition that it is impossible to give the farmers any adequate monetary compensation. No compensation of a monetary nature can be paid for what has been done to the land.

    The Solicitor-General referred to the estimated amount necessary to make good the damage. No farmer is yet aware of what he is likely to receive in compensation for the damage done to his land. Farmers are not only disturbed and disappointed, but whenever a farmer receives a requisition order stating that his land is to be taken over he has a feeling of impending calamity. We cannot play about with the question like this. In the next year a further 50,000 acres of farmland may be taken over. As a rule, the period in respect of which the normal rent allowance is paid for land which has been requisitioned has been four or five years. All that a farmer has put into the land prior to that date, and all that he should have earned is lost; there is no compensation for that. I would like the Solicitor-General to say whether consideration will be given to that factor, and to the fertility which a farmer has put into the land, when compensation is paid?

    A further point is the question of land when it has been so-called restored, but which the farmer knows it is almost impossible to plough because the subsoil is probably so feet lower than it was before. I am told that the new method of restoring the land is much improved, and that it is giving more satisfaction. But all that we can talk about at the present time is what they have lost in the past. This question of monetary compensation is not the only point that matters. The farmer ought to feel assured that his land is going to be put back in such a way that he can do justice to it later on. But to do that will cost a lot of money.

    I suggest to my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General that this question seems to be one of special compensation for farmers in respect of the land that has been taken from them. I do not know how it can be done, but, maybe, the people responsible can do something about it. It is going to be a very difficult question. Is my hon. and learned Friend going to say that it will be determined by the 1939 Act, plus 60 per cent.? I can imagine a farmer saying, "What use is that to me if, in future, I cannot find a buyer for my land? My land is now in such a condition that I cannot sell it." All these are major points, and I think my hon. and learned Friend will be well advised to have a further look at this matter before anything is decided.

    I intervene at this juncture because it may well be that I can put a point of view which will bring some reality into this discussion. Before I do so, however, may I remind the Committee that yesterday we were faced with pages and pages of Amendments, and it was then decided behind the Chair that as it is always unwise, if we can possibly avoid it, to sit into the early hours, we should, by common agreement, try to split this thing into two. It was, therefore, decided that if we stopped where we did last night, we should get the rest of the Bill in reasonable time this evening. At the rate of progress we are making, that undertaking will not fructify.

    I am sure it is not anyone's expectation or anybody's desire that we should waste time discussing things which, perhaps, are not as important as some others on the Order Paper. [An HON. MEMBER: "This is very important."] I am riot saying that this is not important; it obviously is, judged by the number of hon. Members who have spoken. But I think that some, at any rate, of the speeches have been made under a misconception of the true position.

    It is true that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General referred to opencast coal. He did so because opencast coal was originally drawn into the discussion by hon. Members opposite, and it has since been referred to by my hon. Friend the, senior Member for Oldham (Mr. Fairhurst). It is true that, in another connection, and in another Amendment to a Clause yet to come, we may be discussing agricultural land, and the fact that some of it has been taken for opencast coalmining may be used as an illustration of what hon. Members are trying to do.

    It is quite clear that what is very naturally worrying hon. Members is the position of the farmer who finds his land taken over for opencast coal working. Where that does not occur, obviously no great damage, unless war works have been placed on the land, can be done to it. So let us be realistic about it, and face the facts. In every instance where, up to now, land has been taken over for opencast coal purposes, it has been the policy of the Government to do an enormous amount of rehabilitation to that land. For instance, they fill in all the potholes.

    This is generally so, and if the hon. Member knows of instances where it has not occurred, I should be glad to hear of them in order to see what I can do. I am telling the Committee what in fact, the Government do. I happen to be a minor Member of that Government, and I know what they are doing.

    They back-fill—or whatever the phrase may be—or, at least, they try to, and, in my view, they succeed—they back-fill the excavations and put on fresh top soil. They re-level, and they grade the land that has been disturbed. Then they fertilise and seed it. If necessary, they put up posting and wire fences, and, possibly, in some cases, start to grow hedges. At any rate, they fence in the land. Generally speaking, the land, in every case, is put back into an efficient state to be used for grazing.

    That is not all. It is well understood that further rehabilitation is necessary if justice is to be done to the occupier or the owner of the land. At that stage, these compensation terms come into operation. The difference is made up to the owner or occupier who still suffers some damage and loss because the rehabilitation has not gone the full 100 per cent. As to the terms of compensation, what we have done is to take the terms which this House accepted, and to which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were parties when it was put into earlier enactments. This basis was laid down in 1939, and what we are doing here is to bring it up to date in the light of changed values. The quarrel of hon. Members opposite, if I may say so—

    The real germ of the trouble is this. All the expert advice with regard to opencast coal working, is that Clause 9 as drafted by this Government gives a lower ceiling than the 1939 Act. That is the advice of the valuers engaged in assessing the value of land used for opencast working.

    That is a matter of opinion, and, in certain selected cases, it may be so. For that the reason may be that development value has been taken out of it—and that, if I may say so, although it has not been mentioned tonight, is what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are worried about—

    I must refute that. I am sure there is no such suggestion. The main thing we want the Government to answer is this. Where there is land which costs more to be put back into use than the Government are prepared to pay, where is the money to come from? Otherwise, the land will become derelict.

    8.0 p.m.

    Under the terms of the compensation laid down—which are the terms, apart from the fact that we are changing the ceiling, which were inserted in the 1939 Act—the type of case envisaged by the hon. Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts) could not possibly arise, except where development value entered into the old computation under the 1939 values. It would not enter into the computation now, because what formula is the present compensation based on? We take the value of the requisitioned property in its undamaged state, not at the values in force at the time of requisitioning, but at the value today of that land or the buildings thereon in an undamaged state; then we take the value of the land in the damaged state; and then we take one value from the other.

    That seems to us fair. I am sorry to say we cannot go beyond that. We have to have some ceiling. In the case of opencast coal mining, where the land is very much interfered with, we do a great deal of the rehabilitation ourselves. Therefore, that case, as an example, is not a good one. In our own interests as a Government, as custodians for the nation, we are anxious to see that agricultural land should be used to the full. Our dilemma at the present moment is that the nation wants coal and it wants food. Unfortunately, the taking of opencast coal interferes with agricultural land, which is also needed for food production. Therefore, it is to our interests not only to take the coal, and to do it efficiently, but then, at the earliest possible moment, to see that the land is rehabilitated and returned to agriculture. We think we have done this. There are bound to be anomalies, but there are certainly not as many as the Opposition would have us believe. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will agree with us that this Amendment should be resisted, and that we can have the Clause as it stands.

    The right hon. Gentleman started by making an appeal for more progress, and then ended rather provocatively by saying that what lay behind all this is the question of development values. There is nothing of the sort. I want to make an appeal to him. In the matter of opencast workings, there is a case of substance which was not appreciated by the Solicitor-General. I am not blaming him. It is true that in some cases efforts have been made to restore the surface, but it is also true, as the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fairhurst) pointed out, that there is a great deal that has to be done in the way of rehabilitation which does not appear at first sight. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say that between now and the Report stage he will give the matter further consideration in cases where land is returned and a great deal more rehabilitation is required to be done to bring it back into proper agricultural production.

    That is what we want, and what we ought to consider. We look at it from the point of view of food production and from the point of view of the farmers who produce the food. We ask for consideration of the cases in which there is a difference of value, though not very great, and the rehabilitation which the farmers have to do exceeds that difference, and then the ceiling comes into operation. In spite of all that has been said by the right hon. Gentleman, I think there is a case there for reconsideration, although it is a case of a limited character. If the words of the Amendment are not right, perhaps, suitable words could be found. Could we not—I make my appeal now to the right hon. Gentleman—save a Division and the time that that involves, by having from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that he will give this matter further consideration between now and Report stage?

    Most certainly, and I should like to tell hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that before the night is very much older, they may feel that we have gone some way in meeting the points that are raised. We are anxious to help the farming community. We have had consultations with the National Farmers' Union. We realise that they look with some degree of trepidation on what is happening in some of the areas—some of the Midland areas, for instance. There are other enactments we may be able to call to our aid, and it may be, before we finish our labours tonight, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite may feel we have gone a long way to meet them.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, not only the case of opencast coal workings, but the whole question of amenity land that is involved? Will he give some assurance about that, so that on Report stage we can look at it anew?

    As I understand the situation, we have not received the assurance asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). The Financial Secretary has now refused point blank to give that undertaking. I think I am right in saying that he refuses to reconsider this question. If that is so, then we must really make plain what it is we want him to understand. Obviously, the Solicitor-General did not realise what the problem is, and I do not believe the Financial Secretary realises it, either. I shall confine my remarks entirely to opencast coal mining. I realise that this Amendment includes all sorts of restoration work, but I want to leave that completely out of the argument, so that I may focus the attention of the Treasury upon the single issue of opencast coal mining.

    In the West Riding of Yorkshire there are thousands of acres of practically derelict but restored land. Let me explain that. When opencast coal mining started in the West Riding, assurances were given that restoration would be carried out. When the machines had passed over that land, great restoration was carried out; and the people who had carried out that work, the agricultural committees and the Ministry of Fuel, brought parties to see the magnificent work that had been done in restoring the land. In the year that that land was finally—so they thought—restored, it was a very fine sight. They did have crops growing. What happened subsequently is proof beyond all possible doubt—anybody can go to see it today—that that restoration was a purely temporary restoration; that all the promises that the Government made about restoration were, to that extent only, carried out; but that the real restoration, the expensive restoration, is still to be done.

    The point is this. Under the ceiling provisions of this Clause there is no further possibility of paying compensation for further restoration. What we are asking is that there shall be. Let me give one or two illustrations. The land has been restored by the Government and handed back by the owners, who may be farmers or landlords. They have got to spend more than the value of the land upon redraining the land, and that can- not be done in five years; it is my opinion that it ought to be left at least 10 years before it is done. To redrain a field today costs between £22 and £27, while the land itself may be worth only about £25 an acre. There is a case in point where the compensation provisions of this Bill simply cannot touch the restoration problem. There is an illustration which I am trying to put before the Government, which must induce them, if they wish the land to be restored to agriculture, to alter this ceiling which they have put into the Bill. Drainage is only one of the works of restoration, but it is by far the most important. There are other considerations as well.

    In order not to waste time, I will give only one more example, although there are many others. I refer to the question of the topsoil. People sitting in Whitehall may hear stories of the subsoil being put down first and then the topsoil being put on the top of it. Nothing of the sort happens. The whole lot, or at any rate a very great deal, of the topsoil is mixed in with the subsoil, and it is all dumped together. By and large, as my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) has explained, where there is a pocket of clay and a pocket of subsoil

    Division No. 63.]

    AYES.

    [8.13 p.m.

    Acland, Sir R.Chetwynd, G. R.Fairhurst, F.
    Adams, Richard (Balham)Cluse, W. S.Foot, M. M.
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Cobb, F. A.Forman, J. C.
    Alpass, J. H.Collick, P.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
    Attewell, H. C.Collins, V. J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
    Awbery, S. S.Colman, Miss G. M.Gallacher, W.
    Ayles, W. H.Comyns, Dr. L.Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Gibbins, J.
    Bacon, Miss A.Corlett, Dr. J.Gibson, C. W.
    Baird, J.Cove, W. G.Gilzean, A.
    Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.Daggar, G.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
    Barstow, P. G.Daines, P.Gooch, E. G.
    Barton, C.Davies, Edward (Burslem)Greenwood. A. W. J. (Heywood)
    Battley, J. R.Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Grenfell, D. R.
    Benson, G.Davies, Harold (Leek)Grey, C. F.
    Berry, H.Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Grierson, E.
    Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
    Binns, J.Deer, G.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
    Boardman, H.de Freitas, GeoffreyGuest, Dr. L. Haden
    Bottomley, A. G.Delargy, H. J.Gunter, R. J.
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Diamond, J.Guy, W. H.
    Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Dobbie, W.Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Dodds, N. N.Hale, Leslie
    Bramall, E. A.Donovan, T.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvii
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Dumpleton, C. W.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
    Brown, George (Belper)Dye, S.Hardy, E. A.
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Harrison, J.
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)Hastings, Dr. Somerville
    Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G.Edwards, John (Blackburn)Haworth, J.
    Burke, W. A.Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Herbison, Miss M.
    Callaghan, JamesEvans, A. (Islington, W.)Hewitson, Capt. M.
    Carmichael, JamesEvans, E. (Lowestoft)Hobson, G. R.
    Castle, Mrs B. A.Evans, John (Ogmore)Holman, P.
    Champion, A. J.Ewart, R.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)

    when has not been separated from the topsoil, there is a puddle of impervious soil which holds water, and upon which no crops can grow. Is it or is it not right that the after-restoration of those puddles should be the expense of the Government Departments which caused the trouble?

    Add that and many other aspects to the drainage problem, and I am sure the Financial Secretary is fair-minded enough to realise that there is a great deal more in the contention we have put forward than he appreciates at present. I will not go on, because I think the information which the Financial Secretary has is not adequate to enable him to answer the argument. However, I hope that what I have said will make him realise that he has not the proper picture in his mind.

    rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

    Question put, "That the Question be now put."

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 260; Noes, 116.

    House, G.Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Snow, J. W.
    Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Mort, D. L.Solley, L. J.
    Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)Moyle, A.Sorensen, R. W.
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Murray, J. D.Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
    Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Nally, WStamford, W.
    Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Naylor, T. E.Steele, T.
    Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)Neal H. (Claycross)Stross, Dr. B.
    Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Summerskill, Dr. Edith
    Janner, B.Oldfield, W. H.Sylvester, G. O.
    Jay, D. P. T.Oliver, G. H.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Jeger, G. (Winchester)Orbach, M.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Paget, R. T.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
    Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Palmer, A. M. F.Thomas, John R. (Dover)
    Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Parker, J.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Keenan, WParkin, B. T.Tiffany, S.
    Kenyon, CPaton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Timmons, J.
    Key, C. W.Paton, J. (Norwich)Titterington, M. F.
    Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.Pearson, A.Tolley, L.
    Kinley, J.Perrins, W.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
    Lang, G.Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)Vernon, Maj. W. F.
    Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Popplewell, E.Viant, S. P.
    Lee, F. (Hulme)Porter, E. (Warrington)Walker, G. H.
    Lee, Miss J (Cannock)Porter, G. (Leeds)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Leslie, J. R.Pryde, D. J.Warbey, W. N.
    Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Pursey, Cmdr. H.Watkins, T. E.
    Lewis, T. (Southampton)Randall, H. E.Watson, W. M.
    Lindgren, G. S.Ranger, J.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Longden, F.Rankin, J.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Lyne, A. W.Reeves, J.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    McAllister, G.Reid, T. (Swindon)Wheatley, J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)
    McEntee, V La TRichards, R.White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
    McGhee, H. G.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    McGovern, J.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Mack, J. D.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Wigg, George
    McKay, J. (Wallsend)Royle, C.Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
    Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Sargood, R.Wilkes, L.
    McKinlay, A. S.Scollan, T.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Maclean, N. (Govan)Scott-Elliot, W.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
    McLeavy, F.Segal, Dr. S.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Sharp, GranvilleWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Macpherson, T. (Romford)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Willis, E.
    Mainwaring, W. H.Shurmer, P.Wills, Mrs. E. A.
    Marshall, F. (Brightside)Silverman, J. (Erdington)Wise, Major F. J.
    Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Woodburn, A.
    Medland, H. M.Simmons, C. J.Yates, V. F.
    Mellish, R. J.Skeffington, A. M.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
    Middleton, Mrs. L.Skinnard, F. W.Zilliacus, K.
    Mikardo, IanSmith, C. (Colchester)
    Mitchison, G. R.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)

    TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

    Moody, A. S.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Mr. Collindridge and
    Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Mr. Wilkins.

    NOES.

    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
    Amory, D. HeathcoatDrewe, C.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.
    Baldwin, A. E.Duthie, W. S.McCallum, Maj. D.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Fyfe, Rt. Hon Sir D. P. M.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)
    Beechman, N. A.Gage, C.Maclay, Hon. J. S.
    Bennett, Sir P.Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.MacLeod, J.
    Birch, NigelGeorge, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
    Bowen, R.Glyn, Sir R.Manningham-Buller, R. E.
    Bower, N.Grimston, R. V.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Haughton, S. G.Maude, J. C.
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Head, Brig, A. H.Medlicott, F.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Mellor, Sir J.
    Butcher, H. W.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
    Byers, FrankHogg, Hon. Q.Neven-Spence, Sir B.
    Challen, CHope, Lord J.Nicholson, G.
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Hurd, A.Nield, B. (Chester)
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
    Cooper-Key, E. M.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Nutting, Anthony
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Jennings, R.Odey, G. W.
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Keeling, E. H.Orr-Ewing, I. L.
    Davidson, ViscountessLambert, Hon G.Osborne, C.
    Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Langford Holt, J.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Digby, S. W.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Ramsay, Maj. S.
    Donner, P. W.Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Rayner, Brig. R.
    Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Linstead, H. N.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)

    Roberts, Peter (Ecclesall)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
    Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)Sutcliffe, H.Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorset, E.)
    Robinson, RolandTaylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Ropner, Col. L.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)Williams, C. (Torquay)
    Sanderson, Sir F.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Scott, Lord W.Thorp, Lt,-Col. R. A. F.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
    Shephard, S. (Newark)Turton, R. H.York, C.
    Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)Vane, W. M. F.Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
    Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.Wadsworth, G.
    Smithers, Sir W.Wakefield, Sir W. W.TELLERS FOR THE NOES
    Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)Walker-Smith, D.Mr. Studholme and
    Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Ward, Hon. G. R.Brigadier Mackeson.

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

    The Committee proceeded to a Division, but, no Members being willing to act as Tellers for the Ayes, the DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN declared that the Noes had it.

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 2, to leave out "purchase," and to insert "acquisition."

    This is a drafting Amendment. It substitutes the word "acquisition" for the word "purchase," because this is the form of terminology which is now generally adopted.

    I approve of this Amendment, because the word "acquisition" is more in keeping with actions of this Government, as it implies compulsion.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 8, line 16, leave out "purchase," and insert "acquisition."—[ The Solicitor-General.]

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 23, at the end, to add:

    "(4) Where during the period for which possession of the land was retained damage (other than war damage) occurred to any such work as is mentioned in paragraph (b) of the last foregoing Subsection, the amount to which the compensation is limited by virtue of Subsection (1) of this Section shall be increased so as to take account of that damage to such extent as may be just having regard to any such expense, agreement or payment as is mentioned in Subsection (2) or (3) of the said Section forty-one.
    (5) Section fifty-four of the Act of 1945 (which provides for certain purposes that where a payment in respect of the value of works has been made under Part II of that Act the provisions as to compensation of Section two of the Act of 1939 shall have effect as if a new period of requisition had begun on the date of the payment) shall not have effect as respects compensation under paragraph (b) of Subsection (1) of the said Section two."
    I have already addressed the Committee on this Amendment when moving the Amendment in page 7, line 37. It is designed to raise the ceiling in the case where an owner has made a payment under Section 10 of Part II of the 1945 Act. I do not think the Committee will desire me again to deploy the argument I used on the former occasion. As the Committee have accepted the first Amendment, it seems logical that this Amendment also should be agreed to.

    Amendment agreed to.

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

    Clause 10—(Minor Amendments As To Compensation For Taking Possession Of Land)

    8.30 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 29, at the end, to insert:

    "(2) The following provision shall be substituted for paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) of Section two of the Act of 1939:
    (c) In a case where the land is, or includes, an agricultural unit or part of such a unit
  • (i) a sum equal to the amount (if any) which might reasonably have been expected to be payable in addition to rent by an incoming tenant, in respect of things previously done for the purpose of the cultivation of the land, and in respect of seeds, tillages, growing crops and other similar matters, under a lease of the land granted immediately before possession thereof was taken in the exercise of emergency powers; and
  • (ii) a sum equal to the amount by which the net profits obtainable by the occupier of the agricultural unit therefrom will be reduced by reason of the requisitioning. For the purpose of ascertaining the said amount there shall be estimated (as at the time of the requisitioning) the annual amount by which the net profits will be so reduced and the amount of compensation shall be proportionate to the period for which possession of the land is retained."
  • I hope that, notwithstanding the interruption in the harmony of our proceeding by the Patronage Secretary, we shall be able to have a calm and dispassionate discussion, without party prejudices, on this Amendment. This Amendment seeks to replace Section 2 (1, c) of the 1939 Act. The old Subsection dealt with compensation in respect of seeds, tillages, growing crops and consequential losses which the occupier of agricultural land suffered by reason of requisitioning.

    First, it may be said, "Why are we introducing this new principle for compensation in respect of agriculture?" There is no suggestion that compensation for consequential loss should be for any other purpose than agricultural loss. I submit that in the case of agricultural, there is a good case for consequential loss to be compensated. Where an agricultural holding under the Agricultural Holdings Act has a tenancy terminated by Section 30 of the Agricultural Act, 1947, two results follow: First, the incoming tenant has to pay compensation for cultivation which the departing tenant has put into it. Secondly, the landlord has to be compensated for disturbance up to two years' rent. Let us apply this in the case of land that is requisitioned. The tenant has to move out of the holding. He gets from the Government what the incoming tenant would have paid for the cultivation, but he does not get a penny compensation for disturbance. I claim a priori that for agricultural land the 1939 Act leaves a gap that we should now try to bridge. It may be said that the position is mitigated by the compensation increase to 60 per cent. over the 1939 value under Clause 7. I am not at all sure about that, and I should like the Financial Secretary to apply his mind to it. I am not sure whether, although that compensation is handed to the tenant, it will not, in fact, have to go back to the landowner, but that in itself is not consequential loss compensation.

    I think that Members of all parties will agree that the need for Clause 10 is heightened at the present time in cases where land is requisitioned for opencast coal working. In these cases the farmer loses part of his holding, and all the compensation he receives is limited to that part of the holding that is requisitioned for opencast coal working. As the 1939 Act is drafted, he is completely cut off from any compensation for consequential loss which he may have suffered from this requisitioning. There has been a number of cases brought to my attention in which this loss has been considerable. I have the names and I could, if the Govern- ment doubt the authenticity of any of the cases, give them full details, but I think that it is desirable for the purposes of Debate to call them anonymously by letters of the alphabet.

    Let us take the case of Mr. A. He had a farm of 99 acres, 45 acres of which were requisitioned for opencast coal working. As a result, he had to reduce his herd by one-quarter, and discontinue his milk round. That meant that part of his livelihood disappeared. Under the existing legislation, not a penny piece of compensation for that loss can be given. Mr. B had a farm of 35 acres. It is notable that these farmers who have been hit by opencast working are usually men, farming a few acres, who have limited resources. Mr. B had 26 out of his 35 acres requisitioned. He had to sell the whole of his livestock, except his poultry, owing to loss of feed. That man lost practically the whole of his livelihood in order to give the rest of the community coal from under his land. All we wish is that the rest of the community should give him adequate compensation.

    Let me close my examples with a case from Northumberland, of a farmer whom I will call Mr. C. He had in 1944, 135 acres of his 315 acre farm requisitioned. I am purposely giving the Committee an illustration of a larger farmer whose land has been requisitioned for opencast coal working. He was making a profit margin of £1,000 a year from that holding. In 1945, his profit of £1,000, in consequence of the requisitioning, became a loss of £84. In that one year, to say nothing about succeeding years, he suffered a consequential loss of over £1,000. Every penny of that loss had to be borne by him, because under the 1939 Act no provision is made for consequential loss. This is a very real grievance to a number of farmers, not only affected by opencast coal working, but by similar requisitioning by Government Departments. I think that the House should try to meet it in some way.

    I am not wedded to the form of words which I have put down. They are the best that I can devise to meet the point. If the Government can tell me of a better form of words, I am ready to fall in with their wishes. It is not easy for a man who loses his livelihood in agriculture today to get somewhere else where he can farm, without very considerable expense. If one has one's home requisitioned, and there is another house to which to go, the only expense incurred is for removal of furniture. That does not apply to the farmer. It may be that if part of one's factory goes, all one need do is to transfer the plant to another spot, but the farmer has built up a livelihood on his farm that cannot be transferred.

    There is a further point in the Amendment. It is vital for British food production that these men who have had their farms chopped about by opencast coal working or by requisition for aerodromes should continue doing their best, however hampered by requisitioning, to produce food for the people of this country. Notwithstanding the loss they have suffered and notwithstanding the difficulties of these farmers of whom I have been speaking they go on doggedly trying to get over their difficulties, but farmers are not sufficiently wealthy to suffer this heavy consequential loss. I would ask the whole nation to contribute to help them in their dilemma.

    I hope the Government will give some assurance that they will favourably consider this Amendment, and if they cannot accept the wording proposed by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) they will at least think well about this real and genuine grievance which many farmers had to put up with during the war but which it is not reasonable to expect them to put up with now. The campaign for working opencast coal will add a great number to those who have already suffered injustices during the war. I understand that about 35,000 acres for opencast coal workings have already been dealt with, and another 35,000 acres will be used for the same purpose in the near future. Thus, this Amendment does not affect merely a small minority, but a very substantial number of farmers in various parts of the country. Therefore, the grievance, if it is a substantial one, as I think it is, is one to which the Government should give careful attention.

    If this Government stand for anything, they stand for giving those who are earning their living in a reasonable way security against the hazards of life. There is now another hazard in life if one happens to be a farmer. It is that there can be coal under his land. If he happens to have the misfortune to have such coal beneath the land he is working, and the Government decide to work it, his livelihood may be completely taken away and all the compensation he will get is the rental value which he would be paying to his landlord, plus some other item. As the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton said, the chance of his being able to go elsewhere and purchase another farm to make his livelihood is not very great in these days of keen competition for land.

    There are a variety of ways in which this may affect particular farms and holdings. One can take the example of where the whole of the holding is taken, and that is really what I meant in what I have just been saying. The farmer thereby is also deprived of his livelihood and the profits and the living he would make on that farm, but he could take his capital away and try other areas. Perhaps the hard type of case is where only part of the holding is taken. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton has given concrete examples of a man's livelihood being completely destroyed or tremendously limited simply because a part of his land has been taken and the rest is not an economic unit. There may be left buildings and 10, 20 or 30 acres on a farm that ought to have 100 or 150 acres. That farmer cannot make a real livelihood on that, and yet he hesitates to go away, as the farmers did during the war, because they hoped the war would soon be over and they would get their land back from the camp or the aerodrome for which it had been taken.

    8.45 p.m.

    They may eventually get it back but what are they going to live on in the meantime? They get compensation for what they would pay out in rent and restoration of the land. If the private landlord has to pay tenant right in full the State, when they disturb the farmer, should do so in full on the same basis as a private landlord. Those farmers get no compensation for consequential loss. I submit that while it is something which it may have been reasonable to expect a small part of the community to bear in wartime, it is not reasonable to expect the unlucky individual who happens to have his land selected either because it has got coal or because it is needed for some military purpose to bear the whole of the weight of this burden. After all, it concerns a relatively small number of people chosen by chance. This charge should be put upon the cost of producing opencast coal. The cost of producing such coal is not merely the rent of the land and the cost of the restoration of the land to its former position, but the cost to society of using the land for opencast coal and also the loss of food and the livelihood of people who would have worked it had it remained agricultural land. It is perfectly fair and reasonable that if the community want this coal, they should compensate the people who lose their livelihood by its working.

    I should like very briefly to put a few points about this matter. I believe we have had this case put in a non-partisan way by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and by the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts). I should like to mention the matter as regards my own district, where opencast mining is spreading. Particularly will it touch the small hard-working farmer in some cases, and maybe in the not too distant future the hill farm country where the farmer, his wife and son may be responsible for working a small acreage of land. Therefore, I should like to emphasise the facts put by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton that the complete balance of a healthy farm or the complete balance of a small farm may be gone if only five or ten acres of that unit of agricultural production is taken for opencast mining.

    I beg the Minister to look at the small farmer or, indeed, whatever farmer it may be, from a realistic point of view, because he is in an entirely different position from the shopkeeper who may be moved by the local council and put into another shop where he can still sell his goods. On the other hand, the farmer loses a unit of production during the transitional period while the opencast coal is being worked. Therefore, I believe there was much substance in the point which was made that we have this issue of balance of whether we shall win the coal or whether we shall produce food. It may be that here is something which the Coal Board itself should consider in relation to the farmer when we are winning opencast coal.

    Prospecting for this coal is going on in the hills at the back of the Leek district in North Staffordshire, and some small farmers wonder what the position will be. I hope that the Minister will make some concession on this issue. If necessary, the Coal Board should be approached. The cost of the disturbance and upset caused to farmers, who will lose in this transitional period what would be a fair profit on the work they put into the land, should be distributed throughout the nation.

    The case has been put very well by the hon. Members who have spoken, but I would like to add one or two things. I hope the Ministry of Fuel and Power are being warmed by the burning of the Minister's ears, and I wish he had a representative here to listen to what is being said about opencast coal. The Ministry of Fuel and Power do not fully appreciate how severely farmers are hit by this tearing up of land. One farmer I know has been turned out no fewer than three times as the result of this work. Each time he has had to sacrifice everything. On each occasion the whole of the farm has been taken. His case is by no means unique, and there may be individuals who have been turned out more often than that. It is most distressing if we have to rely on 10 million tons of opencast coal each year whereas before the war we had not to rely on any, but that is a matter for the Ministry of Fuel and Power rather than for this Debate.

    It is right, first of all, that farmers affected by opencast coal mining should benefit from this Amendment. They are a completely special group of people. It is also highly desirable that others who have had their land requisitioned should benefit, but no form of requisitioning can compare with the appalling results which come from opencast coal mining. It is no criterion to say that only half a man's farm has been taken and, therefore, only half his livelihood has been lost. That does not follow; his water supply may be cut off and it may wreck his plans, or his cropping rotation may be upset, which will alter his programme for the year. We must not rely too much on facts and figures in regard to averages because averages are very dangerous in such a matter. We must realise that the anomalies which have arisen from opencast mining are the cases at which we must look, and they are as plentiful as the deep-mined coal is scarce.

    On the previous Amendment we were dealing with the subject of compensation for the use of land. Now we turn to something very different. The effect of this Amendment is to permit compensation to be paid to an occupier not for the use of land, but for the loss of the profits which would have accrued to him if he had remained in possession of the land and it had not been requisitioned either in whole or in part. As I read the Amendment, it stipulates that those losses which are made in the future are to be computed at the time the requisition takes place and, although this is a small point, I may as well deal with it in passing and say that it would be completely impossible for such a thing to be done.

    The difficulty with farming is that it is at the best of times a gamble. Unfortunately, a farmer can never tell whether he will make a profit or a loss. The weather, the way wages go, up or down, the cost of seeds, all sorts of things enter into it, and it is quite impossible today to say whether he will or will not make a profit on a particular piece of land next year. Therefore, if that part of the Amendment were accepted, it would be physically impossible for anyone to compute at the time of requisition what loss or profit a farmer might make on a particular piece of land which he was to lose.

    Has not the Minister left out the word "as"? Should he not have said, "as at the time of requisitioning"?

    Yes. As at the time of requisitioning one would have to compute a sum on the basis of some forward event and that would be very difficult to accomplish. However, I am only pointing that out in passing. There are more serious objections to the proposal put forward here which I must present to the Committee.

    Up to now it has been fundamental, and agreed by all parties in the House, that compensation for temporary disturbance due to the war emergency cannot take into account consequential losses. They are so varied that it would be difficult, and for that reason if for no other, it has been agreed by general consent that it cannot be done. During the war, hotels were requisitioned, rental compensation was paid, and eventually terminal compensation for the use of the hotel for national purposes during the war period, but no allowance could be made in monetary terms to the proprietor for the loss of custom and profit from not running it as a hotel during the war. It was the same with a shop or a factory—one could not reimburse the proprietors or owners for loss of profit due to the fact that their buildings had been requisitioned, turned to some other use, and they themselves temporarily turned out.

    The most obvious case of all is that of the individual. It was one of the pathetic things of the war that men who had been in little one-man businesses were caught up in the war, had to close down and, after years of building up, their businesses simply went to nothing, and nothing any of us could do could repay those individuals for the loss of profits they might have made during the years when they had to serve on a soldier's pay in the front line. Therefore, it was physically impossible, and the sum would have been colossal if it had been possible to pay anybody for loss of profit during the war period.

    The question arises when we come to the farming community, not in time of war but in time of national emergency while the nation is getting back to normal, whether we can abrogate that principle, which is a fundamental one, in order to help them in the direction suggested by this Amendment. If we gave way on this, and tried to compute the loss of profits in regard to land taken from them, we should be opening the door quite wide to all sorts of other claims—by farmers, for example, during the war, and certainly by other interests who would feel that, when it came to the distribution of the taxpayers' money, they had just as much right to be refunded for loss of profits as farmers have now. For that reason, after very careful and sympathetic consideration, we have to reject it as a possibility. The effect of it would be beyond all calculation.

    9.0 p.m.

    The question arises whether there is anything we can do. We have been approached by the National Farmers' Union. Hon. Members on this side of the Committee are disturbed about this matter. Many of them sit for rural areas. There was a time when the rural areas were almost entirely in the hands of hon. Members opposite, but now the party on this side of the Committee seems, to an increasing degree, to be favoured by the rural areas.

    I am very hopeful that when the policy is worked out, we shall get even more support from the country districts. That being so, we have every reason, on purely material grounds, to listen to what farmers have to say. When it comes to doing justice, I am sure that all parties are as one. We want to deal justly with the farmers and rural workers who have their land disturbed owing to the immense need for getting coal wherever we can get it. Many farms are closely balanced units, and although in many other cases if we took land it would not interfere too much with an industry, or the work carried on by an organisation, that is not so in the case of many farms. Although they may be losing only a few acres, it may make all the difference to a particular farm. We are up against a very big problem. Some people might say, "Do not take the coal. Food is just as much needed as coal, and if you cannot get both, let the coal go, and do not take the land." That is a view which has much to commend it, but nevertheless, the need for coal is so enormous, and the disturbance so temporary, that it is felt that where coal can be got we should do our best to get it. Then we should recondition and rehabilitate the land as quickly as possible, and put it back to agricultural use.

    Meanwhile, we want to do something for the farmer who has been disturbed. We must not forget that under this Bill, by general consent, we are increasing the compensation terms paid under the 1939 Act. The rental compensation under Section 2 (1) (a), the terminal compensation under 2 (1) (b) and the tenants' right under 2 (1) (c) have all been put up to a considerably higher level than was the case before the Measure was introduced. We must remember that, so that when farmers suffer owing to the nation's desire to take the coal, it will be seen that they will receive more by way of compensation than if this Measure had not been introduced.

    We cannot go back on the fundamental principle of not making allowance for profits. Nevertheless, it may well be that with the help of some other enactment—it may be well within the law—we can by general consent in all quarters of the Committee do something for farmers finding themselves in this position. We now have on the Statute Book the Agriculture Act, 1947. It seems to us some help might be forthcoming on the same lines. I would also remind the Committee that Section 2 (1) (d) of the 1939 Act entitles the farmer to compensation in respect of expenses. That may have been overlooked by some Members of the Committee. Already, and it will be increasingly so in the future, it is Government policy, I think with the general consent of the House, that we should treat expenses on reasonably generous lines.

    The Section in the 1947 Act which deals with disturbance is Section 30.

    If the 1947 Act is to be applied in respect of opencast mining, do I understand that the Government are trying to find an avenue by means of which it can be called disturbance, because five, 10 or 20 acres are taken and used for opencast mining, and that the Act would apply in that case? Is that the concession?

    That is roughly what we are trying to do, if the Committee agrees. We cannot pay compensation for loss of profit. To do that for one section of the community and not for another would be unfair. We realise that farmers are in a peculiar and particular situation because of the operations for taking opencast coal and taking it quickly. Therefore, we feel we should do something quickly, if we can, to help. We are putting up the general level of compensation under Section 2 (1, a), (b) and (c) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. We are also treating far more generously than might otherwise be the case the amount which can be granted by way of expenses under Section 2 (1) (d). In addition, it is our hope that we can call in aid at least Section 30 of the Agriculture Act. 1947, which deals with disturbance.

    Might I get this point quite clear? Section 30 deals with compensation for disturbance. In a case in which five acres is taken from a holding of 30 acres, would the limit of compensation be the two years' annual value of these five acres? The point I tried to make, supported from all sides of the Committee was that that bears not the slightest relation to the consequential loss suffered, because by being deprived of the five acres one loses effective use of the whole farm. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean two years' rent of the holding or two years of the annual value of the severed land?

    I must mean what the Section allows me to mean. It is as the hon. Member has indicated. Under that Section that interpretation enables an amount equal to two years' rent to be paid; one year can be paid without proof of loss.

    It is our view that we can explore that between now and further stages of the Bill, and that with the aid of that particular Section treated generously as far as we can—certainly the expenses under Section 2 (1, d) of the 1939 Act have been treated generously—and with the increase in the ceiling of compensation under this Bill, something like justice can be done where farmers find themselves in difficulties as a result of the taking of part of their land for opencast coal.

    There is one other concession with which, if necessary, my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture will be only too pleased to deal later in this discussion. It has occurred to us that where a farmer may say that the taking of part of his land has made it completely impossible for him to carry on, it would be quite open to the Ministry of Agriculture to take over the rump of that farm and run it and, if necessary, put him in temporarily—until the whole farm could be reconditioned—and let him run it, so that he would not have to farm at a loss. That is one way, and in our view some tenant farmers might be willing that that should happen. The farmer would continue to live there and farm what was left, and what loss eventuated—as perhaps some loss would because some of the land had been taken and the farm had become unbalanced—he would not have to stand. The State would stand that loss because it would be essential (a) that the coal should be taken, and (b) that the rest of the farm should be cultivated in order to provide food for the nation.

    If the discussion continues, and it is necessary for further elucidation, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture will be only too willing to reply. I am sorry that we cannot go further. I know it is easy for me to say that we sympathise with the farmers over this business; but we do sympathise, and we have tried to find a solution. If there is some further solution which can be suggested, and it can be operated without wrecking the fundamental principle which I have enunciated, we shall be willing to consider, and, if possible, to accept it.

    Some of us think the Government have endeavoured to meet the situation in as fair a way as possible. Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean that the farmer who is dispossessed will be entitled to two years' rent for his disturbance, payment for his acts of husbandry, seeds, and the expenses he has been put to in cultivating the land? In addition, does he mean that if it is necessary the county agricultural committee will take over the farm, and will the farmer be assured of a position as bailiff, with a satisfactory salary under the committee?

    I am not sure if my hon. Friend, in that rather long series of questions, has not swung me a little too far out to sea. I do not want to commit the Government without further consideration of some of the questions which he has put to me, but generally, what he has said is our intention, within limits. Obviously, if the farmer stays on the farm we cannot pay him for leaving it. It would be a matter of arrangement between him and the Ministry of Agriculture as to what salary should be paid to him for acting as their bailiff during the time of disturbance. As to expenses, if he incurred expenses they would be paid up to the extent of one year's rent without question. If he had expended more on the changeover, due to the requisition, and he could show good cause, he could get up to two years' rent in respect of that. I think that when the figures are examined they will be found to be not ungenerous.

    9.15 p.m.

    This Amendment has the strong support of all sections of agriculture and, as evidenced by the Debate, it is supported by hon. Members in all parts of the Committee. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary said that it is impossible to compute profits. I agree. That is one of the weaknesses of the Amendment; but that is not what we are concerned about. We are concerned about the losses which a farmer suffers during the few years when his farm, or part of it, is subject to opencast mining. Generally only part of the farm is affected. In the case of a farm of 160 acres, where 60 acres are requisitioned for opencast mining, it means that during the three or four years in which that operation is in progress, not only has the farmer probably lost his livelihood, but also several hundred pounds a year.

    I do not see why any farmer who has opencast mining operations on his farm should be out of pocket to any substantial extent during these few years. We are glad to have this evidence of the contribution which opencast mining is making to the coal supply position, but I am sure that our mining friends would be the first to admit that it is unfair that those operations should go on with damage and loss to another equally deserving section of the community. It is just as important to win food from the land as it is to win coal. We appreciate the concessions which the Financial Secretary has made. Whatever proposals the Government have for dealing with this matter, I suggest that it would be manifestly unfair if they did any less than ensure that on any farm during the years when opencast mining is in operation, the farmer should suffer financially.

    I am not sure that the Committee should be so appreciative of what the Financial Secretary has said. I hope that all hon. Members realise that the concession he mentioned under the Agriculture Act of 1947, which he called in aid, is not really as generous as it sounds. My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) made the point that where compensation for disturbance is payable, it can only be paid in respect of the part of the land which is actually taken.

    Is that correct? I am speaking from memory, but surely the position is that if one gives notice as to part of a farm, then the farmer can claim compensation as to the whole of the farm. Is not that the position in regard to this coal mining? Does not the compensation run to the whole acreage of the farm, and not merely to what is taken?

    Since we have the hon. and learned Solicitor-General with us, perhaps he could make that point clear. I do not think that it applies in all cases. I have not had time to read the whole of the Act since it was mentioned by the Financial Secretary. Speaking from memory, I think that it applies only where the notice to quit part of the farm is in respect of a large, substantial part of the farm. It does not always apply in respect of the small pieces of farms which we have been considering, the loss of which may affect the work of the whole farm. I hope that hon. Members will realise that, whether the compensation for disturbance is in respect of the part or the whole, it is one claim only and cannot possibly represent a sum which one could calculate as a loss of profits calculated for a period of years. However generous this compensation for disturbance may be made out to be, it cannot possibly amount to the sort of figure which we have in mind when we are thinking of something which represents a loss of profits.

    There is one other point which I do not think has been mentioned. No doubt, the learned Solicitor-General and other Members of the Government have seen the memorandum which has been submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, in which they make the point that a man who loses part of his farm may not only lose the production represented by the particular acreage which he has lost, but may be made to lay out a great deal more money in order to maintain the same level of production on the acreage which remains available to him. That might arise, particularly, where a farm road is concerned, and where the whole of his transport, instead of having a short section of good road available, is compelled to go round by a circuitous route over very bad roads I hope the Committee will realise that this problem is an extremely tricky one, and that it also deserves more generous treatment than, up to the present, the Government have given any indication of applying to it.

    I raised this matter on the Second Reading of this Bill, not because I or any of my farming friends in my division are interfered with by opencast coal mining, but because, as farmers, we have a fellow feeling with farmers in all parts of the country. I am glad the Government have given consideration to this matter, and I think they are wise in trying to deal with the agricultural situation arising out of opencast coal mining under the Agriculture Act and not under this particular Bill.

    I think that the alternative open to the Government through their agricultural executive committees will, it applied generously, enable them to deal justly with all farmers who are affected. The Government, in deciding to take over either part or all of a farm, can give the farmer adequate notice, so that he can decide himself whether it is worth while to continue farming the portion of the farm still left to him, or whether, on the other hand, if the Government want to requisition the whole of the farm and will pay him compensation for disturbance, taking his tenant-right and all his stock into consideration, he should hand the farm over to the Government. They would perhaps use him for a time to manage the farm until, at the Government's expense, it is rehabilitated to its full agricultural use, then I think we can deal justly with the situation on any given farm. Unless the Government are willing to take full responsibility for opencast coal mining and the rehabilitation of farm land, I do not think we can deal justly with the farmer, and if that is what is meant by the concession which the Government have announced, it does seem to me that we can, in that way, get the best solution to this problem. I would commend it to the Committee.

    I am very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Mallon (Mr. Turton) raised this important matter because it is clear to hon. Members on all sides of the Committee that it is an important matter that should be raised. I understand the arguments which the Financial Secretary put forward regarding his difficulty in accepting this Amendment in the terms in which it is drawn, but I am bound to say that I am not wholly satisfied with the suggestions made for meeting the situation. I hope that, between now and the Report stage, the Financial Secretary and his advisers will think about it again and see whether they can find some Amendment to put into this Bill to deal with the matter on a better basis, because I do not think that the proposal to use Section 30 of the Agriculture Act, 1947, meets all the difficulties that have been put forward.

    I do not know whether the hon. and learned Solicitor-General will agree with me, but it is not only the question of the loss of profit which has been so ably put forward. There is also the question of severance. I understand the term "severance" well enough in the case of the ordinary purchase and sale, but when it comes to acquisition, compensation for severance is not appropriate in the same way. Many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have pointed out how important one particular field may be to a farmer. Anyone who has ever had experience of trying to pursuade a tenant to give up a field to his neighbour because it was thought more appropriate to both farms that that should happen, will know that it is always said to be the only place where there is a nice bit of bielding or where there is water, or access to the road. The amount of land taken bears no relation whatever to the value of that particular bit of land to the farmer. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman—who has now gone out, I think, to get some well earned refreshment—will think of this matter again, and I have no doubt that the Agricultural Departments will urge upon him the importance of this.

    I know how difficult it is for an agricultural Minister to sit on a Bill promoted by the Treasury. He has a very awkward situation to meet. He is trying to do his best for the farming community, and, all the time, has the Treasury at his side—on this occasion, the joint Parliamentary-Secretary, not the Financial Secretary—seeing that he does not give anything away. Therefore, I am not going to press him to say anything which might be difficult for him. I want him to urge his colleagues to think about this again before the Report stage, and to see it they cannot come to some better solution. We all want to do something to meet the case. We on this side of the Committee are not satisfied that the proposals made by the Financial Secretary will, in fact, meet the situation. I do not know whether my hon. Friend is going to press the Amendment to a Division or not, but, whatever he does, I beg the Government to think about this matter very carefully, and to see whether, when the Report stage comes along, they cannot find some rather better solution than the one they have put forward.

    9.30 p.m.

    I was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton), who has been speaking on behalf of the farmers, be, so it seemed to me, a little ungrateful about the good deal of work that has been done on this matter. We will certainly think again between now and the Report stage as to whether there is any way by which we can deal with the point, but I ought to tell the Committee that a good deal of thought and worry have already gone into finding a way in which to deal with the matter. As my right hon. Friend said, we all have the very greatest sympathy with it. In the county which I have the honour to represent, it is a very great problem, and, therefore, is always present with me. The difficulty is to find a way out without admitting a principle which gets us into a lot of difficulties outside this field altogether. I have no doubt that the right hon. Member for the City of London realises that.

    I hope that other hon. Members will also, between now and the Report Stage, think about the value of the suggestions which my right hon. Friend has thrown out. On the point made by the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane)—which I think was taken up later by another hon. Member—about the value of the concession, to which my right hon. Friend referred, of paying for disturbance along the lines laid down in Section 30 of the 1947 Act—I say that because the actual Section in the 1947 Act does not apply to this particular case—we do not rely on that as going any long way in dealing with the loss of profits. What we are saying is that we feel it goes some little way in the case of a farmer whose actual expenses—which is the term used—arising from the disturbance were very small. It may be that they are merely valuers' fees, and so on. In that case, the one year will give him some help unless the part taken is only small, in which case it may be that it does riot seriously affect the rest of his holding. The compensation can be for one year's rent with no questions asked, or it could be up to two years' rent on some evidence; and while we do not rely on that to meet the arguments about loss of profits, we put it forward as one way in which we think we can do a little to help.

    As I understand it, it is rent for the part taken. Provided that the rest of the holding is reasonably capable of being farmed, it is rent for the part taken. We can think about that again. The real concession is the one to which my hon. Friend the Member for South-Western Norfolk (Mr. Dye) referred, Which will, I think, give us considerable room to help. The difficulty is to find a legislative way of doing it in view of the principle involved. It does not seem possible. What we do think is that administratively we can do something where the farmer is left with an uneconomic unit, which has less capacity for growing feed, so that the farmer has to go to buy feed; the case in which the farmer has had part of his land taken and what is left to him is an uneconomic holding. In that case we think we may be able to make arrangements whereby we can offer to him the possibility of having the whole of his holding requisitioned at that time.

    We feel very strongly on this point. Is the hon. Gentleman making the suggestion that he will try to find a formula of words before the Report stage to give effect to this, or is he merely expressing a pious hope that in actual practice something may be done?

    To be frank, I think it is unlikely that we shall find a form of words to put into the Bill to deal with this matter. On the other hand, I am not giving merely a pious hope. I am giving a firm hope that, subject to our being able to work it—and I hope that by the Report stage we shall be able to be a little more specific about it—we shall devise administrative means whereby we can deal with the problem, and deal with it in this way: we would first requisition the whole holding by agreement; we would get agreement about the subsequent management of the holding; we would pass the holding to the agricultural executive committee; if what is left were an uneconomic part, we might be able to offer to the man concerned the opportunity to leave that holding, if he wanted to, and to go elsewhere, or alternatively we could leave him there on licence from us as a bailiff or manager at a fee which would be rather less than the profits he would have had from the whole holding but rather more than he would have been able to make from the uneconomic part.

    What would be the suggestion with regard to the stock, implements, and so on?

    That would be part of the administrative detail that we hope to work out. We do not believe that raises any insuperable objection. If we are anxious to get round this problem, while not admitting the wide principle of compensation for loss of profits, we must do something a little unorthodox and which is administratively difficult; but we should and the way. It may be that between now and the Report stage we can get that far. It is our intention, by hiring the men or by some other way of that kind, to keep them on their farms.

    It does not seem particularly helpful to take away the best part of the farm and to leave a farmer with the uneconomic part that remains to be worked under the uneconomical direction of county committees or the Ministry. It does not seem to be very helpful and will probably cost more in the end than paying proper compensation.

    There is the difficulty. We are pressed from all sides to do something about this. Both Front Benches have admitted the impossibility of dealing with the question legislatively. We have tried to find an administrative way round it but have only run into further trouble. We will do our best, and I think we shall find a way out along the lines I have suggested. We will try to think of other ways, and if hon. Members opposite can think of another method we will be very glad to hear it.

    Would the Parliamentary Secretary assure us that the 1947 Agri- culture Act applies to a tenant losing any land by requisition? I rather think it does not; I do not think that under that Act he can get any compensation for disturbance.

    Perhaps I might have time to think about that. We have gone as far as we can on this. I am sure we can make some progress and give considerable help, and I should hope to be able to give more details on Report stage. I have seen it suggested in various circulars which have gone out that what has been happening in regard to opencast mining reflects lack of earnestness on the part of His Majesty's Government in regard to their food production programme. I assure the Committee that we are in earnest, and are determined to press on with the food production campaign and expansion programme; but the Government have to balance varying needs against one another. We will do our best to meet legitimate difficulties without casting the net so wide that we run into further trouble. I hope that the agricultural community will not regard this as any obstacle in the way of giving us full production. With that assurance, I hope the hon. Member will agree to withdraw his Amendment.

    In view of the assurance we have received, and in order that we may have time to reflect on the matter between now and Report stage, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 11—(Permanent Power To Maintain Government Oil Pipelines)

    I beg to move, in page 9, line 15, at the end, to insert:

    "(5) Where the water supplied by any local authority or statutory undertakers is fouled by any Government pipeline or works accessory thereto or by the use thereof, the Minister of Works shall cause the said pipeline or works to be removed or diverted or moved to a new site, as the case may be."
    This Amendment has been put down with a view to trying to ascertain from the Government spokesman what provision, if any, there may be in the existing law to protect water supplies from pollution when these pipelines are retained.

    Clause 14 (4) gives the Treasury power to make certain regulations. Amongst the regulations they can make are regulations

    "for requiring the Minister or other person entitled to the use thereof"—
    that means the pipeline—
    "to keep any such line and works in good repair, to take such steps as may be prescribed for restoring land where any such line or works are abandoned, and to indemnify persons against loss or damage caused by any failure to keep any such line or works in good repair.
    The requisite regulations will be made in the first place to indemnify against loss or damage. True, the Clause does not impose an obligation to make the regulations, but there is the power, and it will be used. Under Subsections (4) and (5) of Clause 10 there is power to divert the pipeline in case of need. In general, no difficulty has been experienced with regard to the fouling of water in this way. There is constant inspection of these pipelines—on occasions the inspection has been every 24 hours—and therefore I do not think that any leakage would remain undetected for very long. If the Amendment were accepted, it would be difficult to expect that a pipe should necessarily be removed because there has been, for example, a single instance of fouling. There are the necessary powers under the Bill to make regulations dealing with this point, and we feel, having regard to past experience and in view of the practice it is proposed to adopt in regard to supervision and maintenance, that no difficulties are likely to arise in the future.

    I am obliged for the explanation, which will, I think, enable me to withdraw the Amendment. I am aware that the Ministry of Health have these matters very much in mind, and that water undertakings, whether statutory or not, come under their watchful eye. I trust that that will continue to be the case. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 12—(Compensation In Respect Of Government Oil Pipe-Lines)

    I beg to move, in page 10, line 32, at the end, to insert:

    "Provided that in the case of a payment under the said Subsection (4) which accrued due to any person before the commencement of this Act but has not been made before the commencement thereof, the said person shall be entitled to interest on the payment in accordance with the provisions in that behalf of the Act of 1939 as from the date when the payment accrued due until the commencement of this Act."
    This Amendment is designed to remedy a slight omission. A case may arise where compensation has become payable under Section 3 (4) of the 1939 Act but has not been paid by the time Royal Assent is given to this Bill. The Amendment provides that for the intervening period interest shall be payable, in respect of compensation payable under the 1939 Act, up to the time that the interest becomes payable under this Bill. This Amendment simply makes provision for a particular set of circumstances.

    The Committee are grateful to the Solicitor-General for the explanation he has given. We accept the Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 10, line 37, after "stock," to insert "chattels."

    In our opinion, damage may be caused by these oil pipelines not only to crops and stock, but also to movable property and to persons. It is not clear why if this Subsection is necessary, it does not embrace chattels as well as the other provisions. I would point out that the same point is covered by the Amendments in page 10, line 38, after "land," to insert:
    "or by reason of injury to any person,"
    and, in line 39, after "damage" to insert "or injury."

    9.45 p.m.

    We consider that a case has been made out for the Amendment. In other words, we agree that the word "chattels" should be inserted. The right hon. Gentleman intimated that in his view this Amendment and the following two Amendments hang together. That is a view which we cannot altogether accept. We feel that different considerations are involved. We accept the first Amendment, but with regard to the other Amendments, which seem to impose what is virtually an unlimited liability in respect of injury to any person, we think that they go too far. It may be difficult to carry out maintenance and other work without doing a certain amount of damage to crops and chattels. That is why we think it proper that liability should be accepted, subject to certain qualifications, for damage to that category of property.

    With regard to personal injury, we feel that the position should be left to the common law. We think that no one should be entitled to damages in respect of personal injury which may have been sustained owing to the exercise of the powers given by the Act unless that person can show that there was some degree of negligence or of culpable omission which led to the injury. If a person claims damages for personal injury, it is right that the person from whom he claims the damages should be entitled to exonerate himself or say that the accident was the result of contributory negligence. In those circumstances, we feel that we cannot accept the two following Amendments, although we accept the first.

    Do I understand the Solicitor-General to say that, supposing an action lies against the owner of the land on which there is a pipeline, and the case goes against the owner at common law, the Department responsible for the pipeline will indemnify the owner against any financial loss?

    I did not say that, and I was not dealing with the question of the liability of the owner. I was dealing solely with the question of the exercise of the powers conferred by the Act. It was in respect of the exercise of those powers that I said that the ordinary common law should apply.

    Amendment agreed to.

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

    On a point of Order, Major Milner. With regard to the Amendment in line 46—to leave out from "in," to "and," in page line r, and to insert:

    "writing within two years, or such longer period as the Treasury may in special circumstances allow, beginning with the date on which the compensation accrues due."
    I think that is an Amendment which you have not selected. It raises a point which is quite different from that which has been raised before, and I could deal with it quite shortly if I might be allowed to move it.

    The hon. and learned Member can refer to it, if it is relevant, on the Motion, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    That is the course I will adopt. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that under Subsection (7) there is no time-limit within which claims can be made. It is left completely at large. It can be prescribed in the regulations, for instance, that schemes have to be made within three weeks or within one week, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider bringing this Subsection into line with the previous Subsections with which we have dealt. There is not even a stipulation that a claim made within six months will be all right. I suggest that it would be preferable to alter Subsection (7) so as to bring it in accordance with the proviso to Subsection (8), whereby a claim made within the prescribed form and manner is in order if made within six months. There is no limit here. It is all left to regulation. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will consider altering that on the Report stage in order to bring it into line with the earlier part of the Bill.

    I can assure the Committee that the regulations will prescribe a perfectly reasonably time in the circumstances. I do not want to give any undertaking about a specific time. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that there is no reason for him to anticipate that the time will be unreasonably abbreviated. What he has said will be taken into account. I cannot give any undertaking but I have listened with interest to what he has said, and no doubt the regulations will deal with the matter sensibly.

    I am asking that it should be put into the Bill. It is better that it should be in the Bill and not in regulations which are hard to find.

    I have heard what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said. I cannot help thinking that he is a little too suspicions and over-anxious, but what he has said is on record and will no doubt be considered.

    Question put, and agreed to.

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

    Clause 13—(Registration Of Rights As To Government Oil Pipe-Lines)

    I beg to move, in page 11, line 11, at the end, to insert:

    "or the prescribed documents of title have been endorsed under the next following Subsection."
    This and the following Amendment in line 17, to leave out from "endorsement," to end of line 19, raise a drafting point of some little technicality which might be cleared up. Under Subsection (1) the provisions of Clause 11 will not apply after 31st December, 1949, unless the rights conferred by Subsection (1) have been registered, that is to say, that there is that interval of time after 31st December within which those rights can be exercised if they are registered. It would appear under Subsection (2) that where the prescribed documents of title are endorsed in the prescribed manner there is no limit of time as specified in Subsection (1). That appears to be an omission by mistake. It is rather technical and I do not want to take up time debating it now. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at it he will see there is some substance in the point and that the two Subsections want tying up. I shall be glad if he will look at it.

    Again I have listened with interest to what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said. We deliberately framed the Clause in the way in which it appears, having in mind that it would he much better and would occasion much less inconvenience to owners of property if the endorsement could be placed on the deeds by their solicitors rather than subjecting them possibly to the considerable inconvenience of having Government solicitors coming to see if they had put it on or requesting them to do it. We hope we shall be able to rely on endorsements on the relevant deeds rather than on the alternative procedure of registration in the local land registry, which would be equally efficacious for the purpose it is designed to achieve, namely, to make it perfectly apparent to any prospective purchaser that this restriction, if it can be so termed, affects the land he contemplates purchasing. I will certainly bear in mind what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, and I am obliged to him for having raised the point.

    I should like to make it clear that it is a question of a time limit. There is a time limit in No. 1 but not in No. 2, and the last three lines of Subsection (2) are the ones which create the difficulty. If the Solicitor-General will look at it again we shall be obliged, and on that understanding I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 14—(Supplementary Provisions As To Government Oil Pipe-Lines)

    I beg to move, in page 12, line 6, to leave out from "emergency" to "entry" in line 8.

    This Amendment could be taken in conjunction with the Amendment, page 12, line 12, at the end to insert
    "(2) Where any entry upon any land of which the Minister is not in possession is made under the powers conferred by the last foregoing Subsection, otherwise than after reasonable notice of the intended entry has been served on the occupier, the Minister shall forthwith serve on the occupier in the manner provided by paragraphs (i) to (v) of Subsection (1) of Section eight of the Act of 1945, notice that such entry has been made and of the date thereof.
    They deal with the same point. While we appreciate that entry without notice in cases of emergency is reasonable, it is not understood why notice should not be given for the purpose of routine or special inspection. In any case where entry occurs without notice there should be provision for supplementary notice so that the occupier can make a proper inspection if only to see whether any damage has occurred, because otherwise evidence which may well assist him might be lost by the time he realises the extent of the damage.

    On this side of the Committee we have always paid particular attention and attached very great weight to notice of entry being given. Although I would be out of Order to refer to any other Statute, on the different stages of the Agriculture Bill last year we laid particular stress on notice of entry, and in the later stages of the Bill the Government quite rightly respected our views and the necessary Amendments were made in the original draft in regard to entry. I commend these two Amendments to the notice of the Government, and I hope they will be able to meet us on this point.

    The reason we have provided that notice need not be given in the case of entry for emergency or for purposes of inspection is that in our view in cases of this sort special circumstances prevail. When this pipe is in use patrolling will be constant. As I said with regard to an Amendment a few moments ago, patrolling may be every 24 hours. I agree that hon. Gentlemen opposite will say that that cuts both ways, but on balance it would be unfortunate if notice had to be given on each occasion every 24 hours when an inspector carried out a purely routine inspection, probably perfectly well known to the owner of the land on which the pipe is laid. It would be an intolerable nuisance to the owner of the land who would be bombarded with notices to which he might very well answer, "There is no need to give me these notices; I know what is going on and you need not worry me."

    That is why in the case of these inspections we have left out the requirement that notice should be given, but, as hon. Members opposite will have noticed, we have put on the Order Paper an Amendment which we hope goes some way to deal with their apprehension and which will be moved in a moment. It deals with the ex post facto notification in the case of any b damage done in an emergency inspection. If any damage is caused by an inspection, Clause 12 contains the necessary provision for compensation being payable in respect of that damage. We feel, therefore, that the position had better be left as it is because, looking at it from a practical point of view, no real advantage would be gained by constant notice and indeed the contrary consequence would be likely to ensue, because it might be a constant nuisance if the owner of the land was told constantly about a certain thing which he knew perfectly well was going on.

    10.0 p.m.

    I appreciate the argument of the Solicitor-General and it goes a long way to meet hon. Members on this side, as does the Amendment on special cases which will be moved in a few moments by the Government. However, as this point has been raised here, I ask the Government to pay particular attention to instructions given to inspectors. We attach great importance to notice being given, as nothing is more damaging to the individual farmer than if he feels that people can come upon his land without notice and interfere with the day to day work.

    Amendment negatived.

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

    "(ii) where otherwise than for the purpose of inspection only any land has been entered upon in pursuance of this Subsection without notice being served as aforesaid on the occupier of the land, the Minister shall forthwith cause notice of the entry to be served on the occupier in the manner aforesaid."
    This is the Amendment, to which I referred a moment ago, which provides that, where otherwise than for the purpose solely of an inspection, there is an entry upon land in pursuance of the Subsection, without notice, the Minister shall cause notice to be given ex post facto. We hope this will go some way to allay the apprehension in the minds of owners of land. It might happen, and we can understand their being apprehensive, that some entry might be effected and work carried out on the land, or some other operation, and the consequence might be that damage was done. It would be unfortunate if the owner of the land were not conscious that it had taken place and only discovered the damage some time after, when it had spread much further than it would have done had it been taken in hand immediately it started. We have sought to remedy that position by the Amendment, and we hope that it will go some way to meeting the feelings of owners of property affected by the pipeline we are discussing.

    This was discussed previously, and we accept the Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made:

    In page 12, line 15, leave out "section," and insert "subsection."

    In page 13, line 4, leave out "and the regulations," and insert "or of regulations under this subsection."—[The Solicitor-General.]

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

    I wish to ask a question which I think the Government should rather welcome. I have no doubt that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will remember that on the Second Reading my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) called attention to the fact that the Expenditure Committee had commented, hardly in a favourable sense, on the method by which these pipelines were being looked after. On the Financial Resolution I drew attention to this fact, and the Financial Secretary said that the matter was being looked into. This Clause is put in to safeguard this very valuable piece of capital, which belongs to the country as a whole. I want to know if the Government have taken any steps to find out if the Expenditure Committee are satisfied with the methods of safeguarding which is being employed, and also if the Government will assure the Committee that this Clause gives them proper power to look after this valuable piece of Government property. The remarks I have made are in no sense hostile, but I think it is only right, as the Financial Secretary was not able to give a full answer earlier, that on this occasion he should be able to say that this Clause will give the necessary powers to look after this extraordinarily valuable piece of property.

    I remember the reference which the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) has mentioned, and I am happy to say that I can give the assurance for which he asks. This Clause has been very carefully drafted with an eye to the points he has raised. We are as anxious as he is to see that this piece of property is well preserved and we feel that the Clause will ensure that.

    The Committee on Expenditure commented rather violently on this matter. Have they expressed satisfaction about it?

    I can only say that what the Committee said has been taken note of, and action has been taken. Whether the Committee as a whole are fully satisfied, I do not know, but I hope so.

    Question put, and agreed to.

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

    Clauses 15 and 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 17—(Application To Scotland)

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

    This Clause refers to Scotland, and I feel sure that if there were any Scottish Members here they would be astonished to know that when I put a question on it earlier the Financial Secretary informed me that so far as Scotland was concerned, it was a very simple matter. I would like to ask him how he came to fall into the mistake of confusing a Clause which he said was one of about only one line with what is actually one of about 50 lines in the Bill. It is rather hard for a great country like Scotland, the people of which are financcially minded, that in respect of a considerable Clause which guards many of their interests they do not have rather more attention from the Financial Secretary. Can he explain how the mistake arose on that occasion?

    At the beginning of Clause 17 are the words "This Act shall apply to Scotland …" subject to the modifications which follow. The operative words are the ones to which in a semihumourous aside I referred when the hon. Member made his interjection. It is true that because the law in Scotland differs in some respects from that in England certain further words have to be added, but the operative words which apply to Scotland are little more than the one line sentence to which I now draw the hon. Member's attention.

    I am sorry but I cannot accept that. I can only conclude that the right hon. Gentleman got mixed up, as he so often does, and did not know the difference between one and 50. It is typical of Government incompetence.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 18—(Application To Northern Ireland)

    I beg to move, in page 15, line 5, to leave out Subsection (4).

    This is purely a drafting Amendment. As Part I of the Agriculture Act, 1947, applies to Northern Ireland, this Subsection is unnecessary.

    Amendment agreed to.

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

    Clause 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    New Clause—(Application Of Part Viii Of Act Of 1945 To Compensation To Tenants In Northern Ireland)

    In the case of a notice to quit given under Section seven of the Northern Ireland Land Act, 1929 (which provides for the giving of notice to tenants in certain cases subject to the payment of compensation of an amount calculated by reference to the rateable value of the holding and any buildings thereon) at any time during the period during which, on the compulsory acquisition of land by a Minister, compensation falls to be adjusted in accordance with Part VIII of the Act of 5945 (which provides for adjusting compensation to offset changes in value due to government war work and other circumstances arising while a Minister or person acting under him is in occupation of land) the said Part VIII shall apply in assessing the compensation under the said Section seven as if references in the said Part VIII to the compulsory acquisition of land as therein mentioned were references to the service of notice to quit under the said Section seven, and as if references to the land acquired were references to the holding or part of the holding to which the notice to quit relates:
    Provided that this Section shall not have effect where the amount of the compensation in consequence of a notice to quit given before the commencement of this Act has been agreed or determined before the seventeenth day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-eight.—[The Solicitor-General.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    10.15 p.m.

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

    This Clause looks rather formidable at first sight, but it is in fact designed to deal with a very limited category of cases in Northern Ireland. Under Section 7 of the Northern Ireland Land Act, 1929, in certain cases, if a tenant is given notice, he is entitled to compensation at the rate of 35 times the rateable value of his holding and of any buildings on the holding, that is, in the case of tenancies which are outside the scheme centring upon the Land Purchase Commission.

    It might very well have been possible to make the Amendment which I now seek to make when the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945, was passed. It was, in fact, not done then largely owing to an omission. At any rate, the 1945 Act did not deal with it. What we seek to do is to say that in those cases, in the period, now extended, during which Part VIII of the 1945 Act operates, that Part VIII shall apply so as to adjust that compensation by excluding any computation of 35 times the rateable value attributable to any Government war works on the holding. Otherwise, the situation may be that if a tenant were in occupation of land on which a Government factory stood, if the land is then acquired by the Government, the tenant, if he receives notice to quit, would be entitled to compensation at the rate of 35 times the rateable value of the holding—the rateable value being assessed not merely by reference to its ordinary value without the factory, but on the full amount of the extra value of the Government factory.

    Of course, it was never intended that a tenant should receive, in effect, 35 times the rateable value of the factory erected on the land by the Government. That is an oversight, and the new Clause is designed to cure that oversight. It does not affect any settlements which were made before the new Clause was put down on 17th January, but it will affect any settlements after that date. I feel sure that common sense requires that. The matter has actually been brought to light, and that is why the opportunity is now taken to introduce this new Clause to set this position right and to put an end to a quite unjustifiable and rather absurd anomaly.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    With reference to the new Clause standing in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) and myself, and other hon. Gentlemen—(Compensation for injurious affection)—in view of the fact that the Government are considering the whole question of compensation, we think it would be preferable to consider the result of their deliberations before formally moving that Clause.

    New Clause—(Compensation For Loss Pending Rehabilitation)

    Where by reason of labour or materials in sufficient quantities not being available or otherwise by reason of the extent of the work to be done in making good any damage to land which may have occurred during the period for which possession has been retained under emergency powers the compensation payable under paragraph (b) of Subsection (1) of Section two of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 5939, is not equal to the loss sustained in consequence of damage as aforesaid by the owner of land of which possession has been retained as aforesaid, there shall be payable to such owner a sum equal to the amount of the rents which might reasonably be expected to be payable if the land were occupied for the purposes for which it was occupied when possession thereof was taken as aforesaid between the date upon which the compensation under the said paragraph (b) accrues due and the date upon which the land is fit for beneficial occupation.—[Mr. Manningham-Buller.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    This new Clause raises a point of considerable importance. I can explain its purpose quite shortly. Cases exist now where property has been derequisitioned and compensation paid but where, owing to the shortage of materials and labour, it is quite impossible for the owner of that particular property to repair it so that it becomes an income earning asset. Suppose, as an illustration, a hotel or a public house, or some other building had been occupied by the military for many years, and a state of damage has occurred. The owners will get compensation at the termination of the requisition, but then a long period may elapse during which no use can be made of the property, because it cannot be put in a proper stage of repair, there being no building licence. Although there is compensation for the damage done, there is no compensation for the loss which flows from the damage done, owing to the inability, under existing Regulations, to have that damage put right.

    The object is to seek to ensure that, where the damage in respect of which compensation has been paid could not be put right for reasons quite outside the owner's control—such as the fact that no building licence could be given—compensation on a rental basis should continue to be paid until such a licence is forthcoming. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that great hardship has been suffered through failure or omission to deal with this problem in the light of the circumstances of today. I hope that, if he cannot accept the new Clause in its present form, he will accept the point and will endeavour to meet it at a later stage.

    I am sorry that for reasons which I have already made plain to the Committee—the ground has been gone over and pretty well trampled in discussing earlier Amendments—it is impossible to accept this new Clause. It is a pretty well accepted principle that we must stick to the payment of compensation for loss through damage. Although we sympathise with the point that is being put forward, if we extended the principle to take in cases where an owner could not get re-possession because of present shortages of manpower, and therefore could not renew his beneficial occupation of a boarding house or hotel, and we took that into account and paid compensation for it it would be difficult to know where to stop. We sympathise with people in that position, but others throughout the war, and since, have been in a similar situation where consequential losses have occurred and unfortunately, as individuals, they have had to bear them. I can hold out no hope to the hon. and learned Gentleman. Though we will look at this matter again, there is no possibility whatever of our being able to meet him to the extent and in the way which I know he desires.

    I understand the position of the Financial Secretary in all these matters, but I think there is one way which he might consider of helping firms, particularly hotels. He could help by allowing an extension of the requisition. I have some experience in this matter, as the right hon. Gentleman realises, in my own constituency. Where notice is given to the owner of an hotel of a requisition being given up, an estimate should be made between the Government Department and the owners concerned of how long it will take to rehabilitate the hotel. An agreement might be come to to continue the requisition up to that time or somewhere thereabouts. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that point.

    In a case with which I am now dealing, an hotel of considerable size in my constituency was derequisitioned many months ago. The owners of the property, a company, are having the most frightful difficulty in getting the materials and obtaining the labour to do the work. They have the licence, but cannot get the work done. All the time, their over-head expenses are continuing. This is not a question of paying compensation for loss of profits but of compensating for a direct loss. It the Financial Secretary is considering it, as I am sure he will, I ask him to take that into consideration.

    Perhaps I may say straightaway that we are not only considering it, but acting on it, and that we have been for some time. The Department concerned holds on to the requisition, and the rental compensation continues during the period when most of the rehabilitation is being done. That is one way in which we can help people who are suffering consequential losses due to factors outside their control.

    The last few words of the Financial Secretary have made my mind much easier about this. I think it is quite true to say that this loss is due to the damage, and that it would be illegal for the owner of the property to put it right. I appreciate that there are difficulties in making it a rule of law that compensation should be paid in these circumstances, but, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, which I hope will be applied in every possible case, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

    Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

    The next new Clause—Acquisition of land for military purposes to be subject to approval of local authority—in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), is not selected.

    Schedule—(Minor And Consequentialamendments Of Act Of 1945)

    Amendments made: In page 16, line 6, after "made," to insert:

    "and of any other provision referring to an objection such as is mentioned in either of those subsections."

    In line 20, at end, insert:

    "4. As respects Scotland, in the said section thirteen the reference to the War Agricultural Executive Committee shall include a reference to any committee exercising under any enactment relating to Scotland (whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act) and corresponding to the Agriculture Act, 1947, functions similar to those exercised by a County Agricultural Executive Committee established under the last-mentioned Act."—[Mr. Glenvil Hall.]

    On a point of Order. May I raise a question as to why the new Clause on the Order Paper in my name—(Acquisition of land for military purposes to be subject to approval of local authority)—is not being called?

    I beg to move, in page 17, line 9, to leave out paragraph 8.

    As I understand it, the aim of this paragraph is to extend, geographically, the limits to which an authority may take water for the same purposes which a riparian owner would have at common law. The actual purposes for which they may take water are limited in lines 12 to 15 to the same limits that would be possessed by an ordinary riparian owner; that is to say, for use in his house, domestic use and for watering his cattle and matters of that sort which appertain to the ownership of the land. This paragraph, while not extending the limits of these purposes, does extend the geographical limits in which they may be applied. For example, they may be applied to a neighbouring town or factory which is not actually borne on the river.

    10.30 p.m.

    We have put forward this Amendment because we feel that the proposal in this paragraph is not desirable, nor is it necessary. I do not think I need remind the Financial Secretary what the law is in this matter, but I think I ought to remind him that rights in water are of two kinds, natural rights and prescriptive rights, and in this case we are dealing only with natural rights, that is to say, the rights of use and of not interfering with the flow of water. Any riparian owner, of course, in virtue of his possession of the property, has the right to use the water flowing through it for all reasonable uses, but he may in addition exercise extraordinary rights, providing in doing so he does not interfere with those lower down the stream who also have rights to the use of the water. The ordinary natural rights of watering cattle and so on do not have that restriction because the owner is unlikely to interfere with the flow of the stream by watering cattle, but when he exercises extraordinary rights, like impounding water in a reservoir or using it for a water mill, this may interfere with the amount of water available for his neighbours below.

    We feel that here is a proposal to use water in an extraordinary way, but without the safeguard that the ordinary ratepayer and owner has to offer, namely, that it shall not interfere with those below him, because the ordinary ratepayer and owner, if he uses water for an extraordinary purpose, has to return it in the same volume and in substantially the same state that it was when he took the water out of the stream. We are wondering whether, if this water is used for a neighbouring town or factory, it would be possible to return it in approximately the same volume or approximately the same state of purity. It is proposed by Section 33 that, without purchasing the land, the Minister may be able to acquire easements and the power of restricting certain rights over that land. Now they want to add to these powers the powers to acquire rights to use that water in extraordinary ways.

    I hope that to relieve our anxiety, the Government will be ready to give the assurance that these powers are going to be limited. We really want to know what the Government have in mind about this. Are they proposing to supply factories or neighbouring towns right away from the watercourse and to do other things which are bound to take a big volume of water away? It would seem that the Government want it both ways. They want the rights of riparian owners without carrying the liabilities or restrictions of riparian owners. I am afraid that the Government may become bad neighbours. Maybe they can take it on fair terms, but I want the assurance that that will be the case. Supposing that will not be the case, we feel there should be some indemnity to neighbouring owners who will be prejudiced in this way. I hope that I have made the point clear and that we shall get an assurance that will relieve the anxiety in our minds as to what is intended by the Government in wanting this part of the Schedule.