The Amendment I have to move is of a somewhat radical nature. It goes into a matter of policy upon which the whole future of the industry may depend. I can see the point of view of hon. Members opposite. It is a straight-forward one. They look upon this as a step, though a very inadequate and inefficient one, towards control and nationalisation. That is not the view of hon. Members on this side. We view the Measure as one by which, through the purchase of all existing royalties, the industry can be put on a better footing and, even though at some sacrifice, and possibly a considerably sacrifice, the royalty owners in this part of the Bill are quite willing to undergo that if it is going to benefit the industry as a whole. When I say "the industry," I must lay stress on this point that the industry, of course, includes the miners as well as the owners. I gave the analogy the other day of the Cotton Spinning Industry Act. If my right hon. Friend's predecessor had attempted to pass a Bill not to limit the scope of the Spindles Board to the buying up of redundant spindles, but had given them powers by which they might possess and own spindles, and indeed take part in the cotton industry themselves, the Bill would never have got through the House.
What is being done in this case? Under the Government scheme they own all existing and proved coal. There have been a number of Commissions—the Sankey Commission and the Samuel Commission—and, I gather, a geological survey on which they have based their knowledge. Geological surveys are not always right. There is the historic example of the Mosul oil field, and there is the case of various oil borings in different parts of this country. Only the other day in Berkshire, when boring for oil, a seam of extremely rich iron was discovered which no geologist had thought it possible to find. Therefore, I am a little suspicious of information based on geological surveys. Still, the Government claim, I understand, that they have knowledge of all existing proved coal in the country, and on that information they have based the fixing of what is called the global figure. I am not quite sure what this global figure really represents. My right hon. Friend said it meant a round figure. I have looked it up and I find it in very few dictionaries. I have found "globose," "globular," "globulose" and even "globy," meaning round. The Oxford Dictionary mentions it and says it is very rare—"global, spherical or globular." It was mentioned in 1676 by a Mr. Dixon, who said, "I would challenge the best mathematician to demonstrate"—
I was endeavouring to find out what relation this so-called global figure has to the question of proved or unproved coal. It is a very important point. I understand that the global figure, on which the payment to royalty owners is fixed, was fixed on the value of proved coal as given to various Royal Commissions and according to a geological survey.
I will take an opportunity of arguing the fixing of the sum on a later Clause, but I want to find out whether the fixing of the sum relates only to known and proved coal or to unproved coal as well, because I gather that in Schedule 3 there will be a valuation of coal subsequent to the valuation date on which any owners of coal may claim to be registered as coalowners within six months of the valuation date. Now the question arises: Is this coal, so far not proved but to be proved now or within six months, included in the global figure? It would seem that the more claims that are made in that respect the smaller the amount that each proved royalty owner will get under the global figure. It might very well be described as a wasting asset. Then comes the question of how these valuations are to be made.
The Noble Lord cannot raise that now. The point at issue is an extremely narrow one—whether coal whose existence is not now proved shall pass to the Commission under the Clause, or whether the Commission will have to purchase it subsequently.
That seems to narrow it down to a very definite point. I might take a hypothetical case of an owner, say, in a remote part of Wales who knows that he has coal under his property. He has taken no step to encourage any colliery or pioneering company to develop the coal, because he does not wish to develop it now. He looks on it as an investment for future generations. I undertsand that this coal would not be valued, and yet it would vest in the Commission, who could take it over at no price at all. In that case, if the owner seeks to register as the owner, he would be told, "Your coal is miles away. There is no chance of it being developed. It is too far from any existing harbour. Your coal is worth nothing at all." If, on the other hand, as may happen, a Government factory is put up there, say, under the Defence expansion scheme, immediately that coal might increase in value, and some colliery who had an eye on it might come forward and ask for a lease to develop it. It should be made clear whether the Commission is to make an offer for such coal or whether it will get it completely free. The whole fixing of the global figure must depend upon that to a certain extent. A further objection I have to the Commission taking over unproved coal is that I very much doubt whether the impeccable characters of Government officials have elastic or speculative tendencies which lead to the best way of developing new coal mines. I have seen so many examples of it abroad, particularly in Australia, a country rich in coal and other minerals, and where, with the exception of gold, hardly any development has taken place at all.
I have an idea that once the landowner's interest has been removed and the pioneer companies are out of it completely, no development would take place. Colliery companies might apply for a lease and receive the usual negative Whitehall reply that "This is being considered and something will be done at some future date." This will go on for years before anything particular is done, and yet every now and then, the Commission or the peculiar department dealing with research may suddenly get a twinge of conscience that they are not earning their salaries and say, "We have to go somewhere, or we are not doing our job." Hon. Members opposite might find a representative of the Commission going to them and saying, "We have been informed that there is coal under your back garden, and we are going to bore straight away and do some pioneer work."
If my Noble Friend refers to Clause 15, he will see there is another Clause that makes it necessary for the Commission to go to the Railway and Canal Commission before they bore in my Noble Friend's back garden.
That will only delay the process still further. After two or three years they will be given permission to go into the back garden of one of my hon. Friends opposite and I am afraid that even the Railway and Canal Commission will not prevent them boring if they wish to do so. But in view of the experience which I have had of State-controlled borings and experimental research, and also in view of the opinions of geologists, I am very doubtful about the future of the coal industry under this section of the Bill. I should prefer after the words "after all" to insert the word "proved" so as to confine the activities of the Commission to all known proved coal at the present moment, which would give a fair valuation to all existing owners of royalties. They would know what they were getting and what the sum was, whereas at the present moment it is extremely doubtful what valuation they may get. None of them seems to know what the global figure really represents and I doubt very much whether fair compensation will be paid. I would like to see my Amendment adopted, and I believe that it would put the Bill on to a much better basis.
It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I reply straight away on what has been rightly described by the Chair as a very narrow point. It is simply whether the Commission is to take over coal whether it is proved or unproved. It was quite clearly understood—and I am sure that the representatives of the royalty owners themselves will agree with me—that under the terms of reference of the arbitration tribunal—and when my Noble Friend refers to the global sum fixed by the Government I must correct him and say that it was fixed by the arbitration tribunal—it is clearly understood that coal was to cover coal both proved and unproved. If, therefore, we were to accept the Amendment we should upset the whole basis upon which that global figure was arrived at. With regard to the methods of compensation, my Noble Friend raised a particular example. There is nothing whatsoever to prevent the landlord to whom he refers claiming through the machinery of this Bill for the value of the unproved coal which he possesses. His claim will be assessed under the machinery and not by the Government, because the Government give the global figure and the distribution of that global figure is under the various valuations boards.
Any claim that he might make would be at the expense of any proved coal that had already been valued. That would mean that the amount provided from the global sum would be smaller than the rest, and, therefore, the global figure which was not fixed would shrink.
I would tell the Noble Lord that that particular figure was fixed having regard to the fact that unproved coal could be taken over. In any case, a landlord who thinks that he has unproved coal which is of value is entitled to claim. Whether he succeeds in his claim depends upon whether he can convince this tribunal, which consists almost entirely of mineral agents, with an independent chairman, that that coal has a value. If he can prove that it has a value, he will receive a fair proportion of compensation for it.
This is an important point and I want to be clear about it. There is some doubt as to what is actually meant. Is this what is meant? If the Noble Lord or any other person or landlord makes a claim for unproved coal, he has either to search and bore for coal himself to establish his claim or, in the absence of the right under this Bill, the Commission itself has to search and bore, and having discovered coal, have to pay compensation at the global figure.
The hon. Gentleman is under a misconception. The whole of the valuation will be completed before the Commission ever begins to serve. The only point that I am making is that it is the right of anybody who thinks that his coal has a value to claim under the machinery, and if he can satisfy the Valuation Board that it has a value he receives compensation. [Interruption]. It is not my business; it is his business to prove it. All that I say is that he has the right to go to the tribunal and attempt to prove his claim.
There is one other point which the Noble Lord raised, with which I should like to deal, and that is his contention that under the new plan the unproved coal is transferred to the Coal Commission, which a civil servant will sit down and assess. I wonder in actual practice how much new coal has been proved. As far as I know, it is very seldom that the ground landlord has proved new coal. He uses one of the pioneering companies, and the Commission will have exactly the same powers that the ordinary private landlord has to make use of these pioneering companies, if they so desire, in order to search and bore for coal.
Finally, let me explain why I believe that this proposal is quite unacceptable. The Noble Lord himself said that the royalty owners were prepared to accept this plan of purchase of existing royalties if it had the effect of putting the industry on a better footing. What is the good of purchasing the existing royalties and using them to put the industry on a better footing if alongside you allow the old system to grow up once again, with private royalties actually increasing as new coal is proved, until finally the same process that we are going through now has to be gone through again? It seems to me that from all points of view, from the point of view of financial fairness, because this has already been included in the arbitration, and from the point of view of the proper working of this provision, we should adhere to the plan in the Bill and taken over the coal, whether it be proved or otherwise.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 1, to leave out "forty-two," and to insert "forty."
The miners in the coalfield are very much interested in this Bill. I went home last week-end and met about a dozen of our chaps, and they said to me, "George, there is not much in that Bill for us." I think everybody in the House remembers the time when the late Prime Minister, Earl Baldwin, made his statement in March, 1937, that the Government had agreed to accept Judge Green's arbitration as far as the figure for mining royalties was concerned. In Clause 3 it states that the valuation date shall be 1st January, 1939, or 13 months from now, and the vesting date, 1st July, 1942, or 3½ years from now, and if we take Earl Baldwin's statement that the Government were prepared to accept the figure of £66,450,000 last March, it means that it is taking the Government, with a great majority in this House, five years and three months from March, 1937, till July, 1942, before the royalty owners will be bought out. We are desirous that the Government should get some speed on.
There is no need to remind me of that. I know it. I am not as green as a Christmas tree, if I look it. We know that the Bill is not through, but we do say that the Government, if they were in earnest about the Bill, would get it through and would get the vesting date nearer than 1st July, 1942. I am interested in this thing from the standpoint of the man at the coal face. At the pit that I worked at before coming here, every man had got to be down the pit by six o'clock, and the winding of the coal started as soon as the hooter blew six. The royalty owner at that pit was drawing 4½d. per ton. At some collieries in Wales they get 9d., and at some others 3.71d., but the average royalty in 1936 was 4.65d., and the royalty owners drew nearly £5,000,000 in 1936. That comes off the wages every month in ascertainment, because it states quite clearly that costs other than wages must be taken off before the man gets his wages, and the man who is producing that royalty is the man who is getting the coal at the coal face.
My point is that the royalty owner in the shaft at the pit where I worked got royalty on 180 tons an hour. I have worked it out while listening to the global dispute this evening, and it works out at £3 7s. 6d. per hour, or at that shaft, for 15 hours, the royalty owner drew £51 2s. 6d. He drew equal to 100 men's wages during that day. This thing is to go on for another 3½ years from the valuation date or five years from now, and we on this side believe that this could be and should be speeded up. You are saying to the Department, "We will put you on minimum wage for the next three or four years." You are going to ask the Department, as my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) said, to ca'canny, to slow down, and this means to the royalty owner, besides his £66,450,000 during those five years, £22,500,000, plus the £10,000,000 for some other bits and ends around the pit, which means £100,000,000, or, bringing it down to the man working in the pit, it means that 780,000 men have to work for 12 months before this bill of the royalty owners is paid, and the money comes out of the industry. To put it in another way. The number of miners now at work is 780,000 and according to the latest returns their wages amount to £100,000,000 a year so that to redeem the royalties these men have to work for 12 months. To bring it still further down, it means that there are 37,000 men working every day for the royalty owners and nobody else—men stripped to the waist, and with the sweat pouring out of them.
I am not reading something out of a book now. I am speaking from experience. Yet the Government say that we have to continue with this system for another five years in addition to giving the royalty owners £66,450,000. It means that every man and boy working in the pit has 6½d. taken out of his wages every day. If he works six days a week, though few are doing so now, it means that 3s. 3d. a week is taken out of his wages for the payment of the royalty owners. The President of the Board of Trade smiles at my way of putting it, but I hope he will insist on speeding up this process of buying out the royalty owners. We believe that the royalty owners, since 1568, have got sufficient out of the industry. The Bible says "the earth is the Lord's" but a lot of landlords seem to have stolen it. Now that the Government have had an arbitration and have made a bargain, we ask that they should make the date 1940 instead of 1942.
The hon. Member in his endeavour to induce the Committee to limit this period is using the old familiar argument that all royalty owners are "parasites who are battening on the miners," but I doubt whether he really knows the true conditions even in his own district. He certainly does not appear to know the conditions in South Wales where the royalty owners frequently are very small men, sometimes miners themselves, who by their enterprise and efforts have helped in the development of a great industry. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans) spoke of Welsh farmers who had leased the mineral rights on their farms at the rate of £40 a year and the manure from the mines stables. He described them as poor, simple Welsh farmers who knew no better. I have met some poor Welsh farmers but I have not yet met a simple one, and it seemed to me that a rent of £40 an acre amounting to a capital value of £900 an acre was not such a very bad deal.
Again my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade said the great landlords in the past paid very little attention to the question of mineral development but I do not think that is the case. The great-uncle of the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) was a mining engineer in Cornwall. Once he happened to be bathing on the coast in Westmorland and he noticed on the pebbles of the beach signs of certain valuable mineral deposits in the neighbourhood. He went to the local landowner, the father of the present Lord Lonsdale. He paid his visit at the right time, just after dinner, and he was able to persuade the landowner that development was possible. That was the beginning of a great industry in Cumberland which has employed thousands of men and is again employing many men to-day. That industry sprang up as a result of the action of the royalty owner in supporting with his capital as well as his good will the efforts of the mining engineer, and there have been many other cases of a like nature.
Hon. Members who know the conditions and the history of the mines in their own districts know in how many cases it was the royalty owners, whether they were small farmers or miners, who really started the industry going. It would be a mistake to accept this Amendment which would be depriving of their rightful compensation men who have done a great deal to deserve it. Because their sons or their grandsons may have done nothing for the industry is not an argument in favour of the Amendment. One-might say the same thing about the ownership of royalties in a book. An hon. Member who had written a book which was of such value that it was likely to be read three or four generations hence would be proud to think of his grandchildren being privileged to enjoy the benefit of the property in that book.
I apologise for the diversion. At the same time, I suggest that there is some similarity between the two cases and that to limit the time allowed by the Government for the purchase of royalties would be wrong. If the Government took over the publication of books as is done in the totalitarian States and allowed only Government writers to produce books, would hon. Members say that all existing rights in royalties should be brought to an end in two years time?
In supporting the Amendment, I wish particularly to refer to what the noble Lord said in regard to Cumberland. I think he was in some error as to his facts. The coalfield to which he refers is the Cumberland coalfield and it does not extend inland. It extends under the sea and the landowner to whom he refers and his descendants worked those mines themselves until about 50 years ago. Since that time the mines have been worked by various companies and the royalty owners have continued to draw their rents, and are still drawing royalty rents for coal worked under the sea. What is going to happen to coal of that kind under this Bill?
I do hope that hon. Members will help me to keep the discussion in order. A very great deal of what was said by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment seemed to be a little wide of the mark, and since then I have scarcely heard a word about the Amendment. I must ask hon. Members to look at the Amendment and keep it in their minds. It is simply a question whether the date inserted is to be 1942.
It seems to me that everybody in the Committee, including myself, is getting somewhat mixed. The Noble Lord has confused hematite ore with coal, and I want to extricate the Committee from this confused position if I can by coming back to the Amendment. It is a practical, fair and reasonable Amendment. Under the Bill the vesting date does not take place for five years, and during those five years the royalty owners will be still drawing their royalty rents. That will apply to the royalties I have referred to, namely, royalties on coal worked under the sea. Therefore, the tax will continue and our men will have to pay for it. Too big a price can be paid for certain reforms, and I think that the £66,000,000 which the royalty owners are to get is excessive. Moreover, if the Act is not to be effective until 1942 the amount that the royalty owners will get will be more excessive than the arbitrator's award. I strongly support the Amendment.
I support the Amendment on the narrow ground that if the Bill were so amended the practice would more exactly follow the precedents that have been created in local government generally. It is not uncommon under the Act of 1930 for a local authority to acquire property, to enter within 14 days, and for the value to be fixed a considerable time after the land has been in their occupation and they have been using it for the purpose for which they required it. If that is possible—it is in use every day of the year and a large number of transactions have taken place under that system—why should it not be possible in this case? There can be no reason for having so long a period between the valuation date and the vesting date. It is possible for some agreed sum to be paid, if there is necessity for it in the interim, by way of a day-to-day payment on some agreed minimum valuation. I do not know why hon. Members opposite should assume that there will be such a large number of cases outstanding until 1942. Hon. Members opposite assume that the income of the royalty owners is going to fall under the Bill, but I have not been convinced of that. Even if that be the case, there is no reason why they should continue to receive for two years after the valuation date an income which this House by passing this Bill has decided is more than they are entitled to for services, which it is very difficult to define, which they have rendered to the industry and the nation. I hope the Government will accept the Amendment and bring the vesting date nearer to the valuation date than is provided for in the Bill.
This is a narrow point. The period of 3½ years from the valuation date to the vesting date is the shortest possible time in our estimation for the necessary work that has to be done. Everyone wishes that this transaction should be carried through as soon as possible, so that the Commission can get on with the work which Parliament gives them to do, but it must be remembered that there are a great many properties to be valued, and that the full details about any particular property are not yet available. We passed a Registration Act last Session in order to get on with the registration of property rights. After the registration the actual valuation has to take place. We have to find out first what it is we are going to value. Hence the registration. After that, we have to give an opportunity for each person who owns some of this property to put in his claim. First of all, there is the notice, and then he has to put in his claim, with his estimated value of the property. That goes to the Valuation Board for consideration, and if prima facie the value put upon the property is considered too high, they have to value it themselves. Then there may be a dispute about the figure arrived at by the Board, and in that case there must be an appeal procedure. All this inevitably is a lengthy process in a field where the number of people competent to do this form of valuation is very small.
It is not the job of an ordinary valuer to value minerals. The profession which deals with it is a very small one, and it is no good getting in people to do this work who are not familiar with it. We are animated with a desire to get this work done as soon as possible, but the inquiries which have to be made and the necessary machinery to hear claims and appeals before coming to a final decision make it clear that it must take some time. The Hon. Member may, perhaps, have overlooked the method of dividing the compensation. The total value is for the property as a whole, but, of course, the sum total of the individual valuations may not be the same as the total value of the property as a whole, and therefore it is provided that there shall be a proportionate sum, but we cannot give this proportionate sum until the valuations are completed. It is not exactly the same kind of case to which the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) referred where the value of the property is quite clear—
In those cases there are often different interests, tenant rights and freehold rights, which all have to be valued separately from the total valuation of the property.
Yes, but the size of the problem we are dealing with here is quite different. We are dealing with a sum of £66,000,000, divided among thousands of owners. The hon. Member may take it that, anxious as we are to get on with the work, it is quite impossible to carry out in less time all these valuations up to the point at which each persons gets his final compensation. Whether the Government have a great majority or a small majority cannot have anything to do with the speeding up of the valuations. This is done by experts under the machinery of the Bill. With all the good will in the world it is quite impossible to get this work done sooner.
The hon. and gallant Member has not done very much to convince us on this side. I referred to this problem on the Second Reading, and the hon. and gallant Member said that it would take a very long time. He has said that he is as anxious as we are that this work should be completed as rapidly as possible, but I am bound to say that in my view the Government, when they received the award of the Greene arbitration, finding that it was much lower than they were prepared to offer, came to the conclusion that they had to make it up to the royalty owners in another way, and they have done so by leaving them in possession of their royalties for another four years. The question is whether the Government, having made up its mind to make coal a national possession, should not have taken possession of the coal as soon as the Bill is on the Statute Book. I suggested that in the Second Reading Debate, but said that I would compromise by going as far as the valuation day. What reason is there, the nation having made this decision, for postponing the date of valuation to 1942, except to allow the royalty owners to remain in undisputed possession for a further period.
I am not suggesting anything of the sort. I am merely suggesting that we should pay for it more quickly. I am not arguing that the royalty owners should not receive compensation for the loss of these rights which they have enjoyed for so long. I am arguing that since the Government have made up their mind that coal should be nationalised and made public property, the coal ought to be vested in the nation from the day on which the Bill goes on to the Statute Book.
The hon. Member is a little impatient. It might be reasonable to say that the date should be postponed until the valuation date. I would not mind that postponement, but I say that every day after that during which the coal does not, in fact, belong to the nation is another charge upon the mining industry. This postponement of the date will cost a burden of several million pounds on the coal-mining industry of this country. In reply to one of my hon. Friends who quoted what I thought was a very apposite case, the hon. and gal-land Gentleman said that this is all very complicated. In my limited experience, all transfers of property are complicated. The law of this country has been built up on foundations which make the transfer of property very difficult and hedge round property rights with very many privileges. It would be perfectly feasible for the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary for Mines to take over the coal on the date on which the Bill goes on to the Statute Book, and to allow the question of valuation to be dealt with subsequently. To relieve the distress of these poor widows who are royalty owners, the small people and the miners who are royalty owners, there could be an interim payment, and the valuation could be proceeded with.
Where is the strength of the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the valuation is so difficult in its nature when, in fact, the valuation could be settled after the ownership of coal has been assumed by the nation? There is no reason for the valuation coming before the assumption of ownership, except the desire on the part of the Government to give a last parting gift to the royalty owners. I hope that my hon. Friends, who have been very amenable to-day, will, on this occasion, stand by their guns and not accept the arguments that have been made by the Secretary for Mines.
On two occasions in the past there have been proposals to make a valuation of land, and I can well remember that on both those occasions hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite made violent attacks on the cost of the valuation. In fact, if I may remind them of it, in 1910 there was a national cry by hon. Members opposite about the cost of valuation. To-night I am rather amazed by the conversion that seems to have taken place on the other side. I am amazed that hon. Members opposite are agreeing to valuation. When it was a question of valuation with a view to appropriating to the Treasury the values of the land, there was a howl of protest against the cost of the valuation. This valuation is to take 3½ years and this period must be debited against the cost of the valuation. There is not merely the £10,000,000 budgeted for the valuation over and above the £66,000,000, but there must be added the royalties payable during those 3½ years, which will be a global sum of between £14,000,000 and £15,000,000. That must be debited to the cost of the valuation.
I thought it necessary to say that before we leave this question so that probably in future, when the citizens of the State become more intelligent and demand the appropriation of all land values to the Treasury, we shall not hear, when we attempt to value the land for the benefit of the community, this howl about the cost of valuation. It appears from a succeeding Amendment on the Paper that there is a feeling on the other side that the 3½ years will not be long enough. What is to happen? It has been adumbrated by the Minister. The owner will first be asked to volunteer an offer, which will be taken as substantial evidence. Then there will be the Government valuation, and, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) reminded the Government, when there are three or four different interests in the same land there will be complicated valuations and apportionments. After all that has been gone through there will be confusion as to the proper apportionments and probably litigation. I shall be surprised if the valuation is completed in 3½ years, because it will be to the advantage of the vested interests to fight the valuations by litigation and cross-actions, with the piling up of costs, and the Minister will be a lucky man if he gets away with it in 3½ years.
I hope that the ease with which this Bill is passing, despite the cost of this valuation, will be carried as a lesson to the people in the country that there need be no difficulty about the enormous cost of valuation when there is a lump sum going to the landowners to buy them out, but when it is a valuation to tax the landlords out of existence, there is a howl throughout the country. Then the valuation is more costly than any valuation proposals that have ever been tabled in this House. Yet we are told we are anxious to get it through. We are so anxious that we wish there were a more expeditious valuation. The Government are very accommodating. I am not blaming the Opposition. You might as well blame a leopard for having spots as to blame the Opposition for taking this attitude with regard to the period of this valuation. We shall get nowhere with this Amendment, but I do not think that even you, Sir Dennis, could blame me for taking this opportunity of reminding hon. Members of their sins of the past and of the sin they are committing now.
The Minister has suggested that this is only a narrow point. It may be a narrow point, but it involves something like £5,000,000, and it is well that we should understand this and how it comes to be. The sum agreed as the result of the arbitral tribunal's decision is £66,000,000, in round figures. By extending the period from 1940 until the middle of 1942—and I think that in putting it at 1940 my hon. Friends were unduly generous, because I should have preferred to see the date that upon which the Bill came into force—there will be an extra payment of £9,000,000 in royalties alone to the royalty owners. I quite agree that the royalty owners, if they are not to receive their royalties, are entitled to interest upon their purchase-money from the date when the property is taken over, and I assess that interest at the rate at which interest is assessed in the Bill itself for other purposes, and that is 3½ per cent. At that rate the interest would amount, over a period of 2½ years, to £4,000,000. The difference between £9,000,000 and £4,000,000 gives us the figure of £5,000,000, which is the sum involved in what the Minister has referred to as a narrow point.
I am not proposing to pinch either from the one side or the other. All I say is that this narrow point involves a difference of £5,000,000 and whether that sum goes into the pockets of the royalty owners or the Coal Commission. It is quite a usual practice, a matter of every-day business when property is passing or businesses are being sold and especially where, as in this case, the price has already been agreed to. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The total price for the purchase of the whole of the royalties is set down in the Bill and the price has been agreed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, fixed."] It is usual in such a case that interest should be paid on the purchase money; or, indeed, it may be usual in other cases that the vendor should remain in possession of his rents and properties; it is all a matter of bargaining. The bargain here has been—I suspect that it is a bargain designed to buy off opposition on the part of a number of royalty owners—that they are to get an extra period during which they are to receive not interest on their royalties but their royalties, and £5,000,000 is to go into the pockets of the royalty owners instead of into the pockets of the Commission.
The royalty owners cannot use the argument, "We do not know who the owners are," because they have had an opportunity for some time past of registering their claims, and they have failed to a large extent to take advantage of it. It does not lie in their mouths to say that they must have time for registration. I agree with the Secretary for Mines that it is going to take a very long time to effect the valuation. It will be complicated, difficult and expensive, and it will lead, no doubt, to litigation. In my opinion it will take a great deal more than three years to make the valuation, to ascertain definitely where the precise rights lie and to whom this money is to be paid.
What is the Minister going to do when July, 1942, arrives and his valuation is not complete and his subdivision of this global sum has not been ascertained or made? I suggest that the right course
for the Government to adopt is not to pay this extra £5,000,000 to the royalty owners. Let the Coal Commission take it and apply it to the purpose for which royalties are designed under this Bill. Meanwhile, let interest be paid, pending completion, to the royalty owners. They will then be in the same position as are vendor and purchaser in the normal transactions of everyday life.
|Division No. 48.]||AYES.||[10.35 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Donner, P. W.||Kimball, L.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Latham, Sir P.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Duncan, J. A. L.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Dunglass, Lord||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.|
|Apsley, Lord||Eastwood, J. F.||Levy, T.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Eckersley, P. T.||Lewis, O.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Ellis, Sir G.||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Emery, J. F.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Everard, W. L.||McKie, J. H.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Findlay, Sir E.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Fleming, E. L.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Furness, S. N.||Maitland, A.|
|Bracken, B.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Brooklebank, Sir Edmund||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Markham, S. F.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Gluckstein, L. H.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.|
|Bull, B. B.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Grant-Ferris, R.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Burghley, Lord||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Butler, R. A.||Grimston, R. V.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Morgan, R. H.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Cary, R. A.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Munro, P.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hannah, I. C.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Peake, O.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hepworth, J.||Peat, C. U.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Higgs, W. F.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Petherick, M.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Holdsworth, H.||Pilkington, R.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Holmes, J. S.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Cross, R. H.||Hopkinson, A.||Radford, E. A.|
|Crossley, A. C||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hutchinson, G. C.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|De Chair, S. S.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|De la Bère, R.||Keeling, E. H.||Rayner, Major R. H|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Denville, Alfred||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Doland, G F.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Spens. W. P||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Rowlands, G.||Storey. S.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Royds, Admiral P. M. R.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Russall, Sir Alexander||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark. N.)||Wells, S. R.|
|Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Salmon, Sir I.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Salt, E. W.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Sutcliffe, H.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Sandys, E. D.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Savery, Sir Servington||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd. S.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Scott, Lord William||Thomas, J. P. L.||Wise, A. R.|
|Shaw, Major P. S, (Wavertree)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Titchfield, Marquess of||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.||Touche, G. C.||Wragg, H.|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A||Train, Sir J.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Tree, A. R. L. F.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Smith, L. W. (Hallam)||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R- L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Turton, R. H.||Captain Hope and Major Sir|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wakefield, W. W.||James Edmondson.|
|Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Grenfell, D. R.||Paling, W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Parker, J.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Price, M. P.|
|Barr, J.||Groves, T. E.||Richards. R. (Wrexham)|
|Batey, J.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Ridley, G.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Ritson, J.|
|Benson, G.||Hardie, Agnes||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bevan, A.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Broad, F. A.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Hayday, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Short, A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Silkin, L.|
|Cape, T.||Henderson, T, (Tradeston)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cassells, T.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Chater, D.||Hollins, A.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jagger, J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Daggar, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dalton, H.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'llg)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kirby, B. V.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lathan, G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lawson, J. J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Day, H.||Leach. W.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Debbie, W.||Lee, F.||Walker, J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rather Valley)||Leslie, J. R.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ede, J. C.||Lunn, W.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Weir, L. MacNeill|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McEntee, V. La T.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||McGhee, H. G.||Westwood, J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Foot, D. M.||Maclean, N.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Frankel, D.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Messer, F.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Milner, Major J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Gibbins, J.||Muff, G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Adamson and Mr. Charleton.|
I beg to move, in page 3, line 1, after "forty-two," to insert:
or such later date as may be determined by the Commission.
The object of this Amendment, as my hon. Friends opposite have already realised, is exactly the opposite of the
Amendment which has just been disposed of. The object of this Amendment is to safeguard the position of the mineral owner, should the valuation not be finished by 1942. Should that situation arise, the position of the mineral owner will be impossible, because he will have had a part, perhaps half—one does not know how much—of his property taken away, without any valuation being put
on it. If my right hon. Friend will accept this Amendment, I think it will mean that this impossible position will not arise. I was rather surprised at the remarks that fell from the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Colonel Nathan). I wonder if he would have said the same three or four years ago, before the accident happened at Bethnal Green. Suppose we brought in a Bill on this side to nationalise all solicitors, in the same way as he wishes to treat the mineral owners, what would he do? I think we ought to have an answer, and, as the right hon. Gentleman said to me the day before yesterday, we have plenty of time if the hon. Gentleman would like to intervene. I take it that he does not.
I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that we must have some sort of finality with regard to these valuations. He is embarking on a new venture, and many unforeseen circumstances may arise. These valuations, I think, will take a good deal more time than my right hon. Friend thinks, or, indeed, than hon. Members opposite think. There is one estate that I know.—[Interruption]—well, two or three perhaps; anyway there is one, and there are no less than 750 documents to be gone through before the valuation of that estate is completed. I do not think my right hon. Friend or hon. Members opposite realise that. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he cannot accept the Amendment now, to go into it and perhaps give me an answer later.
My Noble Friend moves his Amendment in such a persuasive way that it requires the hardest heart and the strongest head to refuse to give way to him, but I am afraid, although I quite realise the real difficulty and the possible grievance he is trying to remove, I cannot agree that the way he proposes is the right way to do it. Before we fixed this date of 1942, which hon. Members opposite think is too far distant, we made inquiries from those who were competent to judge, from those who do this work and from those who are likely to be called upon to do it, as to the length of time that it was likely to take and we must, of course, remember that all the time that we are discussing this Bill, while we are waiting for it to go through, a considerable amount of preliminary work is already being done under the Act that we passed in the summer, and the documents designed to prove title are, after all, documents that are being prepared in connection with the work of registration which is already going on. We satisfied ourselves by those inquiries that we can reasonably expect that by this date the valuation will be completed, or virtually completed.
The great objection to accepting any Amendment on these lines is that it would remove from those engaged in the valuation, and those who are making claims, any incentive to have the valuation finished by that date. We should like to have it completed by that date. The acceptance of an Amendment of this kind, the fact that if only people were dilatory enough to prevent the valuation being nearly completed by 1942, they would have a good case for these powers to be exercised, would in itself be enough to ensure that 1942 would no longer be the date by which it would be completed. Therefore I could not accept an Amendment on these lines. On the other hand, I see the difficulties that my Noble Friend has put, that if the valuation is not completed by that time, if it is not possible to pay compensation on the day that the property vests, the royalty owner, who, after all, may have a mortgage on his property, and may be paying interest on it, may find himself till the period when the compensation is paid without any income at all. But we have attempted to deal with that point and, if there is any way in which we have not done so adequately, we can discuss it when we come to the particular part of the Bill. We have attempted to deal with the point in another way. We have given the Commission power to make payment on account.
Although it is possible that by this particular date the valuation will not be entirely completed, I am convinced, from the inquiries which we have made among those who know most upon the subject, that the valuation will at least be sufficiently far advanced to enable payments to be made on account. If it is possible to make these payments on account after the vesting date, we shall avoid the situation that the Noble Lord foresees, and which ought to be avoided, when the income which the royalty owners receive from their property ceases and the income they expect to receive from their compensation has not yet arrived. When we come to discuss the part of the Schedule which deals with these payments on account any questions which may be raised as to their adequacy or to their sufficiency can be dealt with. I am convinced that it is by that method of payment in advance and not by the method proposed in this Amendment that we should deal with the contingency which the Noble Lord has in mind.
Before allowing this Amendment to pass, I would like briefly to support the Noble Lord who moved it. I very much appreciate the reasons given by my right hon. Friend for not wishing to accept the Amendment in this form, but in practice it seems quite a simple proposition that the Commission should have the power to extend the vesting date if necessary if anyone would be deprived of his ownership before the amount of compensation to which he would be entitled had been ascertained. If these ascertainments are reached before the vesting date, there is no objection to the intention behind the Amendment. If they are not reached there is undoubtedly, as the Minister suggested, in the Schedule a certain amount of injustice. I, for one, as a royalty owner do not feel that too much justice is being done in any case.
When I read this Amendment I knew that in Scotland there might be even greater difficulties as regards ascertainment, and I wrote to my solicitors to find out. I found that all the difficulties mentioned by the Noble Lord are as great, if not intensified, in Scotland, and it is very doubtful whether the vesting date will give sufficient time for these ascertainments to be made. In speaking for Scotland, I support the Noble Lord. May I say one word about justice? I heard a quotation this evening given by an hon. Gentleman opposite which was very reminiscent to me. It may also be reminiscent to the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) whom I once had the honour of defeating. He made this quotation:
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.
Every one of his supporters who used to question me in the division, used to re-quote this quotation. One day I asked one of them if he knew where it came from, and he did not know. I told him that in the same part of the old Book there was another passage which I desired to quote, and that was that the righteous shall inherit the earth.
I do not think the Minister should be permitted to go unchallenged on that very thinly veiled acceptance of the Amendment proposed by the Noble Lord, because the manner in which he referred to the Amendment really expressed deep sympathy with its object, and this, coming so closely upon the discussion which we had on the Amendment with the opposite intention, seems to me rather bold. The suggestion now is that the time to be given to the royalty owners might even be extended, and the Minister calmly expresses his full sympathy with that aim. He expresses his agreement with the grievance which they apprehend, which is, in fact, an invitation from this House to all the royalty owners in the country to sabotage the process of valuation, to hold it up, and to compel the Government to consider any difficulty that will arise in 1942. The proposer of the Amendment expressed his view that it was necessary to have some finality to this matter, but his Amendment removes finality and tends to add to the time to be allowed. I do not think it right that this sort of thing should be countenanced. A charge has been made in this House that the country is being robbed in favour of royalty owners until 1942, and it is then quite calmly suggested that that process of robbery should go on still further, and I object to any such suggestion coming from the Government.
Is not the President of the Board of Trade putting a very dangerous weapon into the hands of the purchasing Commission in the alternative to which he referred? He suggested that they may make payments on account. If it had been that they shall make payments on account, it would have put a different complexion on the matter, but merely to say that they may make payments on account is surely giving them a weapon to hold over the unfortunate vendor.
What arises in my mind is the question of the very flimsy title deeds which some landlords can produce for the property which they now own. Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that unless they have proper title deeds, there will be no compensation?
What worries me when I hear this discussion about the poor royalty owners in 1942 is this: Is it not true that at the vesting date, if the valuation is not completed and any poor royalty owner finds himself in difficulty, he can put himself on the means test? I do not understand why it is supposed to be such a normal thing for members of the working class to go to the public assistance committee but so dreadful for the royalty owners, and especially royalty owners who quote bad Scriptures. As a matter of fact, the passage which the hon. Member referred to reads as follows:
The meek…shall inherit the earth.
but the robbers shall steal the fruit thereof. What we are concerned about is putting an end to the robbery at the earliest possible moment. Those who for generations and for centuries have been robbing the industry and the country, have been making very bad use of the proceeds as has been very evident to-night. We should be finished with that robbery as early as possible and if the royalty owners are in any difficulty there is always the kind-hearted inspector of the Public Assistance Committee—so much lauded, on other occasions, by hon. Members opposite—who will be prepared to give them consideration.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, after "contract," to insert "on the valuation date."
The underlying idea of the Sub-section is that a contract is made on the valuation date for completion on the vesting date and we are advised that the Clause as it stands is not sufficiently clear and that these words should be inserted because the property which is contracted for on the valuation date will not be exactly the same as the property on the vesting date. This is purely a drafting point.
May I ask the Secretary for Mines, who is apparently going to accept this Amendment, what it means? It is provided that on the vesting day all coal and mines of coal shall "vest." One can understand all the coal in this country and all the mines in the country coming under that statement, but if one adds the words "as existing at that date" it seems to presuppose the possibility of some other coal existing at some other time. Is this intended to distinguish existing coal from coal which may be formed in thousands of millions of years, and which is at present in the form of timber or something like that?
I think we require a much fuller explanation than that. I am at a loss to understand what these words mean. What is meant by "all existing coal"? I presume it means all coal, proved and unproved. There can be no other kind of coal. Surely the term in the Clause is adequate for the purpose, and it is unnecessary to add these words; and if they are redundant, I do not know why the hon. Gentleman is accepting them.
There is really nothing in this point. The Committee will see that the primary contract is entered into upon the valuation date, and refers to the coal as existing on the valuation date. Vesting takes place at a later date. In between the valuation date and the vesting date a certain amount of coal will be extracted from the earth and will be no longer there. The words which the hon. and learned Member suggests mean that the contract shall apply only to coal that exists at that date.
What does "existing" mean? The Bill defines the expression "coal" as "bituminous coal, cannel coal and anthracite." I understand that existing coal is the unworked coal which is in the mine at the date of vesting. I still think that it is unnecessary to put in the words "existing at that date." If the expression in the Clause can only mean coal that is unsevered, unworked, then there can be no other coal meant than the coal on that date which is unsevered. It cannot conceivably mean anything else, and therefore the proposed words are unnecessary.
|Division No. 49.]||AYES.||[11.13 p.m.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Donner, P. W.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S||Dugdale, Major T. L.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Apsley, Lord||Duggan, H. J.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dunglass, Lord||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Eastwood, J. F.||Kimball, L.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Eckersley, P. T.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Latham, Sir P.|
|Balniel, Lord||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Ellis, Sir G.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Emery, J. F.||Lennox Boyd, A. T. L.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Emmott, C. E. G. C||Levy, T.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Bracken, B.||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Loftus, P. C.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Everard, W. L.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Findlay, Sir E.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Fleming, E. L.||McKie, J. H.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Foot, D. M.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bull, B. B.||Furness, S. N.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Butler, R. A.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Markham, S. F.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Gilmour. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.|
|Carver. Major W. H.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Cary, R. A.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Grant-Ferris, R.||Mills, Major J. O. (New Forest)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswisk)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Griffith. F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Grimston, R. V.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Crott, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Hannah, I. C.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Peake, O.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Peat, C. U.|
|Cross, R. H.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Hely Hutchinson, M. R.||Petherick, M.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Bushan-||Radford. E. A.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hepworth, J.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|De la Bère, R.||Higgs, W. F.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Denman. Hon. R. D.||Holdsworth, H||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Doland, G. F.||Holmes, J. S.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Rayner, Major R. H.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Raid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Raid, W. Allan (Derby)||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Spens. W. P.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Rosa Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wells, S. R.|
|Rowlands, G.||Storey, S.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Royds, Admiral P. M. R.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Russell, Sir Alexander||Strauss, H. G, (Norwich)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Salmon, Sir I.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitahin)|
|Salt, E. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wise, A. R.|
|Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Thomas, J. P. L||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Savory, Sir Servington||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Scott, Lord William||Titchfield, Marquess of||Wragg, H.|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Touche, G. C.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Tree, A. R. L. F.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Shuts, Colonel Sir J. J.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Turton, R. H.||Captain Hope and Mr. Munro.|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths. J. (Llanelly)||Paling, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Parker, J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Price, M. P.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hayday, A.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Ridley, G.|
|Batey, J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwiek)||Ritson, J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Benson, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bevan, A.||Hollins, A.||Short, A.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jagger, J.||Silkin, L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Daggar, G.||Lathan, G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dalton, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Leach, W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Leslie, J. R.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lunn, W.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Westwood, J|
|Frankel, D.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gibbins, J||Milner, Major J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Muff, G.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Nathan, Colonel H. L.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Oliver, G. H.||Mr. Anderson and Mr. Adamson.|
Question put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
The right hon. Gentleman has made substantial progress with his Bill, and I feel he ought to be satisfied with what has been done. I think he will agree that hon. Members on this side have not indulged in obstruction and have tried to facilitate the proceedings of the Committee. Several hon. Members opposite have participated in the Debates and have moved various Amendments, which have been argued fully, and although many of them have been withdrawn, part of the time of the Committee has been taken up in that way. In all the circumstances, I think the right hon. Gentleman might well agree to the Motion. I would add, as he has himself observed, that this is an intricate and complicated Measure, and perhaps this is not the time to embark on a disquisition on matters that are so intricate.
I agree that we have made considerable progress and that, although we have had some quite lengthy discussions, they have been on matters of great importance, and nobody tended unduly to prolong them. On the other hand, I understand that you, Captain Bourne, intend to select only one more Amendment on this Clause, and while not sitting beyond 12 o'clock, as the Prime Minister said, I feel that it might be possible to dispose of the one other Amendment and the Clause, and to start next time on the next Clause.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman does not see his way to accept the Motion. There are two other Amendments on the Paper, one in particular—that in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths)—which may give rise to a fairly lengthy discussion. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept the Motion.
I think it would be convenient to the Committee if I informed it that the next Amendment I propose to call is that in the name of the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths)—in page 3, line 18, after "are," insert "hereafter found in association with such coals or anthracite or are."
Perhaps I may offer, in supporting the Amendment, one or two words of explanation. In paragraph (b) of Sub-section (4) there is a provision that where there are already minerals or substances other than coal comprised in a lease which subsists at the valuation date, and which confers a right to work and carry away the coal and other minerals, then the term "coal'" in this Bill shall include such other minerals, provided the Commission may, by direction given in the prescribed manner before a certain date, exclude the other minerals from the operation of the paragraph. It seems to us that the same provision should apply as regards other coal which may be found subsequently and for which the Commission may wish to create a lease. Otherwise, there will be a difficult, if not impossible, situation, because if they can only deal with the coal, strictly speaking, as defined in paragraph (a), they will then have somebody else in possession of the other minerals such as are contemplated in paragraph (b), and they will not be able to deal with the coal without permission or getting a lease of the other minerals. We feel that some protection in regard to such future activities should be given to the Commission.
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that this point is sufficiently covered by Clause 28. I am not satisfied, however, that the Clause gives the Commission sufficient right, because under it it is only within their competence to acquire; and if they acquire they have, of course, presumably to pay compensation. Where the minerals are, of necessity, worked in connection with the working of the coal, I feel that there cannot be any harm in their being acquired as part of the coal, and not severed from the coal in the act of acquisition. I know that the point is a complicated one, but perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would consider it before the next stage to see whether he thinks that the Commission are fully protected as regards these cases in future.
The only reason for dividing these minerals is the very practical one that from time to time the coal has to be worked in conjunction with these ancillary minerals. That is why the Commission are given the right to disclaim these minerals within six months if, in fact, they do not need to have them vested in the Commission. That situation may arise, perhaps, partly because they are not actually worked with the coal, or because the mine in which they are being worked is not substantially a coal mine at all. The hon. and learned Gentleman will remember that if they do not disclaim them they are treated as subsidiary hereditaments and have to be paid for outside the global figure. If this Amendment were carried it would mean, in effect, that within the six months the Commission would have to decide whether any of the minerals, including those which are not yet worked, and possibly not known to exist at all, would need to be included in a coal lease, or would, in fact, be worked with the coal. They could not do that; it would be an obvious impossibility. I think that what the hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind is covered in the Bill, but we will look into the point.
I do not think the hon. and gallant Member has quite appreciated my point, though no doubt that is my fault. I was dealing with a case where normally one would expect the lease to cover the other minerals with the coal. If this is a lease in respect of some unproved coal, unworked coal, obviously the price of the other minerals which are offered as a subsidiary right would be something quite small, quite negligible, but if the moment comes when that coal is going to be worked and the Commission then have to buy, any blackmail price can be placed on those other minerals. The coal cannot be worked without the minerals, and the person who owns the minerals can say "You shan't have those minerals unless you pay me £10,000 for them." Their value then, when the coal is to be opened, would be very much higher. Not only could the Commission be blackmailed, but the value of the minerals would in fact then be very much higher, although until the coal is to be opened up their value would be absolutely negligible. What we want is that the Commission shall cash in these rights now before the value of the other minerals is raised by the fact of a new mine being opened. If the Commission are acquiring all the coal, I see no reason why they should not acquire all the minerals that are being worked with the coal, so that if they come to clay levels which it is necessary to work, they will not have to pay for the clay.
I appreciate the point of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I think it is going a little far to envisage the possibility of clay over coal. One does not know that it is there.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is trying to extend it. However, we will look into this point; and, on the other hand, perhaps he will consider the effect on what he has been saying of Clause 28, which makes it within the competence of the Commission in future to acquire these associated minerals; and also Sub-section (3) of Clause 16, which gives the right in future to disclaim them in certain circumstances.
I will take only half a minute to raise a particular point and put it on record. The Committee will appreciate that Sub-section (2) is putting every existing owner under a contract to sell his coal. A point which has occurred to some of my learned Friends is: In the case of an owner who is a lunatic or otherwise not sui juris, what is the exact effect in law of the words used in the Clause? The coal is to be held as though the lunatic had entered into a contract to sell his coal, but that is a nullity, and there is no owner of the coal. I suggest that the wording of the Clause might, perhaps, be strengthened so that the coal be held as though the owner were sui juris and able to make a valid and binding contract, or words to that effect. Otherwise it might be said that the wording in the Clause was not sufficient to put them in the position of being compelled to sell their coal.