New Clause. — (Land compulsorily acquired under existing enactments whilst in a damaged condition.)

Orders of the Day — War Damage Bill. – in the House of Commons on 12th February 1941.

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  1. (1) If any land constituting or forming part of a hereditament which has sustained war damage in respect of which a payment of cost of works would be the appropriate payment, but which has not been fully made good, is acquired compulsorily by virtue of an enactment passed before the passing of this Act, and compensation for the acquisition falls to be determined by reference to the value of the land in its damaged state (without regard to the prospective right of a purchaser to payment of the cost of making the damage good), the payment to be made under this Part of this Act in respect of the damage to the land acquired shall be of an amount equal to what would have been permissible for the payment of cost of works (so far as attributable to the land acquired if it is part only of the hereditament), and shall be made in the form of—
    1. (a) a payment of cost of works in respect of any works for making good the damage executed before the date of the notice to treat or other the date on which the acquisition became obligatory, in so far as the proper cost thereof falls within the said permissible amount; and
    2. (b) a value payment of an amount equal to the residue of the said permissible amount, or, if no such works were so executed, to the whole thereof.
  2. (2) In a case in which the preceding Subsection has effect, Section six of this Act shall have effect in relation to works reasonably executed for temporarily meeting the circumstances created by the damage to the land acquired, being works, other than those taken into account under paragraph (a) of the preceding Sub-section, executed between the occurrence of the damage and the date mentioned in that paragraph, and in relation to such works only.
  3. (3) Any question arising in giving effect to this Section shall be determined by the Commission.—[The Attorney-General.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

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

This Clause deals with land which is compulsorily acquired under existing enactments whilst it is in a damaged condition. The subject was originally dealt with by a paragraph in one of the Schedules relating to Clause 8 (2, c). An Amendment was put down to delete that paragraph. It was generally felt in the Committee that it was not a satisfactory way of dealing with it and this Clause is now substituted. Under the proposed new Clause, the hypothetical person who has suffered damage will be entitled to his cost-of-works payment on the same principles as those which apply to other people. But there is a provision that if the works have not been fully executed at the time of the acquisition, he may get the extra amount that would have been expended on the works if they had been completely carried out. I think this is a simpler and fairer arrangement than that originally in the Bill. It is, of course, a consequence of the Clause that the acquiring authority will have to pay only the value of the site as damaged by war action.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I presume that the Government have considered the definition of the words "compulsorily acquired," because, as the Committee will be aware, in this war land is taken over by many different authorities under many different statutes. A Government Department will acquire land for some purpose directly, and "compulsorily acquired" might be held by the courts to refer only to land taken in that way. On the other hand, war agricultural committees may take possession of a farm because it has been badly farmed. I am given to understand that, in many cases, they merely notify the farmer that they have decided to take possession of the land and in some cases do so without any actual order being made. I only want an assurance that the words "compulsorily acquired" cover all such cases—that is where the Government acts indirectly through its agent, as well as where it acts directly.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I will look into that point. I think the phrase would cover those cases. It would cover cases where the acquisition is under a statute but by a body other than the Crown. In the case which the Noble Lord mentioned I do not think it would be "acquisition" within the meaning of this Clause, because acquisition means purchase, and the requisitioning of land by war agricultural committees is, I think, merely taking possession of the land temporarily for the period of the emergency.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

In some cases it is after the emergency.

Photo of Sir George Benson Sir George Benson , Chesterfield

A considerable amount of land is acquired by local authorities and other authorities as a result of negotiation, but with the vendor having the knowledge that there are compulsory powers in the background. A local authority will buy the land, but they know that they can serve a compulsory acquisition order. What is the position where the negotiations take place in a friendly atmosphere, but with the definite knowledge that, if they are not concluded, then a compulsory acquisition order will be served?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

The Clause provides for those cases where compulsion falls to be exercised. If the property is acquired by negotiation it would, so far as I can see, be in exactly the same position as any other property which is acquired. The result would be substantially the same as that provided for under the Sub-section. The owner would be entitled to a value payment or a cost-of-works payment. There is the possibility that if the cost-of-works payment had not been completed the owner might get slightly more beneficial terms if the compulsory powers were exercised.

Photo of Mr Francis Douglas Mr Francis Douglas , Battersea North

I should like to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Clause, which meets the wishes of the local authorities. The only difficulty is a rather subtle piece of drafting by which a cost-of-works payment is treated as a value payment when the works are not done. That would vest the right to payment in the vendor of the property, and if it does so, that meets the point.

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

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