§ Sir SAMUEL ROBERTS
I beg to move, in page 5, line 15, after the word "erections," to insert the word "roads."
May I ask your Ruling, Sir, whether in discussing this Amendment we may also discuss the two Amendments that follow which are in the same names and deal with the same matter?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have no objection to that. The only objection is that the second Amendment is not in order. I am advised that by raising the value it might create a charge.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
While this is a very difficult Sub-section to construe, there can, I think, be no result of these Amendments except to reduce the charge. They take something out of the value but do not add anything to it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I will give the matter further consideration. Meanwhile I have no objection to the three Amendments being dealt with together.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
This series of Amendments raises a very important question as to whether money that has been definitely put into land by the owner of the land shall be subject to the Land Tax or not. The proposition that the Government put forward is that the site shall be valued and taxed on the assumption that the community is to take back part of the value which it has created. Does it not necessarily follow that there should be deducted from that site value the value of improvements definitely put into the land by the landowner on which he has expended something by which in many cases he has greatly increased the value of the land? The proposition is unanswerable. In 1292 fact, the Government have never in any way attempted to answer it, but have only endeavoured to try to excuse it. When, on 10th June, this matter was under discussion in Committee, and we had an opportunity of hearing the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), and the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) deal with the question, it was well known that the proposals of the Government were wrong. Yet the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman were bound to support them otherwise they could not see how the valuation could be made in a practical way. I could not help adapting the lines of Tennyson:Their honour rooted in dishonour stood, And faith unfaithful kept them falsely true.The Amendments on the Paper to-day are much narrower in scope than the Amendments discussed on 10th June moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). He dealt with a very large number of cases where landowners have put money into their land, and the supporters of the Government very largely rode off upon the minor points, some of which raised practical difficulties with regard to valuation, instead of answering the major point where the practical difficulties are not so great. I wish to deal with the question of roads, as it is perhaps the most important of all building development in the country where roads have not been made. In that matter the learned Solicitor-General did us the honour of giving a reasoned argument and he explained exactly how, in his view, the valuation of the roads should take place. Through the whole of his argument the idea seemed to be running that it would only be a small matter and that in certain cases the tax would not be payable until a certain time, and that part of it would be put upon one little unit and part upon another little unit, and that therefore it was not a matter of really great importance. It must be remembered that in developing land the making of private roads during the past 20 years must have cost millions of pounds. This is not an exaggeration. Every pound of those millions would be subject to tax under the Bill The total taxation to be put upon roads built by private enterprise 1293 will be taxation which, although divided among a large number of people, will run into millions.
I will go through the case put by the learned Solicitor-General. He explained that when a builder started making a road into back land the tax would not fall upon that road until someone other than the builder was entitled to use it. As long as the builder continued making the road there would be no taxation, but as soon as somebody else had a right to go on to the road the tax would fall on the portion of the road over which he had a right to go. I will put another case to him. Suppose a builder, instead of driving a cul-de-sac, as the learned Solicitor-General has suggested, straight into a piece of land from the east, we will say, and building houses numbered two, four and six on one side and numbered one, three and five on the other side, and selling or letting them as he went on, made a road right through to another highway on the other side. As soon as a purchaser occupied a house upon that road, he would naturally have the right to go through either highway, and the consequence would be that immediately that was done the whole of the tax would fall upon the owner of the land on the side of the road connecting the two highways. The method of development which the learned Solicitor-General indicated may not be the most useful method. He suggested that a builder might buy a field and put a road through it. There are other developments. A landowner may make a road and put up the usual sign, "These delightful eligible plots to be sold" for such-and-such purposes, and you make your pick of the various sites. A builder may come along and make his choice, but it does not necessarily mean that houses are built one after another according to the numbers of the houses to be erected in the street.
I have in mind a case which I know well. It relates to a piece of land in my constituency of which I am a trustee. It is a trusteeship for a charity and, therefore, the land will not bear tax, but that fact does not in the least vitiate the argument, because a similar piece of land might be developed in the same way by a private landowner. Over 20 years ago this field was developed by making a 1294 circular boulevard between one highway and another, the inside of the circle facing on to the apex of the triangle of the two roads. It is rather a difficult matter to explain without a blackboard. A certain number of people came and selected plots. Eight or 10 houses were built upon land which probably would have held 50 or 60 houses. Development then stopped. People did not come along. The War came and made things more difficult still. After the War, it was found that the building restriction that had been put upon the land, namely, that the houses to be erected were to be of a certain high quality, made it very difficult to get the land developed. People at that time did not want to build £1,200, £1,500 or £2,000 houses, the great demand being for smaller villas at less cost. The consequence is that at the present time a large amount of that land has not been let off. The road is there. All that time interest has had to be paid on the money used for making the road, and if the proposed tax had been in force the whole of that time it would have been levied not merely upon the people who had bought houses and were living in them, but upon the undeveloped land belonging to the owner who had made the road. Under this proposal no deduction whatever can be made from the site value of the road owing to the expenditure upon the road. This seems to be a simple and a clear case where the owner is not receiving due and just credit for the money and labour put into the land.
I will take another case. Roads are not immediately taken over by local authorities. Very often they will not take them over until the roads are practically built up, and when they do, they put a dedication charge upon the owner of the site in respect of the frontage and very often he has to pay large sums to a corporation for them to make up the roads according to their specification. I believe that in some cases the owner is at liberty to make up the road himself to their satisfaction, but this is very rarely done. It is usually done by the local authority and the costs are divided. A man, for instance, has bought his site and built his house, and the site value is so much. He is assessed accordingly. Then the next quinquennial valuation 1295 comes along. In the meantime he has had to spend, say, £100 for dedication charge. He will then have his site valued, because the road is improved, and he will have to pay the tax. That is a most flagrant case, because the man will definitely have to pay tax on the money that he has had to pay over to the corporation in making a road satisfactory to the corporation. All these cases are very unfair, and the only answer we get is that it is impossible from a practical point of view to make a valuation of what the road has cost. It may be impracticable to go back into long past history, but surely it is not without the bounds of possibility to put in some reasonable time limit and to put the onus of proof on the owner to show what he has spent on the road before he becomes liable to the tax on his own expenditure. It surely is not more difficult to value the land without the road than it is to value it without the sewers. The Solicitor-General told us that sewers have to come out. The valuation must really be based upon the ground that the owner has got or the amount per yard at which it has been sold. In that amount per yard there is put in both the cost of the road and of the sewers. The Solicitor-General says that it is necessary to take out the cost of the sewers, because they are a work which it not to be taxed, but that the cost of the road is to remain in.
There was one point I did not understand in the Solicitor-General's speech with regard to sewers. Perhaps he will be good enough to explain what is the position if the local authority has not got a sewer near. I know that a local authority is not compelled to bring sewers beyond a certain distance, and that owners who have developed sites have had to create their own sewerage works and septic tanks, and years later have had to connect them compulsorily with the corporation's main sewers. I knew a case in which an owner had to pay to a corporation a very large sum of money towards the expense of bringing a main sewer to his land—land which did not belong to him. Is he to get no credit for expenditure of that sort? All these questions with regard to roads present an absolutely unanswerable case. I hope that the House will support this Amendment. There was a second Amend 1296 ment, as to which I believe there is some doubt, and I will pass it by so as not to risk offending, but the object of it was that if the road had been made by the local authority, then the landowner should not get any credit for the expenditure of the local authority. My third point is the one that leads up to the words:And except any buildings, erections, and works in so far as they are necessary for the reclamation of land or the protection thereof from flooding or for maintaining the stability of the unit.This is not, perhaps, quite such a usual case as that of roads. The usual case is where the landowner has made an invasion of the territory of the sea, and after the expenditure of money has brought sandhills, mud flats and wastes into use and created solid ground upon which man can make his dwelling; also where the landowner, instead of making his invasion of the sea, has resisted the invasion of the sea by making sea-walls and protecting the land. These cases will necessarily occur mostly round our sea coasts. I wonder what would be the position of this country now if there had not been created round our coasts the beautiful seaside resorts and watering places to which people of all classes go for enjoyment and health. If it had not been for private enterprise in building I cannot see how we could have had these resorts at all. Even to-day one cannot imagine a little rural district council suddenly saying without any backing, "We will create a great seaside resort."
Money spent by individual landowners has made the seaside resorts around the country. Take the case of Eastbourne. There is that little old town in the middle, the old foreshore and the ramshackle houses. That is all that there was. Can anyone imagine that the rural district council of old Eastbourne would have developed the beautiful town that Eastbourne is now, with its long sea wall and esplanades? It is ridiculous to try to imagine it. Yet expense of that sort is to receive no credit whatever from the Government or in the valuation. The proposal of the Bill is not only unjust as far as the past is concerned, but disastrous as far as the future is concerned. You will never get such development going on in the future while there are these threats of taxation. If the Bill 1297 passes in its present form there will be no new seaside resorts and watering places, because no one will pour out money simply to be taxed. The rural district councils representing a few little cottages down a cove, how are they to start to develop a seaside resort? It is impossible.
These cases show that the Bill and the form of valuation proposed are grossly unfair. But, really, the most ridiculous case of all that the Solicitor-General pointed out to us in our last discussion was the case of expenditure for the stability of the land. That means that where on a hillside it is desirable to make a road for development, not only have you to make a much more expensive road by cutting into the hillside, but you get no credit at all for building a retaining wall to prevent the hillside from sliding on to the road. That again is very expensive work. It is extraordinary that if the site is a flat site and you put a wall round it, the cost is something which you deduct, but if it is a retaining wall which has cost a great deal more money you have to take the whole of the expenditure that has been made upon it and add that to the site value. It is most unfair; it is impossible to see the equity of it at all.
I said earlier that it might be necessary to provide some form of time limit, and even to put on the owner the onus of proving the expenditure. But if these things are done, although the whole principle of the Bill is one to which I object, the grossest unfairness with regard to taxing owners' improvements would be abolished. The answer of the Government is "We must have the tax. We cannot have the tax unless we are unfair, and therefore we will be unfair. We must have the tax. We cannot have the tax without being illogical; therefore we will be illogical. We must have the tax. We cannot have it with equity; therefore we will abolish equity." Unless the Government can meet us in some way they stand condemned for passing proposals based upon illogicality, injustice and inequity.
§ Mr. TURTON
It is rather amazing that a Finance Bill which was introduced with the words "God gave the land to 1298 the people" should contain a provision to make it necessary for God also to have given the roads to the people. I cannot find any justification for an owner of land being taxed for having made roads upon his land. I want to draw attention to one concrete instance in a place four miles from a large town in Yorkshire. There there was a plot of ground which, when the owner took it, was worth £7,000. He built a road through the plot in order that the land might be developed. That road cost £5,000, and is half a mile long. He built the road at a time when there was a prospect of development around that town. That development has now gone on at a slower rate, but he has built houses at each end of that road, which adjoins two main roads. He has built 10 houses, and as they are leasehold he obtains a ground rent from the plots of £5 per house. Therefore he has obtained a sum of £50 from his development of the area.
The assessment of those plots and of all contiguous plots will now bring the value of the whole site up to some £20,000. Unless amended the Bill will result in this: That man has spent £12,000 on that site. He is now receiving £50 a year, and it is very doubtful whether in the near future he will be able to build more houses or receive a larger amount. The tax on these sites will be 1d. in the £ upon £20,000, that is £83 a year. That owner is being punished for his efforts; he has to lose £33 a year, although he has spent £12,000 in developing that site. I can hardly believe that the Government can justify taxation of an owner who has spent money in that way, certainly for his own welfare, but also for the welfare of the community at large. There is no justification for the taxation of improvements which have been made at the expense of the owner and for which an owners draws little or no advantage.
In our earlier discussions the Solicitor-General drew attention to the definition of a road. I should say that that road in question in Yorkshire is not open to the public, because there are only 10 houses built on it, but it is open to the occupiers of the several houses and those who wish to go upon it. From the speech of the learned Solicitor-General in Committee I thought he intended that the 1299 road should not be a road under this Bill, but if one looks at the definition of a road in Clause 27 one finds that "'road' does not, in relation to any land unit, include any road which the occupier alone is entitled to use." That cannot be said of this particular road, because it is allowed to be used not only by the occupier of the unit but by the occupier of the adjoining units. The Bill's definition of "road" will not help the owner or occupier of that land, or the owner of many other such roads in Yorkshire.
I have confined myself to one instance because it is better to get a clear view as to how this tax will work. Throughout the country the effect of this tax on improvements and on roads will mean a cessation in the development of land and the making of roads, because owners will wait until the local authority makes a road, and at the present time local authorities are not very swift to develop plans and make roads as they have very little funds with which to do the work. I view the Bill as a whole with the gravest misgivings, but this particular Sub-section is one of the grossest injustices the Government could have devised. I hope they will take some steps to exclude improvements made by an owner and remedy the injustice which will be done in cases such as I have cited.
§ Mr. de ROTHSCHILD
I should have thought that on this point we should have been blessed with an Amendment from the Government, because when this question was before the Committee the Solicitor-General said that he was prepared to consider it and to put something in on the Report stage which would cover really hard cases. We do not expect very much from the old brooms on the Treasury Bench, but the Solicitor-General is a new broom, and a very effective broom, and I, for one, thought that he would have cleared this mess away. There is a great deal in the Amendment, although hon. Members above the Gangway have not gone far enough, inasmuch as they do not mention roads which have been taken over by the local authority. The Solicitor-General explained to us, when this question was being considered in Committee, that sewage and drainage which are part of a local authority's scheme can be in 1300 cluded in a valuation. But this cannot apply to the case of a road. It may be intelligible as far as public roads are concerned, but it is not intelligible as regards private roads. The test of a road is that it is used by a number of people. Suppose a man erects a factory and builds a road, as long as nobody else but the owner of the factory uses it, it remains a private road, but if he allows a factory to be built at the other end of the road, say a cheese-making factory, and that road enhances the value of the land, the owner of the first factory will be pounced upon. The effect of it is that as soon as a road becomes of use to the community, or to a part of the community, it becomes part of the valuation and the owner is taxed.
I cannot believe that it is the intention that a man who buys land at £50 an acre and spends £600 on roads to improve it should, in consequence, have to pay a tax on £650. It is putting such a man on the same plane as the man who benefits by the construction of underground railways which are being built at the present time around London and which improve the value of land considerably, through no merit or labour on the part of the owner himself. I press the Solicitor-General to consider this question of roads. There will be a period of two or three years before the Bill comes into operation, and I hope during that time that the Government will devise a scheme by which this injustice can be remedied. It is not the policy even of the Labour Government to tax these improvements, and indeed, by doing so they are running counter to what they have many times proclaimed as their policy. The Foreign Secretary, who stands in an avuncular relation to most hon. Members of the Labour party, said at Cromer in 1922—The Labour party holds that it is suicidal for the nation to penalise by increased taxation occupiers of land who effect improvements which add to its value.At Newcastle, in 1923, the same right hon. Gentleman said:If a farmer increases the value of his land by erecting improved buildings or draining the land, the rates are immediately increased. That is a form of taxation with which I do not agree.I am glad that this Amendment has been put down by hon. Members above the Gangway, because it shows that they also have changed their policy somewhat. The right hon. Member for Croydon (Sir W. 1301 Mitchell-Thomson) 20 years ago was vehement in opposing the increment value tax. I am glad hon. and right hon. Members have put their names to this Amendment, because they are the same hon. and right hon. Members who introduced and passed the Derating Act. In that Measure, they never took any care to differentiate between personal improvements and other improvements. It is true they were derated to the value of 75 per cent., but rates are still laid upon improvements, although by the Derating Act they imposed rates upon other subjects which were not industrial. I press the Government that for once, on a point where the policy of the three parties is agreed, they should take the sense of the House and try to amend this Clause in a satisfactory manner.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)
The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) has referred to my statement in the Committee stage. It only shows the real difficulties of this situation. I stated:I have already said about there being a very real difficulty here, and that we do appreciate it, and that although we have tried to cover what we consider the relevant and fair cases it may be that some form of Amendment can be devised which would still make the valuation a practical and a practicable thing and would yet, perhaps, cover some cases of hardship which might still be left in the Bill; and if any hon. Members in any part of the House can suggest to us words which are genuinely intended to remedy any defect that there may he, and do not wreck the valuation, then we shall be perfectly prepared to consider them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th June, 1931; col. 1101, Vol. 253.]The trouble is that no form of words has been suggested, as far as I know, which achieve the object. That is the difficulty. In all these cases of valuation, depending on the view of the valuer, cases of hardship may arise, and anyone who has had any experience of valuations knows that however carefully you try to safeguard the position as regards valuation, you are always liable to get cases of hardship. On the other hand, if you do what was done under the 1909–10 legislation, you might reduce the Bill to an absurdity. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is that already!"] If that is the case, the hon. Member need not worry. We do not think it is, but we appreciate the fact that time after time hon. Members opposite have tried to make it an absurdity, and that is why we have to resist so many 1302 Amendments. We also realise that some hon. Members are desirous of assisting in getting a good Bill, although they do not agree with all its provisions. I dealt with the difficulty as regards roads at great length during the Committee stage, and I do not propose to reproduce the arguments I then brought forward. I should like to draw attention to the form of the Amendment. It would, of course, have no effect at all standing alone, and it is the second Amendment which you, Mr. Speaker, said you would have to consider as to whether it was in order, which is intended to be the operative Amendment. Apart from the second Amendment, this Amendment could have no meaning at all.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think it would be useful if I say now that the second of the two Amendments would be in order if the words "and works" were omitted from the words it is proposed to insert.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL
The paragraph would then read:any buildings, erections, roads, or works except roads executed by a local authority.That would have no meaning at all, because roads made by a local authority could not possibly form part of a unit. A road made by a local authority would be the property of the local authority and could not possibly be on a unit which belongs to someone else. Some of the arguments put forward arise from a failure to keep in mind the fact that what we are dealing with in this Clause are the precise conditions of the unit, which is a unit of occupation and not a unit of ownership. The unit under the Bill is a unit of occupation, and although there may be one owner of a building estate that estate would be many units under the Bill. The probability is that each plot or each house will form a separate unit as soon as it is sold or disposed of. When you are considering these units two circumstances may arise, either a bit of the road, half the width of the road fronting a particular house, would come into the unit, or none of it. If it is a local authority road there would be none of it in the unit; if it is a road which remains the property of the owner, which is not leased or sold, it will not come into the unit at all.
In the great majority of cases when you are dealing with a unit which has a house upon it and a road in front of it, 1303 through which access is obtained to the house, a variety of circumstances may arise. In one road the plot may have a bit of the road, but in the next road the plot may end where the road begins, but all will have the common feature of having some form of access. As a matter of valuation it will not make any substantial difference whether that plot has on it a bit of the road as part of the plot or whether it has not. The only importance, from the point of view of the valuation of that site, is that there is access to it, and how that access is obtained really does not affect the principle of valuation. I think it was the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) who spoke as if the cost were related to the value, in the case which he gave. He suggested that, because there were a number of plots worth £5, some of which had been sold for £5, while a great number of them were vacant plots which could not be let at all, therefore you could take £5 as the value, and multiply it by the number of plots. That assumption must be false from the valuation point of view, because, ex hypothesi, you cannot get £5 for the other plots. Anybody coming along to see what would be the amount which you would get upon a sale in the open market, would say that it would obviously not be £5, because that sum is unobtainable in the open market. The value might be £2 or £3 or £4, or whatever price were fixed upon it. There is no necessary relationship, either with what has been fixed as the price of the large number of unlet plots, or between the amount of money that has been expended upon the work and the value of the land which is served by those works. When one is considering cases that have been put up by hon. Members, where plots were small portions of land served by roads, whether the roads were made by a local authority or by anybody else, the only thing we are really considering, as in all questions of valuation is access.
§ Mr. TURTON
What would be the value of a plot which is unsaleable, next door to a plot valued at £5,000?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am afraid I cannot give an answer as a valuer. From the small knowledge I have of plot-vending methods, I can only say that, if there is any sale of a plot at £5, at the date when the valuation is made the value cannot be £5, because it is the sale-price which regulates the Value that is put on it. The hon. Member will know quite well that the actual sale prices of other plots are very seldom taken into account by arbitrators in compensation and similar cases, because of the unreliability of relating a sale which has taken place on one plot to the circumstances of all the other land which surrounds it. These matters of valuation are matters of general knowledge and information. The only real point as regards valuation is access: the removal, from the particular site, of the value of the bit of road which is on it, would not, in most cases, make any very material difference. It is not a question of adding to the site value the cost of the road, because that is not done. What you do is that you say: "Here is a site which has an access—"
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
Will the hon. and learned Member allow me to put a question. Is not the cost of the road and of the sewers added into the price at which the land is sold and has it not an effect upon the ground rent?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. Baronet is quite right in one sense. What I am trying to point out is, that the suggestion here is not that, as regards a general building scheme, you deduct the cost of the general area, but as regards a particular unit, leaving all the surrounding units in the state in which they are, you take off that particular unit the particular road which is on it. The only result of that, if it has any result, is to remove that amount of access. That is to say, we must assume that this site is approached by a road only half the width, if the owner owns the bit of road coming in from both sides. From the point of view of valuation, the removal from the unit of the bit of road will not make much difference. What hon. Members have in mind is another question altogether. They say: "I do not want you to assume that all the other units are in the condition in which they are, if the other units which 1305 have the roads upon them give the access." I think what hon. Members have in mind is that I want to take out of the unit the little bit of road, and I do not want the road to be there at all, on either side of the unit. I suggest that that is what they really have in mind. If the hon. Baronet is thinking that the road will affect the value of the unit as a site, I can tell him that it would have no such effect in devaluing the unit as he suggests. The only thing it would do, would be to make it almost impossible in some cases to arrive at a differentiation between, for instance, a unit which has a road just off it and a unit which has a road just on it.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
May I put this point to the learned Solicitor-General? Say the land was worth £100, and that £100 was spent by the owner in making a road and a sewer on his frontage. That land would be worth £200, and the ground rent would be based on that, or upon the price of the plot. How the valuers can, from a practical point of view, proceed without taking into consideration the price of the plot or the amount of the ground rent, I cannot see.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I was dealing with the case of a unit where there was a development which was occupied by three plots. On each of these three plots the price of the land is £33, and the price of the surface and other works is £33, making £66 in all. That is a vested interest. If you remove from one of these units nothing but the bit of road on it, you will not in fact be devaluing that site to the extent of the work that has been done there, because it will be a unit with access to it, just the same as the others. It will have its sewer, drains, electric light and water and other things. The only thing is that the road in front of it will be half the width of the road in front of the others, but that is not making half the difference to the valuer. You could take away the whole road and the access, and in nearly every case that would have an effect, not on the unit itself, but on the adjoining unit.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I should like to draw the hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to a point which may have escaped his notice, which is 1306 that he proposes to deal with that aspect of the matter in Sub-section (4).
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The point has not escaped my notice, and it will be dealt with when I come to it. First of all, I am dealing with this anomaly of cases where a road ceases to be owned and occupied as part of a unit, and eases where the road belongs to the local authority. I do not think the hon. Baronet can succeed by his Amendment in doing what he has in mind, namely doing away with all access to the site altogether, and not merely removing that part of the plot which is on the site.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
May I ask the learned Solicitor-General if what he really means is that, in valuing a plot, the cost of the road will not be taken into account in the valuation? If there is a ground rent of £5, and half of that is due, to roads and sewers it will not be treated as if it were £2 10s. and then multiplied?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
All I am suggesting is that all he takes off any of the units by his Amendment is the road, and nothing else. He is not taking out sewers or services. In cases where there is no road, there would probably be a smaller ground rent, but he would not be taking off £2 10s. of the £5 ground rent. That is why I suggest that, whatever be the object of his Amendment, the Amendment does not carry it out.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I quite appreciate that the object is clear. The existence of the question of how you are to treat the surrounding plots, is a very good reason why when the House comes to that Amendment I shall also with good reason show how those plots should be treated.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The hon. and learned Solicitor-General has always been ready to give us an answer on the merits of the case, but there are one or 1307 two considerations in this answer with which we are not satisfied on this side of the House. We want to put the case, to see if he can look at it from the point of view which seems of importance to us. I take first of all the argument that he himself has adduced, dealing with the case of several plots along a road. If I am right in understanding the position, it was this. One of those plots would be a land unit. It would contain one-half of the road ex adverso, and all that would happen, if this Amendment were passed, would be that that particular bit of road would be considered non-existent, and access to the plot by road could only be made as far as the boundary of adjoining plots. That is quite true. Even so far as that is concerned I suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman that a good deal of difference would be made. Many of us have practical knowledge of streets of houses which have been built and when a plot has been sold or feued the purchaser or feuer has acquired the road to the extent of one-half ex adverso. If that half of the road were removed the house would be to a large extent uninhabitable because it could only be reached with great discomfort. To replace that half of the road would involve an expenditure in a great many cases equal to one-half of the whole of the land value of the plot. We know these facts from actual accounts of building that is taking place. While the Solicitor-General was speaking I made a rapid calculation. I took out the amount of money expended on the development of an estate as a whole. When the land was developed, it was worth about £7,300. The cost of the road making came to about £3,400, or nearly half. Making all allowances for corners and for places where there would be no special access road required, I came to the conclusion that although not quite half of the value of the average plot would be due to the cost of making half of the road to it, it would be very nearly one-half, say about nine-twentieths instead of ten-twentieths. In other words, the real value of a plot of land would be much reduced if you could assume that the portion of road immediately opposite it was not there.
1308 Let me put this point to the Solicitor-General. In his criticism of the Amendment he asked if it was intended to remedy and not to wreck. We do not suggest that we like the Bill. We have never concealed the fact that we dislike it. But this Amendment is not intended to make the whole valuation scheme impossible. It is an endeavour to do what is difficult to those who have not the resources of a Government Department at their disposal, namely to produce something which may be accepted or at any rate be acceptable as a basis for remedying what we regard as a distinct injustice. As far as the second of these three concatenated Amendments is concerned, it is quite true, of course, and we realise it, that in most cases where a public authority makes a road, that road could not be part of the land unit. But that does not destroy the plan of the first Amendment and the second Amendment was only put in there in case some such possibility might exist as that of a road constructed by, but not owned by a public authority.
Supposing that there are these difficulties which have been indicated with regard to individual land units where a building estate has been cut up, we put it to the Solicitor-General that where there are cases of hardship, we have a right to look to the Government to devise a way out of those difficulties, if the way which we propose proves not to be practicable. I admit, at once, that the moment you begin to deal with a building estate as a congeries of land units, you make the matter infinitely more complicated, but that is not our fault. We are not the makers of the machinery incorporated in the Bill. I think it would be better if the building estate were treated as being developed as a whole and, if we tried to make some allowance for the whole cost of roads, and then allocated the allowance so made over the different parts of the estate and on the different land units. I am only putting that forward as a suggestion after listening to the Solicitor-General. What we on this side are concerned to emphasize is, that the responsibility rests with the Government to meet what is, on broad principles, an admitted injustice and one likely to produce bad social results.
I do not think that the Solicitor-General could or would deny that there 1309 are hard cases, but I am not going to deal with hard eases like those of villages, such as Thorpeness which was completely constructed out of the marsh by its owner and on which that owner received no profit at all. I do not want to rest my submission on individual hard cases. I would much sooner rest it, as the Mover of the Amendment did, on great classes of land throughout the country which in the aggregate are of immense importance. With regard to those classes of land, there cannot be any doubt that some allowance ought to be made for improvements made by owners. It is perfectly obvious that money expended upon roads represents a kind of improvement which has a value different from that of houses on individual plots. But road improvement has a value of its own and road-making should be encouraged and not discouraged. Take the case of an estate which I have had analysed. The site was worth about £1,000 an acre and the cost of making roads was about £500 an acre. Half the value of that developed site was not due to the community, or to any cause other than the enterprise of those who developed it. The allowances made under Schedule A meet to a limited extent the case of building upon a developed estate, but they certainly do not meet the case of road making. As the Bill stands, the more a person spends in road making on a developed estate, the greater the burden which he ultimately has to bear and the heavier the tax upon him. The obvious result is to make every person who develops an estate bend his wits to the task of doing as little road making as possible and from that there is a further inevitable result.
I have dealt already with the unfairness of this proposal. Let me now deal with its social results. I know, having ascertained it since this Bill entered upon the Committee stage, that the Solicitor-General is a genuine believer in some form of land taxation of this kind. For that reason I ask him, in the interest of his own principle, to consider whether something cannot be done to meet our case, not only because of the unfairness involved, but also from the point of view of social results. A tax of this kind will cause everyone who has anything to do with the development of land to try to escape it as much as 1310 possible, by doing as little road making as they can "get away with." It is almost a platitude to state what one result of that will be. It was once said that only Scotsmen could produce a platitude and pass it off as a discovery and I do not pretend that this is a discovery. I suppose it could be described as a glimpse of the obvious. But the fact remains that, as a result of this course, you are going to prejudice nearly all development in the future which is not carried out by local authorities.
What does the Solicitor-General consider to have been almost the worst feature of suburban housing in past years, before town-planning became operative. In connection with the Poor Law Commission, we had to make inquiries throughout the country on this subject We came to the conclusion that all these serried ranks of houses, built on parallel roads, with right-angle roads connecting them, like rows of little boxes, had as bad a social effect on the population as the slums. Those conditions may not have been as bad for the health of the people as the slums, but they were worse for the minds of the people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because of the dull uniformity of these long continuous streets. If hon. Members go about our great towns making the inquiries which I had to make for the Poor Law Commission in those days, they will find that that is a result which no social investigator would deny. Living in a slum may be bad for health, but there is certainly more interest and excitement in a slum than in those long dismal streets and the deadly dullness of the parallel rows of houses. Compared with them, we all welcome the new type of garden suburb. Going in and out of our big cities, I have looked at these new suburbs, and I expect that the Solicitor-General has done the same. Some are better than others; some are very good indeed, but one common characteristic of them is that they have gardens round them which makes them more human than the serried ranks of streets.
Necessarily that feature involves a lot more road-making. There is no question about it. The amount of road in proportion to each house is infinitely greater in the modern suburb than it ever was in the old streets. If we place a burden upon the person who puts his working capital into making roads 1311 and developing the ground, we shall be reversing the whole garden suburb process. I do not say that you can extinguish it. Of course you will not do so. There are Housing Acts and Town Planning Acts to help it, but the influence of this proposal is bound to be strong and it will be exerted in a direction contrary to the whole process which is going on under the Housing Acts and the Town Planning Acts.
If people are going to save money on the roads, then they will build outwards as far as they can on the main roads already existing, and thus we shall have the dismal result of ribbon development which everyone deplores. Everyone who has done social work knows how desirable it is that people when they get out of the towns should be able to get within sight of country fields and green trees as soon as possible, though it is not so easy in the case of London to do so, even along the main roads. But ribbon development spoils the country near to the towns, both for the people living in the towns and for the people living in the country. Again, but for this proposal I believe that in the future development of building estates, instead of having straight lines of roads, the tendency will be to follow the natural features of the ground and make the layout pleasanter than it otherwise would be. This proposal will tend to drive people back again to the old straight roads at right angles to one another, disregarding all the natural features, and crowding the houses more closely together. That will be its inevitable result.
It may be, as I have said, that the second part of our Amendment would be unnecessary, but there is still time to make some alteration in the Bill as it-stands. I am sorry to have taken up so much time, but those who have done any work on this subject have this question very much at heart, and, as the Solicitor-General has objected to this Amendment on one or two other grounds, I may be allowed briefly to answer those objections. He has said that in principle you cannot dissociate the roads in one of these estates from the main road which passes by it. He took the instance of a housing estate off the Great West Road. I suggest as a matter of substance, and not as a debating point, that the hon. and 1312 learned Gentleman could not establish that contention before a Judge whose business it was to get at the essence and substance of the question. Take the case of land near the Great West Road worth £1,000 an acre when developed, half of which value is due to the development of the side roads. The influence of the Great West Road is already discounted in the fact that it has gene towards the creation of the rest of the value of that land. You have allowed for that already. If the existence of the Great West Road adds to the value of the side roads, the contrary is now the case. They are cross entries in the debtor and creditor account between the builder and the community, which cancel out. Broadly speaking, there is nothing substantial in that objection. Nor is there anything substantial in the objection that when it passes out of the hands of the person building and it is bought by someone who occupies it, it does not matter to them who has built the road. What happens is, that you have development cramped and distorted to the extent that this tax takes effect, and that extent may be quite considerable. We are trying to make the Bill a little better and not to kill it by an Amendment. We have not tried to think of something which will make the working of the Act impossible. I do not think that it would make the working of the Act impossible if you put a time limit beyond which you are not to go. A time limit has been inserted in the Bill to the effect that we can go back 10 years in order to find out the purchase price. There ought to be a time limit, otherwise I think the Solicitor-General, if he really believes that he is going to build Jerusalem in this green and pleasant land, is going the wrong way to work by putting a tax on the improvements that people carry out when they are trying to develop estates in the best way under modern conditions.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
Might I be allowed to put to the Solicitor-General, in as simple form as I can, a difficulty that many of us feel in regard to this particular point? I am not attempting to make a speech attacking the fundamental principles of the Bill. The Solicitor-General may remember that I did mention this point about roads in 1313 the course of the speech that I made on the Second Heading. I am really concerned how the Bill will work out in certain cases, which are not uncommon. I will put the matter, according to my present understanding, in extremely simple terms, and perhaps the Solicitor-General will correct me if I am wrong. If you take a land unit and proceed to ascertain its value under the Bill, one of the things which must very often be quite a material element in making that unit valuable, and which every valuer would regard as an important element, is the presence of roads, if not inside the land unit at any rate bordering immediately upon it. Nobody can doubt that that is so. As I understand the Bill, it proposes that the same value is to be put whether the adjoining road has been made by the expenditure of the owner or has been made by public expenditure.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL indicated assent.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I understand that the Solicitor-General agrees. Then we may take it that this is a Bill which proposes to put the same value in pounds sterling upon a land unit of a particular size and position which owes a material part of its value to the presence of an adjoining road, without allowing for the difference where the road has been made by the expenditure of a private owner or has been made out of the expenditure of the community. With that, I think, the Solicitor-General agrees.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL indicated assent.
§ Sir J. SIMON
He indicates that that is so. The next thing that occurs to me is this, and may I illustrate the difficulty? I put it purely by way of analogy, by considering the words which immediately follow in paragraph (a, 1) which have to do with a sea wall or an embankment or something to keep floods out of a land unit. If what the Solicitor-General has assented to is right, it seems to me to follow in exactly the same way that unless the occupier of the land unit behind the sea wall is also the occupier of the sea wall, even if the sea wall has been made by the owner out of his own pocket the value to be put for the purposes of the tax on the land unit behind the sea wall 1314 is to be exactly the same whether the sea wall has been made out of public funds or by the owner of the land. That seems a very difficult thing to justify. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman was quite right when he said that those who were responsible for the Act of 20 years ago—may I say, because I occupied at that time the position which the Solicitor-General now occupies, that I look with genuine admiration on the way that he helps us in this Debate—put in a provision which says that in arriving at value you deductAny part of the total value which is proved to the Commissioners to be directly attributable to works executed, or expenditure of a capital nature. … incurred bona fide by or on behalf of or solely in the interests of any person interested in the land for the purpose of improving the value of the land as building land.That ought to be allowed for. I could understand the Solicitor-General saying: "I do not want to have a very complicated Act, because it will be very difficult to work it," but there is such a thing as plain justice. How can it go forth to the country that the admitted principle of this Finance Bill in this respect is this: "True it is that this plot of land owes part of its value to the fact that there is an adjoining road, but for the purpose of the tax upon it it does not matter two-pence whether the road has been made by the owner of the land or by the ratepayers of the country."
May I be allowed to put the matter in a slightly different form, and in a way which appears simple? Take the case of an area which, when it has been developed for building purposes, will be big enough to accommodate quite a number of houses, not necessarily crowded together. It will ultimately produce quite a number of good building plots. It may be in connection with an area so large that until the roads are made through it and across it no building plots which are created within its boundary will be saleable. The owner of such an estate, which may be ripe for development, may, and very often does, let the whole of the area on a lease for 99 years or something of the kind to a second person who will himself make the roads, the sewers and other communications before he proceeds to offer the different building plots to the various builders, and the like. Is it not a very difficult thing to justify that you should 1315 say to such a building owner or to the man who takes over for a consideration the building lease: "You may spend your money on these roads if you like, that is your look-out, but when you have done so, although it is proved to demonstration that it is only by spending your money on these roads that the plots have acquired their value, we mean to tax those plots exactly as if the roads had been made at the public expense"?
The simplest of all cases to take—it is a case which the Solicitor-General and I constantly use when we are discussing such things in another place—is to assume two cases side by side. Assume the case of a building plot of a certain size, a certain value and with certain amenities, which owes a material part of its value to the fact that roads have been made on it or around it by the owner of the property. Assume a second case of an exactly similar plot, of exactly similar size and of exactly similar value, where the roads adjoining and leading up to it have been made at the public expense. Is it really the principle of this Bill that the value to be put on these two identically similar plots which in one case is due to the expenditure of the owner and in the other is due to the expenditure of the public, is to be exactly the same?
§ Mr. LOCKWOOD
I should like to reinforce the arguments of the last speaker by giving, for the benefit of the Solicitor-General, particulars of some practical experience in the development of land. I should like to say, at the outset, that my remarks and the remarks of the last speaker and other remarks that I have heard to-day are in no way directed to destroying the Bill. They are directed to putting into the wording of the Bill such provisions as will make the Bill practicable when it comes to be worked. I have listened to the remarks of the Solicitor-General in answer to arguments from this side on a previous occasion and I become bewildered when I think of what the consequences will be when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament and has to he construed. Even the certificate upon which the learned Attorney-General stated, a few days ago, we could not build the House of Commons, might be worth or might provide the money with which it could be built. The Solicitor- 1316 General seemed to have some difficulty with that matter the other day. In regard to the question of roads, I will give a practical illustration which will show the difficulties, the inequities and injustices of the attitude of the Solicitor-General in refusing to consider the Amendment.
I am interested in an estate development in Morecambe. We purchased several fields abutting upon a main road. They were ordinary agricultural holdings, consisting of six enclosures. There was only one road abutting upon the land, a main road, and we had to incur precisely the kind of expenditure which the last speaker so clearly pointed out. Before any question of sale arose we had to make a series of roads. We made three entrances into the land, we made cross roads and we made crescents. We did everything to make the estate a modern developed building estate. What did that entail? Let me say, for argument's sake, that we purchased the land for £3,000. We have taken out of our pockets at least £2,000 for the making of roads, channeling and sewering. The consequence is that the value of that land is at least the original purchase price, plus the whole of the expense, and the interest outstanding, on the development. Now, the Solicitor-General comes along and says: "Not only will you pay tax on the value of the land as you purchased it, but I am going to tax you on the value of the cost of the roads."
Let us for argument's sake say that the total cost was £5,000. What is the consequence to an individual who takes such a site, not from any sordid motives of extraordinary profit but in order to make a development in that area? The consequence is that he is going to be taxed on the whole of the £5,000. If the owner of that estate had only paid £3,000, he would have been taxed upon that, and if he had kept the balance of £5,000 in his own hands in the form of War Loan or any other form of property of that nature, he would have escaped the tax. I would remind the Solicitor-General that property in the eyes of the law takes many forms. Here is a clear illustration of an injustice. Perhaps it would not be so serious if the matter stopped there, but the effect of this inequity will be to stop developments of the nature of which I have spoken. If for that reason alone the 1317 Solicitor-General ought to give sympathetic consideration to the Amendment, which would not only bring about more equity but would preserve in our system of taxation a principle under which development would not be hindered.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has stated our case very clearly, and I only wish that some of his colleagues had given us as much assistance on this Bill, in which case it would not have passed its Second Heading. We are trying to prevent the Bill being placed on the Statute Book, but we are not, by these Amendments, trying to reduce it to an absurdity, but to rescue it from its present absurdities and to promote it to a condition in which it will operate with rather less injustice. The case with regard to roads has been spoken of by several previous speakers, but on the question of improvements, making up levels, building retaining walls, and so on, I would remind the hon. and learned Solicitor-General of what he said on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. I have not refreshed my memory as to his exact words, but I think he said that the site would not be a site at all until the owner got busy on it and made improvements. I should have thought that that was a dangerous argument for him to use, be-cause he maintains that the value is being created by the community.
It seems most inequitable that allowances should not be made for improvements of this nature. In this Bill, as soon as you endeavour to introduce any element of justice, equity or common sense, the argument is at once used that the Bill is unworkable. That has been the argument on the opposite side, and particularly by the learned Solicitor-General—that unless you inflict gross in justice on a large section of the community, this Bill is reduced to an absurdity. I think that is a most powerful argument on our side. I am afraid the hon. and learned Gentleman would repeat the remark which was made by the right hon. Lady the Minister of Labour last night, that the force of circumstances has driven him to dishonest courses. I press these Amendments, because I consider that if they are not persisted in, great injustice and inequity will remain in the Bill.
§ Lord ERSKINE
The case put forward by various hon. Members on this side in regard to these owners' improvements has not been met by the Government. The Solicitor-General always speaks very well and gives arguments which are well thought out, but he does not always produce arguments which are exactly to the point, and it is a very high tribute to his intelligence to say that the arguments that he brings forward are usually some answer where a real answer is impossible. I do not think that even the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren), whom I see in his place, desires to see all owners' improvements taxed. In fact, I think the pure milk of the single taxers' creed does not allow of owners' improvements being left out.
We heard this afternoon that the Solicitor-General, on an earlier occasion, I think in Committee, suggested that if words could be found which would not wreck the Bill, he in his turn would be prepared to consider those words and to meet our case. I suggest to him that it is not as a rule the Opposition which should put forward words to meet what is obviously a gross injustice. My right hon. Friend on the Front Bench has already said that the Opposition have not got the advantage of the great ability of the Civil Service or of the Government draftsmen behind them, and although I think we, on this side, make rather a better show with our Amendments than sometimes hon. Members below the Gangway on this side do, nevertheless it is not fair for the spokesman of the Government to say," We really admit that there is an injustice here, and if you, the Opposition, can put forward any words which we think will suit, we are prepared to consider them."
The Government should go a good deal further. A great many hon. Members opposite who have been listening to the Debate must have realised that there is a ease to be met here and that there are injustices that will occur. I do not think that any Government should really defend one of its first-class Measures, as this undoubtedly is, by saying, "We realise that under our proposals there will be great injustices to a large number of people, but unless there are injustices, we are afraid the Bill will not work."
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The Noble Lord must not misquote me in that way. I am sure that I said nothing like that.
§ Lord ERSKINE
I realise that if we take the actual statements made by the Solicitor-General, they do not quite bear that interpretation. I was not actually referring to any individual remarks of the Solicitor-General, but to the general idea which has run all through these Debates that "We know that in certain cases this Bill will work unjustly, but because the Bill will not work unless it works unjustly, we are sorry, but the population have got to bear the injustices." Although I do not say that the Solicitor-General said that in actual words—he is far too clever to say anything of the sort, because that would wreck his Bill—nevertheless, during the whole of these Debates that kind of argument has been in the background.
Hon. Members opposite who have been in this controversy for many years will, I am sure, agree that the old Undeveloped Land Duty had a very great deal to do with the tremendous slowing down of housing operations in this country before the War, and I understand that that is generally admitted, even by the authors of the Act of 1909–10, but from the remarks that we have heard to-day from this side of the House, I am not at all sure that the taxation of these owners' improvements will not have the very detrimental effect on the development of sites and, therefore, on the development of housing, that the old Undeveloped Land Duty had from 1909 to 1914. The right hon. Member for Cam-borne (Mr. Leif Jones) gave a great many examples which went to show that you would not have so much development if you were going to tax all the money that the owners of sites put into those sites to make them more valuable, because obviously you would not have so many people prepared to venture their money in sites if they knew that the more money they spent in developing sites, the more they would be taxed. Therefore, in my view, there is going to be a great slowing down of housing owing to the operations of this Act, if indeed it ever passes the valuation stage and becomes an Act.
I would like to point out another matter. Do the Government really propose 1320 to tax the improvements, we will say, that have been made in shipyards? A great many shipyards—in fact, I suppose, all of them—have to reclaim very large amounts of land and have to spend a great deal of money in making the slips upon which they build their ships. They often have to reclaim a large amount of that land from the sea or land that would be covered by the sea at high tide. That is an extremely expensive operation, and yet apparently under the Government's proposals all the money which the shipyards have put into building these slips is going to add to their value, and therefore they will all be taxed upon the capital that has been put into their business. The more we go on and the more we examine the details of this Bill, the more extraordinary it becomes that the Government should propose to tax all these improvements. We have had a certain amount of debate upon these matters in the past, and unless we had had the Guillotine, we should have had a great deal more, but up to now these owners' improvements and the whole question as to whether or not they should be included in the valuation have not had that amount of time and that expert opinion brought to bear upon them which in normal and proper times they would have had.
For these reasons, I think the Government should go further than they have gone up to the present. They merely come down here and say, "We are not able to accept any of your Amendments, because, if we put them in, the Bill will not work." They have also had to admit during this Debate that there will be many gross injustices in certain cases. The Government exists not only to bring forward legislation, but to bring forward fair and adequate legislation, and it is no answer to our complaints to say, "The Bill will not work if we are going to be just." The Government, with the array of talent that they have behind them, and with the very able assistance which every Government receive from the Civil Service, should go back and see whether they cannot meet the very obvious and real case that has been made against the Bill. After all, this is the Report stage of the Bill, and there is no other opportunity for the Government to rectify their own muddle.
1321 This Bill will pass into law, and there will be the valuation, and it will be made with all these admitted imperfections in it. In the past the Courts have often said very bitter things about this House. They have said that we pass slipshod legislation, which they find it extremely difficult to interpret; and indeed they have said that the words which we put into Acts of Parliament have come to mean, when they have been interpreted, the exact opposite of what this House intended. I am sure that when this valuation takes place and these injustices are brought to light, it will be found that this Measure will be commented on in the Law Courts in exactly the same way as the various other Acts, on account of the slipshod drafting, and it will be found that the injustices which will be perpetrated under this method of valuing owners' improvements will be such that in a short time the whole of this type of legislation will be swept away.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
The Solicitor-General invariably treats the House with such charm and courtesy that the House does not always realise how evasive and cynically immoral his speeches are. But for the War, I should have been trained as a lawyer, but after the way in which the Solicitor-General has spoken, I have come to the conclusion that my time has been better spent. He devoted his speech to showing how difficult it would be to attach the value of a portion of a road to any particular plot of land. There can be no real difficulty about ascertaining the cost of constructing a street and about apportioning that cost among the houses built in the street. The proof of that is self-evident, because in every town when housing estates are being developed, the developer of the estates who makes the road and lays the sewers does, in point of fact, divide up the cost of that work among the people to whom he sells the building plots. Every objection to the Amendment applies with equal force to the case of sewers, the cost of which under the Bill is allowed to be deducted.
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) put infinitely better and more clearly than I can the point to which I wanted to address myself in regard to the effect which this tax is bound to have upon owners of improvements. I apologise to the House for bringing forward my own 1322 case, but it is the case which I know-best, and it has from time to time been quoted in the House. The estate with which I am connected spends annually a considerable amount of money on developing land. The case of Eastbourne has been referred to. Each year considerable sums are sunk in the lay-out of roads and sewers. Under the Bill every farthing of that money, provided it has been well and wisely spent, and has improved the value of the land, will begin to attract taxation at once. It will continue to attract taxation of an extra Income Tax of not less than 2½d. in the £. When the land is fully developed the whole tax payable will be one-eighth of 1d. in the £. In the case of land which is not quite fully developed, that 2½d. will increase up to 1s. 8d., and where, as not infrequently happens, land does not go off at once, where you have constructed the roads and sewers and sunk money and improved the value of the land, the extra Income Tax payable will amount to something substantially in excess of 1s. 8d. in the £.
It cannot be just that a particular form of investment, which no one will maintain is either undesirable or anti-social in any way, should be subject to a form of taxation which no other form of investment has to undergo. It cannot be maintained that it is just to tax land values created by the industry and efforts of the owner in exactly the same way that you tax land values created by accident, or by the efforts of the community, or by the enterprise of other individuals such as land values which come into being through the extension of a tube service or an omnibus service run by a public company. I believe that the right hon. and learned Gentleman must admit that it will have extremely undesirable effects. This particular form of investment is not really very profitable. Since these matters were forcibly brought to our notice, I have been going carefully into the accounts and figures of the estate to which I have referred, and there is no doubt that if the estate had in the past devoted the money which it has spent on development to gilt-edged securities, it would be more prosperous than it is. It is a form of investment that has some risk, and if you saddle it with a burden which it will have to pay whether it goes well or badly, the policy of the estate in carrying out development 1323 must come to an, end. It is a fact that it would actually pay me, if the Bill became law, to destroy roads which were made some years ago, or to sever the connection of those roads with existing streets and to let the land return to an agricultural value.
Not only is the taxation of this kind not just but it is rot expedient. I have tried to show the hon. and learned Gentleman that the difficulty which he has maintained exists in valuing the roads does not really exist. The roads can perfectly well be valued, and there can be no difficulty in apportioning the value between the houses. Nor would it be impossible where there is a building estate in course of development, to value the individual pieces of land together, especially when you have regard to the fact that in cases of that kind the bulk of the tax will ultimately fall on the ground landlord. In many of these cases the plots are not sold outright when the houses are built. In the majority of cases a long lease is taken, and in such cases the tenant is held to be the owner, and is responsible for the tax, but he can recover up to one-twelfth of the rent from the ground landlord. In cases of that kind there should be no substantial difficulty about giving relief, and I believe that it is fair, just and expedient that that relief should be given.
We are getting into a very late stage in the discussion of this Bill, and the amount of time which the Government have left to us is very short. It is therefore scarcely reasonable for the Government to leave the Opposition to draft Amendments to save the Government from having injustices in a Bill of this kind. The Amendment is perfectly just, and can be accepted without destroying the principle of the Bill—and in saying that I do not, of course, accept the principle of the Bill. If the Amendment were accepted, the Government would have a better chance, although I do not think it would be a substantial chance, of seeing their Bill survive when they have perished.
§ Mr. QUIBELL
At first sight, one is inclined to think that there is a good deal of substance in the Amendment, but there are far more difficulties in it than have been dealt with by the Opposition. I was interested in the illustration given by the 1324 Noble Lord of the development of an estate, and, like him, I am not without some experience. How would the Amendment work in a case like the one which came within my purview within the last week or two? A body of men formed themselves into a small company to buy an estate. They then set out to develop the estate. They laid the mere semblance of roads without channels or kerbs, but only with sewers and septic tanks—if indeed they can be Called even that. The number of houses now erected is something like 300, and there is no proper sewerage scheme. They proceed to sell the land on which the houses have been built on terms under which the purchasers agree to pay to the vendors 2s. 6d. per running foot of frontage of the plots of land that they purchase per year for a period of 10 years, and the company reserve to themselves the right to use the money so collected to cleanse the sewers, to repair the roads and to develop other parts of the estate as and when they so determine, without at all entering into any definite commitment to make up the roads. At the end of the 10 years the poor purchaser of the land from the speculative company will find himself in receipt of a notice from the local authority telling him that they propose to take over the road and to put into force the Private Streets Act, and the purchaser will be faced with a bill to meet the requirements of the local authority. I do not know how this Amendment will affect a company like that. Such a company has operated at Peacehaven and at Kimnel Bay, and wherever they have operated they have operated to the disadvantage of the poor purchaser of the land, and indeed of the estate. That is a very bad case where, if there be any question of compensation, the poor people who have been the victims of the company should be compensated.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
That is exactly the kind of development which our Amendment is intended to prevent. In the case mentioned by the hon. Member, what happens is that in so far as they pay so much per annum to keep up a rotten road, they are encouraged to do so under the First Schedule of this Bill. A person is discouraged from making a decent road because the value of it is added to the value of the land.
§ Mr. QUIBELL
I have had some experience, and that does not apply in the cases I have in mind. There is another case where the estate developer actually sells the plots of land to the centre of the road, and then makes a charge of a similar character. The Noble Lord who preceded me almost gave the whole case away. I bought a piece of land and built a road, and very foolishly made it up, curbed it, developed it, and made it so that it would comply with the requirements of the local authority. I did what every other business man would do, divided the road into frontages and added the cost of the road and improvements on the estate to the price, plus an ordinary profit, and I cannot see how I have lost anything. There are so many different practices in the laying out of roads. In some cases just pitching is put down, and it is filled in with breeze or gravel, and is then left to be made up when development takes place under the Private Streets Act. Then there is the case where the land is sold right to the middle of the road, and the purchaser of the plot of land has to pay for the road. The original developer of the estate certainly does not pay. He is in a position to hand on the expense, if there is a market; of course, if there is not a market it means that he has been a poor judge and has developed his estate ahead of the demand, and he must take the risk involved in such a proceeding.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
The hon. Member refers to a case in which the original developer passes his burden on in the price which he charges for his building plots. Does the hon. Member think the purchasers of plots ought to pay the same amount of Land Tax irrespective of whether the road is ultimately paid for by them or whether it is made and paid for by the local authority?
Marquess of HARTINGTON
In the case which the hon. Member referred to the road is ultimately paid for by the dwellers in the road. The cost of the road is divided up amongst them. They have had to buy their plots, they have built their houses upon them and they have, in addition, to pay for the road. Now they will have to pay a tax on what they have 1326 spent upon the road they will pay exactly the same tax irrespective of whether they have paid for the road or whether the local authority paid for it.
§ Mr. QUIBELL
But that was not the Noble Lord's point. His point was that the development of estates would be prevented owing to the burdens placed upon those who developed them. His point now is that this cost of development is being passed on and that those to whom it is passed on will have to bear an additional burden of taxation. To that extent it is additional expenditure and involves double taxation. That is a fact, but you cannot have it both ways. It cannot be a burden on the man who develops the estate and at the same time be handed on to the purchaser.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I think the last speaker has made a most valuable contribution to the Debate. The Solicitor-General in his remarks earlier, said that the valuer of the land, in making the valuation, would have some regard to the access to the land, and we are arguing that if the access has been provided by the owner the cost of providing that access should not involve him in having to pay increased taxation. The Solicitor-General says that it does not matter whether the community or the private individual has given the additional value to the land by providing means of access; that, anyhow, the owner should pay. The hon. Member has just cited cases where owners of houses have either made the road themselves or paid cash to have it made, and we say that the tax should not be levied on that portion of the value of the land which they themselves have created. It will come to be realised by these people that it is not merely double taxation but treble taxation, because they have had to buy their land, they have had to pay for their own roads and through their rates they have had to pay for the roads of other people.
It has already been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench that there will be fewer roads as a consequence of this taxation, and I would add that in the development of property the endeavour will be made to make the roads as short and as narrow as possible, and without side walks or pavements, because every one of those factors will come into 1327 the ultimate cost of the road, and if they add to the value of the land they will increase the burden of taxation. I think the Solicitor-General has been a very lucky man in one respect, and that is that no member of the Cabinet was here this afternoon to spot what has happened and make him reverse his decision, because it must be remembered that the Minister of Health—both the present Minister and his predecessors—have been trying to stop ribbon development and trying to get houses built with gardens and open spaces round them, and that is a policy which our proceedings this afternoon will be likely to check. The Minister of Transport has been trying to widen roads and do away with awkward corners, and here we have the Solicitor-General standing up for a policy which will mean narrower roads and awkward corners.
Let me instance the case of a man who built a sea wall to prevent flooding. That wall was destroyed in a recent gale. There is land behind that wall which, in due course, may be of value for building. If that sea wall is left in its present state—that is, destroyed—the value of that sea wall can never be added to the value of the land when it comes to be valued for purposes of this taxation, but if the man spends his own money on putting that sea wall into repair and the land develops afterwards, he will have to pay extra taxation because he has used his money in that way. If he leaves the land as a snipe bog he gets off taxation, but if he develops it in the interest of the country then he has to bear an additional burden. Surely that is not what was wanted, and if any responsible Member of the Government had been present to note the mess into which the Solicitor-General has got them surely the Bill would not be allowed to go through in its present state.
There is another point, affecting scores of people in my own constituency in the west country. In the hilly areas there surrounding walls have to be built; the whole stability of the unit depends on those walls. The value of the wall will undoubtedly be taken into account in valuing the land, although the owner had to build the wall himself. There is no question of God having given the wall. 1328 The man put the wall there, spending his own money on it.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I see the speculative builder coming out! [Interruption.] I have many friends who are speculative builders, and I think they will feel the pinch rather quickly when operations begin under this Bill. Not long ago there was a case in my constituency where three or four men bought land and built houses. They told me the value of the land and the value of their houses. The Post Office dug a trench at the bottom of the wall which bounded the small garden in front, in a very steep bit of country. The wall came down and it cost every one of those three or four people more to put the wall up than it cost them originally to buy the land. That wall has helped to make the value of that land and will add to its taxable capacity. We do not dispute that it is fair to put a tax on that part of the value of land which has been given to it by the community—for example, the value given by a road which has been driven into a bit of country by the activities of the community; but we submit that it is not right to make a man pay additional taxation for an increased value which has been given to his land by improvements for which he has had to pay. It is a monstrous injustice that we should have spent so much time in putting this part of our ease so clearly as it has been put to-night and that no responsible Member of the Cabinet should have been present at any period of the Debate to listen to it.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I cannot help thinking that if other Members of the Government had been present they would have endeavoured to persuade the Solicitor-General to alter his course. We had a most interesting speech from the hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell). I feel that in his heart he is really in favour of this Amendment, unless as a speculative builder he does not do his own improvements. Take the case of a company which owned a bit of land with only an apology for a road. Obviously in that case the frontage is of less value than the frontage would be of a properly made-up road, and therefore the value of 1329 that plot would be considerably less. In other words, it would be an advantage to speculative companies not to develop their roads to the fullest extent. Suppose that the owner of this bit of land I have mentioned finds a purchaser, and after a time the local authorities take it over and they say to the purchaser, "You have to make up this so-called road into a proper road." The result is that a very heavy burden falls on the man who has bought that land. Unless this Amendment is accepted you are going to multiply cases of that kind a thousand times all over the country. I know hon. Members opposite are anxious to develop housing, and the last thing the Government wish to do is to multiply the sort of case which has been mentioned this afternoon, but I think that that will happen unless the Financial Secretary can persuade the Solicitor-General to alter his view on this point.
The Solicitor-General got out of the difficulty by a brilliant technical speech about what a valuer would do, but he entirely overlooked the main principle of the Amendment, which is that you do not distinguish between the case where the property has been improved by the community and where the increased value has been created by the man who has improved his property by spending money upon it. I should have thought that every single-taxer would have been in favour of our Amendment, because it is intended to do justice to the man who, by his own enterprise, has improved the property. Let me give a theoretical case. Take, for example, the building of a bridge over the Humber at Hull. Suppose that the bridge is built and a great development takes place in consequence. Of course it would be said that the extra value of that land has been created by the Corporation of Hull, who built the bridge near the harbour, and some of the land on each side of the Humber would be good land for building residential houses. Would it be fair to tax the extra value which has been created, not by the community, but by the building of the bridge? If you substitute roads it will be realised that what is suggested is that you should make no distinction between the value created by the building of the bridge and the making of the roads. That is exactly what we are proposing to deal with in our 1330 Amendment. Suppose that the owner of the property had built the bridge and constructed public highways through his property. In that case the owner would be taxed upon his improvements. Unless this Amendment is accepted you will very seriously curtail the development of houses.
The Solicitor-General is very keen upon this Bill, which, I think, might very well be described as a Bill for the better preservation of the legal profession. The Solicitor-General is not necessarily a great expert on housing, and on this side of the House we pride ourselves upon knowing something about the housing problem. I am not going into the question of whet/her the Land Tax of 1910 did in fact prevent the building of houses, but nobody will deny that there is a very strong suspicion that the fear of that tax curtailed the building of houses. As things stand at present I think we are going to develop the type of buildings which hon. Members opposite want to see. I know that the Solicitor-General has in his constituency one of the worst slums in the country, and I am sure that he would like to see proper amenities developed on that land at Bristol. Take the case of the new garden city which has been started at Bristol. Quite obviously any company that develops garden cities, builds cottages and develops beautiful properties, will not be able to meet the cost of those roads in face of the additional tax, and this will undoubtedly have a great effect in preventing the extension of this excellent form of building houses.
There is a place called Middleton that has been developed very rapidly during the last few years. It started in a very curious way. There was a small property there for sale, and a small professional business man went down and bought some sites. A small community grew up at this place. Later the sea encroached very severely, and the owners of several of those houses clubbed together and found the money to erect groynes in order to keep the sea from ruining the place. In a few years' time other people came to that place and erected houses behind the property of the original owners, further away from the sea, and the result was that the land there became very valuable for building sites. That value has accrued because the sea has 1331 been prevented from encroaching. Those people did not go there to increase the value of the land; they went there simply to spend the rest of their days in comfort, and not for any speculative purposes. What has happened has rather deteriorated the value of that land with regard to its amenities.
The Solicitor-General says, "It is quite true that you are getting no advantage from the other people coming in, but it is also true that your neighbours, in building that sea wall, have prevented the houses from falling into the sea, and this has made the land safe. In that way you have made it more valuable, and the Government are going to tax the land without taking into account the cost of the sea wall." Surely the Solicitor-General ought to meet a case like that. You find many other properties being developed where the landlord has built the wall in order to preserve the land against the encroachment of the sea.
Take a case where the sea wall has been built by a local authority. Can you go to a man who owns land just inside the city limits and say to him, "Your land has become more valuable and you are enjoying an advantage because the site has been saved from the sea," while his next-door neighbour who built the sea wall himself, who possesses exactly a similar site, is not going to be allowed to benefit by his expenditure? I am sure any single-taxer in the House would be willing to say that the principle which the Solicitor-General is trying to maintain is against all the principles of single-taxers. The idea of a single tax is that the one person you must not hit is the person who created his own improvements. The Government ought to have a little more courage on this question.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I think a very strong case has been made out for the adoption of this Amendment. We have had a very courteous reply from the Solicitor-General, but when all the arguments are going so strongly against the Government it is very unfortunate for us that there have been so few Members on the Socialist benches to appreciate the case that has been made against them. There is one case which has always been 1332 put forward at election times by hon. Members opposite, and it is that the value which has been created by the community should be taxed, but no one has ever suggested that when a man has developed his own land, placed works upon it and improved the drainage, the tax on that land should be increased.
I could give countless cases in my own neighbourhood and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will come out with me and imagine that we are a pair of valuers we could go along the great main high roads where considerable value has accrued to the land on one side owing to the enterprise of the owner and not on the other. I have a place in mind where a man has bought some 40 acres on one side of the road and he has developed it in a way which has been described in this Debate. By that means the back land has been brought into communication with the main road and building has gone on there, but for the moment development has been stopped though the value of the back land has been enormously increased.
Just imagine the Chancellor of the Exchequer coming with me in a motor-car to this district. You have this position. On the one side of the road a considerable number of houses have been built, and roads, sewers, and so on provided, but on the other side the owner has done nothing, so that in that case the back land will have no real value. If that land is going to be valued, no value can be put on the land at the right-hand side of the road, whereas, owing to the efforts of the owner who has developed the land on the left-hand side, the value of the back land will be very considerable. There are thousands of cases of that sort. It is no use saying, as was said by the hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell), that the owner of the land will eventually get it back in the price charged for building plots, because the hardship will fall on the man who buys the land and has to pay more for it, and is to be taxed upon it because work has been done by the original owner, and not by a public authority. A clearer case of injustice has never been brought before this House. I do rot wish to repeat the arguments which have been used over and over again, but I think it is most regrettable that we cannot in these De- 1333 bates have a larger attendance of the Socialist party, so that they might really understand better than I think many of them do the position to which this Bill will lead.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I agree with my right hon. Friend that this afternoon's proceedings provide a very good instance of how the Guillotine operates in this House. I am sorry that more Members have not been present on the opposite benches, but perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whom we are always very glad to see here, will allow me to put in the shortest possible words the point that we are now discussing. There are two cases in which an improvement—in this case a road—adds to the value of the land. They are the case in which the improvement has been made by the expenditure of public money—local or State money—and the case in which it has been made by expenditure incurred by the owner or his predecessors in title. We are not concerned at the moment with improvements which have been made by the expenditure of public money, and with regard to them I would only say that we have always contended, so far as the question of principle is concerned, that the proper way to deal with them is as betterment, and not by means of a tax under this Bill. As regards the other case, where the improvement has been made by the expenditure of the owner or his predecessors in title, I should like to ask a question, which has not been answered this afternoon. How is it possible to justify levying from the subject the same amount of money in the case of an improvement made by the expenditure of the owner as is levied in the case where the improvement was made by the expenditure of the community?
It has been admitted by the Solicitor-General, in answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), that under this Bill the amount to be levied in these two cases is the same. How can that be justified? The only way in which the Solicitor-General justifies it is by saying, "We have to do that because otherwise we should break up the way in which our Bill is constructed. Our Bill is so constructed that, where you have a building estate divided into separate plots, each of these units of occupation is treated separately for 1334 valuation purposes, and, therefore, if this Amendment were inserted, it would not benefit the owners as a whole, because each of the separate units would be valued as a separate unit; and, when you value one unit, we provide in our Clause that you have to imagine that everything else is as it is at the present moment." Incidentally, that only goes to show how ridiculous is the proposal that a valuation should be conducted on these lines. As a matter of fact, however, it; would have been perfectly easy for the Solicitor-General to make it possible to fit an Amendment of this character into the framework of his Bill. All that he would have had to do would have been to insert a provision in Clause 4 that in the case of improvements you should take into consideration the fact that they were all under the same ownership.
Let it be noted that, when it suits the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Solicitor-General and the Government, that is precisely what they do. When the boot is on the other foot, when it is a question of exemptions and of whether a man is or is not liable to pay the tax, the Government say that, if the tax payable by the owner is not more than 10s., he will get off, while if it is more than 10s. he will have to pay. How do they propose to arrive at whether it is more than 10s. or not? Do they take each unit separately then? Not a bit of it. As the Solicitor-General said the other day, they are going to search the country from Caithness to Cornwall, from Suffolk to Wales, to discover whether the owner is the owner of more than one unit, and if, over the whole of England, he owns three units which would be taxed at 3s. 6d. each, then he will be liable to the tax. How can you say that when it suits you you will aggregate all the units in one man's possession, and when it does not you will refuse to take into account a plot on the other side of the street, or adjacent?
In these circumstances I suggest to the Government that the answer, such as it has been, which is the only answer we have had in the Debate so far, is wholly inadequate, and that, bad as it was in the case of the first Amendment, it is even worse in the case of the third, because the case of the third—that of the protective wall, such as a sea wall—really leaves the Government without any defence at all. This is not a case of the 1335 value being improved by work executed by the owner, but a case where the unit is actually brought into existence, and maintained in existence, by the work executed by the owner of the unit. In that case it is true that an all-wise Providence created the land, but it was placed at the bottom of the sea, and would be there still but for the work and expenditure of the owner. How can it be just in these circumstances to refuse to take account of such expenditure? I urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer, even at this late hour, to try to do something to meet so obvious and glaring an injustice, and I would beg anyone who replies for the Government not to say that the only reason why they cannot do it is because it is inconsistent with the framework of the Bill, because to that the answer is that, if the framework of the Bill demands that injustice should be done, it is far better that the Bill should not be passed at all.
§ Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN
I should have thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have tried to give at least one reason why this proposal is not unjust, and would have said what steps are to be taken to meet it. The admission that we got from the Solicitor-General, that it was an unjust act and he knew it, really shows up the whole proposal. It is very extraordinary that, in a Debate on the Budget, we have had no facts or figures to show why this Amendment to try to stop this admitted injustice cannot be accepted, and whether it would cost too much. The Government, I suppose, do not know anything about the figures of these proposals, and cannot say how much this Land Tax is going to bring in. I wonder if they have ever looked into the matter?
It is perfectly well known in agricultural circles that the capital value which owners of agricultural land have put into the soil for equipment alone is reckoned, by Lord Ernie and others, at a good deal more than £815,000,000. That includes a great deal for roads, and I should have liked to hear how much of that £815,000,000 is represented by roads, even in agricultural districts, which are only a part of the proposal. I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman cannot answer that question. I know of an estate within half a mile of Midhurst, where the road is not only kept up by the 1336 owner, but is the only road used by the general public. It runs right through the middle of the park, with deer grazing on either side, and a golf course has been provided by the owner for the people of Midhurst. If anything happens to that estate, and the land has to be sold, what will be the result under this Bill? That road, which has been entirely created by the owner, gives a building value which no other part has. At any moment the owner could close that road and keep it shut up as private property, instead of opening it, but by doing as he is doing, and looking after the interests of those who live around him, of all classes, he is laying up for his heirs an increased Land Value Tax when it is sold.
I know it is no use appealing against the injustice, because it is admitted by the Government, but I would venture to advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though he will take no advice from me, to look into what is already happening as a result of these proposals. This morning I heard of a contract for building cottages being called off on account of the proposals of this Bill. Yesterday I heard of another contract for 110 cottages' being called off; and last week I heard of yet another contract, on which the people concerned had forfeited the deposit which they had paid rather than go on with a scheme of building houses when these proposals were before the country. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will do something, even at the last moment, to remedy this injustice.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
One thing that has emerged from such part of this Debate as I have been able to listen to—I regret that I have not been able to hear the whole of it—is that this tax has nothing to do with the blasphemous hypocrisy of the doctrine that God gave the land to the people. The fact that certain owners are exempted from the tax shows that it is in no sense an attempt to get for the people of this country anything to which they are entitled, but is simply and solely an attempt to attack a class whom hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike. There can be no justice whatever in taxing a man for the work which he and his predecessors have put in, which has resulted in nothing but benefit to the community as a whole, and which can in 1337 no sense be looked upon as having been provided by expenditure out of public funds. I suggest that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer has any idea whatever of justice in his mind, he will find some way of exempting from this taxation those benefits which the country has received as a result of the work of landowners',
§ and I suggest that, if he must attack public improvements he should at least confine his depredations to them.
§ Question put, "That the word 'roads' be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 234; Noes, 265.1341
|Division No. 365.]||AYES.||[6.31 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Long, Major Hon. Eric|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lymington, Viscount|
|Albery, Irving James||Dawson, Sir Philip||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Dixey, A. C.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Eden, Captain Anthony||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Marjorlbanks, Edward|
|Baillie-Hamliton, Hon. Charles W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||England, Colonel A.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Millar, J. D.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.|
|Balniel, Lord||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Ferguson, Sir John||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Fermoy, Lord||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Fieldon, E. B.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Ford, Sir P. J.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Frece, Sir Walter de||Nail-Cain, A. R. N.|
|Blindell, James||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nicholson, Cot. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Ganzonl, Sir John||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Glyn, Major R. G C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bracken, B.||Gower, Sir Robert||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Buchan, John||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Buchan, Hepburn, P. G. T.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Ramsbotham, H|
|Butler, R. A.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Remer, John R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hartington, Marquess of||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Haslam, Henry C.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Christle, J. A.||Hurd, Percy A.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Scott, James|
|Cockerill, Brig-General Sir George||Iveagh, Countess of||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (s. Moiton)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cowan, D. M.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Stanley, Hon. O (Westmorland)|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Turton, Robert Hugh||Withers, Sir John James|
|Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Thompson, Luke||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Thomson, Sir F||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wells, Sydney R.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Todd, Capt. A. J.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Terquay)|
|Train, J.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gillett, George M.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Glassey, A. E.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gossling, A. G.||McElwee, A.|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Gould, F.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||McKinlay, A.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Arnott, John||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McShane, John James|
|Ayles, Walter||Groves, Thomas E.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Manning, E. L.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||March, S.|
|Barr, James||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Marcus, M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Markham, S. F.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Marley, J.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Marshall, Fred|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Mathers, George|
|Benson, G.||Harris, Percy A.||Matters, L. W.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Maxton, James|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Haycock, A. W.||Messer, Fred|
|Bowen, J. W.||Hayday, Arthur||Middleton, G.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayes, John Henry||Morley, Ralph|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Bromfield, William||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Mort, D. L.|
|Bromley, J.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Muff, G.|
|Brooke, W.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Brothers, M.||Herriotts, J.||Murnin, Hugh|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Hicks, Ernest George||Naylor, T. E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hoffman, P. C.||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Hollins, A.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Hopkin, Daniel||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Caine, Hall, Derwent||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Palin, John Henry|
|Cameron, A. G.||Isaacs, George||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Chater, Daniel||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)||Phillips, Dr. Marlon|
|Clarke, J. S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Potts, John S.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Quibell, D. F. K.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Kelly, W. T.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Compton, Joseph||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Raynes, W. R.|
|Cove, William G.||Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Richards, R.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kinley, J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Daggar, George||Kirkwood, D.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Dallas, George||Knight, Holford||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Ritson, J.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lawrence, Susan||Rowson, Guy|
|Dukes, C.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Duncan, Charles||Lawson, John James||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lawther W. (Barnard Castle)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Leach, W.||Sandham, E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Scurr, John|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lees, J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Foot, Isaac||Leonard, W.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shillaker, J. F.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Logan, David Gilbert||Shinwell, E.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Longbottom, A. W.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Longden, F.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)||Lunn, William||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gill, T. H.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Tillett, Ben||West, F. R.|
|Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)||Tinker, John Joseph||Westwood, Joseph|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Toole, Joseph||White, H. G.|
|Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Tout, W. J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Townend, A. E.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Vaughan, David||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Sorensen, R.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Stamford, Thomas W.||Walkden, A. G.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Stephen, Campbell||Walker, J.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Strauss, G. R.||Wallace, H. W.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Sullivan, J.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Watkins, F. C.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wise, E. F.|
|Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Wellock, Wilfred||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Thurtie, Ernest||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. B. Smith and Mr. Charleton|
§ This Amendment arises out of a discussion during Committee, when I was asked to reconsider the position with regard to the question of tithe. As a result of that reconsideration, we are now moving to leave out the paragraph which would have included tithe in the land value. It is not a logical thing to do. Probably the right way of dealing with it is as a separate unit, but, as that has not been done in the Bill, we feel that the proper thing to do, in view of the undertaking that I gave, is to move this Amendment.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
May I ask what is the position with regard to the old Land Tax? Does that enter into the valuation for the duty, either in the case of it having been redeemed or in the ease of it still being payable? There is a good deal of confusion in the public mind. It is not quite clear outside the House, nor indeed to me, although I think I know the answer, what is the relation of this Land Value Duty to the old Land Tax.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Where the old Land Tax is in existence, the valuer, when he is making the valuation, would take that into account.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
No. If there is no Land Tax in existence, it will not be taken into account.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 6, line 11, to leave out the words "except any of those," and to insert instead thereof the words: 1342(not including tithe, tithe rent-charge, or other payment in lieu of tithe) except any of the incumbrances,The reason for putting the words in this form and not in the form suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) is that it is at least very questionable whether tithe would technically be an encumbrance at all. These words are only put in to make quite sure that they are not included under the term encumbrances.
I am obliged to the learned Solicitor-General for his explanation, which is entirely satisfactory to me. I observed that there was an alteration in the wording, and knowing that when there is an alteration in wording inquiries are always made as to the reason of the alteration, I wanted to make quite certain what was the reason. There is a reason, and I am quite satisfied.
§ Mr. TURTON
Can the learned Solicitor-General say whether it includes tithe that have been redeemed, and if it does not include such, whether the words "other payment in lieu of tithe" would include the case where an owner of land has borrowed money with which to redeem tithe by means of a mortgage upon the land? If neither case is included, I fear that the Finance Bill will stop any redemption of tithe in the future.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The answer is that a payment in lieu of tithe may be allowed when it is a payment which has to be made by the assumed purchaser and is not one which was redeemed in the past.
§ Amendment agreed to.1343
§ Major MUIRHEAD
I beg to move, in page 6, line 13, at the end, to insert the words:Provided that where with respect to a land unit the amount which the ice simple thereof at vacant possession might have been expected to realise upon a sale in the open market on the valuation date (hereafter in this Sub-section referred to as the 'expected amount') has been ascertained, and the owner of such unit satisfies the Commissioners that before offering such fee simple for sale with vacant possession he would have been compelled to obtain vacant possession by the payment of any sum to the tenant or lessees of the unit, the land value of the unit shall be deemed to be such expected amount diminished by the sum so payable to the tenant or lessee.The Amendment contains such a germ of common sense that one would have hoped that the Government would have accepted it, but for the fact that their past record on the Bill causes one to doubt their attitude. I should have no particular objection to "vacant possession" being in the Clause if there was provision for making allowances for the operation and, particularly, the expenses which are very often necessary before vacant possession can be arrived at. To put in "vacant possession" as one of the suppositions, and to make no allowance whatever for the stages by which vacant possession is arrived at, is entirely illogical.
The Bill, both by its substance and by the manner in which it has been introduced and advocated appears to aim at two things. Firstly, that if a landlord takes advantage of a high price he should be penalised; and, secondly, that if he does not take advantage of it he should be incited to do so. Those appear to be distinctly the two objects of the Bill. If a man is not, in the eyes of the Government valuer, getting the best value he can for his land, and is not, in the words of some hon. Members, putting it to the best use in the interests of the community, he is, by the very fact that this tax is to be levied, deliberately incited to try and get a better price for his land and put it to a different use. If a man is incited to do something, he may accept the incitement. If he does not accept the incitement, it may be because of one of two reasons. One is simply that he does not choose to do it, and the second is that there is some definite obstacle in the 1344 way of his doing it. It is exactly the same when you come to the question of vacant possession. A man desirous of accepting the incitement of the valuation the tax puts upon him, who is desirous of putting his land to some other use, making a fresh lease or doing something else with it, is legally restrained from doing so by the fact that he has not got vacant possession, and because there is a definite legal and financial obstacle in the way of his obtaining vacant possession.
There is another question. If an owner achieves vacant possession, the value which that vacant possession is to him in obtaining a better price or better rent is indubitably reduced by the amount of money required to arrive at that stage when vacant possession is achieved. That is a simple sum which really cannot be contradicted. I will take the case of agricultural land—not because it is the land which is going to involve the largest sums—in order to show what I mean. There is farm which the owner lets to a tenant. A portion of that farm is valued at a high rate for agricultural purposes. The inference is that the Government of to-day are inciting the owner to put that particular piece of land on a particular farm to some other use. The owner accepts the incitement and proceeds to do this. But it will be necessary for him to terminate the tenancy, not necessarily of the particular bit of land, but of the whole farm. You cannot go taking bits here and bits there out of a farm and putting them to other purposes. In a great number of cases, from all practicable points of view, it will terminate the whole of the tenancy, and that in turn will, very rightly under the laws which exist, entitle the farmer to obtain a whole year's rent in compensation. To presume vacant possession in that case and entirely wash out the expense to which the owner is put in order obtain vacant possession by compensating his tenant, is most unjust and illogical. In the case of urban tenancies the sums involved will be vastly greater.
On the pure principle, there is no question whatever that if there are two people who own two bits of land which in the eyes of the valuer under this Bill appear to be of equal value, and the valuer puts equal values upon them, and if one owner 1345 has vacant possession and the other owner is restricted by an unexpired portion of a lease, particularly in the case of a rising market, the tax which is going to be put upon the person who is restricted by the unexpired lease is going to be much heavier than that in the case of the man with vacant possession who can take advantage of any rise the market provides. A possible objection, and one which may occur to hon. Members opposite—I do not want to raise an unreasonable objection merely for the purpose of knocking it down—is that it may be argued that it is, perhaps, not quite fair to put down a lump sum payment in order to obtain vacant possession and have it carried on from year to year, and for a man to get annual reduction of tax upon what is really a lump sum payment made at one particular moment. But, after all, this is in connection with a supposed sale of a fee simple. The supposed sale of a fee simple is one individual case; it is only a thing which can take place on an individual occasion. Yet on that particular basis, if once you levy a tax you will continue to levy it in succeeding years.
If it is just to take what, in fact, will be a capital payment, surely it is only fair to take away from the land value the money necessary to obtain vacant possession as an annual rebate or an annual reduction. I think I know what will be the answer of the Solicitor-General, unless my remarks and those of my hon. and right hon. Friends have frightened him away from it. He may say, "Oh, well, you cannot have these things. We must keep this tax simple." Simplicity is going to be his keynote. Simplicity is the last refuge. It reminds me of a line in a song in one of the great musical comedies before the War, "The Arcadians":Simplicitas, simplicitas, that is what you have christened me.I think there should be an obvious pause between "simplicit" and "as." It used to be said:Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name.Really, if the Solicitor-General and his friends wish to go on in this way, it is time to give liberty a rest and to call simplicity into play. The injustices which will be committed under the Bill in the name of simplicity are legion. I do not want to be unfair on the Solicitor-General 1346 and to make claims which cannot be substantiated, but I was interested in what he said on 11th June. He said:I have no hostility to owners at all. My attitude is that this tax should be levied in an efficient and fair way, and that anything that is put into this Bill should help to make it easier to work and fair in its operation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th June, 1931; col. 1266, Vol. 253.]It is easy to say that you are going to do something which does two things, makes it simple and easy to work, and makes it fair. The whole test in all these dual cases is, what happens when the two things come into conflict, however slight? That is the acid test which has to be applied. I will follow the Solicitor-General's reason. He was relying to a speech to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson), in which he had drawn attention to the enormous number of separate valuations which would have to be made and the time it would take to make them. The Solicitor-General said:Where you get whole rows of streets, each house on each side being exactly the same, there will be many occasions when valuers can do many more than 26 in a day, and they will not be unfair valuations. They will be perfectly good valuations done by men who understand their business."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th June, 1931; col. 847, Vol. 253.]That is true. No doubt a valuer walking in a street with the instructions which this Bill will give, will see whole rows of houses apparently built of similar bricks and containing similar roofs, with perhaps identical little gardens in front, with monkey-trees of very similar growth, and to all intents and purposes they will appear to be exactly the same. He will no doubt, value them on a flat rate. But consider the owner. In some cases there may be vacant possession of the house. The owner may be able at once to take a higher rent which a rising market affords him. In other cases there may be considerable terms of leases to run. It all depends upon the subject of vacant possession and how much it will cost the owner to obtain vacant possession.
Simplicity is put down as a canon of taxation, but one can run any canon or any rule of life to an absurdity. I suppose in the far off primitive life of mankind conditions were largely based on simplicity. A man gained possession 1347 of his neighbour's land, his goods, his cattle, or even his neighbour's wife, not for the asking but for the taking. But the primitive man found that that simplicity had certain disadvantages. In the course of civilisation we have evolved a system by which, at the cost of a good deal of complication, we have drifted away from that rigid simplicity, and have come to a mode of life that may be a little more complicated but is a great deal more comfortable. I would ask the Solicitor-General to recede from that rigid attitude of simplicity, and not let us see once again on the altar of simplicity the immolation of fairness.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think the House will agree that my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment has put the position so clearly that very few additional words are required from me. The Clause to which this is an Amendment has the title "ascertainment of values." That is the purpose for which the whole Clause is designed. The Amendment is an attempt, on the part of those who have formulated it, to increase the fairness of that purpose. A valuer, faced with the task of valuing a house, has, in the first place, to bend his mind to the almost impossible task of trying to say what is the clear site value of the building if you take away from it all the surrounding buildings which give it any value at the present time. He has to take into consideration a mass of factors which may determine its selling power in the open market, and surely the factor to which this Amendment is directed is a perfectly measurable and ascertainable one.
I think the House will agree that the course of legislation which in recent years towards increasing the security of tenure to tenants, has been a helpful and beneficient process. One of the great characteristics of that legislation is to give a tenant the right to some monetary compensation before he is deprived of his tenancy. If you put a penalty on landowners who hold to the firm promise of compensation for disturbance, you will be acting contrary to the whole course of legislation that has tended to increase security of holding. In this case, unless the landlord is to get credit for his 1348 promise to compensate on disturbance, it seems to me that you will be placing a premium on holdings of no security, and you will discourage the beneficient process of legislation which has led to the right to compensation on disturbance. It is all very well to say that the value of a unit of land depends merely on its selling price and suitability for building. It depends on a great deal more. It depends, particularly in ordinary business, on the ease with which vacant possession can be secured, and can be handed over to a would-be purchaser. Surely, if there is any purpose in this Clause for ascertainment of value, it must be necessary for the House to bring into account a factor so important as this.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I do not think it is necessary to rely on that excellent principle which the hon. and gallant Member who proposed this Amendment thought I might rely on, because the whole Amendment is based on a complete fallacy as regards the incidence of the tax. The incidence of the tax is not an increment tax on the sale of land, it is a flat tax put upon the land value of the unit at the time being, and whether that land is ripe is material from the point of view of the incidence of the tax. If I may take the case which the hon. and gallant Member put as an illustration—a farm in the vicinity of a town or village, some parts of which had an added value over the cultivation value, and would be taxed on the difference of value between the two. He presupposes that a necessary and immediate result would be the sale of the land, and that the tax would be connected with that sale of land. That is not so. The land may wait, ripening, for 5, 10 or 15 years, and during the whole of that time the fax will be paid upon that difference of value, and it is not necessarily any incidence of that tax that there should be a supposed sale.
It is merely that the words appear in Clause 8 as a method of valuing, just as they appear in other Acts of Parliament, such as "selling price," or whatever it may be. It is the criterion a valuer has to adopt. He has not to take, for instance, the value to the owner. He has to take the fair market price, however expressed, and the words used here are the price that would be got on a hypothetical sale. The whole assumption 1349 that you should deal with this question on getting vacant possession is based on the fallacy that you are dealing here with a tax that arises upon sale, which you are not doing. You are not dealing either with any particular interest in the land. You are dealing with the whole interest in the land. If you were to take into account a figure such as is suggested here, you would be, in fact, apportioning the land value between different interests, and that is a thing quite contrary to the whole conception of the Bill. It may be that the hon. Member does not agree with the Bill—I dare say he does not—but with the Bill as it is, based on this system of taxation, to insert such a provision would be running counter to the whole principle of it.
What the Solicitor-General has said may be true. No doubt it is contrary to the principle of the Bill, but I would like to give an example analogous to that used by the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment. There is a case—I will not mention any names—which has come under my personal notice. A owns a farm which is valuable for farming purposes, and has also some further value for building purposes. The farm is leased by A to B on a long lease. A is willing to sell some of the farm land for building purposes when a prospective purchaser comes along. Meanwhile he is not holding up the land, in the sense that hon. Gentlemen opposite mean it, because it is being put to the best possible use, and even in these bare times is fetching quite a high rent as agricultural land. But before A can sell any land, he has to pay compensation to B for disturbance of his agricultural land, and the amount may be very considerable. Therefore, the value of the land to A for building purposes is the amount of its value for building purposes, less the amount of compensation which he has to pay to B.
My hon. and gallant Friend who moved his Amendment did so in the fairest possible way. He gave an example of what you can find in very many cases up and down the country. That method of letting land has increased in recent years, and I say that in such a case this Clause, as it stands, does not arrive at the true ascertainment value of the 1350 land. It does not arrive at the amount which has to be paid for compensation. That is not dealt with in the Clause. It is all very well for the Solicitor-General to say that this Amendment would go outside the intention of the Clause. I do not dispute that. But this Amendment deals with what would be a concrete grievance, when the tax is in operation, if it is not dealt with. It is only one other of so many examples that could be given of how inequitable this tax would be, because cases like that will arise, and the most careful intention on the part of the Government will be unable to avoid them unless words are there in black and white. I regret very much that the hon. and learned Gentleman has not accepted the Amendment.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I aceept the Solicitor-General's remark that this Amendment goes contrary to the Clause. It only shows one more unfairness in the Bill. A valuer has to assume that the landlord has vacant possession. That is the first point. The second point is that the landlord cannot get vacant possession without the payment of a sum of money, but still it is assumed that the land is vacant, and that he has vacant possession, and that there is no house upon it. That is obviously penalising—as my hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman have said—the landlord who has given a long security of tenure. It is obvious that in future a landlord, with the possibility of this tax rising after the first imposition to goodness knows what heights, will be careful not to tie up his land in any long tenure which will land him in the position of having a tenant at such a rent perhaps that he finds he has to pay on land of not very great agricultural value a tax which far exceeds the rent he gets from his tenant; yet he cannot get rid of that tenant without paying a sum of compensation to him to get out. The more one considers this Bill the more unfair one sees it is to the man who is at present the owner of a piece of land.
The Solicitor-General and the Government have to-day refused to allow a landlord for any improvements. The other day the case of betterment was before us, where, as the Solicitor-General says, the landlord has paid actually a sum as betterment, and has therefore paid something which the local authorities said 1351 was good for the community. He has put his money into something which benefits the country, and you are penalising him for developing his land. It is not really surprising to me that the Government reject this proposal, which is obviously fair. People who will be unable to get vacant possession, unless they pay something for it, are to be called upon to pay a tax on the value of a site as though they were in vacant possession. In some ways one regrets that the Government have not accepted the Amendment, but from the point of view of discussing this Bill in the country we shall be able to point to a large number of injustices which this Bill imposes on various people.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I think the Amendment is based on a misconception. It is quite irrelevant in valuing land under the Clause to take into consideration how it is let or how the land value tax is to be distributed after it has been claimed. There is to be a distribution as to one-twelfth. In taking the value of land under paragraph (e) it must be taken into account that the unit is free from any incumbrance except any of those mentioned in the First Schedule; and in the First Schedule hon. Members will see paragraph (g) which says:restrictions on user which have become operative imposed by or in pursuance of any Act or by any agreement (not being a lease to which the unit is subject):The unit as a whole is valued, and at is quite irrelevant as to the distribution of the tax, on the one hand, and how the land is let, on the other. I think the Amendment is based on a fallacy.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
If hon. Members will refer to the first part of this Clause they will get a better idea of what the valuer has to do in order to decide the value of the unit. It says that he shallcause to be ascertained, as at that date, the land value of every land unit, that is to say, the amount which the fee simple thereof with vacant possession might have been expected to realise upon a sale in the open market on the valuation date.How are you going to get the value of a unit with vacant possession unless the unit is sold? That shows the difficulty of trying to impose a tax on land and to 1352 assume the value of the land for building purposes as a free site when the land is sold with the buildings upon it. That is our difficulty. It shows that these valuations which are to be made are purely hypothetical. I want to ask the Solicitor-General a question. How would he value the site upon which the Bank of England stands 2 I can understand how it is possible to value the land of various concerns around the Bank of England, because that value is dependent on the fact that the Bank of England is there, but if you take away the Bank of England from the site how are you going to value the site upon which the Bank stands? It is practically impossible. The Stock Exchange is another example. It is almost impossible to value the land of the Stock Exchange itself, because its value does not depend on the buildings that are around it. The value of the buildings around it depends on the fact that the Stock Exchange is there, just as the value of the property around the Bank of England exists because the Bank of England is there. It is impossible to value a sate unless it is sold.
Assume that you have a site in the City of London, or anywhere else, and on that site there is a building and on that building a lease, not a long lease, a lease of 10 or 11 years. The valuer wants to value the site without the building upon it, but the owner says that he cannot get possession. It is impossible for the owner to do what is laid down in this Clause, that is to get vacant possession, because if he wants to get vacant possession he will have to pay a big premium to the person who has a lease on the building. He cannot get a free site and sell it. Assume that there is a building on a site—I know a few in Lancashire—and that the building is an old unoccupied mill. How are you going to value that site? Are you going to assume that that site is free and open, ready for another building to be erected upon it; and are you going to value it as a free and open site? It is not a free and open site, because on that site is a building, and at would probably cost more to demolish the building than the site itself is worth. In taking the value of that land you have to take into consideration the cost of demolishing the building on the site, otherwise you cannot get at the real site value of the land, with vacant possession.
§ Viscount CRANBORNE
I respectfully differ from the Solicitor-General who says that there is a fallacy in this Amendment. Only the other day he made a statement which supported the principle underlying this proposal. I remember his saying that in a case where an owner was able to make some arrangement with a local authority under a town planning scheme not to build on his land for a certain number of years, the tax would be proportionately reduced. In the case of a land owner who has scheduled his property as an open space he is to pay no tax because the land cannot be taken for development. By these two admissions the Solicitor-General has completely given away his case, and it ill befits him to go back upon it now.
§ Major HILLS
We have been told by the Solicitor-General that this Amendment is inconsistent with the main principle of the Bill and that the valuer is not concerned with the distribution of ownership, but only with the value of the land. May I point out that the incidence of the tax will be different? You are careful under Clause 16 to give the leaseholder the right to recoup himself out of the rent he pays, but you give no corresponding right to the owner to recoup himself. Although my hon. and gallant Friend may not have succeeded in convincing the Solicitor-General he has at any rate pointed out a flaw in the Bill. Take a common case where land is let for a fairly long period, not for 50 years, at a very low rent, a rent a good deal less than the rack rent. The owner cannot deal with that land; he cannot make betterment. He cannot sell, because the land is subject to a lease, but a man who has an identical plot may be able to sell. Surely the tax will fall upon him much more lightly; and it falls much more heavily on the first man. Assuming that the land tax is to be imposed the Solicitor-General I believe wants to be fair between one landowner and another, but in this case he is being extremely unfair. From what I know of him I hope he will endeavour to rectify it. It is not rectified by Clause 16 or
§ by Clause 27, and it is a real evil. There may be some objection to accepting the Amendment, but there is a real practical injustice here which should be remedied.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I suggest that the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) and the Solicitor-General have not entirely met the Amendment. The Solicitor-General says that this is not a tax upon sales but upon the actual value of the land, and he used the term "market value." There is an old saying that things are worth what they will fetch, and if any land is saddled with a lease or anything which entails the payment of compensation for disturbance, it will fetch a great deal less than land which is not so saddled. I have tried to sell land and I know.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It will fetch the same, but the money will be distributed differently. The leaseholder will get something.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I appreciate the point if the land is sold with vacant possession, but I was assuming that the purchaser would have to get rid of the tenant. It may be a different distribution, but under this Bill the tenant who will get a proportion does not pay any of the tax. The only person who pays it is the landlord, who will, in fact, get lese money for his land because it is saddled with a lease. It may be argued that this can be remedied by the leases which are made after the tax is imposed. That is so, something can be put into every lease to provide that some proportion of the tax is to be paid by the tenant.
§ It being half-past Seven of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Orders of the House of 4th and 29th June, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 216; Noes, 288.1357
|Division No. 366.]||AYES.||[7.31 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Balniel, Lord|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Atholl, Duchess of||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Baillie-Hamliton, Hon. Charles W.||Beaumont, M. W.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Betterton, Sir Henry B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Galbraith, J. F. W.||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Boyce, Leslie||Gower, Sir Robert||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Bracken, B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Greene, W P. Crawford||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Buchan, John||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Remer, John R.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Butler, R. A.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hammersley, S. S.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hartington, Marquess of||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Haslam, Henry C.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Sandsman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Skelton, A. N.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Christle, J. A.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Somerset, Thomas|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurd, Percy A.||Somerville, A. A (Windsor)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Iveagh, Countess of||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Moiton)||Thompson, Luke|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lane Fox, Cot. Rt. Hon. George R.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Croft, Brigadier General Sir H.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby. High Peak)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Train, J.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F, (Somerset, Yeovil)||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Dixey, A. C.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Lymington, Viscount||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macquisten, F. A.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|England, Colonel A.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Withers, Sir John James|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Fermoy, Lord||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Muirhead, A. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Nail-Cain A. R. N.||Sir George Penny and Major the|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Barnes, Alfred John||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Barr, James||Broad, Francis Alfred|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Batey, Joseph||Brockway, A. Fenner|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Bromfield, William|
|Alpass, J. H.||Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Bromley, J.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brooke, W.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brothers, M.|
|Arnott, John||Benson, G.||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Birkett, W. Norman||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)|
|Ayles, Walter||Blinded, James||Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Buchanan, G.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Bowen, J. W.||Burgess, F. G.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Calne, Hall-, Derwent||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Cameron, A. G.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Richards, R.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Chater, Daniel||Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Kinley, J.||Ritson, J.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Knight, Holford||Romeril, H. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lathan, G, (Sheffield, Park)||Rowson, Guy|
|Compton, Joseph||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Cove, William G.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cowan, D. M.||Lawrence, Susan||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Daggar, George||Lawson, John James||Sanders, W. S.|
|Dallas, George||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Sandham, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Leach, W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Scott James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Scurr, John|
|Day, Harry||Less, J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leonard, W.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shield, George William|
|Dukes, C.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Duncan, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Longbottom, A. W.||Shinwell, E.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Longden, F.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Simmons, C. J.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Elmley, Viscount||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Seaham)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Foot, Isaac||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Sinkinson, George|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||McElwee, A.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, V. L.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Smith Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||McKinlay, A.||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Mac Laren, Andrew||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Gill, T. H.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gillett, George M.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Glassey, A. E.||Mac Neill-Weir, L.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gossling, A. G.||McShane, John James||Sorensen, R.|
|Gould, F.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Manning, E. L.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Gray, Milner||Mansfield, W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||March, S.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marcus, M.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Markham, S. F.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Marley, J.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Marshall, Fred||Tillett, Ben|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mathers, George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Matters, L. W.||Toole, Joseph|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Maxton, James||Tout, W. J.|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Messer, Fred||Townend, A. E.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Middleton, G.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Millar, J. D.||Vaughan, David|
|Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Morley, Ralph||Walkden, A. G.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Walker, J.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mort, D. L.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Muff, G.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Murnin, Hugh||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Naylor, T. E.||West, F. R.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Herriotts, J.||Noel Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Hicks, Ernest George||Oldfield, J. R.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hollins, A.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Paling, Wilfrid||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Palmer, E. T.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Isaacs, George||Perry, S. F.||Winterton, G. E. (Lelcester, Loughb'gh)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wise, E. F.|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pole, Major D. G.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Potts, John S.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Price, M. P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pybus, Percy John||Mr. Thurtle and Mr. Charleton.|
§ Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions on any Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given to that part of the Bill to be concluded at half-past Seven of the Clock at this day's Sitting.
Amendment made, in page 6, line 29, after the word "any," insert the words
agricultural cottages or."—[The Solicitor-General.]