HC Deb 14 December 1937 vol 330 cc1006-65

4.14 p.m.

Mr. Keeling

I beg to move, in page 8, line 42, to leave out from "to," to the end of the Clause, and to add: and in accordance with the following provisions, that is to say:—

  1. (a) the said rules shall have effect subject to such modifications as are requisite by virtue of the fact that the said premises are to vest by virtue of this Part of this Act in lieu of being conveyed;
  2. (b) full regard shall be had to the nature of the said premises in all respects and, in particular, in determining whether any act or omission involves a breach of the obligation imposed on a vendor by the said rules to take due care of land that is the subject of a contract for sale, no person shall be treated as under obligation to exercise any greater measure of care in relation to any of the said premises than is exercised under the ordinary practice of the management of mineral estates by prudent owners in relation to property that is to continue in their ownership; and
  3. 1007
  4. (c) the contract for sale to be assumed for the purposes of the said rules shall be a contract providing expressly that the vendor should be entitled to the possession and enjoyment of the property until the date fixed for completion and to the benefit of the rents and profits thereof accruing up to that date, and that rents and profits accruing, or coal worked, before that date from a mine of coal that is opened after the date of the contract should be treated in like manner as if the mine had been open at the date thereof."
I suggest that the Clause as it stands is far from clear and that it ought to be made more specific. As it stands, it is almost certain to lead to litigation, having regard to the wasting nature of the property that is being transferred. In this respect coal does not resemble land, which has no wasting nature. I think I can best make clear my meaning if I ask hon. Members to look at Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Clause 8. At the end of Subsection (1), the words such modifications as are … otherwise requisite by virtue of the provisions of this Act, are extremely vague: they could hardly be more vague. In Sub-section (2), I make no complaint about paragraph (a), which is reproduced as paragraph (c) of my Amendment, except that the words of my Amendment are certainly more precise. Paragraph (b) seems to me to be superfluous, if it refers only to taxes on royalties. Paragraph (c) also seems to be unnecessary, because rents always are apportioned up to the date of completion, or the date fixed for completion. Paragraph (d) leaves one in doubt as to whether it is the lessor or lessee to whom reference is made. I do not understand paragraph (e), because there are no obligations attaching to royalties other than checking measurements or tonnage. The Amendment in the names of my hon. Friends and myself is an attempt to make the terms of the Clause more clear.

4.17 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

There is force in the criticisms which my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) has levelled against the wording of this Clause. It has always been our intention that in the application of the rules of law and equity in the interim period, due regard should be had to the fact that we are dealing with coal and coal premises and not with houses or land. I think it is a fair criticism to say that the specific matters as stated in Sub-section (2) of the Clause are more applicable to land and to houses than to coal. As my hon. Friend has said, his Amendment makes the matter more clear than it is in the Clause as drafted at present. The Amendment seems to me to be acceptable.

4.19 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

Before the Committee accepts the Amendment, I think we might have from the hon. and learned Gentleman an explanation as to the implications of paragraph (c) which reads: The contract for sale to be assumed for the purposes of the said rules shall be a contract providing expressly that the vendor should be entitled to the possession and enjoyment of the property until the date fixed for completion, and to the benefit of the rents and profits thereof accruing up to that date …" etc. Would that mean providing for the vendor more rights than are intended in the Bill? If the hon. and learned Gentleman can satisfy me that the vendor is not given more rights, I should naturally give way to his opinion. There is no desire on the part of hon. Members on this side to prevent any vendor obtaining his full rights, but we want an assurance that no more than the vendor's just rights are to be involved.

4.21 p.m.

The Attorney-General

I can certainly give the hon. Gentleman that assurance. The first part of this paragraph does no more than make it clear that in the interim period the royalties go to the existing royalty owners. That is the basis on which we have already had many discussions. Hon. Members opposite put down an Amendment to vary that decision, but all that is done in the Amendment is to introduce more appropriate words to make the position clear. The wording represents exactly what would have been the result under Subsection (2) (a) of the Clause as drafted, although there it was not stated so expressly as it is in the Amendment. There need be no doubt that this provision of the Amendment carries out what is the intention of the Bill. May I add, with regard to the opening of a new mine, that it is intended, of course, that during the interim period the royalty owners should have the right to open a new mine if the demand for coal and the economic and national circumstances make it right that that new mine should be opened. If it were not for the express wording of the Amendment, the position might have been that under the ordinary rules of law and equity he would not have been entitled so to act, as it might have made an alteration which the vendor who had entered into the contract would not have been entitled to make.

Mr. Short

May I ask whether, during the interim period, the royalty owners will have to obtain the permission of the Coal Commission before opening a new mine, or will they have freedom of action?

The Attorney-General

In granting a new lease, they will have to get the consent of the Commission. If a new mine can be opened under an existing lease, I do not think they will need to get that permission.

4.24 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

As I have an Amendment on the Paper—in page 9, line II, to leave out from "period," to the end of the paragraph—concerning the control which the Coal Commission is to have over the opening of new mines in the interim period, which touches upon the Amendment now under discussion, may I ask you, Captain Bourne, whether I ought to raise that point now, since it seems to me, from the answer given by the Attorney-General, that the Amendment under discussion deals with the same point that I intend to raise in my Amendment?

The Deputy-Chairman

The position is this. If this Amendment is accepted by the Committee, the first part of it will delete that portion of the Clause to which the hon. Member's Amendment is down. Therefore, obviously he could not raise his Amendment. It would be appropriate for the hon. Member to raise any point he wishes to make before this Amendment is accepted by the Committee.

Mr. Lawson

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade or the Secretary for Mines what is to be the position of the Coal Commission in regard to the opening of new mines during the interim period? If new mines are to be opened, there must be some control by the Commission during that period, since the functions of the Commission from the time they begin to operate are definitely that they shall be charged with the duty of granting coal-mining leases and otherwise, in such manner consistently with the provisions of this Act as they think best for promoting the interests, efficiency and better organisation of the coal-mining industry. If that is necessary with regard to the mines now in operation, and bearing in mind that the President of the Board of Trade said that the functions of the Commission were to be taken so seriously that they would deal with the safety of the working of coal, involving the lives of the men as well as the proper working of the seams, it would seem to be logical that the Commission should have some definite control over mines that are to be opened during the interim period, and that their permission should be asked as to whether sinking should take place, and where it should take place, and that they should approve everything connected with the proper working of that coal and the general efficiency of the mines. I do not say that there is the possibility of a ramp in this interim period, but there is the possibility at any rate of mines being sunk in places which would perhaps not be approved of by the Commission. Naturally, the manner in which the mine is sunk very often affects the working of the Coal.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

I see the hon. Member's point, but the Amendment which we are now discussing deals only with the destination of the rents and profits of the mine itself, and would not affect the sort of control which he has in mind I wonder whether the subject he is raising would not be much more appropriately raised on Clause 9, which deals with the measure of control over the granting of leases in the interim period.

Mr. Lawson

It is true that this Amendment deals with the destination of the rents, but if Clause 8 passes as it is, the rents are assured upon mines that are opened during the interim period, without there being any safeguard concerning the opening of those mines and the consent of the Commission. I do not see any provision in this Clause in which it is laid down that the permission of the Commission will have to be obtained for the opening of a new mine. The main point of the Amendment which I have on the Paper, and with which I wish to deal now, is to ask the Secretary for Mines what is to be the position of the Commission with regard to the opening of these new mines? Will people be allowed to open a mine, without reference to the Commission, during the interim period of 3½ years? If it is necessary for the Commission to have control over the efficiency of the working of mines now open, it seems to be not less important that they should be consulted before new mines are opened and should have some judgment in the matter of whether a mine should be opened and the general position of the sinking of it. There is not a word in the Clause dealing with the Commission's position in relation to new mines in this period and it would be a help if the right hon. Gentleman were, in the meantime, to make a statement to the Committtee on that subject.

4.31 p.m.

Colonel Wedgwood

On a point of Order. There is an Amendment later on the Paper, in which some of my hon. Friends and I are interested, in relation to compensation for subsidence. That Amendment proposes to insert a new Subsection at the end of line 24. If the Amendment now under discussion is carried, line 24 will no longer exist. I wish to know whether the Amendment which we are now discussing can be put in such a way as to safeguard the later Amendment to which I have referred.

The Deputy-Chairman

The Amendment which is now under discussion by the Committee proposes to delete certain words of the Clause and to insert other words in their place. The Amendment to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman refers, will not be affected if the present Amendment is carried. He or his hon. Friends can move to add their words "after the words last added."

4.32 p.m.

Mr. Stanley

I suggested to the hon. Gentleman opposite that it might be more appropriate to discuss on Clause 9 the point raised by him, because I think that the hon. Member will find the answer to his question in Clause 9. If he examines the Amendment which has been proposed by my hon. and learned Friend he will see that paragraph (b), taken, of course, in conjunction with the rules of law and equity, does provide for the manner in which during the interim period, the owner can dispose of and manage his property. If the hon. Member also looks at Clause 9 he will see that if the owner proposes during the interim period to grant either a new lease or a renewal, he must send a copy of that lease to the Commission. In the case of a new lease—the kind of case which the hon. Gentleman has in mind—if the lease has not been effected with the consent of the Commission, then the owner runs the risk that anything which he does without that consent, may be challenged in the courts by the Commission as being a breach of his duty under Clause 8 and he may be made liable for damages. Through that machinery the Commission will have that measure of control over the opening of new mines, where new leases are granted during the interim period.

Mr. Lawson

But is not that a negative control? Notice has to be given to the Commission, and they are to have some knowledge of what is proceeding. But have they a power of refusal if they think it is not desirable to open a new mine in a particular place? Have they any control over a new mine being opened in this period such as they design to have under Clause 2?

Mr. Stanley

I think the power to which I have referred is very effective when we are dealing with business people who, according to hon. Members opposite, are actuated solely by the motive of profit. Are they going to run the risk of having a claim brought against them by the Commission and of having damages given against them because they would not accept the variations which the Commission suggested? I submit that, in practice, that is a measure of control. Although, as the hon. Gentleman has said, it appears, in theory to be a negative sort of control, in practice the possibility of an action for damages will be an effective deterrent of any misuse of the property, or any use of the property which would be contrary to the wishes of the Commission.

4.36 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

In spite of the explanations which have been offered, it appears to me that the words of the Clause as originally drafted afford all the protection that is necessary, and I cannot understand why the Attorney-General should have so readily accepted this drastic Amendment by which practically all the words of the original Clause will be deleted. Nor can I understand why, if the proposed words are so desirable, they were not thought of by the Government and the draftsman when the Bill was being prepared. In all the circumstances, I think it desirable to divide against this Amendment.

4.37 p.m.

Mr. Spens

Paragraph (b) is one of the most important parts of the Amendment. It is a protection for the Commission. Under it, a vendor becomes the trustee, to some extent, for the Commission during the interim period and has to look after the property so that he will deliver more or less what he has sold. The rules of law and equity, as regards the obligations of a vendor during the contract period, are clear and definite as regards ordinary surface land and buildings. But in the case of mines which are to continue working, I do not think there is any lawyer who could say with certainty what difficulties may not arise under the rules as to the obligations of the vendor. Our criticism of the Clause as originally drafted was that the exact obligation of the vendor as regards not only maintaining and working the existing mine but also the opening of other mines was left in doubt.

It is true that under Clause 9 the consent of the Commission is required to certain new leases, but it does not seem to go far enough, whereas paragraph (b) of this Amendment establishes the fact that the obligations of the coalowners as vendors, are to be the obligations of prudent owners who intend to remain in possession of the property, and not of owners who are about to sell the property. If during the interim period, any of the owners were guilty of waste in the running and working of the existing mines or in the opening of new mines, or did anything of that sort, the Commission could go to the courts and get an injunction against them for breach of their obligations under paragraph (b). Therefore, I submit that, so far from this Amendment being against the interest which the hon. Gentleman opposite represents, it is in favour of that interest, and it has advantages for all parties, in that it clarifies the position and provides a yardstick with which can be measured what is done during the intervening period.

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) is an excellent leader, and perhaps it may be necessary on some future occasion to requisition his services. In the Clause as originally drafted the following words occur: obligations to take due care of, and to repair the said premises. If the hon. and learned Member looks at the proposed Amendment he will find the words: no person shall be treated as under obligation to exercise any greater measure of care in relation to any of the said premises than is exercised under the ordinary practice of the management of mineral estates by prudent owners in relation to property that is to continue in their ownership. Are not those words a serious modification of the original words? Do they not offer a greater measure of relief to the owners, and will not that be detrimental to the Commission?

Mr. Spens

My criticism of the original draft of the Clause was that it simply stated the obligations to take due care of and repair the premises, and provided no sort of yardstick. It was simply left to the rules of law and equity, but I do not think it would be easy to find a yardstick to measure what those obligations would have been under rules of law and equity. This Amendment provides a yardstick. It is that the mines should be carried on and looked after in exactly the same way as a prudent owner would look after them, not if he were about to sell, but if he were about to continue in possession of them. It is a yardstick which is well known to the courts, and concerning which there will be no difficulty, and we think it is a greater protection for the Commission than the vague words of the Clause as originally drafted.

4.43 p.m.

Sir Hugh Seely

The Attorney-General said that in the case of a new lease it would be necessary to go to the Commission, but that it would not be necessary in the case of an old lease. Suppose a case in which a colliery company owns a coalfield and under their lease sub-let to another company the working of part of the coal. That is really a new lease to the other colliery company, but it comes under the old lease of the original company. What is to be the position in a case like that?

The Attorney-General

That question really arises on the next Clause, and I will deal with it when we reach that point.

4.44 p.m.

Mr. Short

I was not satisfied with the statement of the President of the Board of Trade who based his reply entirely on Clause 9. As I understand it, Clause 9 deals with existing leases and with variations and renewals of leases. I asked the Attorney-General whether royalty owners would have to seek the permission of the Commission if they desired to start new mines, and he said if the lease was from the Commission there would be consultation, but if the property was in the ownership of the royalty owners there would be no consultation. The Commission, I understand, have the right to search and bore for coal, but are not entitled to engage in coal mining. Is it possible for them during the interim period to search and bore for coal and, having discovered coal, to lease it? If so, I presume there will be consultation. I should like to ask what powers the Commission have during the interim period regarding the opening of new mines. I mean a new coal mine which presumably falls within the control of the Coal Commission. Perhaps the Attorney-General will be good enough to explain the point.

4.46 p.m.

The Attorney-General

The Commission have no power to search and bore for coal until after the vesting date. In this Amendment we are solely dealing with the position as between the valuation date and the vesting date. Perhaps I did not make myself clear when I spoke before. What I intended to deal with was a case in which the opening of a new mine involved the granting of a new lease. If the hon. Member will look at Clause 17 (1) he will see that sub-leases are forbidden during this period, so I do not think that question arises. On the other hand, if a new mine can be opened without the granting of a new lease or sub-lease then, whether it can or cannot properly be opened will depend on the words to which my right hon. Friend referred, which are embodied in the new Amendment. The test will be whether a prudent colliery company, dealing with the matter in this period, would open a mine. If they would, then, obviously, it ought to be done, but if they would not, they may find themselves in trouble for having done an act which will render them liable to action at law.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 253.

Division No. 55.] AYES. [4.47 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Ede, J. C. Lunn, W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Adamson, W. M. Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. McGhee, H. G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Gallacher, W. MacLaren, A.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Gardner, B. W. Mainwaring, W. H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Garro Jones, G. M. Maxton, J.
Banfield, J. W. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F.
Barnes, A. J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Montague, F.
Barr, J. Grenfell, D. R. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Batey, J. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Naylor, T. E.
Bellenger, F. J. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Benson, G. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Oliver, G. H.
Bevan, A. Hardie, Agnes Paling, W.
Broad, F. A. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Parker, J.
Bromfield, W. Hayday, A. Price, M. P.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Quibell, D. J. K.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ridley, G.
Buchanan, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Riley, B.
Burke, W. A. Hollins, A. Ritson, J.
Cape, T. Jagger, J. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Cassells, T. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Charleton, H. C. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton. T. M.
Chater, D. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Shinwell, E.
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Short, A.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Kirby, B. V. Silverman, S. S.
Cove, W. G. Kirkwood, D. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lathan, G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Daggar, G. Lawton, J. J. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leach, W. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lee, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leonard, W. Stephen, C.
Dobbie, W. Leslie, J. R. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Logan, D. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Thorne, W. Watson, W. McL. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Thurtle, E. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Tinker, J. J. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Walkden, A. G. Wilkinson, Ellen
Walker, J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Watkins, F. C. Williams, T. (Don Valley) Mr. Mathers and Mr. Groves.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Errington, E. Markham, S. F.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Marsden, Commander A.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Everard, W. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Fleming, E. L. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Foot, D. M. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Aske, Sir R. W. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Furness, S. N. Moreing, A. C.
Atholl, Duchess of Fyfe, D. P. M. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Ganzoni, Sir J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Munro, P.
Balniel, Lord Gluckstein, L. H. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Partsm'h) Grant-Ferris, R. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Beit, Sir A. L. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) O'Connor, Sir Terence J
Bennett, Sir E. N. Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Gridley, Sir A. B. Owen, Major G.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Griffith, F. Kingstey (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Palmer, G. E. H.
Boyce, H. Leslie Grimston, R. V. Patrick, C. M.
Brass, Sir W. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Peake, O.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Perkins, W. R. D.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Guinness, T. L. E. B. Petherick, M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Gunston, Capt. D. W. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Brown, Brig.-Gun. H. C. (Newbury) Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Pilkington, R.
Burton, Col. H. W. Hannah, I. C. Porritt, R. W.
Butcher, H. W. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Procter, Major H. A.
Butler, R. A. Harbord, A. Radford, E. A.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Harris, Sir P. A. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Cary, R. A. Hartington, Marquess of Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Rayner, Major R. H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Hepworth, J. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Channon, H. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Christie, J. A. Higgs, W. F. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Clarke, F. E. (Dartford) Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Holdtworth, H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Holmes, J. S. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Colfox, Major W. P. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Rowlands, G.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Horsbrugh, Florence Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Howitt, Dr. A. B. Russell, Sir Alexander
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hunter, T. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Hutchinson, G. C. Salt, E. W.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Sandys, E. D.
Cox, H. B. Trevor Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Savery, Sir Servington
Craven-Ellis, W. Keeling, E. H. Scott, Lord William
Crooke, J. S. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Seely, Sir H. M.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Cross, R. H. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Crossley, A. C. Kimball, L. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Crowder, J. F. E. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Culverwell, C. T. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Lees-Jones, J. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Davison, Sir W. H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
De la Bère, R. Levy, T. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lewis, O. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Denville, Alfred Liddall, W. S. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Drewe, C. Lindsay, K. M. Spens. W. P.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Lipson, D. L. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Loftus, P. C. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Duggan, H. J. Lyons, A. M. Storey, S.
Dunglass, Lord. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Eastwood, J. F. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. McKie, J. H. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Ellis, Sir G. Macquisten, F. A. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Elmley, Viscount Magnay, T. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Emery, J. F. Maitland, A. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Thomas, J. P. L.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mander, G. le M. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Entwistle, Sir C. F. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Touche, G. C.
Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C. Wells, S. R. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Turton, R. H. While, H. Graham Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Wakefield, W. W. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham) Wragg, H.
Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan Willoughby de Eresby, Lord Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Warrender, Sir V. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Watt, Major G. S. Harvie Wise, A. R. Captain Waterhouse and Captain
Wayland, Sir W. A Withers, Sir J. J. Dugdale.
Wedderburn, H. J. S. Womersley, Sir W. J.

Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 248; Noes, 111.

Division No. 56.] AYES. [4.57 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lindsay, K. M.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Ellis, Sir G. Lipson, D. L.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Elmley, Viscount Loftus, P. C.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Emery, J. F. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Emmott, C. E. G. C. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Emrys-Evans, P. V. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Entwistle, Sir C. F. McKie, J. H.
Aske, Sir R. W. Errington, E. Maclay, Hon. J. P.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Macquisten, F. A.
Atholl, Duchess of Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Magnay, T.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Everard, W. L. Maitland, A.
Balniel, Lord Fleming, E. L. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Foot, D. M. Mander, G. le M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Fox, Sir G. W. G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Beit, Sir A. L. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Markham, S. F.
Bennett, Sir E. N. Furness, S. N. Marsden, Commander A.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Fyfe, D. P. M. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Gonzoni, Sir J. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Boyce, H. Leslie George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Brass, Sir W. Gluckstein, L. H. Mills. Sir F. (Leyton, E.)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Grant-Ferris, R. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Moreing, A. C.
Brown, Brig.-Gen H. C. (Newbury) Gretton Col. Rt. Hon. J. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Burton, Col. H. W. Gridley, Sir A. B. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Butcher, H. W. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Munro, P.
Butler, R. A. Grimston, R. V. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Cary, R. A. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Guinness, T. L. E. B. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Gunston, Capt. D. W. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hannah, I. C. Owen, Major G.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Palmer, G. E. H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Harbord, A. Patrick, C. M.
Channon, H. Harris, Sir P. A. Peake, O.
Christie, J. A. Hartington, Marquess of Perkins, W. R. D.
Clarke, F. E. (Dartford) Harvey, Sir G. Petherick, M.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Pilkington, R.
Colfox, Major W. P. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Porritt, R. W.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hepburn, P. G- T. Buchan. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Hepworth, J. Procter, Major H. A.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Radford, E. A.
Cooke, S. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Higgs, W. F. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Holdsworth, H. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Holmes, J. S. Rayner, Major R. H.
Cox, H. B. Trevor Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Craven-Ellis, W. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Crooke, J. S. Horsbrugh, Florence Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Howitt, Dr. A. B. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Cross, R. H. Hunter, T. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Crossley, A. C. Hutchinson, G. C. Ropner, Colonel L.
Crowder, J. F. E. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Culverwell, C. T. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Rowlands, G.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Keeling, E. H. Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Davison, Sir W. H. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrese) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
De la Bère, R. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Russell, Sir Alexander
Denman, Hon. R. D. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Kimball, L. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Drewe, C. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Sandys, E. D.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Savery, Sir Servington
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Lees-Jones, J. Scott, Lord William
Duggan, H. J. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Seely, Sir H. M.
Dunglass, Lord. Levy, T. Selley, H. R.
Eastwood, J. F. Lewis, O. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Liddall, W. S. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) White, H. Graham
Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's) Thomas, J. P. L. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Touche, G. C. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Wise, A. R.
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Turton, R. H. Withers, Sir J. J.
Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Wakefield, W. W. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Spens, W. P. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend) Wragg, H.
Storey, S. Warrender, Sir V. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Stourton, Major Hon. J. J. Waterhouse, Captain C. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Wayland, Sir W. A TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Tasker, Sir R. I. Wedderburn, H. J. S. Mr. James Stuart and Captain
Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wells, S. R. Dugdale.
Adams, D. (Consett) Grenfell, D. R. Parker, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Price, M. P.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Quibell, D. J. K.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Ridley, G.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hardie, Agnes Riley, B.
Banfield, J. W. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Ritson, J.
Barnes, A. J. Hayday, A. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Barr, J. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Batey, J. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Sexton. T. M.
Bellenger, F. J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Shinwell, E.
Benson, G. Hollins, A. Short, A.
Bevan, A. Jagger, J. Silverman, S. S.
Broad, F. A. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Bromfield, W. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Buchanan, G. Kirby, B. V. Sorensen, R. W.
Burke, W. A. Kirkwood, D. Stephen, C.
Cape, T. Lathan, G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cassells, T. Lawson, J. J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Charleton, H. C. Leach, W. Thorne, W.
Chater, D. Lee, F. Thurtle, E.
Cluse, W. S. Leonard, W. Tinker, J. J.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Leslie, J. R. Walkden, A. G.
Cove, W. G. Logan, D. G. Walker, J.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lunn, W. Watkins, F. C.
Davidson. J. J. (Maryhill) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Watson, W. McL.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) McGhee, H. G. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) MacLaren, A. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Dobbie, W. Mainwaring, W. H. Wilkinson, Ellen
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Mathers, G. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Ede, J. C. Maxton, J. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Messer, F. Windsor, W. (Hull. C.)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Montague, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Gallacher, W. Naylor, T. E. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Gardner, B. W. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Garro Jones, G. M. Oliver, G. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Paling, W. Mr. Groves and Mr. Adamson.
The Deputy-Chairman

In view of the Amendment which has just been passed, perhaps the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) will move the Amendment on the Paper with the slight alteration of leaving out the reference to Sub-section (2) so that the first line shall read: Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection (1) of this Section" etc.

5.7 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Henderson

I beg to move, after the words last added, to add: (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of 5ub-section (1) of this Section—

  1. (a) the Commission shall on and from the valuation date be liable in the event of any damage caused to a dwelling-house or to the property of a local authority by subsidence 1022 consequent upon the mining of coal to compensate the owner of such dwelling-house or the local authority in respect thereof;
  2. (b) the amount of such compensation shall be ascertained by the Commission in accordance with regulations to be made by the Board of Trade based upon the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919 relating to the assessment and determination of compensation;
  3. (c) the Commission shall ascertain the total amount of such compensation which it shall be liable to pay on or before the vesting date; and
  4. (e) the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Sub-section shall have effect notwithstanding any term express or implied in any contract, deed, or conveyance other than any contract, deed, or conveyance entered into or executed by the Commission."
The object of this Amendment briefly is to secure the payment of compensation for damage caused by mining subsidence. Hon. Members who were present last week during the Debate on the Amendment which sought to compel provision to be made for the prevention of subsidence will agree that considerable light was thrown on this subject by the speeches that were then made. But if those speeches were not sufficient, I would invite hon. Members to pay a visit to any substantial colliery district in the country, where they will find hundreds of mute witnesses of the havoc that has resulted from mining subsidence. Especially if they care to visit the Black Country or the Potteries, they will find hundreds of houses which have lost their shape, the walls of which are at all angles, with front rooms that are in some cases higher than the back rooms and vice versa, where damage has been caused to drains and roads. No matter where one goes, one will find that this is a common condition in mining districts. This, of course, results in considerable loss to the owners of the houses, and loss also to the local authorities of the district because of the necessity for repairing the damage done to their roads.

This is not a local question. It has become almost a national scandal. At any rate, the Government in 1923 apparently considered it to be sufficiently serious to justify the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the effects of mining subsidence, and I find that one of their terms of reference was to inquire into the extent and gravity of the damage caused by mining subsidence. They sat for nearly four years and reported in 1927, and it is interesting to study some of the recommendations which were made by them. First of all, we find a reference in the report to the loss suffered by house-owners. On page 25 of the report, paragraph 37, the Commissioners state that it is impossible not to be impressed with the seriousness of the actual damage we saw. It would be possible even to-day to take the Minister, if he would come, and show him the seriousness of the actual damage caused by the subsidence of many working-class houses. In my own constituency this has become a real, live question as a result of the loss which has been occasioned to large numbers of working men, many of whom have invested all their life savings, perhaps £200 or £300, in purchasing their small houses. Subsequently, a subsidence takes place, and they are faced with the necessity of spending £40, £50, £60, perhaps £100, in order to repair the damage caused by subsidence. The Commission made special reference to small houses, and I am sure the Committee will forgive me if I quote from their report on this aspect of the problem. On page 42 of the report they say: We do not doubt that very many small houses erected on these unprotected sites in mining areas have been purchased by mine and other industrial workers without due appreciation of the subsidence risk involved. We are not surprised that this should have been so. Even although in a mining area with evidence of subsidence and its consequences on every side, an intelligent worker particularly when buying a house should hardly have been unconscious that the chance that subsidence might in time affect his own purchase was at least a risk however remote it may have seemed. But against this we remember that with him the consideration above all others always is that his house shall be near his work. An unprotected site well placed in that respect is for him better than a protected site elsewhere. We are satisfied that so far as the owners of these small houses are concerned there are existent many cases of genuine hardship, and it is this circumstance which has seemed to most of us alone to justify the recommendation which with reference to existing houses of this type in private ownership we embody later in the report. They make a recommendation that compensation should be paid to these small house-owners. Later on, in paragraph 92, they say: Except in relation to small dwelling-houses in private ownership no sufficient case for such interference has, we think, been made in evidence. Even in the case of the site for the small dwellinghouse the landowner may not have been able to sell with right of support or compensation for damage; but he was under no obligation to sell. The other party however had to buy because a house in the area was for him a necessity and the area was limited. Finally, the Commission recommended that compensation should be paid to certain categories of small house-owners. It is perfectly true that the Commissioners restricted their recommendation to small house-owners and excluded business premises. They restricted the right to compensation to private owners or occupiers of dwellinghouses, wholly or mainly designed for residential purposes, of a gross value of £40 or under. They recommended that compensation should be paid only where damage was manifest at the time the Act was to become law or became manifest subsequent to the passing of the Act. They recommended also that the damage must be to the permanent structure of the house or its accessories, such as the drainage, water, or lighting system.

Then the question arose whether, where a right to claim compensation existed under the contract under which the owner of the house held title, any right to compensation was to be given in addition to that contractual right. It was recommended by the Commission that where the claim did not exceed £700 the person who suffered damage, even though he might have a right to claim compensation under his contract to purchase, should still have the right to obtain benefit under the procedure recommended by the Commission. The reason for that was that evidence was given before the Commission which showed that in many cases it was impossible for the small owner to take advantage of his contractual right. In my constituency there is an Act of Parliament known as the Pensnett Chase Act, passed in 1784. The mining area of Staffordshire is one of the oldest in the British Isles, and this Act of Parliament contains a Section permitting a claim to be made for compensation in respect of damage from mining subsidence, but for some technical reason the Section has been a dead letter. It has never been found possible to make use of it, and it has been of no assistance whatsoever in the many hundreds of cases where damage has occurred in the area. This point was dealt with by the Commission, which said, in paragraph 122 of their report: We have so far been dealing only with the cases of damage brought to our notice in which the owner of the surface property has no right of redress against anybody. It was, however, represented to us, on behalf particularly of the small property owner entitled to compensation for his surface damage, that a claimant had frequently a difficulty in prosecuting or making good his claim against, it might be, a powerful' corporation. That does not only apply to powerful corporations, but to corporations which in economic resources could not be described as powerful, because there are many cases on record where a person with a right to claim compensation has taken action against a local colliery company in a small way of business, the company has gone into liquidation, and the claimant's right has not, therefore, been worth anything to him. The Commission also said: There is also, it is said, in many cases a real difficulty for a claimant to make good his claim except at a considerable expenditure of time and money, more indeed of both than an ordinary man can afford. It is also true that in some cases there is a real difficulty in determining the originating cause beneath the surface of the damage done on the surface. In paragraph 124, the Commission summed up the position by saying: There are two respects in which, as we think, a degree of assistance need not be withheld. The first is that where the value of the hereditament in respect of which the claim is made does not exceed the sum of £700, the complainant being a private person should at his option have the benefit of the same procedure in all respects as that described in paragraph 121 of this report. The recommendation was that they should be allowed to exercise this right in the local county court, where it could be done at less expense. The Amendment also asks for compensation for local authorities. I am not in a position to base my claim on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, because the Commission was not prepared to recommend that compensation should be payable to local authorities. We are constrained, however, to include them in our Amendment because we believe that they are in a special position and that it is essential to call attention to the burden that has been imposed on them as a result of mining subsidence. In my constituency many thousands of pounds have been spent by the local authorities, and to-day there are results of mining subsidence, damage to roads and drainage systems, which can only be put right by the expenditure of thousands of pounds. I hope that the Minister will not turn a deaf ear to the suggestions that we have embodied in the Amendment. A case has been clearly proved. There is no dispute as to the fact that much damage has been occasioned in various coal-mining districts as the result of mining subsidence. If that be so, we are merely asking for a reasonable amount of recompense for those who suffer as a result of mining operations.

5.23 p.m.

Mr. Tinker

This Clause deals with the rights and obligations arising out of contracts for the sale of land, and we want to make definite what those rights and obligations should be with regard to subsidence. All mining Members can give vivid instances of what is happening in their localities, and those who do not happen to be mining Members, but have mining operations in their divisions, can bear witness of what we seek to remedy by this Amendment. We are attempting to devise some means to prevent damage by subsidence happening. We want to make it imperative on the part of those who work the coal to see that the ground is not lowered. If we can make it imperative that compensation shall be paid, greater attention will be given to trying to keep the land in a fair condition. I have several instances of what has happened in my area. I wrote to my local authorities for information. The Leigh Borough Council writes that in 1935 they spent £585 on the repair of gas mains necessitated entirely by mining subsidence. The expenditure on the repair of water mains for the same reason was £596. That expenditure was merely for repairs. It is not possible to ascertain the amount of loss due to the escape of gas and water. When I was a member of St. Helens Town Council I was on the gas committee, and we had the greatest difficulty in ascertaining the real output of gas because of the leakage in the mains on the way from the gasworks to the consumer, because of the falling of the mains due to subsidence. The annual cost in the last five years for repairs to sewers and the prevention of flooding in my area was £1,940.

I wrote to the Tyldesley Council, which is also in my area, and they inform me that between 1914 and 1924, £24,000 was spent in relaying the main outfall sewer which had been made derelict by mining subsidence. It involved the council and the adjoining authority in litigation, which cost £20,000, in trying to find out who should pay for the damage, and they did not succeed. There was a further expenditure of £1,330 for pumping plant. The works, which were completed in 1924, were seriously damaged, and a further scheme is being prepared to cost upwards of £10,000. Housing sites are difficult to get because of the subsidence and the breaking of the sewers. I went to view certain parts of my constituency. I was told that the damage caused by subsidence created great difficulties for the householders. I went to a housing site in Tyldesley and entered one of the houses. There were big cracks in the walls running parallel to the street. These had been caused by what is called a fault. The houses had been built on what was thought safe ground on top of the fault, but the coal was worked on each side of the fault and it caused the ground to slip away. The houses were falling with the fall of the ground and parting very seriously. It is difficult to ascertain who can be sued for the damage because it was thought that the ground was satisfactory when it was bought.

One woman had bought two houses close to this site, and they are now almost derelict. She sent me a letter asking what could be done to get her compensation. I was unable to advise her, but I said that there might be an opportunity when we were dealing with the Coal Bill of getting something out of the £66,000,000. I would like to throw that amount into a kitty so that we could obtain some of it for these small householders. We shall not to-day be able to get much satisfaction with our Amendment, but I trust that the Minister will give us a clear insight of what can be done in this direction under this Bill. We ought to know definitely what is the position of the local authorities and of householders whose houses have been damaged, because something ought to be done in the matter. I hope that in future we shall be able to take such steps that subsidence will not occur, or that if it does, there will be only such slight depressions that they will not affect property. That could be done. I am satisfied by clever mining experts—

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is going back to Clause 2, which dealt with the prevention of subsidence. This Clause has nothing to do with that.

Mr. Tinker

I am afraid you are right, Captain Bourne, but when I get on this subject I can almost see the ground sinking, and for that reason I want steps to be taken to keep it level, and I have been led away. However, I have got to the end of my remarks, and I hope that the passing of the Coal Bill will enable the position to be improved.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Hollins

I want to put in a word for third parties who are interested in compensation for subsidence, and they are the Board of Education and the Ministry of Health, because those Departments are paying through our local authorities from 20 to 50 per cent. in contributions towards the cost of buildings affected by subsidence. I want to give some figures of the present cost, taking no account of past or future costs. I have received figures from the Town Clerk of my borough to say that buildings in course of construction or for which plans have been approved by the Board of Education or the Ministry of Health will cost us £142,000. I said that I would not refer to the past, but in the near past the Ministry of Health have refused to grant the local education authority any further contribution towards underpinning the Hanley High School. We have already spent £11,000 on underpinning. At first we thought it was going to cost £1,000 or £2,000, but we found more and more cavities, and at last the managers said they would spend no more money on that school. In course of time it must be demolished, and it is estimated that a new school to replace it will cost £60,000. Unfortunately, there is speculative building going on upon sites which have been repeatedly rejected by the Ministry of Health. As has been said by the mover of the Amendment, people have to take those houses or move out tremendous distances in order to get away from anywhere where there may be subsidence. Within two or three months of its being built a great crack has appeared in the front entrance hall of a new house. I suppose that the owner, who may have put down £40 or £50 towards the cost, is wondering whether he should continue with his payments, because the house will become worthless as time passes.

We have heard of the investigation made by the Commission inquiring into the damage through subsidence suffered by property owners for whom there was no remedy, and I hope that now, 10 years after their report, advantage will be taken of this opportunity to do something for those who have suffered such losses. The Secretary for Mines will know that recently deputations have come up from the corporation of my borough, and I understand there is a possibility of a joint deputation from Newcastle-under Lyme and the corporation of my borough, because of the events which were mentioned the other day by the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). Another thing that I should like to mention is that we have had to reconstruct half a mile of our main road leading from Hanley to Fenton, raising it by 15 feet—

The Deputy-Chairman

I ought to point out that roads cannot possibly come under this new Clause, as a road cannot be the property of a local authority. Highways are not the property of a local authority, though schools are.

Mr. Bevan

I understand that the trunk roads are being taken over as the property of the Ministry of Transport, but I always understood that the second and third-class roads were the property of the highway authority.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is wrong in that belief. The highway authority has a certain right to the surface, but is not the owner of the road. The road is not the property of the highway authority, which is merely the authority entrusted with maintaining the surface.

Mr. Shinwell

May I draw attention to the fact that in many instances these are not roads at all, nor can they be described as streets? They are back lands, waste spaces, over which the local authority exercises supervision in the absence of any other authority.

The Deputy-Chairman

I understood that the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Hollins) was dealing with what I should call classified roads.

Mr. Hollins

I may have used a wrong term in speaking of it as a main road, but it is one of our roads leading through the city. The point that I wanted to make is that it has cost the corporation from £18,000 to £20,000 to reconstruct the road owing to subsidence. Again, we have had to underpin some of our elementary schools, at a cost of many thousands of pounds. In the reconstruction of new schools—there are now half-a-dozen which are either in the course of reconstruction or for which reconstruction plans have been approved—the expenditure will amount to £22,000 for concrete reinforcements. In the case of school clinics, we have two approved and one under construction which will cost £4,000. As I have said, this is a matter of concern not only to the corporation, but to the Board of Education and the Ministry of Health, which make contributions of from 20 to 50 per cent. towards the out lay. I hope that note will be taken of what has been said in this Debate and that at long last we may get some relief. Great patience has been exercised not only by the Corporation of Stoke but by other corporations which gave evidence before the Commission and have interviewed the Mines Department. Property owners, too, have exercised great patience. I know the case of a man, not too wealthy, who has three cottages on which he has already spent £90, but he will not be able to bring them up to the proper state even then. The depreciation of property which goes on in these areas is a very important side of the case and cannot be expressed in £ s. d. alone, and I hope the Minister will endeavour to implement the recommendations of the Commission.

5.40 p.m.

Mr. Mander

I should like to say a few words in support of the principle of this Amendment, the case for which has been clearly made out by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) and others. They have quoted the recommendations made by various bodies and have given a number of examples of what is going on, and it is unnecessary for me to add substantially to their observations. I am wondering about one point with which, perhaps, the Minister will deal in his reply, and that is how far the wording of the Amendment may possibly relieve coalowners of obligations which they have at the present time. Subsidence affects a part of the area which I represent, Willenhall. I will give one example of what has been happening. It is an example well known in the Black Country. In the village of Himley there is a public house known as "the crooked house," for very obvious reasons. If you go inside that house, you can see marbles running uphill, for no other reason than that there have been subsidences due to coal mines. I desire to repeat that this Amendment, in whatever form may be regarded as most suitable, ought to be added to the Bill, because it only carries out the recommendation of inquiries which were held years ago.

5.43 p.m.

Mr. McLean Watson

The hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) read extracts from the report of the Commission which investigated mining subsidences. I can remember when a number of members of that Commission, including the chairman, visited the town in which I live and saw some of the damage created by underground workings. I do not know of a single street in the town which has not been affected by underground workings. I live in a house which must be at least 18 inches out of plumb; there is not a level floor in it. That is due to the fact that we did not get the "sit down," like other streets in the town. Living near the boundary between one colliery company and another we got the "coup." The hon. Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander) talked about a certain public house in which marbles run uphill. They would have some difficulty in running uphill in the house in which I live.

Mr. Mander

What I meant was that they appear to run uphill.

Mr. Watson

Neither in appearance nor in reality would they run uphill in the house in which I live; and they would only appear to run uphill in that public house if those who were there had been there for a considerable time. The town in which I live is not peculiar, in respect of subsidence. There is hardly one large-sized town in West Fife not affected by subsidence, and villages as well as towns have been more or less ruined by underground workings.

The members of the Commission who visited the town, before the report was prepared, saw the subsidence that had recently taken place. If there had been a Commission sitting every year for the last 20 years, they could have come to the town in which I live and seen something new every year. Our local authority, in common with other local authorities, built houses under the various Housing Acts. Will hon. Members believe that some of their new houses are more or less in ruins already, as a result of underground workings? I go from the Fife side of the Forth to the other side, to East and Midlothian. I have seen new houses shored up in East Lothian, although they were built in comparatively recent years.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is now following the example of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), in repeating speeches made on Clause 2. This Amendment deals, not with subsidence, but with compensation for it.

Mr. Watson

I am trying to show that there is need for compensation, and I want to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) in pleading for local authorities and private individuals who have suffered in the past. Their property has been practically destroyed. In some of the streets in my town the houses had to be taken down and rebuilt, after the ground had sunk. Not only do local authorities come into the matter, but so do private companies. There is a gas company in our town which has been put to a considerable expenditure year after year and not during any particular year. The company has had to make many renewals because of damage done to gas pipes by underground subsidence.

The Deputy-Chairman

I must ask the hon. Member to keep to the Amendment, which is limited to compensation for damage to the property of local authorities. No company comes into this matter. There are many Amendments to be called, and I ask hon. Members to confine their remarks to the Amendment which is under discussion.

Mr. Watson

I want to observe your Ruling, Captain Bourne, and not go outside the scope of the Amendment. I was only saying that, in addition to private individuals and local authorities, private companies had suffered on account of subsidence, not on one occasion but repeatedly, year after year. Since I came back to the House at the last General Election, I have had to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland to the fact that we had a very fine school. It was the best building in the village and belonged to the education authority. It was a fine, red, freestone building, but it has been damaged over and over again as a result of underground working. Within the last 18 months, that fine building has had to be tied together with steel ties to keep it up, in addition to being shored from the outside. I do not suppose that that building will ever be in a thoroughly satisfactory condition again, no matter what the county council and the new education authority may do with it. I suppose it requires to be taken down and rebuilt before it can be in satisfactory condition once again.

Not only have new houses belonging to local authorities been ruined by underground workings, but schools, water mains, and all sorts of public services. I hope that the Minister will agree to some compensation for local authorities and private individuals who have suffered damage and loss as a result of subsidence. I have no desire to go outside the boundaries of the Amendment, but I would add my plea to those that have already been made. I know what subsidence means; I have not lived practically all my life in a town where subsidence has been going on almost continuously for 20 or 30 years, without knowing the damage that is done to public and private property. I ask the Minister to make sure, in this new Measure, that individuals and public authorities who have suffered in this way will be compensated for the damage done to their property.

5.52 p.m.

Mr. A. Jenkins

I wish to add something further to what the previous speaker has said. No one could have lived in a mining district without having witnessed the distressing experiences of people who have put practically the whole of their earnings into cottage property, only to find the property practically destroyed as mining operations take place. There can hardly be any Member of the Committee who has lived in a mining district and has not had that experience, and who has not this aspect of the matter prominently in his mind. This applies particularly in places where the coal seams are not very far below the surface.

I want to relate one experience which I think will bring home to the Committee the need for action to be taken to provide compensation for these property owners and for local authorities. I have in mind the locality of Blaenavon, where, in 1914, the urban district council went to an expenditure of about £30,000 or £40,000 in the erection of dwelling houses for the workpeople of the district. At that time, there were 80 acres of coal round about the site on which those houses were built. In the post-war period, the company there had to determine whether or not the 80 acres of coal were to be worked. Consultations took place between the local council and the company as to whether the council would be in a position to pay the company compensation for not working those 80 acres of coal. It was far beyond the financial power of the urban district council to do so, and consequently the 80 acres of coal were worked.

The result is that nearly every one of those houses is in such a condition as to make them almost unfit for occupation. I have heard some of the people say that there are cracks in the houses through which you can see from one end of the street to the other and that wind, rain, and snow go into the houses. You will find that nearly every house is shored up with timber, which is the only way in which they can be kept up. That urban district council, with a rate at the present time well in excess of 20s. in the £, were not in a position to compensate the company for not working the coal, and are not in a position to re-erect the cottages. Loans have been incurred, with the sanction of the Ministry of Health, and the local authority still has obligations to the people with whom those loans were contracted.

That story illustrates the difficulty. If similar cases arise in the future, the Coal Commission will have no power under the Bill to compensate a local authority or to take any action to prevent such an occurrence. That is an impossible state of affairs. We have seen so much destruction brought about by subsidence that we have to decide either to work the coal or to compensate the owners of the properties. I hope that the Minister will agree to the insertion of this proposal, or of something to the same effect, in order to give owners of property protection in the future. If the Minister could see for himself the case which I have cited, it would convince him of the need for something of a definite character to be done. I hope that the Amendment will be agreed to.

5.56 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

It is strange, and I hope that the Minister will take note of it, that it should be left for the Members on this side of the Committee to ask for compensation for loss of property. We hear much from the other side of the House on this question of compensation. Last night I heard an hon. Member trying to make the point that the attitude of the Opposition on this question of compensation for damage to property was doubtful, and that the electors would want to know just where we stood on the question. An hon. Member on the Front Bench below the Gangway seemed to believe that he was playing havoc with the Labour party on this question. Where is he now? Where are all the other hon. Members, now that it is a question of compensation for loss of property? Why are hon. Members on that side so concerned about it on one occasion and have no concern about it on another? The simple reason is that they are concerned with the big property owners, and they do not care for the principle at all when it is related to small property owners.

I want the Minister, in his reply, to consider the position of the small property owner, the man who has his house ruined and his property taken away from him, to all intents and purposes. I want him to consider also the local authority, which represents the great mass of poor people in its area. Those poor people have to pay the costs associated with subsidence. Hon. Members on the other side are not very much concerned with such matters, but they come here and argue for compensation for royalty owners. What do they tell us? Do they present before us the case of the Duke of Northumberland? No. With tears in their voices they tell us about the poor widow or the poor miner who has a few pounds invested in royalties and who is to be robbed of due compensation. How often do we have such arguments in this House. We are told how the widow and the poor miner have bought a house; have hon. Members on this side no concern for the poor widow and the miner who have spent their hard-earned savings?

If the Government took over the mines completely, together with the whole mining industry, as should be done, and decided, without concern for anybody, to exploit the coal beds in this country, they might exploit a great coal bed underneath a great country house; and if subsidence occurred and that great country house started splitting and allowing the rain and wind to come in, as is the case in the houses which have been mentioned, you would hear from the benches opposite a holloa for compensation that would shake the heavens themselves. That is where the big people are concerned. Whether they are justly entitled to compensation or not, hon. Members opposite will use the widow and the poor miner to get compensation for them.

This is a question which affects all kinds of working men and women, and people like small shopkeepers and small business people, who are continually put to expense to keep their houses standing in a condition that will allow them and their families to live there. The local authorities also are affected in the same way. When they build new houses and have to keep them in order, they have to get the money from somewhere. Is is to come from the ratepayers, or are they to receive compensation? In one part of my area the situation is so bad that the local authority is talking about building wooden houses. These people's property is being destroyed by digging away its foundations and disfiguring in an appalling manner the beautiful country around, and we should see to it that, wherever this evil thing is done, compensation is paid, so that not only may these working men and women, professional people and small business people, be insured against the damage that is done, but also the local authorities, so that by this means the beauty of the countryside may be saved from destruction.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. Bevan

I rise to add two points to what has been said. I am sure there will be no disagreement in any part of the Committee as to the facts, which have been established and admitted. The removal of coal does cause subsidence, and very few will argue that compensation ought not to be paid. I anticipate that, when the Secretary for Mines replies to the Debate, he will say he agrees that the facts are established, and probably that compensation ought to be paid, but he will probably say that this is not the source from which it ought to come. I cannot imagine him taking any other ground. He cannot deny the facts, and he cannot deny that compensation should be paid, because in that case he would be flying in the face of the recommendation of the Commission. Therefore, he will probably take the line—unless he is going to accept the Amendment, but as he has not spoken we may assume that he will oppose it—that the Coal Commission is not the body which ought to pay the compensation.

The Commission is entering into a very valuable property, the working of which is responsible for the problem with which we are dealing. In very many leases at present compensation is provided for, because it has been understood that the owners of the coal obtain revenue from its working, and that the working of the coal causes damage to property on the surface. In many instances that has been considered to be a proper charge on the colliery owner or the royalty owner.

In my district it is peculiarly appropriate that the Coal Commission should meet compensation claims. I well remember my father and mother having a consultation as to whether or not they should buy the freehold of their cottage. All the coal had been worked from under the land long before, and hundreds of thousands of pounds had been received for it. During the War the landlord, having taken out the kernel, wanted to sell the shell, that is to say, the land. The agent of the landlord—a large landlord, Lord Tredegar—persuaded our people that it would be a good thing to buy the freehold, which was now, of course, not of much value, and I remember my father and mother putting their heads together and borrowing £40 to buy the freehold, because they had the idea that then it would be theirs, although it was practically theirs already, because they had a 99 years lease. They thought it would be better to be the owners rather than the leaseholders, so they paid up to Lord Tredegar and got a few square yards of land with their cottage. Lord Tredegar, having received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the land underneath, invested the money in War Stock, and is drawing a handsome revenue in perpetuity. It would, therefore, seem to me to be quite appropriate that the Coal Commission should pay, even though, in consequence of their payment, they will not be able to reduce the royalties to the miners as they might otherwise do. I may add that, after buying their house, my father and mother had to pay more money still, because, on account of the empty space left under the house, subsidence started, and the house slowly collapsed, so that, having bought the freehold, we had to spend our spare evenings in putting up timber to keep up the roof of the house.

I have seen streets in my district that were indistinguishable from roadways underground, except that they had the heavens above them, with ordinary pit props and walings to keep up the roofs of the parlours and kitchens, and with the houses shored up outside. South Wales is full of ornaments of this kind, due to subsidence. It seems to be perfectly proper that the Coal Commission should be charged with compensation for damage done to private houses. But, although it is included in our Amendment, I am not going to argue that it would be proper to charge the Coal Commission with compensation for damage to public property. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment has, however, explained that this is the only opportunity we have of calling public attention to that part of the problem, and that is why it is included in the Amendment. We wish to argue on the Amendment the general principle of compensation.

There is an instance in my constituency which is now before the Ministry of Transport. A road has collapsed between one village and another, and it is costing the Glamorgan County Council £60,000 to construct another road. The cost will probably be £100,000 before it is completed. That is a direct consequence of subsidence. I do not doubt that it would be an excessive charge to put upon the Coal Commission that they should pass on to their leaseholders the cost of repairing damage of that kind, because, if the industry had to pay for all the damage done to public property in the coal areas, the charge on the industry would be wholly excessive. In this case we should be relieving the taxpayer, at the expense of the coal industry, of an expenditure of £60,000, and I am sure my hon. Friends would not carry the Amendment to the point of insisting that the coal industry should find £100,000 for the construction of a road in order that £60,000 might be saved to the Exchequer. We wish, however, to draw attention to the damage that is done to public property in this way, so that we may get from the Minister, if he will give it, some sort of assurance that by some means out of national funds local authorities in these districts will be helped to meet this problem.

With regard to damage to private property, it is obvious that that is a charge first of all on the Coal Commission. Damage to public property falls with special hardship on the authorities in our area, because those authorities are almost invariably situated in a Special Area. Hon. Members in the House from time to time stress the position of local authorities in the Special Areas, and I think it could easily be proved that the expenditure which local authorities in those districts have to meet over and above the expenditure falling upon other local authorities, due to damage to property, far exceeds any amount that is found by the Special Commissioner in those areas. There is, therefore, a case for exceptional treatment.

Suppose you have two local authorities, one in the South of England, we will say, and one in Wales or Durham; both have the responsibility of giving public services of various kinds to their citizens, but upon the local authorities in the coal area there falls a very special burden, directly consequent on the fact that a great national asset is being mined in that area from which the country as a whole derives great commercial benefit. It seems to me, therefore, that if in the obtaining of that asset the property of the local authority suffers exceptional damage, there is a case for exceptional treatment, and it would be a very considerable contribution to the problem of the Special Areas if some means could be devised by which, from some national source, funds could be accumulated for compensation to local authorities for damage done to their property. I wanted to say that, because there might otherwise be some misunderstanding about this question of compensation for public property.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Does my hon. Friend not think that if the obligation were placed upon the Coal Commission to pay compensation to public bodies for any damage done by subsidence, that would compel the coalowners themselves to take preventive measures?

Mr. Bevan

The point was made in the Debate yesterday that we want to give to the Coal Commission special powers for taking precautions against subsidence. That is perfectly true, but I believe it would be admitted by my hon. Friend—and that is why I am making the point—that you might take special precautions against subsidence, and, even so, it would not deal with the position where subsidence had already occurred and where it is now made manifest as a direct consequence of past mining. This does not deal with the future leases. It is not restricted to subsidence in areas where new leases are given; it deals specifically with subsidence caused by the working of coal, but I know of no method of determining whether subsidence is due to coal worked before, or coal worked after, the valuation date. If my hon. Friend can make that distinction, I shall be delighted, but he knows that it is impossible to do so Coal may have been worked 20 or 30 years ago, and subsidence may become evident after the valuation date. So I think my hon. Friend's interruption was not quite pertinent.

I understand also that the statement was made by the Mover of the Amendment that he desired to call attention to damage suffered by property owners. It is not, I am sure, his contention that the coal industry should be charged with the responsibility for compensation for property damaged by that cause, because, if so, the cost would be colossal. What we desire to call attention to is the fact that the finances of this Bill are wholly unreasonable, and we are, within the finances of the Bill, compelled to call attention to this matter. I hope that the Minister will give us some assurance that, in the first place, some compensation is going to be paid to owners of cottages in those areas, and then, that some means will be found to assist the Coal Commission, or some other authority, to obtain money from national sources to assist in providing compensation for damage caused to public property.

6.22 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Evans

I am entirely in sympathy with the object of this Amendment. There is no doubt that where damage is caused there should be compensation. That applies equally to private property and to the buildings of public authorities. It may be that you should be a little bit more careful in regard to your examination of claims by public bodies, but the principle is the same, although there may be a little more hardship in the case of an individual. I agree with what my hon. Friend has in mind, but it is rather important that the Committee should understand what he is trying to do. I am a little concerned as to whether this Amendment does carry out what my hon. Friend wants. Clause 8 is the first of the Clauses which appears under the sub-title, "Transitional Provisions," and as regards it there is a reference in the margin: Rights and obligations arising from contracts for sale to have effect in respect of interim period. I know that one is not bound by a subtitle, or even by what is in the margin, in the interpretation of the Bill, but they are both very helpful to hon. Members in trying to understand what is the proposal which we are discussing. The Clause which we are discussing is only concerned with the transitional period. Bearing that in mind, would the Committee be good enough to look at the first part of the Amendment, which says: The Commission shall on and from the valuation date be liable in the event of any damage. …"? That does not limit the liability of the Commission to any period. It means that, from the passing of this Act, the Commission shall for ever be liable to pay compensation. It is important to remember that, and to remember also paragraph (c), which says that the Commission shall ascertain the apportionment of rents and profits and of liabilities accruing partly before and partly after the vesting date. How are you to reconcile those two things? I point this out to the Committee, not for the purpose of attacking the Amendment, because I support it, but to enable the Committee to arrive at an understanding of what is proposed. Another point is this: It is the case that in many instances there is now contradistinction between the landowner and the colliery company. The company has to bear any responsibility for damage by subsidence. Is it suggested that they should be relieved of that responsibility, and that the responsibility should go to the Coal Commission? I do not think that is what my hon. Friend means.

Let me come back to the question of public authorities. I have already said that, in justice, there is no difference between the public authority and the individual. I think there is very great difference in the application of that principle as it is proposed. Is it to be suggested that responsibility for subsidence is to be permanently placed on the Coal Commission? There are Amendments on the Order Paper, some of which I shall support, which suggest that, in the event of the Coal Commission having a surplus, that surplus should be used for the benefit of the miners. Is it suggested that the surplus income of the Coal Commission is to be imperilled by taking away something to compensate public authorities for subsidence? I do not think that is what my hon. Friend has in mind. It seems to me that the Amendment contains a real threat to what hon. Members above the Gangway and I have in mind in regard to what may be done with the surplus income in future. I have only been attacking the Amendment for the purpose of clearing it up. If it goes to a Division, I shall support it, because I think the best way is to get it readjusted on the Report stage.

6.28 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

The hon. and learned Member who has just spoken dealt with the Amendment from the point of view of principle. Some of the other speeches which have been made raised the Amendment above the question of principle. I certainly agree in one respect with what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said. As I read the Amendment, it will mean that compensation for subsidence—whether existing before the valuation date or subsequent to that, I am not quite clear—would have to be added up under paragraph (c) before the vesting date, and then presumably distributed. But the Amendment does not say so. Therefore, this Amendment is certainly not one that I can recommend to the House in any way. This whole problem was discussed last week to a certain extent, and there is no doubt that a great deal of damage has been done in different parts of the country through mining subsidence. No one is denying the general facts which have been adduced in the discussion so far, but I cannot possibly suggest that a proper way of meeting the position would be for the Commission to take over a liability of this kind when it lies somewhere else. It is a most extraordinary argument that a purchaser should be liable to various charges on a property before he even gets the property; and that is what is inherent in this Amendment.

Look at what the general situation is with regard to this problem. Generally speaking—there may be exceptions for particular reasons—the damage from subsidence now falls either upon the worker of the coal, the colliery undertaking, or the owner of the coal property, the royalty owner. It falls on one or the other, depending upon the respective rights that they have under their leases and the rights of the person who either causes or suffers damage. That is the general basis upon which the law now stands. The policy of the Bill in this matter is to preserve the existing rights as between the working of the coal and the damage to the surface where those rights have already been clearly determined. As to the future, when the question has not yet arisen at all, the position under the Bill is stated in the Second Schedule. Naturally the Commission would pass on the responsibility through the leases which it created so that for the damage and to the extent there outlined, the colliery undertaking would be responsible. That is how the matter stands and what the policy of the Bill really is.

It would be quite impossible to accept for the Commission any fresh liabilities now before it came into possession of the property on the vesting date. Where the liability rests now is only being determined. I think that we might, with the permission of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, brush it aside as not being capable of execution anyhow. He has it in mind that the Commission ought forthwith to accept liabilities which already he on somebody else. To that extent, to relieve the colliery undertaking, which by a lease was already in the position of having to pay damage, if necessary, would be quite an intolerable strain upon the Commission and outside anything that they could reasonably do. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), who touched upon one of the difficulties inherent in that proposal, used the phrase, "As to money, we are left high and dry." The Commission would certainly be left high and dry because it would not have any money at all until the valuation date. It is not until after the vesting date that it begins to get any income, and it gets that income through the moneys received on existing leases. However desirable or otherwise it might be for the whole question of subsidence to be tackled, it seems to me that this Amendment possibly indicates—I think that that is what the hon. Member has in mind—that where at present it is impossible to determine where the liability has rested, the Coal Commission, which is to be a statutory body dealing with property in coal, shall assume that liability. That is what I would like to make quite clear.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Could not an instruction be given to the Commission to see that in future no further damage is done to property without compensation?

Captain Crookshank

That does not arise on this Amendment. We discussed that matter exhaustively the other day. We are dealing here with an Amendment which suggests that, as from the valuation date, the Commission should be liable to compensation for damage and should pay it out before the vesting date. That is a somewhat narrow point incapable of achievement, and it would not achieve the object which the hon. Member has in mind.

Mr. Jenkins

The object is very clear and desirable from everybody's point of view, and will the hon. and gallant Gentleman undertake, even if the Amendment does not meet the case, to introduce some Clause on the Report stage that would make provision for compensation to the owners of damaged property?

Captain Crookshank

No, Sir, because I said that, generally speaking, the law is now that the damage falls either upon the worker of the coal or the owner of the coal. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or on no one at all."] Those are exceptional cases. That is the general law with regard to damage, and it is well-established. There may be a number of exceptional cases where it has been impossible to find out exactly where the liabilities are, but that is a problem quite apart from this one or from the functions of the Commission administering this property when it comes into possession of it. Whether or not that is a thing which is desirable, the House of Commons and Parliament generally could take up on some other occasion; it is not for me to say. They are quite beside the scope of what we are proposing to do in this Bill as regards the landlords. I have already explained what the law is under the Bill, and we shall come to discuss that in greater detail later. In certain cases property owners would be able to claim compensation, but that is quite a different problem from the other issues which the Mover of the Amendment raised by quoting a great number of paragraphs from the report of the Royal Commission on Subsidence. That is entirely a different problem and certainly has nothing in the world to do with this Amendment.

Mr. Bevan

In the event of its being a contract between the landowner and the landlord when the landlord himself is responsible for damage to property, will the Coal Commission have that responsibility in the future, and, if so, will the Coal Commission be liable to one sufferer from the damage and not liable to another?

Mr. Gallacher

This is a very important item. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that it is not desirable after the valuation date that the Commission should take over the responsibility for damage caused by subsidence. He also says that as the law stands at the moment those who are affected by subsidence have a claim if they can locate liability. Does it not follow then, that the people who are affected by subsidence at the time of the valuation date are prevented, as a result of the Commission taking over, from getting their claim considered? If the Commission is to take over the assets, surely, it takes over the liabilities and has the responsibility. Who is to be liable for damage caused by subsidence?

Captain Crookshank

I am sure that we are all very interested in the attention which the representative of the Communist party is giving to the rights of private property.

Mr. Gallacher

I am concerned with the small man and not with the big man.

Captain Crookshank

The short answer is, that when the Commission is substituted for the existing owners it takes over their obligations, and that would follow. That, I think, is the short answer to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment raised a great many problems arising out of the Royal Commission's report on this subject, and my answer to that, on behalf of the Government, is, that a great number of these problems are quite outside the ambit of the question which we are discussing here. Whether Parliament may wish to deal with them on some other occasion, I do not know, but they do not come under this Bill. I have tried to explain what the policy of the Bill is, and, in any case, this Amendment could not possibly be acceptable, because it does not either do what the hon. Gentleman wants to do or do anything which, in our view, can possibly be thought reasonable.

6.40 p.m.

Colonel Wedgwood

The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has replied for the Government has entered, as I expected, a complete negative against all that we aimed at in this Amendment. We are claiming on the question of principle that the Coal Commission shall, on and from the valuation date, be liable for damage due to subsidence to house property owners or to local authorities. That is the broad principle that is raised in this Amendment. The particular date from which that liability should start, and what should be done in the case of contracts already entered into, are immaterial. The main thing is that responsibility should, in the normal case, rest upon the Coal Commission, just as at present responsibility in a normal case depends upon the common law right of support. That is a broad principle. The details in the rest of the Amendment may perfectly well be altered, but we on these benches stand upon the broad principle that in future there should be compensation for damage of this sort. We base our chief claim for that compensation upon the fact that the Coal Commission can, if it will, prevent damage from subsidence hereafter by seeing that repacking takes place in the pits. We base our contention upon the practicability of that method and also upon fundamental justice. Here is the case of a Bill shortly to become the law whereby you compensate, to the tune of £66,000,000, the owners of unworked coal underground. Compensate them, and you should also compensate the people who suffer from the effects of the getting of that coal.

It is remarkable that we have had a Debate upon a subject of justice to the property owners, which has been supported by speech after speech from the Socialist and Communist Members of this House. They have become the principal supporters of justice to small property owners. Not one single voice has been raised by Members opposite in favour of justice for these people. Why? Because they are concerned most with justice to the coal lessees, who, under this Bill, become a monopoly. It is a most surprising thing. When the Division is taken, I hope that the country will realise that we are standing for justice for small men, just as much as they fight for justice for the coal barons. Look at this question from the point of view of practicability. Here you are providing £66,000,000 of compensation for the royalty owners; is it not only fair that you should provide compensation in future for the small man? If you take on that liability for the Coal Commission, obviously the Commission will be in a position to pass on the liability in the contracts which they make. When they make a new lease they will either get a higher royalty in order to cover the loss for compensation for damage, or they will take a lower royalty, under the terms of which they will have to refund to the Coal Commission the damage done by the working of that particular pit.

It seems to me that that gets round the difficulty whether the damage is to fall on the owner of the royalties, the Coal Commission, or upon the worker of the mine. The Secretary for Mines argues again and again that the responsibility to-day falls either upon the lessee or the owner of the minerals. That is not the case. In the majority of cases it is completely uncertain whether there is any liability on either. It is because of the uncertainty which arises, principally from the cost of fighting a case up to the House of Lords which makes it prohibitive to the small man to get justice that the Amendment is put forward in order to have a law applicable to all for the future. In future leases you can make arrangements to apply to everybody.

This uncertainty was recognised by the Royal Commission which sat a dozen years ago and made certain recommendations, which have not been acted upon. But this uncertainty is becoming daily more dangerous and more trying to owners of property, because the damage is increasing year after year. Now is the time when the Government can and ought to put it right for the future. We base ourselves on the broad principle that it is just. Also it is contra bonos mores, contrary to public morals, that you should give to coal lessees the right to destroy other people's property. Everybody knows that the small man cannot choose where he shall live and is probably too ignorant to know whether the piece of land he has bought is unsupported or sound. We propose to lay down the law for the future that damage done by mining to house property and the property of local authorities shall be compensated for. The damage can be stopped by packing; and to my mind the Amendment is not only sound, but one which every hon. Member who believes in the sanctity of private property should support.

The Bill makes the position of the small man worse, not better. It makes his position worse in three directions. In the first place, the action to be brought will not be brought against a company but against the Coal Commission, that is the State, and it is not easy to sue a national body like the Coal Commission for damages. In the second place, the right of a holder of an existing lease to cause damage without paying compensation is extended indefinitely after such lease expires, until all coal is got. In the third place, the position of the surface owner is made substantially worse. Even where there has been no mining hitherto. Even where the owner of the property is at present the owner of the minerals, he will not get compensation for subsidence unless he spends large sums of money in putting rafts under the houses and takes other unnamed precautions which may be forced upon him by the Coal Commission. For all these reasons, because the Bill makes the position of the owner of small property worse, because there is such uncertainty as to who has the right to claim damages, and from whom; and because it is against public well-being that private property should be destroyed by the legal activities of others, I shall vote in favour of the Amendment and against a Bill which perpetuates such injustices.

6.50 p.m.

Sir Geoffrey Ellis

The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) has completely misrepresented the Amendment and also the views of hon. Members on this side of the Committee. We are not debating a question of principle. We are voting on a specific Amendment which deals with contracts in existence and liabilities which will be taken over by the Commission, which may have to deal with certain possessions which are not defined by the law and it may have to deal with certain hard cases. As to the first point, we do not wish our liabilities to be changed from ourselves to the Commission; as to the second point, that can only be determined by the law; and as to the third point, this is not the time or the occasion to discuss the question of hard cases. When they are discussed in the proper place many of us will be found in the same position as hon. Members opposite. As far as the Amendment is concerned, it places all obligations existing to-day, and which may exist in the future, on the Coal Commission, and for that I cannot possibly vote, nor can many of my hon. Friends.

6.52 p.m.

Mr. Ede

We have at last heard one supporter of the Government speak on the Amendment, but only after he has heard the answer of the Secretary for Mines, and that discounts the generous phraseology of his last few words. The Secretary for Mines said that the Coal Commission was not a kind aunt going round the country. He has made it clear that as far as the property owners are concerned he and the President of the Board of Trade are prepared, this being the pantomime season, to play the part of the wicked uncles and not leave a robin to collect a few leaves to lay on the dead bodies which they have abandoned to the cold world. I must make it clear that this is a problem which is not confined to the Black Country and South Wales. I have received many communications from small property owners in my constituency who are concerned about this matter and who think that the opportunity ought to be taken to deal with their position. I can understand the Secretary for Mines saying that it is not a workable Amendment and then giving some indication of practical sympathy on the part of the Government. It is no uncommon thing for them to say that it is not the right form of words and that they will endeavour to put in suitable words which will cover the point. There was no indication, however, on the part of the Minister that the Government had more than a purely academic interest in this question. I hope we shall get support from all hon. Members who feel that this matter, in a famous phrase, "brooks no delay."

6.54 p.m.

Mr. MacLaren

I am in a difficulty in regard to this Amendment, because it is moved in connection with a Clause which is headed "Transitional Provisions," and I suppose the Amendment, if carried, will lapse when the transitional period is over. It is rather difficult to know exactly where we are in discussing the Amendment. As to the general principle of compensation, there is no hon. Member who does not feel disturbed and depressed at the results of mining throughout the country. I do not know any more moving passages in the report about the distressed areas than those which give graphic details of the trend of mining subsidences in our colliery districts. There are two parties to be considered, the colliery owner and the landlord. If the colliery owner has contracted to pay the damages, then the Amendment means that the Commission will take over the liabilities of the colliery owner. There is the other side, that as the Commission will take the place of the landowner, it stands to reason that they will take over not merely the assets but the liabilities of the landlord, and it is upon that point that I have put down a later Amendment to the Bill.

I admit that the discussion which is now taking place has somewhat circumscribed my opportunities in regard to that Amendment upon which I hope to raise this point, but I think it is necessary to emphasise with all the force we can that the Commission must face the liabilities of the landowners of coal and meet to the full compensation in the matter of subsidences. I am intervening now to protect my interest in my later Amendment. I represent the mother town of the Potteries, about which we have heard so much to-day. I remember engaging a hall for the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), and when making the contract for that meeting I had to promise that we would keep our mouths shut as to the real condition of the building. And the right hon. and gallant Member thundered forth, wholly unconscious of the fact that the roof might come down upon him at any moment. But Providence protected him and me. The point is that the corporation has paid vast sums to try to keep the building up with iron and steel bindings running across it.

Right round Burslem, which has been made famous in history by Arnold Bennett, if any Member likes to come with me I will show him streets which he would believe had been under the cannon shot of an invader the day before, with subsidences all round the place. But we all know what the conditions are, and it is only painting the lily to add harrowing details. What I am doing by intervening is to stress the point that the liabilities now held by the landowner will pass to the Commission, and it will be our business on all occasions to sustain that liability after the vesting date and demand that some compensation should be chargeable to the Commission for the depredations which mining has brought about.

7.1 p.m.

Mr. Ellis Smith

As one of the few Members who have sat here throughout the Debate, I want to express my surprise at the attitude that the Minister has taken up. I am not one of those who attend to their own business in the afternoon and come to the House of Commons in the evening. I believe our work here is sufficient to warrant Members being in attendance the whole day. Going home with the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) on Friday, he said he did not think we should get anything out of this. I said that the National Government represented small property owners as well as large, and in view of the fact that property owners' associations and municipal bodies were sending in resolutions asking for this matter to be dealt with, they would probably be prepared to consider our plea with regard to compensation. My hon. Friend has been proved right, and I have been proved wrong. It is obvious that the Government and their supporters have no sympathy with suffering caused as the result of mining subsidence. The Amendment was drawn up by competent Members of our party. [Interruption.] I said that provocatively in order to draw what I have evidently drawn. I do not claim to be a master of drawing up Amendments of this kind, but there are Members of our party who are. But, even if there are weaknesses in this Amendment, there was nothing to prevent the Minister accepting the principle of compensation and agreeing to re-word it on Report.

The Minister said it was very difficult to assess liability and that it was only possible to do it in exceptional cases. We who know the people who are suffering from these difficulties in the mining areas know that, generally speaking, it is not difficult to see where the liability should lie. The average householder has no means whatever of obtaining justice when suffering from the effects of subsidence. I have had experience of getting into the hands of the legal people, and the working class have had experience of it in their workmen's compensation claims—being carried about from one place to another, letters coming here and letters going there, and all the time costs going up. The people are sick of this kind of thing. They realise that they cannot get justice while the law is as it is with regard to subsidence. We are supported in our plea for the right of compensation by the Royal Commission which reported in 1927. They said it was impossible not to be impressed by a visit to the mining areas, and they went on: The totality is a serious burden which no effort should be spared to remove. Householders have a case for compensation. Yet the Government which is proposing to compensate wealthy royalty owners to the extent of £65,000,000 is not prepared to adopt the same principle in the case of the poor people who are suffering as the result of subsidence.

What is the attitude adopted by the Government going to mean in the area which I represent? Subsidence has a very serious effect upon the maintenance of roads, the charge for which comes out of the income of the municipalities. In addition, they are proposing to construct 1,100 houses in this district, which is suffering as the result of the housing shortage and as the result of subsidence to an extent that no other district in the country is doing. They will have to incur an additional cost of £34 per house in respect of precautions to be taken against subsidence. Is it fair that the cost of those precautions should be laid at the door of this small group of people when the whole country is benefiting from the coal that is to be taken from the bowels of that particular district? The extra cost must be reflected in the economic rent of the houses.

Some of us are heartily sick of the legal quibbling that takes place on questions of this kind. There is only one right approach to it. Is it just, is it fair, is it reasonable to expect poor people living in areas of this kind, who have scraped and saved in order to purchase their houses, whose children have gone short of clothes and food, to pay for the cost of repairs as the result of subsidence? Although up to the present not one supporter of the Government has got up to support this principle, we still hope that some of them will be prepared to follow us into the Lobby in order to justify their claim to represent not only the monopolists and the big property owners, but also the small property owners in these areas.

7.11 p.m.

Mr. David Adams

No excuse is necessary for carrying on the discussion from this side. The attitude of the Minister in offering no hope of adequate compensation is one of amazing reaction. One can scarcely believe that the Government, which sooner or later will have to face the electorate, can be parties to such reaction. He says it is well established in law that those who suffer from mining subsidences may be compensated, but he knows, or ought to know, that such compensation in the ordinary way is not paid. May I quote from a letter from a colliery company in my own district? We may say that we have at all times worked out the coal under the lands belonging to this estate without leaving support for the surface, and we have at no time paid compensation for any damage to buildings which have been erected on this estate. I know from personal experience that the gables of houses have fallen down and houses have been made completely untenable, and yet under the terms of the leases there is no remedy at law for these people. The sooner we have some safeguard for those suffering from this state of affairs, the better. The district from which I come being a purely mining area, the miners have shown, I should almost say a singular phase of weakness in desiring to become the owners of their houses. I have inquired why they made this form of investment. Some said they thought it was a good way to invest the little money that they had scraped together. Others did so in order to get better accommodation than that provided by the colliery company, and it would have to be very inferior if it was not superior to that in the ordinary way. A very important point that some of them emphasised was security of tenure, but if there had been an abundance of municipal houses, scarcely any of these miners would have purchased, because under municipal housing they can have security of tenure for themselves and those who come after them.

I have also heard it said that the law is in a shockingly bad state. There is in the Consett area an association, having 800 members, which was formed very largely to secure mutual protection against damage by subsidences. A very large number of members of that association are miners who own their houses. The case of Manly v. Burn was fought in the courts some little time ago. That was a case of an owner-occupier, and the deeds gave a right to compensation, which was singular, but the onus of proof rested with the property owner. It cost the association the sum of £350 to recover £150 damages. There was then the case of Dewar v. Burn and South Derwent Colliery Company on the same estate, about 100 yards from the house concerned in the previous case, and as the case had to go to the High Court, and could not be heard in the county court, as it ought to have been, the association had to pay costs of some £1,200 in an attempt to recover a sum of £200. That is the situation in my area.

If there is to be no remedy for those who suffer in this way, the Minister ought clearly to say so. He ought to let the Committee know that the Government have determined that they will close the gates against municipalities and private owners getting compensation in future. I would like to quote another case from the Consett area. Because of the extreme difficulty of purchasing what they deemed to be land subject to subsidences, the local authority were driven to call in the Ministry of Health, which duly sent an inspector down. After examining the whole area in and about that district, the local authority were driven to accept land, on which they proposed to erect municipal houses, in the deeds concerning which there was a clause that no compensation would be paid in the event of a subsidence occurring to the property built upon that land. Surely, that is a state of affairs which ought not to be permitted to continue. The Minister ought to say, before a Division is taken, whether it is not practicable that the liability for subsidences should be placed upon the Commission and that the Commission should, in due course, embody in the leases to the new holders responsibility for subsidences of this character. There cannot be any difficulty, for that is something which is done again and again in all sorts of business documents. If it were done in this case, the community would be protected. It is useless to say that it would represent an enormous liability upon the coal-working community. We ask the Government now to take this opportunity, which may not occur again in the life of this Parliament —we hope it may occur in the life of the next Parliament, when another Government from this side may be in office—of doing a very elementary act of justice towards those who admittedly are suffering, and place the liability for damage by subsidence upon the proper shoulders.

7.19 p.m.

Mr. Sexton

I have listened to much of the Debate on this Amendment, and I have listened very carefully to the appeals made on behalf of the owners of small property. I would like to add a word for the mining villages in South-West Durham which I represent. If one went there and took a photograph from the air, it would show not only heaps of refuse caused by the dumping of stones and cinders from the mines, but hills and holes caused by subsidences through the working of mines underneath dwelling houses. The ceilings of many houses are cracked and falling, and the walls have to be propped up. It is similar to Pompeii and Herculaneum, except that in the case of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the erruption of Vesuvius was what was known as an act of God, whereas mining subsidence is an act of man. In the case of an act of God, there can be no compensation, at any rate in this world, but in the case of a mining subsidence, there ought to be a chance of getting compensation. If the acts of man are derogatory to the property of some person, it ought to be compulsory for compensation to be paid for the damage done. There have been some remarks about the terminology of the Amendment, and it has been said that there is a weakness in the wording of it. Is there any strength in the Government's treatment of the small property owner? If the words are weak, the Government ought to be strong enough so to alter those words as to make them of greater avail to the man who has spent money in providing himself with a shelter. This Government always feeds the fat calf; here it is giving compensation to the royalty owners and at the same time neglecting to give fair treatment to the small property owner.

7.21 p.m.

Mr. Bromfield

Like the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams), I make no apology for continuing the Debate on this Amendment. I wish to deal with the matter from two points of view; first, in relation to property owners generally, and secondly—and more important—in relation to the owners of small property, who have been referred to in a number of speeches. During the last few days, I have received letters from property owners, large and small, letters from urban authorities—and let hon. Members mark this—a letter from the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, a body of men who are employers of labour, all of whom know the terrible consequences of subsidences in the whole of North Staffordshire. I have had brought to my notice the case of a man who spent £470 in erecting a small house some eight or nine years ago. Within two years of the house being erected, it began to crack and case in, so that it had to be held up in a variety of ways. What happened was that the house got into such a terrible condition that it was totally impossible to live in it, and then the colliery company offered £50 to the man who had built it at a cost of £470. As a result of legal proceedings, the man was able to get £75. He was a poor man. Another case that came to my notice was that of a row of houses all of them badly affected by subsidence, cracks appearing in most of them, which were stopped up with cotton waste to

prevent the people living next door from listening to what was taking place in the house adjoining. The walls were re-papered, and as the cracks became wider, were again repapered to make the rooms look decent. One house had been converted into a shop and the crack in the wall of the house adjoining the shop was wide enough to permit the tenant ordering what he required through the hole in the wall, thus avoiding the necessity of going into the shop in the ordinary way to order the goods he required. The law in this matter is nothing but a scandal, and something ought to be done to remedy the situation. It is the same throughout North Staffordshire. I know that the Secretary for Mines and the President of the Board of Trade have been to North Staffordshire to make speeches, but if they would visit that area with me and other hon. Members from North Staffordshire, we should be able to show them some of the consequences of subsidences and then they might change their tune and begin to act a little more fairly and justly towards the great mass of poor people.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 230.

Division No. 57.] AYES. [7.27 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Gardner, B. W. Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Garro Jones, G. M. McGhee, H. G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) MacLaren, A.
Ammon, C G. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Maclean, N.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Mainwaring, W. H.
Banfield, J. W. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Mander, G. le M.
Barnes, A. J. Hall, G. H. (Abordare) Mathers, G.
Barr, J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Maxton, J.
Bellenger, F. J. Hardie, Agnes Messer, F.
Bevan, A. Harris, Sir P. A. Milner, Major J.
Broad, F. A. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Montague, F.
Bromfield, W. Hayday, A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Muff, G.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Buchanan, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Burke, W. A. Hicks, E G. Oliver, G. H.
Cape, T. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Paling, W.
Chater, D. Hollins, A. Parker, J.
Cluse, W. S. Jagger, J. Price, M. P.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Quibell, D. J. K.
Cove, W. G. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Ridley, G.
Dalton, H. Kelly, W. T. Riley, B.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Ritson, J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kirby, B. V. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Kirkwood, D. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Day, H. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Rothschild, J. A. de
Dobbie, W. Lathan, G. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lawson, J. J. Seely, Sir H. M.
Ede, J. C. Leach, W. Sexton, T. M.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Lee, F. Shinwell, E.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Leonard, W. Short, A.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Leslie, J. R. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Logan, D. G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Gallacher, W. Lunn, W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) Tinker, J. J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Smith, T. (Normanton) Walkden, A. G. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Sorensen, R. W. Walker, J. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Stephen, C. Watkins, F. C. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng) Watson, W. McL. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Westwood, J.
Thorne, W. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Thurtle, E. Wilkinson, Ellen Mr. Charleton and Mr. Adamson.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Furness, S. N. Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Fyfe, D. P. M. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Ganzoni, Sir J. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Gledhill, G. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Gluckstein, L. H. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Patrick, C. M.
Aske, Sir R. W. Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Peake, O.
Assheton, R. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Peters, Dr. S. J.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Grimston, R. V. Petherick, M.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Gritten, W. G. Howard Piekthorn, K. W. M
Balniel, Lord Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Guinness, T. L. E. B. Procter, Major H. A.
Beechman, N. A. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Radford, E. A.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Boulton, W. W. Hannah, I. C. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Boyce, H. Leslie Harbord, A. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Bracken, B. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Raid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Riokards, G. W. (Skipton)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Bull, B. B. Hepworth, J. Rowlands, G.
Butler, R. A. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Royds, Admiral P. M. R.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Higgs, W. F. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Cary, R. A. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Russell, Sir Alexander
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Holdsworth, H. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Holmes, J. S. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Salt, E. W.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hopkinson, A. Samuel, M. R. A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Horsbrugh, Florence Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Channon, H. Howitt, Dr. A. B Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Christie, J. A. Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Savery, Sir Servington
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Hunter, T. Scott, Lord William
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Selley, H. R.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Colfox, Major W. P. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Simmonds, O. E.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Keeling, E. H. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Kimball, L. Somervell, Sir O. B. (Crewe)
Cox, H. B. Trevor Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Craven-Ellis, W. Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Crooke, J. S. Lees-Jones, J. Spens, W. P.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Levy, T. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lewis, O. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Cross, R. H. Liddall, W. S. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crowder, J. F. E. Loftus, P. C. Storey, S.
Culverwell, C. T. Lyons, A. M. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
De la Bère, R. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Strickland Captain W. F.
Denman, Hon. R. D. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Denville, Alfred Macdonald, Capt. T. (Isle of Wight) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Doland, G. F. McKie, J. H. Sutcliffe, H.
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Maclay Hon. J. P. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Drewe, C. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Magnay, T. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Maitland, A. Touche, G. C.
Duncan, J. A. L. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Dunglass, Lord Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Eastwood, J. F. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Turton, R. H.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Markham, S. F. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Marsden, Commander A. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ellis, Sir G. Mayhew. Lt.-Col. J. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Ellision, Capt. G. S. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Emery, J. F. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Warrender, Sir V.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Entwistle, Sir C. F. Moreing, A. C. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Everard, W. L. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Wells, S. R.
Fleming, E. L. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Nall, Sir J. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl Wragg, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Wise, A. R. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C. Captain Dugdale and Mr. Munro.
Withers, Sir J. J. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)

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

7.36 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

In ordinary circumstances I should not have offered any observations on this Clause, but the circumstances are exceptional, and I desire to draw the Committee's attention to what has happened. We are not now considering the Clause as it was originally drafted but a Clause in quite a different form. The Clause as originally drafted has been completely emasculated and is unrecognisable to those of us who studied meticulously the original wording. We have done our best to assist the Government to secure a smooth and expeditious passage for this Bill, but unfortunately the Government require to be saved from themselves and from their own friends, and in my judgment—and I use plain and understandable language—they have sold the pass. Certainly they have sold the pass as regards this Clause. I ask the Committee to note that as a result of the Amendment accepted by the Government earlier in the evening, very few words are now left in the Clause which were there when we entered upon its discussion. We on these benches have come to the conclusion—and I think it is a fair interpretation of what has occurred—that the Government are in the mood to succumb to the representations of property interests, and particularly of highly-placed property interests. Those

interests are well protected by the financial Clauses of the Bill, but they are not prepared to give way a single inch to the smaller property-owners who are affected.

In thus explaining our attitude towards the Government's position on this matter I speak with the utmost kindliness of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary for Mines. Originally we thought that the Government's intentions in this Bill were sound and beyond reproach, but, apparently, the Government are much too impressionable and show too much readiness to yield. I would take no exception to that, if they showed the same readiness to accept proposals from all parts of the Committee but their acquiescence is confined to representations from hon. Members on the benches opposite. Therefore, much as we desire to expedite the passage of the Bill, much as we would like to see it placed on the Statute Book at an early date, we must take account of the changed circumstances and the exceptional circumstances, and the fact that there has been a betrayal of the interests of the Commission itself by the Government. That is demonstrated by their acceptance of an Amendment which has completely changed the Clause, and we are bound to divide against the Clause standing part of the Bill.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 234; Noes, 122.

Division No. 58.] AYES. [7.40 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Campbell, Sir E. T. De la Bère, R.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Cary, R. A. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Denville, Alfred
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Doland, G. F.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Drewe, C.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)
Aske, Sir R. W. Channon, H. Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)
Assheton, R. Christie, J. A. Duncan, J. A. L.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Dunglass, Lord
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Clarry, Sir Reginald Eastwood, J. F.
Balniel, Lord Colfox, Major W. P. Edmondson, Major Sir J.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Conant, Captain R. J. E. Ellis, Sir G.
Beechman, N. A. Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Elliston, Capt. G. S.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Emery, J. F.
Boulton, W. W. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cox, H. B. Trevor Entwistle, Sir C. F.
Boyce, H. Leslie Craven-Ellis, W. Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)
Bracken, B. Crooke, J. S. Everard, W. L.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Fleming, E. L.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Croom-Johnson, R. P. Fremantle, Sir F. E.
Brown, Rt.-Hon. E. (Leith) Cross, R. H. Furness, S. N.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Crowder, J. F. E. Fyfe, D. P. M.
Bull, B. B. Culverwell, C. T. Ganzoni, Sir J.
Butler, R. A. Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Gledhill, G. Maitland, A. Seely, Sir H. M.
Gluckstein, L. H. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Selley, H. R.
Graham, Captain A. G. (Wirral) Mander, G. le M. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Markham, S. F. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Marsden, Commander A. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Grimston, R. V. Mayhew. Lt.-Col. J. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Gritten, W. G. Howard Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Mills, Major J. D. (Now Forest) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Guinness, T. L. E. B. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Moreing, A. C. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Hannah, I. C. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Spens. W. P.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Munro, P. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Harbord, A. Nail, Sir J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Harris, Sir P. A. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Storey, S.
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. O'Connor, Sir Terence J Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hepworth, J. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Patrick, C. M. Sutcliffe, H.
Higgs, W. F. Peaka, O. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Holdsworth, H. Peters, Dr. S. J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Holmes, J. S. Petherick, M. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Horsbrugh, Florence Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Touche, G. C.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Train, Sir J.
Hunter, T. Proctor, Major H. A. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
James, Wing-commander A. W. H. Radford, E. A. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Raikes, H. V. A. M. Turton, R. H.
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Keeling, E. H. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Kimball, L. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Warrender, Sir V.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Ropner, Colonel L. Wells, S. R.
Lees-Jones, J. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Rothschild, J. A. de Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Levy, T. Rowlands, G. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Lewis, O. Royds, Admiral P. M. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Liddall, W. S. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Wise, A. R.
Lyons, A. M. Russell, Sir Alexander Withers, Sir J. J.
MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Salmon, Sir I. Wragg, H.
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Salt, E. W. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
McKie, J. H. Samuel, M. R. A. Young, A. S L. (Partick)
Maclay, Hon. J. P. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Savery, Sir Servington TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Magnay, T. Scott, Lord William Captain Hope and Captain
Adams, D. (Consett) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Leach, W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Lee, F.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Leonard, W.
Ammon, C. G. Gallacher, W. Leslie, J. R.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Gardner, B. W. Logan, D. G.
Banfield. J. W. Garro Jones, G. M. Lunn, W.
Barnes, A. J. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Barr, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McGhee, H. G.
Batey, J. Grenfell, D. R. MacLaren, A.
Bellenger, F. J. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Maclean, N.
Bevan, A. Hall, G. H. (Abordare) Mainwaring, W. H.
Broad, F. A. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mathers, G.
Bromfield, W. Hardie, Agnes Maxton, J.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Messer, F.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Hayday, A. Milner, Major J.
Buchanan, G. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Montague, F.
Burke, W. A. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Cape, T. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Muff, G.
Chater, D. Hicks, E. G. Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Cluse, W. S. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Hollins, A. Oliver, G. H.
Cove, W. G. dagger, J. Paling, W.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Parker, J.
Dalton, H. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Price, M. P.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Quibell, D. J. K.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kelly, W. T. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Ridley, G.
Day, H. Kirby, B. V. Riley, B.
Dobbie, W. Kirkwood, D. Ritson, J.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lathan, G. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Ede, J. C. Lawson, J. J. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Sexton, T. M. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Shin well, E. Thorne, W. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Short, A. Thurtle, E Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Silverman, S. S. Tinker, J. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Walkden, A. G. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Smith, E. (Stoke) Walker, J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) Watkins, F. C.
Smith, T. (Normanton) Watson, W. McL. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Stephen, C. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mr. Adamson and Mr. Charleton.
Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng) Westwood, J.