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Wednesday, 16 June 1915

Mr ARCHIBALD - The Court does in some instances.

Mr GLYNN - But the point has not been decided. A decision was given in 1905, in which some doubt was thrown upon the obligation to give this extra 10 per cent. ; but we have passed a Land Values Assessment Act, in which we acknowledge that this 10 per cent, ought to be allowed. In the English law, from which some provisions of our Act have been taken, there is no specific provision for the payment of 10 per cent, after compulsory resumption, but, as a matter of practice, a sum is allowed, and the result is that when valuations are made a man does not know what position he is in in regard to the 10 per cent. I do not think it is fair to the public that this should be so. The law ought to be made as clear as it can be made as to what basis compensation is payable upon. It ought also to be made clear what compensation is payable in respect of damage done to land. In Eng-' land that is specifically provided for in Acts of Parliament, and it is also provided for in some of the State Acts here, but we have not followed the exact wording of the English Acts in that provision in our legislation. I could refer to several other matters, and I would now like to ask the Minister, "Is it desirable that we should not give notice to a man whose land we are going to take over before the proclamation is issued?" At present a man may wake up some morning, take up the Government Gazette, and find that he has lost his interest in a property that has been taken over, and that he has nothing more than a legal claim to compensation. Then there is the wide divergence of valuation to be considered. I have known of cases in which there was a difference of £20,000 between a claim and the departmental valuation, and possibly both were honestly made in regard to the value of leases, the value of buildings, the returns on the capital, ana" possibly the fluctuation of interest on principal. This was not connected with the Department presided over by the Minister. I would suggest that we adopt the principle which runs through some of our State Acts, of giving a man notice to treat if we want to take his property over; to tell him that we want to get so much land before we actually issue a proclamation taking it over. There would be no embarrassment to the Department by adopting this course, because it is in the hands of the Department to say that, if an agreement could not be arrived at as to the price, the matter would bo settled at the discretion of the Court. By the adoption of this principle the Department would be in a better position, I think, to arrive at a basis of compensation. In a great many instances the impression seems to be that the Department should not disclose its valuation, because it might influence the owner in his valuation. In the case of a church property, I have known of a wide disparity between the claim and the amount offered. If a valuation had to be made in, say, the case of a cathedral affected by vibration, it would take, I was informed, £100 to get an expert opinion. Now, if the Department got that, and did not show it to the person primarily concerned - the man who makes the claim - would that be fair? In my opinion, all the valuations on both sides ought to be shown.

Mr Groom - In other words, the cards ought to be placed on the table.

Mr GLYNN - Yes; in matters of this kind every man should put his cards on the table, because it is purely a matter of opinion, and the information will enable a layman to say with some approximation to certainty what is a fair thing, and the owner could be guided either to agree under the circumstances or insist upon his claim. I quite agree that the Minister ought not to be exploited by bogus claims, but nevertheless there are many cases in which gross hardship is inflicted.

Mr Archibald - No doubt.

Mr GLYNN - It would greatly help, therefore, if the Government would show their valuation, because no injury would be done, as, in the event of disagreement, it would not be a legal fight in the ordinary sense of the term between two litigants, but would be a case of the law being guided by expert valuation.

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