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28° Julii, 1927.]
the £ less than they otherwise would do. We are therefore, I submit, asked to bear a wholly unjustifiable and heavy burden to the extent that I have mentioned with the result that if we are so heavily burdened these other areas would pay, as I have said, as to the land that is bene. fited 1d. in the less and the other hereditaments connected with them d. less. When you come to consider the position of King's Lynn, can there be any justification for asking that this area should for the first time in history be taxed in this way in order that these lands many of which, but for the drainage works would never have been lands at all, should be saved 1d. and a d. in the respectively? I have made clear to your Lordships that all the burdens I am dealing with up to this point are the burdens other than County Council contribution which I will deal with. I am going now to ask your Lordships to contrast our position with the position of the Upland area. Mr. Dobson is being cross-examined by Mr. Gorman at Question 3059. This is put: "Once the contour line is laid down you must stick to it whatever it may be. I suggest to you that that shows the very great danger of departing from the principle which has hitherto governed land drainage, namely, the principle of benefit? (A.) We are not departing from the principle of benefit. The Ouse Commission, on the contrary, came to the conclusion that we had taken in too much, and they have reduced it rather." Then I used that answer when I dealt with him at Question 3080 that I quoted this morning, and I put it to him in Question 3080, and in 3081 I said, "So there again you assumed that lands that were included in the old drainage area were proper to be excluded now, and you proceeded on that principle?-(A.) We decided to accept the Ouse Commission's recommendation on that point, yes. (Q.) If you please. The lands which were excluded, may I take it, were excluded on the principle that while possibly there might have been some benefit yet the benefit was not such as to justify their inclusion?-(A.) That, I think, was the intention of the Ouse Commission." there you see applying this principle of benefit, they sought to exclude the Uplands from direct contribution, because there was some possible doubt as to the benefit that they were getting. In respect of those lands they are proposing to
charge to the County, either as general purposes or over the whole County, a special rate equal to 2d. per acre of this area, which was excluded as indicated here, because there was some doubt about it. So that the 2d. represents the payment that they desire to have made in respect of lands about which there was some doubt, but that payment is not to be made direct by the people but through the County. Now I am going tc ask you for a moment to contrast what is asked in respect of those lands in that way with what is asked in respect of King's Lynn, as to which Mr. Binnie has said they have sufficient groynes, they are properly protected, they need. no works, and there is no problem of drainage. Take the County of Huntingdonshire, in which, so far as I followed Mr. Robin's evidence, it was clear he thought many of these works-most of them in fact-were of great importance
the Uplands of Huntingdonshire. What is the position there? The area of these lands in question in Huntingdonshire, as shown by the Table, is 163,305 acres, or more than 50 times the area of King's Lynn. Yet the total contribution asked in respect of these lands represented by that 2d. is £1,363 for some admitted benefit to these lands compared with a payment of £3,465 by King's Lynn where the benefit is not admitted, or, as I submit, even alleged. Therefore, it comes to this, that in respect of an area not benefited, and for which the works were not designed, we are asked to pay very nearly three times as much for our small area as Huntingdonshire is asked to pay in respect of an area 50 times the size of King's Lynn. Now, my Lord, that I venture to think emphasises the absolute unfairness and unreason of the proposed charge on King's Lynn.
Let me again take the same sort of figures in relation to the County of Norfolk in which King's Lynn is. In that County the Tables show that there is an area of 316,494 acres of Upland area, as your Lordship will observe one hundred times greater than the area of King's Lynn, the area of King's Lynn being, as shown in Mr. Roseveare's evidence, 3,067 acres. For this area of 100 times the size of King's Lynn they are asking the County of Norfolk to contribute £2,637, or an amount equal only to seven-tenths of that sought to be imposed upon King's Lynn directly. So that they
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are to pay a contribution three-tenths less in respect of an area a hundred times as large, again emphasising, as I submit, the unfairness of the proposal.
Let me take one other example, and that is the total area of Uplands in respect of which 2d. is asked from one County or another. The total area is 1,613,172 acres as compared with our area of 3,067, 500 times greater, and yet though it is 500 times greater the contribution asked in respect of the whole of this area admittedly receiving some benefit, though not sufficient for direct taxation, is rather less than four times greater than that asked from King's Lynn; four times greater in relation to an area 500 times greater.
When put in this way I venture to submit it is a little astonishing to see what is proposed in relation to King's Lynn.
I am now going to ask your Lordship for a few minutes to consider what are the
reasons suggested to justify any such proposal. That brings me first to deal with paragraph 54 of the Commission's Report. Again they are dealing with "Contributions by County Councils in respect of land (a) Without, and (b) Within the Drainage District." Perhaps I will deal with the paragraph beginning: "Of course it may be argued that the dwellers in the Uplands have an immemorial right to discharge their surplus water by its natural channels and that they have no responsibility for what happens to those who live below them. But such an argument appears to us to be somewhat one-sided and to leave out of sight one of the main features of modern rating, namely, the principle of communal benefit. Many ratepayers derive no direct personal benefit from the expenditure of much of the local rates to which they are called upon to contribute, but as Members of the community they pay towards all expenditure undertaken for the community as a whole." Well, my Lord, I do not know whether the Commission thought that was an argument applying to King's Lynn. If they did, my submission to your Lordship is they could only arrive at that state of affairs by a confusion of thought, because the whole principle underlying this is payment towards all expenditure undertaken for the community as whole; that is to say, undertaken for the community who are to be charged with the cost of it. But on their own case
we are not in that community. These works are not undertaken for the benefit of King's Lynn. Nothing that exists in King's Lynn has had any influence at all in bringing about these works, and, apart from the needs of other areas, you would never have heard of these works, and we are not in that sense in the community. See what happens, my Lord. That argument is only good for really getting rid of the second principle that I enunciated this morning, that is to say, payment in proportion to benefits received. Of course, in a common area of rating a borough, or a County, or anything of that kind, people pay not in proportion to the benefit they receive; they pay, in proportion to their rateable value, communal charges, but every one of them has the chance of getting some benefit from that expenditure. That expenditure is required for matters with regard to which in a greater or lesser degree practically everybody in the rated community has a need. In that sense we have no such community of interest as arises in the case of an ordinary rating district. Think of it again, my Lord, from the point of view of a Joint Sewerage district or a Joint Water district. What is the position there? They are made joint because each district has a definite sewage problem to solve, or a water supply problem to solve. Each of the districts having this problem to solve, they agree together that it is going to be more cheaply solved in common, and, therefore, instead of having three authorities with, say, three systems of sewage disposal and three sources of water supply, they will have one common system of sewage disposal and one common system of water supply; but each of the areas needs the particular thing the charge of which is distributed in common. Even in the matter of sewage it constantly happens that payment is made not on the basis of the rateable value of the areas but very often on the quantity of sewage dealt with from each area. So with regard to water. It constantly happens that payment is not made wholly, at all events, and sometimes not at all, on the basis of the relative rateable values of the areas concerned, but in proportion to the water taken by the various authorities, so that in those cases of communal benefit not only have you the common need, the need common to all the areas to be dealt with, but you have the provision that, in being dealt with com
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monly, payment shall be in proportion to benefit. How then can that be suggested as an analogy for the proposa. here? My submission is, and I think it is established on their own evidence, that we can have no communal benefit in the matter of drainage here, because we have no drainage problem to solve.
My learned friend points out to me that the paragraph is used here with regard to the Uplands that they have no responsibility for those who live below them. As a matter of fact we have nobody living below us, as your Lordship knows. We are the last thing on the river in that sense.
May I ask you in this context to be good enough to refer to page 250 of the eighth day? I will refer you now, if I may, to Question 3078, and at a later page to Question 3093. The earlier questions there I have dealt with in relation to an earlier point. At 3078:
accepting that principle it would not be right, would it, to include lands already sufficiently protected by works already erected and maintained and along which the banks are in such good condition that no measures of protection are specially necessary.-(A.) I am afraid I could not agree with that. Those lands, although they may be protected for internal purposes, still have to get their water away into some channel which ultimately discharges into the sea." Now, my Lord, having agreed with the principles that I put to him in the earlier questions, all that he can say is that there may be something in getting water away to the sea. Again at Question 3093 these are his reasons, and I want to deal with them. You will observe that he merely says they may still have to get their water away into some channel which ultimately discharges into the sea. He does not assert it as a fact; he puts it as a possibility. Then at Question 3093, having dealt with that sort of possibility, I say: "If you please. In relation to that possibly the £10,000 work might be of some benefit. concede. But you are not asking contributions in respect of that work consisting of £10,000, you are seeking to put on us a charge which will be onesixteenth of the cost of the whole works up above King's Lynn as well as this £10,000? (A.) That is so. May I explain that the Ouse Commission felt that when they came to examine the works it was necessary to carry out not one work but a comprehensive programme,
and they recommended that comprehensive programme could not be split up into different portions to be paid for by different portions of the area, but should be paid for generally by a flat rate contributed over the whole district of the 20 feet contour." That is the best they have been able to do. The best that they can suggest is that possibly this work costing £10,000 may be of some benefit to King's Lynn. As to how far they are justified in suggesting even that possibility I will deal with in a moment, but that is all that they are able to do. Suppose I concede that to be the position for a minute, as I did to Mr. Dobson, what it would come to is this, that because we may possibly get some benefit out of this work costing £10,000, and share in that benefit with a number of other people in respect of the cost of that work, we are to be charged with no less than one-sixteenth part of one and a quarter millions, or a capital sum of £78,125, because that is what our one-sixteenth share, which is the figure I put to Mr. Roseveare, of the cost they are endeavouring to put on King's Lynn means-£78,125. So even if this benefit can be established the suggestion is that because we may have some share of benefit in a work costing £10,000 we are to have a liability put on us for £78,125. My Lord, as SO stated, and it is fairly stated, I do venture to suggest it is a reductio ad absurdum of this suggested argument of communal benefit. But in relation to that Mr. Binnie has told you that we have no drainage problem to solve, and it has never been suggested that we are going to get in relation to our drainage anything that is going to benefit us. It has not been suggested that we need anything. It is perfectly true it may make that channel outside King's Lynn a bit deeper, but we do not need it. And why? Because Mr. Binnie has said, so far as he knows we have no drainage problem to solve. That work is not made in order to enable us to deal with our system of drainage better. Our drainage is there and no criticism is made of it. They cannot even, I submit, suggest the possibility of benefit from the deepening of that channel in relation to King's Lynn, and members of the Committee if they do visit that area will no doubt be able to see for themselves what I am putting to them, that the channel that is there already is amply sufficient, and will be amply sufficient
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for all the purposes of the discharge of our drainage from our own system into the river.
Another argument was that it was said, "You are within the 20 feet contour." Well, my Lord, that anyhow is only true of part of the area, but we were equally within the area taken for the 1920 Order. Mr. Binnie told you that approximately what was done there was to take an area within a contour line 8 feet above the highest known flood level of 13 feet 7 inches so that what was roughly done there, according to Mr. Binnie, was to delimit an area along a contour line of 21 feet 7 inches. we are within a contour line of 20 feet, obviously we must be within a contour line of 21 feet 7 inches, even more if it were possible. Yet, as I have shown you, the Ministry having started to include us, expressly excluded us, and we are not included in the 1920 Order. Again I would refer in this connection to questions 3090 and 3091, to which I have already referred as to our exclusion from the 1920 Order.
Now, my Lord, for those reasons I am going to ask your Lordship to say that King's Lynn ought not to be included in this area of rating as is proposed; that there is no reason to justify it as compared with 1915, 1920 and the dates prior to that, and that to include it would be to inflict a great wrong and a great injury to this struggling community of King's Lynn.
Now, my Lord, there are one or two other matters to which I want to call attention. In addition to this payment that we are asked to make here of direct rating, we are affected by the payment proposed to be made through the County Council. We are an important rating area in the County of Norfolk. Under those proposals on the rateable value that has been given by Mr. Roseveare for King's Lynn and applying the 1.091d. in the £, which is the amount stated in the Table to be raised in the County, it would come to £422 which we should have to pay in respect of the 6d. and the 2d. Two-fifths of it would be in respect of the 2d., namely, £171, and three-fifths of it in respect of the general payment, and one has to differentiate there, my Lord, because under the Order it is possible for the County to levy the 2d. on the area of the Upland lands as a special County purpose, which means that it would then be paid by the rateable value in that area as distinct from
the rest of the County; but, on the other hand, the County may elect to charge it as a general County purpose, in which case we should have to pay. In the one case we should have to pay £251, that is in respect of the 6d., and in the other case £171 in respect of the 2d. Therefore you see there is a proposal there that we should be liable to pay these sums as part of the County rate. My submission is that any such payment as that by King's Lynn is more than ample in respect of their contiguity to this drainage area; that if they have that burden put upon them any such question as communal interest referred to in the paragraphs in the Commission's Report to which I have referred would be more than amply met. What that means is this. That would again on the figure I have given be something like a 1 rate, but I prefer to deal with it in the actual amount deducible from the Table. That again means in our case that it works out very heavily per acre, and that charge only works out for the whole county area at 1 d., but in our case it works out at about 2s. 9d. per acre. I only mention those figures just to show you what town rating does in relation to general rating. Now, I have dealt with that matter. So far as I am concerned, as contributing to the County, I raise no objection to paying it, but I do say this, that paying that strengthens my case, if it needs strengthening, for what I have asked your Lordship, namely, exclusion from this proposed area of rating. That I submit very strenuously and earnestly if I may. That deals with that
Now there is clause 6. Clause 6, your Lordship will remember, is the clause which proposes that the Corporation, the Conservancy Board and the Docks Company should, if there is any benefit to the town, not of drainage but by reason of improvement in navigation, pay "the value of the improvement which has resulted, or which it is calculated will result, to the Port or to the trade of King's Lynn"; I dealt with that pretty fully. I admitted to Mr. Dobson, that in so far as benefit did result to the port of King's Lynn it was not unfair that some contribution should be made, and that that should be made by the Conservancy who are the navigation authority and should be measured by the extent of the benefit received in the shape either of increased shipping or de
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creased expenses, or a combination of both those matters. I stand by that. I have been dealing with the matter of the charge under Clause 1 and the inclusion in the area under Clause 1 as a matter of drainage, because these works are, as I have submitted, and indeed as the promoters themselves have said, works of drainage. If there is any incidental benefit to the port of King's Lynn in the matter of navigation we are content that a reasonable payment should be made in the way I have indicated. But, my Lord, I do deprecate most strongly the way in which the clause is drawn. I do not know that it is necessary for me now to elaborate that more fully than I did in Question 3112 and thereabouts, which I would just ask you to refer to. I will take one, Question 3112. I had put to Mr. Dobson that any improvement to the port or trade of King's Lynn might very well mean that any extra profits made by the traders and merchants should be capitalised in respect of the proposed constribution, and I put it to him at Question 3112: "Would that be reasonable? Is it reasonable to suggest that any arbitrator shall be at liberty to say 'the traders are going to make among them we will say, another £10,000 a year-you must give us 20 years' purchase of the £10,000.' Is not that a wholly unreasonable and unworkable proposition?—(A.) I think perhaps it can be argued it is unreasonable." Then Question 3111: "It would be open to the arbitrator to take that view of the wording of your clause, would it not?"-that was the view 1 have just mentioned to your Lordshipsand the answer is, "I think so, certainly." I am not going to elaborate that more. I think the position is perfectly well before you, and I gather we should be able to discuss that on a matter of clauses, and from that point of view I hope I have made my position sufficiently clear without taking up more time.
Now there is only one other matter 1 want to suggest to your Lordship, and 1 want to do it quite shortly, and it is this, that I do submit that the question of the extreme urgency of this matter, going to the extent possibly of inducing hasty legislation, has been over-stated. I would just in regard to that call your attention to one or two matters beginning with Question 3193 of the eighth day in the evidence of Mr. Binnie. That you will see had reference to variations of prin
ciple, and so on, and went to show that all the matters with regard to rating that are raised here were before the Royal Commission. I do not desire to urge that any more fully than I did in my crossexamination. I do desire in that regard to refer your Lordships to that crossexamination, if you would be good enough to look at it. I do submit that there is not this urgency because these same fears that have been mentioned were put prominently forward in 1915; they were put prominently forward in 1918; and again in 1920. They were present when the Report was written 18 months ago, and still no one word of evidence suggested that in those years from 1915 onwards there has been anything which has happened to justify the fears. Those fears have not matured in any way, and if you look at Questions 559 to 573 of Mr. Binnie's evidence that was the one I had in mind-you will see Mr. Binnie is being questioned on the matter of floods. It
is a curious commentary that although he is advising works in relation to feared floods, throughout these questions he really seems to show that he has not even ascertained what the floods in the past have been. Not having ascertained what they have been, he cannot have ascertained what they were due to; stil! less can he have ascertained what one would have thought should have been ascertained, whether the flood level has tended to increase or decrease since the construction of the sea works in the Marsh Cut and in the Vinegar Cut. So that from that point of view, I submit it may quite well be that delay might be of good. At all events that kind of thing, I submit, does go to show that the matter is not quite so urgent as to necessitate legislation unless your Lordships are perfectly satisfied as to the details of that legislation when it leaves you. That is the point I want to make.
If you look again at what Sir Alexander Gibb says at page 333, Question 4187, you get the same view. It was in answer to my Lord Forester, I think: "(Q.) I was just going to ask, Sir Alexander, you were dealing with this question of cost, and, as far as I gathered, in your opinion it was a very good scheme provided the money could be provided?-(A.) Yes. (Q.) Do you consider that if there is difficulty in finding the money there is any imminence of danger of flooding that has been suggested-of