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Before anyone of a barrelful of Queen’s Counsel, anomalously detached from Her Majesty’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, sitting in the House of Assembly points to the Hilton Hotel as precedent for exercising the power of the Land Acquisition Act to acquire Sam Lord’s Castle for National Heritage (Brigandage?) as a “Public Purpose”; it should be observed that:
1. Graves End was not acquired under the Land Acquisition Act which was proclaimed in 1949. The land as War Department property was already Government land on which it was determined that in commemoration of National Independence, a building should be erected and leased to an international conference centre commensurate with the statue of the new nation.
2. The operation of an hotel “per se” is not defined in the Land Acquisition Act as a “public purpose” for which land may be acquired compulsorily. Publication of the Section 3 Notice prescribed by the act is an invitation for public objection and representation in respect of the purpose which “appears to the Minister” to be the public purpose for which it is proposed that the land should be acquired.
3. Unless included in the Development Plan (amended) by the legislature as designated subject to compulsory acquisition to be completed i.e. paid for within five years of the approval of the Development Plan (Amended), the minister shall not approve the proposed compulsory acquisition for submission to Parliament. However, land may be acquired for an approved “public purpose” by private treaty i.e. (without coercion of compulsory acquisition) with the written consent of the landowner and all interested persons entitled.
4. The use of the Land Acquisition Act to interrupt litigation and thereby deprive the putative owner of the land of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Barbados Independence Order 1966 Schedule is an abuse of power subject to judicial review and remedy.
5. Confiscation of property for default in payment of taxes entails legal action exclusive of provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.
On the basis of these observations the people’s representatives in the Legislature should be alerted to investigate the validity of the proposed acquisition of Sam Lord’s Castle as a public purpose and the consequences for adjustment of the prevailing fiscal deficit.
In these circumstances, Government ownership of hotels in competition with private enterprise and adventures in housing accommodation for profit is ill advised.