I gave this matter consideration and it seems to me that, if we admit the principle of compensation for indirect loss, we are opening the door much wider than we can possibly foresee in cases of this kind. The ordinary provision in all legislation dealing with compensation for various reasons is compensation for direct loss arising out of the terms of the legislation, and I think it would be very doubtful wisdom to depart from that principle on this occasion. I can visualise a variety of claims that might be made by some person whose licence has been transferred on the basis of indirect loss. A person might be operating a licensed omnibus service and, at the same time, running a garage business and he might be in a position to allege that the loss of the omnibus service had produced a certain loss in custom to the garage business, in so far as it was no longer the centre of activity in relation to the omnibus services it had been previously, and that he should be compensated for any falling off in the turnover of the garage business. Conceivably, also, a person might allege that an omnibus service conducted by him and which terminated outside the door of a drapery establishment he was also conducting in a particular town, was of special value to that drapery business and that the termination of the omnibus service would mean a loss of trade to the business and that, consequently, there was indirect loss also.
These seem to be rather imaginative cases, but, at the same time, once we admit indirect loss at all, we do not know where we are going. That has been our experience in relation to other Acts. In all these matters there are, of course, border line cases. One cannot be quite definite that a particular loss was a direct consequence or an indirect consequence of action taken under the authority of the statute but it is necessary to draw the line some where and, heretofore, the principle has always been to draw the line at the point of direct loss. If the loss is, in any sense, indirect, compensation is not payable. It makes, of course, the task of the arbitrator a lot simpler and is, I think, in essence, quite fair, because what the amount of indirect loss might be is very hard to determine. I think, however, that the Senator might have in mind the difficulty that would arise where a licensed operator claimed that, even though an omnibus service was running, at the moment at a loss and had always been running at a loss or at only a very small profit, his future prospects were better, and that the present loss or small profit might be turned into a large profit in the future and that, consequently, the termination of the service or the passage of it into other hands would mean a loss the value of which could not possibly be estimated to the former owner.
I do not anticipate that many such cases will arise but, if they do arise, I think we have to take the attitude that it is impossible to foresee the future and that the estimates of future profit which might be made must, in any event, be so speculative as to be of no value. Conceivably, services in respect of which that argument could be advanced could become entirely unprofitable in the future, even though a person, examining its prospects at the time, might be of opinion that future profit was probable, because of some development taking place in the area or some change in the public taste or something of that kind which would render the service entirely unnecessary and unremunerative. In these circumstances, I think it would be most undesirable, because of all the uncertainty that would be created, that we should delete this word "direct" or open the way for the making of claims for indirect loss. I think that it is much more desirable that we should be clear and precise in our instructions to the arbitrator. I do not think that we will, in fact, do any injustice if those whose licences are transferred are compensated for the direct loss they suffer through the transfer of the licences. I may say that any fears entertained on this head are probably unfounded, because it will certainly be the policy behind the operation of the Act to require that, wherever possible, the transfer of licences take place by voluntary arrangement. In such circumstances, a person selling a licence could advance any argument or make any points he wished to the other party. The question of compulsory transfer and recourse to the arbitrator will only arise where public policy makes such compulsory acquisition necessary and application for that purpose is received. I have no reason to think that, except in a few isolated cases, we will be unable to get the general policy of the Act carried into effect by voluntary arrangement because the existence of these powers will, in the last resort, be a very direct inducement to all parties to effect voluntary arrangements, in the first instance, wherever possible. I think that the Senator would be unwise to press his amendment because, like myself, he cannot possibly foresee the nature of the claims likely to arise. We might find that we had, in fact, taken action which would impose considerable injustice upon the authorised companies to the undue benefit of other parties, instead of removing the possibility of injustice to the present independent operators. I think that we avoid the possibility of injustice in the definition here. It may be that some persons will feel that the future prospects of the services should be taken into account but, under any circumstances, and particularly in relation to a business of this kind, future prospects must be so uncertain that it would be almost impossible to take them into account or assess their value in cash.