§ SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ (6.52.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I hope the House will agree to take the Second Reading of this, a purely Consolidation Bill. If it is read a second time I propose to move that it be referred to a Select Committee for examination.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. E. Stanhope.)
§ (6.52.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
I have no objection to make to the Second Reading, and, in fact, I have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having introduced the Bill, and for having yielded on a point of importance which was pressed on his attention by a deputation. Though nominally a Consolidation Bill, its main purpose is really the repealing of a clause in the Ranges Act of last year which was passed, I think, under some misapprehension of its meaning. Some few weeks ago I introduced a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of a number of gentlemen interested in the preservation of commons 1884 and the maintenance of common rights; and they pointed out that under the clause in question, the War Office, having obtained by purchase or lease the interest of the lord of the manor in any common, was entitled merely by the issue of a bye-law to expropriate all the commoners' rights without any opportunity given them for objecting to the process, and without the usual protection in such cases—namely, that the expropriation should only take place under a Provisional Order approved by the House, and with an opportunity for the commoners to oppose the scheme before a Committee of this House. The deputation further pointed out that by the terms of the clause the commoners had no means of securing compensation for the extinction of their rights. The right hon. Gentleman practically admitted the justice of the complaint, and now proposes to repeal that clause. So far as the future is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman has completely met our case. Henceforth, no commoners' rights can be expropriated for the purposes of rifle ranges, military camps, or exercising ground otherwise than by Provisional Order. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman, however, that in one instance operations have commenced under the Act of last year. Proceedings have already been taken in respect of a rifle range in the New Forest, and this has much excited public opinion in the district. I have no desire to express an opinion on the merits or demerits of the site selected, or whether it is the best that could be chosen for the purpose. I only wish to point out that the proceedings came under the unrepealed clause in last year's Act; but the case in favour of proceeding by way of Provisional Order in this instance is immensely strengthened by the concession made in this Bill. I venture to hope, therefore, that at a later stage of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman will agree to a clause requiring the confirmation of any proceedings taken under the tenth clause of last year's Act by a Provisional Order. I think if the right hon. Gentleman would adopt that course he would avoid much trouble and allay a considerable amount of public feeling which has 1885 been excited. It appears to me only just that parties who find themselves about to be deprived of their rights should have the opportunity of having their case heard. The point I know does not properly arise at this stage, but I mention it that the right hon. Gentleman may take it into consideration. Apart from this the Bill is quite to my satisfaction, and I have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for a concession which covers all that we wanted.
§ (6.56.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I object to the Bill being read a second time now before we have had an opportunity to consider it.
§ It being after ten minutes before Seven of the clock, and Objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.