§ GENERAL RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether the Great Western Railway Company are projecting a railway through the ground recently purchased by the Government for the purpose of a drill ground on Salisbury Plain; whether the military authorities report that this railway, if made, will deprive the ground of the greater part of its value as a drill and manœuvring ground; and whether, under such, circumstances, the Government intend to oppose the Bill for this projected railway in Parliament?
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. J. POWELL-WILLIAMS,) Birmingham, S.
The Great Western Railway Company are promoting a light railway from Pewsey to Salisbury which would pass through the ground on Salisbury Plain recently acquired for the purposes of military training. The military authorities are of opinion that the value of the ground for these purposes will be most seriously diminished by the proposed railway. If the line requires the sanction of a Bill in Parliament, the War Office will oppose the Bill; but, being a light railway, it is proposed to construct it under an order of the Light Railway Commissioners, as provided by the Light Railway Act of 1896. Notwithstanding the objections made by the War Office the Commissioners have issued their order; but it cannot take effect until approved by the Board of Trade, who have directed that an inquiry be held on the subject. The War Office will oppose the Order before that inquiry, and the Secretary of State is advised that the 1662 land, as Crown property, cannot be taken compulsorily for railway purposes, and unless it can be taken compulsorily it will not be surrendered.