§ MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the rifle range at Abbotsham, near Bide-ford, has been closed by the War Office on the ground that it is situated too close to property owned by Mr. Wingate; that the adjutant of the 4th Volunteer Battalion Devon Regiment and the 1127 District Inspector of Musketry inspected the range and passed it as safe and suitable some five years ago, and that consequently considerable expense was incurred in the erection of targets and other paraphernalia of the range; whether he is aware that the local companies will be put to expense in acquiring a new range or arranging for a temporary one; and whether, having regard to the desirability of encouraging the Volunteer system, he will give such financial assistance as may be necessary to enable the local companies to obtain another range.
§ MR. HALDANE
This range was approved by the War Office on condition that the Officer Commanding the 4th Volunteer Battalion Devonshire Regiment obtained a lease or permission for firing rights over the range and danger area, then owned by one person. The lease, however, was never made, and subsequently to the establishment of the range Mr. Wingate acquired a portion of the land, the boundary of which is within about twenty yards of the targets. As this distance was not considered safe, and as he objected to firing under these conditions, the range had to be closed. It is regretted that there is no money available for the financial assistance of the corps suggested in the Question.
§ MR. SOARES
Was it not the duty of the War Office to see that the lease was obtained before expense was incurred?