HC Deb 19 February 1917 vol 90 cc978-9

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what Statute the Government claim the right to seize private property and sell it?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Frederick Smith)

The question asked by my right hon. Friend is somewhat general in its terms, and it is not known to what property he particularly refers. The right in question is conferred upon the Crown by a variety of Statutes dealing with a variety of classes of property. Without attempting an exhaustive enumeration reference may be made to the Defence Acts, 1842 to 1875, the Military Lands Acts, 1891 to 1900, the Naval Prize Acts, 1864, the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, the Defence of the Realm (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1915, and the Customs Acts. In addition to the powers conferred by the above Statutes and the Regulations made in pursuance thereof the Crown in times of grave public danger, such as the present, possesses prerogative powers, never precisely defined, but extremely wide, for dealing with the property of subjects where the exercise of such powers is necessary, in relation to the immediate danger, for securing the public safely and defence of the Realm.


Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman inform me under what Statute is derived the right to take wool and sell it abroad in order to maintain exchange?


The right hon. Gentleman had better give me notice of any specific case. I think he will find a warrant in the Regulations ot the Defence of the Realm Act.