§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON (Parliamentary Secretary, War Office)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
It may be well to explain to the House that this is a Bill which comes from another place and which has there gone through searching criticism and some amendment. The policy of the Government is to divest themselves of land acquired during the War, which is now, in many cases, unnecessary for their purpose, as rapidly as possible. In the course of divesting themselves of some of this land, certain doubts have arisen as to the interpretation of the Acquisition of Land Act, 1916: that is, the principal Act. It is in order to make clear points of doubt, and to be able to give a good title to purchasers, that several of the Clauses in this Bill are being inserted. Other Clauses have been put in in order to cure certain defects which have become apparent in 1823 the principal Act. The Bill itself is very technical, and is perhaps better fitted for discussion as to details in Committee than on the Second Reading. I will, however, endeavour to give an outline of the purpose of the Clauses. The necessity for Clause 1 may be illustrated by the case of land restricted by covenant for the purpose of building houses of a certain size or a certain rental. The Government acquires a portion of this land, and upon it erects a factory, disregarding, as it is entitled to do, the restrictive covenants which were imposed upon the land. Of course, the Government have to pay compensation for taking the land, and that compensation includes the freedom from the restrictive covenants. It is paid to the persons who are injured, but it has been suggested by lawyers that if the Government came to sell this land, with the factory which they had erected upon it, the restrictive covenants would revive. The practical effect of that would be that the sale of the land would be impeded, and possibly the total value of the factory might be less if the revival of the restrictive covenants was maintained There would be no buyers of a factory such as that. The loss to the State would undoubtedly be very great in money, and there would be a loss to the community, because such factories are useful, and indeed are urgently required for industry. In special cases, where the amenity of dwelling-houses or the protection and maintenance of a building scheme are of superlative importance, the removal of the restrictions in the covenant can only be done with the consent of the Railway and Canal Commission, so that there is a protection for an exceptional case. We all recognise that there are certain cases where no money compensation is adequate, and these cases are provided for by the proviso in Clause 1.
I come to Clause 2. A right of repurchase, or pre-emption, as it is called, was given in the principal Act. This right of pre-emption not only extended to the owner from whom the land, was taken, and to his successors, but if the owner or his successors did not exercise the right of pre-emption, then that right was to be extended to the adjoining owners. That has been found in practice to be a very cumbersome proceeding, and has really placed a barrier upon the possibility cf selling the land, because 1824 each of these adjoining owners had six weeks in which to make up his mind. If he did not buy the land, it had then to be offered to another joint owner, and so on, until the whole neighbourhood had had the offer of the land. That caused a great impediment, and makes it very difficult to effect a sale. It is desired in this Clause to restrict the right of preemption to the owner and his successors in title. Clause 3 is the most important Clause in the Bill. Paragraph (a) refers to the purchase of land for the purpose of re-sale. A factory is built upon land which has not been purchased, and if it desired to sell the factory to the best advantage and the site, it is obviously necessary that the Government should purchase the land in order to offer that and the factory together. That becomes a purchase of the land for the purpose of re-sale. Section 3 of the principal Act authorises the purchase of land, and Section 5 authorises its sale. Curious as it may seem, however, some of the lawyers are of opinion that there is doubt whether, in fact, you can purchase for the purpose of re-sale. Consequently, Paragraph (a) of Clause 3 is necessary to clear away the doubt.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
I do not think that any case has been taken to the Courts. A case has been tried—I forget exactly the name at the moment—I think it that of MacGrill. I will tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman what the case is on the Committee stage, if we get to that point. At any rate, there is great doubt: and so great is the doubt that it makes it a serious impediment in handling the property of the State. It would be too great an advantage to the landowner if buildings, erected at enormous expense to the State, were to revert to him free, gratis, and for nothing. Then there is the cost of reinstatement. That cost, in some cases, is so great that it is better for the State to purchase the land and to sell it in the condition in which it is. There are cases where camps have existed, and where areas of land have been covered with blocks of concrete, and trenches have been dug for training troops. The cost of reinstating such land as that in its original condition would be very heavy indeed. It is desired by paragraph (a) to obtain power to purchase the land instead 1825 of reinstating. There is a proviso which says that that power can only be exercised on the authority of the Railway and Canal Commission. Paragraph (b) defines the expressions used in the principal Act, "Government Department in possession," and "occupying Department." Some doubt has arisen as to the exact meaning of these words, and the paragraph makes it clear that it is the Department for the time being in possession of land which is meant. Paragraph (c) makes it clear that the Department has not ceased to be an "occupying Department" by reason of its having temporarily handed over the land to a munitions firm, or for some such purpose during the War. It has been held that that was a break in the possession, and therefore this paragraph is to make the matter clear. Paragraph (d) is intended to remove doubts as to the retention of the land under Section 13, if the purpose is different from the purpose for which it was originally taken. There seems to be a legal point there which also requires clearing up. Paragraph (e) is a corollary to paragraph (d), and it is therefore unnecessary to devote much explanation to it.
With regard to the second Sub-section of this Clause we propose to give the alternative of removing a building instead of purchasing the land. Sometimes these buildings have been erected on land which has not been purchased, and it is desirable to have the alternative of not buying the land at all, but of removing the buildings. That power is particularly required in the case of land owned by a municipality or a railway. If we had not that power we could not remove the buildings, and they would therefore remain the property of the municipality or the railway company respectively.
Clause 4 gives power to prescribe certain points with regard to tramways across a roadway and to the keeping of public highways closed. It refers to the giving of a decision within the period of two years or twelve months respectively. Curiously enough, it has been held by lawyers that under the terms of the principal Act a decision cannot be given until two years or twelve months have elapsed. It is a barrier to business and to concluding negotiations in connection with factories which are for sale when people cannot know, one case for two years, whether or not they will have a 1826 perpetual use of the siding which serves the works,. It is desirable that there should be power to come to a decision without delay. Sub-section (2) of the Clause gives an appeal. The decision as to whether a siding crossing a roadway shall be left or not is at the present time in the hands of the local authorities. It seems unreasonable that there should be no appeal, because we have experienced the same arbitrary action in other cases, and it would be a very serious matter indeed if a factory were cut off from the use of a siding which would render the building perhaps almost useless and certainly much less valuable for the purpose of sale. There will be no dubiety about that, and it will be possible, not only to get a decision at once, but, if these powers be unreasonable, to appeal to the Minister of Transport to decide any doubt which may arise. Clause 5 amends the conditions of the principal Act in regard to railway companies and dock companies. This Clause has been agreed with those who represent the railway companies, and I do not think I need detain the House very long in explaining it.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Notwithstanding the fact that the Clause may have been agreed between the railway companies and the dock companies, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give a quite adequate explanation to the House. The House is entitled to know what is the whole position.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
I will do that with pleasure. It is a point of a technical nature, and will perhaps more easily be dealt with in Committee and by a lawyer than a layman. At the same time I will endeavour to explain the exact purport of the Clause. The Clause amends the provisions of the Act of 1916 relating to land belonging to railways, docks, etc. Sub-section (1) restricts the Government's power of purchase to land which had never been used for the purpose of the undertaking, providing the Railway and Canal Commission is satisfied it will not be required for the purposes of the undertaking. It also restricts the existing power of purchasing lands which, having been used for the purposes of the undertaking, have ceased to be so used, and to land which the Commission is satisfied will not be required for such purposes. Sub-section (2) makes it clear that the Ministry of Transport shall take 1827 into account other considerations than those of transport—for example, finance —in considering whether an extension of temporary occupation should be granted. Clause 6 deals with easements, and it seems there is a doubt as to whether the enjoyment of an easement is the same thing as being in possession of an easement. Not being a lawyer, it is a little difficult to explain where the lawyers exactly find the difficulty; but we are advised that there is a case here requiring elucidation and explanation, and the intention of this Clause is merely to make it clear that enjoyment does mean possession. The case, I understand, is that of drainage and surface water, but particularly drainage, running from land in the possession of the Government into a drain belonging to somebody else, and it is desired to preserve the rights which are now enjoyed by the Government, as the occupier of the land, to the Government after the ratification of peace, or to the buyer of the land if the Government sell the land. That is the purpose of the Clause.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
My right hon. Friend says it is a very dangerous proposal. I dare say in Committee it will be possible exactly to explain where the difficulty lies, but I should have thought that this Clause, having passed the scrutiny of another place, where these questions are dealt with with scrupulous care, and with no lack of regard to the rights of property, the right hon. Gentleman might feel that his apprehensions were not well-founded. With regard to Clause 7, which refers to bye-laws for the safe use of military rifle ranges, it appears that at the present time there are a number of ranges which are held by the Government, and it is not known now exactly how many of these ranges will be permanently required. The use of these ranges by the Territorials and others is a matter of some uncertainty at the moment, and it is felt that it would be premature to give up these ranges entirely, or, rather, the bye-laws which govern them. As a matter of fact, there is a provision that the land on which these ranges exist shall be held for two years, I think, after the ratification of peace, but, curiously enough, the bye- 1828 laws which interrupt the free use of the land for footpaths, and so forth, do not similarly extend, and it is obvious the ranges would not be of much use if you could not prevent people from traversing the danger zone. Consequently, it is sought to extend the bye-laws for two years, and partly because of the uncertainty of what will be permanently required and what will not, and also because of the slowness of procedure under the Military Lands Acts, under which it is intended, of course, to deal with the acquisition of rights of way across ranges in the ordinary way in time of peace. This is merely, therefore, an extension of the provision for two years. There is no question of taking away permanent rights, and the permanent arrangements will be made under the usual conditions of the Military Lands Acts.
Those are the main points in connection with this Bill. It is a Bill full of technicalities, as I said when I rose. It is not a Bill which is very easy for a layman to grasp at first sight. I have myself spent some little time in trying to master the details, and I hope I have at least given the House a rough outline of the provisions of the Bill. In Committee, if there are any points which seem to require elucidation or explanations, I shall be very pleased indeed to give those explanations, and to hear what arguments can be advanced against the provisions of the Bill. But, as I have said, the Bill has already received so much attention, that I hope the House will not find it very difficult to give it a Second Reading, and also that they will not find many Amendments, at any rate of any substance, are required in it.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
My right hon. Friend has very truly said this Bill is an example of a very large number of legal conundrums presented to a lay assembly, and he derives some comfort in connection with that not very alluring prospect, owing to the fact that it has received some attention in another place. I have considerably more respect for another place than I used to have, but it does not absolve me, or any Member of this House, from the discharge of functions in regard to any Bill which comes to this House from another place. I suggest to hon. Members that this Bill requires very careful scrutiny in Committee. Certainly I agree with my right 1829 hon. Friend that it is not a very fitting subject—at least, not a very easy subject —for debate on Second Reading. But let me draw the attention of the House to the two last Clauses to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I cannot imagine any lawyer now listening to me not requiring some very careful elucidation of Clause 6, which says:For the purposes of the principal Act and this Act, the exercise or enjoyment of any easement or right over or in relation to land shall be deemed to be possession of that easement or right.That is a matter which requires to be very carefully considered, to see that whatever happens the general law with regard to easements and rights is not infringed upon in the least degree by this Bill, and to see that the effect of this Clause is very carefully safeguarded indeed. What about Clause 7? The practice which obtained during the War, that no question of rights of way or matters of that kind should interfere with the rifle ranges, was a very proper arrangement during war time, but one which I certainly would be very loth indeed to carry on into peace without some very strong reasons and arguments being adduced in its favour.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I do not know what special reason there may be. There must be an immense number of rifle ranges available now for the relatively much smaller number of His Majesty's forces compared with two years ago. We had under arms in this country, practising almost daily at rifle ranges, I should think, some 200,000 men—sometimes more, and never less. I should say that the number of His Majesty's forces who require to practise at rifle ranges to-day is quite negligible compared with then, and there are no immediate prospects, one is thankful to know, of any necessity for augmenting His Majesty's land forces. If that is the case, what reason is there for carrying on this power for another two years? It seems to me such a Clause as that could be very well dropped out of the Bill. There is nothing in the action of the Executive, so far as I can see, in the presentation of this Bill, which gives me much confidence in the extension of the powers which they seek. As I have often said, what this House really must guard against is the 1830 constant action of the Executive, very largely owing to the pressure of the Departments behind them, to carry into peace conditions of war. Here is an example. I see no reason at all why this power is sought for another two years. These powers will continue until the technical end of the War, and, therefore, so far as I can see, some months have still to run. The War Office have got these powers for months to come. They can very easily make such arrangements as are necessary in connection with the due facilities of his Majesty's land Force within that time, and, under those circumstances, I hope the Committee will strike out Clause 7 and bring that particular provision, at any rate, to an end. I am not able at present to offer any criticisms of real service to this House, other than to repeat what I have said, that these highly technical matters want very careful watching in the interests of the country, and never so much as now, when, owing to the practice of war—and rightly—things were done and left undone which would never have been tolerated in times of peace. I hope the Committee will give the most careful attention to this very complicated measure, and that when it arrives at the Report stage we shall be able to see that some of the safeguards, which a few, at any rate, of us wish to see inserted, will be found in the Bill as then presented.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir RHYS WILLIAMS
The number of rifle ranges available before the War was extraordinarily small, and a great many of them were not really fit for the purpose for which they were wanted. During the War a number of ranges have been found which are suitable for the purpose, and I do think the authority might be given at least two years to decide which of these rifle ranges might be kept and which might be given up. It is not asking for perpetuity, but only for two years in which to form an opinion as to which of these rifle ranges now in use should be kept for the purpose of training in rifle-shooting in this country.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
May I say my objection is limited to those rifle ranges where public rights of footpaths and otherwise have been interfered with during war-time?
§ Mr. HOOD
I merely rise in the hope of eliciting some information from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill with regard to the position of the common lands of the country under this Bill. It is within the recollection of the House that, during the War, a number of the common lands of the country, or parts of those lands, have been taken possession of by the War Office, and they are still in possession of those common lands. I refer more particularly to the position of Wimbledon Camp, which is within my constituency. Under the acquisition of Land Act. 1916, the War Office took possession of part of Wimbledon Common. They have erected huts upon it, and they are still in occupation. So far as I can see, although a good deal of pressure has been brought to bear upon the War Office, there is no undue haste on their part to give up possession of these lands. There is considerable apprehension on the part of my constituents as to when they are going to give up possession so the public may resume possession. If we turn to Clause 3, Sub-section (1) (a) we see the words.the power of acquiring land or interest in land conferred by Section three of the principal Act authorises, and shall be deemed always to have authorised, such acquisition for the purposes of re-sale, in cases when such re-sale is required with a view to the realisation to the best possible advantage of the value of buildings and works erected.I want to know whether this present Bill confers upon the Government Department concerned any additional rights for perpetuating the occupation of any land, or even enlarging the scope of their present occupation? This is a matter, which, as I suggest, is of great interest to my constituents, and I shall be glad to receive some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman on the subject.
§ Major KELLEY
I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill how far Clause 4, Sub-section (1) (b), applies to a case which I shall state as briefly as I possibly can. In 1915 a national shell factory was erected in the Tinsley part of Sheffield which adjoins Rotherham. The highway adjoining this factory belonged to the Sheffield Corporation, but the tramways laid in this highway belonged to Rotherham. The firm who erected this factory for the Ministry of Munitions desired 1832 to lay a railway siding across the Corporation's tramway, which was strongly objected to by the Corporation of Rotherham. Representations, however, were made by the Government on the matter, whereby the crossing was to be made only for the period of the War, while the factory was in the possession and control of the Ministry of Munitions for war purposes. This Agreement was signed by Sir Reginald Brade on behalf of the Minister of War.
Notwithstanding this, and representations that were made to the Government, they insisted on the terms referred to in Section 6 of the Defence of the Realm (Acquisition of Land) Act, 1916—and with which I will not trouble the right hon. Gentleman—which entirely overrode their agreement. The Ministry of Munitions have now sold the factory, and approached the corporation for their consent to this level crossing remaining after the period mentioned in Section 6 of the Act. To this the corporation have agreed on payment of £500 compensation which was approved of by the Ministry of Munitions with the sanction of the Treasury. This is over a year ago, and I now find that nothing that can be done by the Corporation of Rotherham will move the Treasury to complete this agreement. It is the opinion of the Corporation of Rotherham that they are holding up the completion of the agreement pending the passing of the Bill now before the House, and it is quite obvious to my mind that if the provision mentioned in Sub-section (2) is passed into law, they will then insist on the matter going to the Ministry of Transport with the hope that that authority will for the second time enable the Government to avoid the honourable arrangement they have made.
I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman how far the Government will tear up the honourable agreement made between the Corporation of Rotherham and Sir Reginald Brade on behalf of the Minister for War. I should like to hear whether the particular paragraph to which I have referred will put the Corporation of Rotherham into this position or not, because if it does, it will be my business to oppose this Bill to the utmost of my power.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office whether there is any particular 1833 reason why this Bill has been introduced? It has been stated to me that—it may possibly be for quite a good reason— the real reason for this Bill is connected with the sale of Richborough, that it will be difficult to come to the arrangements which are about to be come to, or hoped will be come to, in regard to the sale of Richborough if this Bill is not introduced. Whether that is so or not I really do not know. It may be a perfectly legitimate reason, and it may be that the original Act does require certain alterations, but it seems to me there are certain objections to this Bill, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to meet the points I am going to raise when we get into Committee. There is still uncertainty in the original Act as to who may or may not go before the Railway Commission, who may or may not amongst the actual owners in such and such circumstances claim the right of pre-emption. I would therefore suggest that any owner of requisitioned land to be sold by a third party should have the right of appeal to the Railway Commission, which, I think, is a perfectly fair proposal. Where a man has given over his property, or has had it requisitioned during the War for the purposes of the State, the least that can be said or done is to allow him the right of pre-emption when that property is to be sold. We all remember the little discussion which took place some time ago between, I think, the Ministry of Munitions and Lord Rosebery. It is with the idea that some such arrangement as there indicated should be put into the Bill that I have risen this afternoon. I have here an Amendment which, if not an Amendment of my own— because it is such a very technical Bill that it is almost impossible for the layman to put forward an Amendment—I propose to put down, and which more or less deals with the question, and which has been handed to me by legal people. I trust the Financial Secretary will accept it, when we get to the Committee stage, or, if I am not on the Committee, when we get to the Report stage. Under the Act of 1916 compensation is, I think, given to the owners on a basis which is manifestly unfair. Agricultural property has increased very much in value, and I hope the Financial Secretary will consider whether or not some Amendment of that particular part of the Act of 1916 ought not to be introduced. I have nothing 1834 further to say upon those matters. Some of them are questions of serious moment to the people concerned, but because they happen to be few in number I hop© the Government will not disregard their just claims.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am surprised to find the Financial Secretary to the War Office in charge of this Bill, and I was rather puzzled when he told us that it would take a great deal of time to understand this Bill, as it was a lawyer's job, and I also wondered why a Law Officer was not in charge of it. I begin to see the reason now. This is a Bill which concerns the War Office. I do not propose to examine more than one particular point in Clause 7. Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the War Office still has a number of rifle ranges, that they have not yet decided how many they will want, and that they must have powers under the Defence of the Realm Regulations to keep the public away from those ranges? That is a most astounding declaration. Here we are, two years after the Armistice, the territorial and military policy of the Government has been declared, and to say now that the War Office has not made up its mind what rifle ranges are required is to me simply astounding.
I do not agree with the statement which has been made that we had not enough rifle ranges before the War. That is all the more reason why the Government should have made up their mind instead of coming now asking for these indefinite powers. I think we can save the country a little money by striking out Clause 7. If the Government is keeping on all these ranges "on spec.," then they are wasting a lot of money. I see there are not only rifle and artillery ranges, but also aerial ranges. Everyone must know that the danger around such a range is colossal, and the restrictions on the public in the neighbourhood of any ordinary inland aerial range must be very great indeed. If the Government are going to set up aerial ranges in inland districts they are going to be very dangerous, and the danger zone is going to be greatly increased. On this matter the House ought not to give the Government carte blanche, but force them to set up their aerial ranges on waste spaces, and there are plenty round the coast, such as the vast flats in the estuaries of the Thames and the Wash, where, from the 1835 point of view of economy and cheapness and the safety of the public, they are very good indeed. I want to ask if the Government are going to take over ranges at such places as Shoeburyness and Morecèmbe Bay? I am not disposed to give the Government any powers to keep on rifle ranges simply because they have not yet made up their minds how many they will want.
I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office on the facility with which he has explained what, to an ordinary layman, is an almost unintelligible Bill. I should like to refer to Clause 3, Subsection 1 (a). I am not quite sure whether I followed the right hon. Gentleman correctly in his explanation, but it does seem to me to be giving a very wide power to the Government Department. I understand the War Office has certain lands upon which there are certain derelict buildings, and it finds it difficult to sell that land and the buildings upon it. If the Government require an acre or two acres in the vicinity of such land they would be empowered by this Subsection to acquire compulsorily those additional acres in order to realise to the best advantage. That is a pretty dangerous power, and I suggest that, unless the acre or two acres referred to are in the hands of a willing seller, it would be better to cut your loss and sell for what you can get rather than give the Government Departments power to buy land all round. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider that point, and I am prepared to move in Committee that that Sub-section be omitted.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
Clause 3 not only gives power to acquire additional land to that which has been already bought, but it gives the Government power to acquire and sell land which they have not bought on which they may have built factories, hutments, etc. Although they have been in the habit of offering land for sale without having bought it yet it was found that they could not do that, and now they are taking power to buy for the purpose of at once selling again with the buildings on the land. That power deprives the owner of his rights of pre emption. If the Government buy land under the existing Acquisition of Land Bill the owner has a 1836 right of pre-emption, but under this Clause he has not that right, because you are giving power to buy the land in order to sell it to somebody else. That is the ease which my right hon. Friend quoted of Lord Rosebery's estate where they offered his property for sale without having bought it, and now you are legalising that action.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
I will endeavour to answer the observations which hon. Members have made. The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Hood) referred to the occupation of part of Wimbledon Common for the purpose of housing troops. The Bill before the House does not enlarge the powers which now exist under the principal Act, and commons are not purchaseable. Therefore the hon. Member may rest assured that there is no intention to permanently occupy Wimbledon Common. I believe there are other commons in the country where similar apprehensions exist, but they are quite unfounded. The hon. Member for Rotherham (Major Kelley) spoke about a level-crossing in the borough of Rotherham, which I think he said crossed a tramway line, and he said that an arrangement had been come to permitting the level-crossing to continue on payment of £500. The hon. Member suggested that there was some delay in settling this matter owing to the fact that this Bill was coming on. All I can say is that I know nothing of the matter personally, and my advisers know nothing about it, but I think the hon. Member must be mistaken as to the reason for any delay in the payment of the £500.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) spoke about this right of pre-emption, and asked how far it was intended the restrictions should go. The right of preemption extends to the owner and his successors in title, that is to say, his heirs, or the persons to whom he has sold the land. The Bill limits that right of preemption to those persons who own or did own the land, or who may have purchased the right of pre-emption from, the previous owner, but the Bill provides that this right shall not extend to other persons who are only interested in the land as neighbours. Under the Act of 1906, with regard to the compensation being fixed on the basis of the 1914, this Bill does not touch that point at all. The 1837 hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) spoke of the Government having a large number of rifle ranges and keeping them up. The hon. and gallant Member is mistaken in that. A very considerable number of rifle ranges have been given up, but there is still some uncertainty as to what the permanent requirements are, and it is intended when the uncertainty is cleared up to acquire the rights over those rifle ranges under the Military Lands Acts, and it is not intended to do anything arbitrary. It is desired to have a little longer time to make decisions as to what ranges it is best to retain.
One hon. Member spoke of parts where ranges were none too plentiful before the War, and I know the same thing has occurred in my own district in the North. It would be undesirable to give up the making of the bye-laws now, especially as it is definitely provided that we retain the land for two years. Why we should not continue the bye-laws for two years I cannot understand, because otherwise we should be in a very absurd position. With regard to aerial ranges, that is a matter which deserves very serious attention, and it will be considered. I am glad the hon. and gallant Gentleman drew my attention to that point, and it will receive all the attention which it certainly deserves. The hon. Member for Kincardineshire (Lieut.-Colonel A. Murray) spoke of the buying of land around a factory for the purpose of reselling the factory together with the adjoining land. My hon. and gallant Friend need not have much apprehension on that point, because this Bill does not touch it, and the rights of buying the land are already contained in the principal Act, and no extension of those powers is contemplated in this Bill.
Then I do not follow the reason for the introduction of this Sub-section if it does not extend those powers.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The provision inserted is intended to clear up a doubt as to whether you can buy for the purpose of resale. It does not extend the powers, and it is only to clear u a doubt which exists in the minds of buyers who are unwilling to purchase unless the title is made clear. There is no intention of extending the powers of purchase, because they exist under the original Act. I think 1838 I have now dealt with all the points, and I ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.