HC Deb 11 July 1927 vol 208 cc1902-3

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


The Noble Lord told us that the Office of Works was empowered to conduct all these land transactions on behalf of the Postmaster-General. I should like to have a little light thrown on that arrangement, because there have been cases where Government Departments have been competing in the market for the same land. Clause 4 provides that the Postmaster-General, or any person acting on his behalf, may at all reasonable times in the day time, after giving 24 hours' notice, enter any of the lands for the purpose of surveying or valuing the lands. I do not think a 24 hours' notice is long enough. But that is a minor point compared with the question as to the arrangement which the Post Office and other Departments have under which the Office of Works undertakes all the purchases of land. Is it a statutory or an administrative arrangement; and if it is an administrative arrangement, what guarantee has this House that it will always be adhered to? If it is not a statutory arrangement, it would be a good thing if it was so made.

Viscount WOLMER

The answer to the first point of the hon. and gallant Member is that this is the common form, and it merely gives the Post Office power to enter on the premises in order to survey them for plans. If the Post Office is to acquire premises compulsorily, and have to make our plans in regard to the buildings we are going to erect upon them, it would not be reasonable that the occupants should be able to restrain our architects from taking measurements. These powers have always been conferred end have never been abused in any single case. In reply to his second point, the guarantee is that the vigilance of hon. Members like the hon. and gallant Member himself, will ensure that all Government Departments carry out their affairs in a business-like manner.

Clauses 5 (Power to erect buildings and form roads), 6 (Power to make agreements with local authorities), 7 (Correction of errors in deposited plans or books of reference), 8 (Stopping up passageways and extinction, of rights of laying pipes, etc.), 9 (As to taking parts of certain properties), 10 (Land tax), 11 (Power to erect buildings on land at Leicester), and 12 (Short title and interpretation), ordered to stand part of the Bill.