HC Deb 12 July 1927 vol 208 cc2095-9

I beg to move to leave out the Clause.

This Clause deals with powers as to sales of Crown lands and my objection to it is that it includes powers of selling mines or minerals. To-night we have been discussing the mines question, and a great deal of the trouble which has arisen in that connection is due to the private ownership of mines. We object to any of these mines or minerals which the Crown now possesses passing to the hands of private persons. The time has come when we ought to take strong exception to anything of that kind, and there could be no better opportunity of doing so than this Bill. If we allow the opportunity to pass, it will be taken that we assent to the continuance of a principle to which we object. To-day the country is overstocked with coal and we should prevent the further exploitation in this way of the mines. If we can prevent that being done, we shall open the way for what I have come here for, and that is the nationalisation of the whole mineral wealth of this country.


I beg to second the Amendment.

We were surprised in Committee to find that this Bill was so important, and we feel we ought not to allow the occasion to pass without again protesting against power being given to sell these mineral rights. This Clause gives the Minister and the Commissioners the power to sell any mines or minerals, or any rights or powers relative to mining purposes. In the definition Clause, Clause 22, we find mining purposes defined as including the sinking and searching for, winning, working, getting, making merchantable, smelting or otherwise converting or working for the purposes of any manufacture, carrying away and disposing of mines and minerals in or under the Crown land. It is clear from that definition that this Clause deals with wayleaves as well as mines and mineral rights. The question of mineral rights, under the old name of royalty rents, is one in which some of us have taken an interest for a long time, and we object to the Crown having the power to sell any of its mineral rights. We hope it will not be long before a Government comes into power which will decide to nationalise mineral rights, because not so long ago a Commission advised the Government to take possession of all mineral rights. If this power is left in this Bill, there is a danger of the present Government disposing of the mineral rights before another Government comes into power. The selling of mineral rights is left in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture and a civil servant. It would be another matter if the House had a say as to whether these mineral rights should be sold, but the Minister and a civil servant have the power to sell the mineral rights privately, behind closed doors, without anybody knowing what they are doing. When we were in Committee the Minister stated that he was unable to give ups information on this point, and we wish to ask him to-night how many mines there are on Crown lands. We want to know how much royalty was received for mineral rights and wayleaves.


This matter was discussed in considerable detail during the Committee stage, and it was made clear that there was no idea, in regard to this Clause, that the Commissioners of Crown Lands should sell any of these mineral rights. This proposal is merely a matter of bringing these questions under the law which controls estates. At the present time, the Commissioners have the right to sell minerals under a very archaic form of legislation passed in 1829. It is very inconvenient that the Commissioners alone among these responsible for settled estates should have to work under that archaic code, while other trustees come under a special Act, the Settled Land Act, which was passed only a few years ago. The hon. Gentleman would not secure his object by leaving out this Clause, the inclusion of which is in no way due to any change of policy in regard to Crown lands.


If hon. Members will refer to an answer given in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), they will see that these powers were vested under the Crown Lands Act of 1829. The Clause we are now considering has been inserted in order to simplify the procedure.


I shall be grateful to the Minister of Agriculture, if he will apply his mind to paragraph (i) of Clause 2, which says: The Commissioners of Crown lands may sell any Crown land or any easement, right or privilege of any kind over or in relation to Crown land. That appears to me to confer upon the Commissioners the right to sell an easement vested in the public. There may be a right of way, and this Clause permits the Commissioners to dispose of that right of way, and prevent the public from using it. I know it is said that that is not the intention of this proposal, but we have heard too much about intentions and not enough about

the actual meaning of the words. I suggest that the Clause should read: may sell any Crown land or any easement, right or privilege of any kind which at present is vested in the Commissioners of Crown lands. I think those words would safeguard public rights of way.


There does not seem to be any case for dealing with rights of way on Crown Lands in this particular manner. It has been decided after full consideration to deal with this question in this way, and it seems quite reasonable to adopt the words as they appear in the Clause.


I wish to refer to the powers which are given under this Clause with regard to the sale of Crown Lands. We have considerable coal properties which are Crown property, and the Government have at present these properties which they could develop, and so help the industry by public expenditure. I have no desire to detain the Committee, but I wish to make this protest, that the Government have given no evidence that they are really sincere about the question of the coal industry.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 198; Noes, 88.

Division No. 261.] AYES. [11.36 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Burton, Colonel H. W. Forestler-Walker, Sir L.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Butler, Sir Geoffrey Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Ainsworth, Major Charles Butt, Sir Alfred Fraser, Captain Ian
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Campbell, E. T. Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby) Carver, Major W. H. Gates, Percy
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton
Apsley, Lord Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Goff, Sir Park
Astor, Mal. John J. (Kent, Dover) Clayton, G. C. Gower, Sir Robert
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cobb, Sir Cyril Grace, John
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter
Balniel, Lord Colfox, Major William Phillips Greene, W. P. Crawford
Banks, Reginald Mitchell Cope, Major William Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Grotrian, H. Brent
Bethel, A. Crawfurd, H. E. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Betterton, Henry B. Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend) Gunston, Captain D. W.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Boothby, R. J. G. Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Hammersley, S. S.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Curzon, Captain Viscount Hanbury, C.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Davies, Dr. Vernon Harland, A.
Braithwalte, Major A. N. Dawson, Sir Philip Hartington, Marquess of
Brass, Captain W. Dixey, A. C. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)
Briscoe, Richard George Drewe, C. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Brockiebank, C. E. R. Eden, Captain Anthony Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Edmondson, Major A. J. Henderson, Capt. R. H. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Henn, Sir Sydney H.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Everard, W. Lindsay Herbert. Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Fairfax, Captain J. G. Hills, Major John Waller
Bullock, Captain M. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Hilton, Cecil
Burman, J. B. Ford, Sir P. J. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Hopkins, J. W. W. Neville, Sir Reginald J. Smithers, Waldron
Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Sprot, Sir Alexander
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Nuttall, Ellis Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G, (Westm'eland)
Jacob, A. E. Oakley, T. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Jephcott, A. R. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Pennefather, Sir John Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Penny, Frederick George Thom, Lt.'Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Kindersley, Major G. M. Perkins, Colonel E. K. Thomson Luke (Sunderland)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Perring, Sir William George Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell
Knox, Sir Alfred Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Lamb, J. Q, Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Little, Dr. E. Graham Power, Sir John Cecil Waddington, R.
Long, Major Eric Pownall, Sir Assheton Wallace, Captain D. E.
Lougher, Lewis Preston, William Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Price, Major C. W. M. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Radford, E. A. Warrender, Sir Victor
Lumley, L. R. Raine, Sir Walter Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Mac Andrew, Major Charles Glen Ramsden, E. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Remer, J. R. Watts, Dr. T.
Maclntyre. Ian Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Wells. S. R.
McLean Major A. Ropner, Major L. Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Macmillan, Captain H. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter white, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple.
McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
MacRobert, Alexander M. Salmon, Major I Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Sandeman, N. Stewart Wise, Sir Fredric
Margesson, Captain D. Sanders, Sir Robert A. Wolmer, Viscount
Meyer, Sir Frank Sanderson, Sir Frank Womersley, W. J.
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Savery, S. S. Wood, E.(Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)
Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Skelton, A. N. Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Moreing, Captain A. H. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Smith-Carington, Neville W. Major Sir George Hennessy and Mr
Frederick Thomson.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Groves, T. Purcell, A. A.
Adamson. W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Grundy, T. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Halt, F. (York., W.R., Normanton) Riley, Ben
Ammon, Charles George Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
Attlee, Clement Richard Hardie, George D. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Baker, Walter Hayday, Arthur Scurr, John
Barnes, A. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Batey, Joseph Hirst, G. H. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)
Broad, F. A. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Sutton, J. E.
Bromfield, William John, William (Rhondda, West) Taylor, R. A.
Buchanan, G. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Tinker, John Joseph
Clowes, S. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Townend, A. E.
Compton, Joseph Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontyprldd) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Kelly, W. T. Varley, Frank B
Dalton, Hugh Kennedy, T. Viant, S. P.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Kirkwood, D. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Day, Colonel Harry Lansbury George Watson. W. M. (Dunfermline)
Dennison, R. Lee, F. watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Duncan, C. Lindley, F. W. Wellock, Wilfred
Dunnico, H. Lunn, William Welsh, J. C.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity) Mackinder, W. Westwood, J.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. MacLaren, Andrew Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Gibbins, Joseph Maxton, James Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Gillett, George M. Mosley, Oswald Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Gosling, Harry Paling, W. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Greenall, T. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Windsor, Waiter
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Ponsonby, Arthur
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Potts, John S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Hayes and Mr. Whiteley.