§ 50. Mr. SHEPHERD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the action of the lord of 404 the manor in proceeding to enclose common land at Little Hampden, near Chequers, Bucks; whether his Department has been notified; and whether he has inquired into the matter?
My attention has been drawn to reports in the Press with regard to the enclosure to which the hon. Member refers, but no communication on the subject has been received in my Department. If common land is enclosed without the consent of the Minister of Agriculture or without some special statutory authority, the county council or district council or the lord of the manor or any other person interested in the common, may, under Section 194 of the Law of Property Act, 1925, apply to the County Court to make an Order for the removal of the fence or other obstruction erected.
§ Mr. SHEPHERD
is the right hon. Gentleman aware that not even the oldest inhabitant can look back to a time when there was any enclosure at ail on these 50 acres. They have always had grazing rights. Will he make inquiries before he goes any further?
I have no power of any kind to intervene in these cases. I understand the point at issue is whether or not this is common land.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
—this gentleman has been paying income Tax under Schedule A and rates in respect of the land that is now enclosed or whether he has hitherto escaped paying rates and taxes, and on what valuation he has been paying?
I really have no competence to call for this information. I have no standing in the matter. All these considerations may, be relevant to cases in the Courts, but they do not concern the powers Parliament has given to my Department.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
In view of the power conferred on the right hon. Gentleman under the Law of Property Act, 1925, will he not make inquiries and see 405 whether or not he has the power to turn this person away from the land, should he be unable to prove that it actually belongs to him?
No. I have power under the Act of 1925 under certain conditions to make Orders for enclosure, but I have no power to set the law in motion to throw open land which is enclosed.
§ Mr. SHEPHERD
If the right hon. Gentleman has not the power, to whom are the common people of England to look for protection when their land is stolen?
To the Courts of the country. In the answer, I have detailed who has the right to apply to the Courts.
§ Major COLFOX
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there are any other means of preventing both motorists and others from defiling the countryside?
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Has the right hon. Gentleman's colleague, the Minister of Health, any powers in this matter?