§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. RITSON
I should like to have an explanation of this Clause. In the town of Sunderland some time ago a certain individual, who said he had an Order in Council, made a claim to the foreshore. The town clerk took action on the ground that he was interfering with the amenities of the district by destroying the foreshore. We found that he was receiving sixpence per load royalty for the sand sold, and it was stated that he was making £2,000 a year. I raised the matter with the town clerk. This person was paying nothing towards the rates. In another case, which arose in the constituency represented by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, people complained that some of their oyster fields were being taken from them by Order in Council. Local solicitors had been working on their behalf, without avail, and the matter was brought to this House by the right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is a very serious matter if public rights are to be taken away in such a manner. It is in the interests of the public that we are calling attention to these matters. We have no axe to grind. I have given two instances where the public were robbed of their right, more particularly the case in Sunderland, where an individual obtained an Order in Council, by means we could not understand, and deprived us of our foreshore rights.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I cannot possibly give any information or express any opinion about the two cases mentioned.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. Member has spoken about the foreshore at Sunderland and the removal of sand by someone who thought he had the right to charge a royalty of sixpence a load. It is one of the most disputable of questions all round the coasts of the British Isles, who owns the foreshore. Very often people claim to own the foreshore and it is the duty of the Board of Trade, as a rule, to investigate the question of foreshore and to litigate the question, if necessary, with the people who claim the foreshore.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I cannot say anything about a case which I do not know. It is not covered by this Clause. This Clause says nothing about foreshore. It empowers the Commissioners to make certain exchanges, a power which I should have thought hon. Members would give to the Commissioners, in order that they may be able to turn their land to the best account. It is only to make exchanges which are considered by the Commissioners to be in the interests of the public, to whom the benefit inures. The question whether protection should be given against Orders in Council should be raised in a general Act protecting the public, and not in an Act which confers rights upon the Commissioners to turn to the best interests of the public the land which they administer.
§ Mr. TINKER
I oppose this Clause on the same grounds as I opposed Clause 2. It empowers the sale of minerals. We take exception to the sale of minerals in this way. The same principle is involved in this Clause as was involved in the previous Clause. I notice that in the Report of the Select Committee it says that Clause 8 is taken from Section 50 of the Settled Land Acts. That does 1345 not make any difference. I believe the Crown should retain all the mineral wealth.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I have said once or twice already that I do not want to detain the Committee at this late hour, but I think this Clause really deserves some serious consideration, although it is 20 minutes past 12 o'clock. I want to put a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman which I think deserves some consideration. Some of us consider that the leasing of this land is done in far too haphazard a fashion and that Parliament has no real control. Would it not be possible for the Solicitor-General and the Government to consider the suggestion that before any land is sold a White Paper should be issued and laid on the Table of the House of Commons giving particulars of the land proposed to be sold. There is only one copy of the Crown Lands Commissioners' Report available in the Library, and the Librarian has had to become a second Sherlock Holmes in order to obtain that copy. There are no copies in the Vote Office, and all I am asking is that before land is disposed of a White Paper should be issued and laid on the Table of the House for ten days, giving particulars of the land to be disposed of. That is, I think, a perfectly reasonable request. It will not hamper the Crown Lands Commissioners at all.
We want some safeguard of this kind, and unless we get some indication that the Government will accept some proposal of this nature we shall have to divide against this Clause. It would prevent such scandals as Erribol occurring in other parts of the country. If a White Paper was laid any hon. Member could see the proposal and it could be discussed in the House of Commons. What happens now is this. As present the Commissioners do no issue their Report as a Command Paper in the ordinary fashion. Nobody seems to know anything about the transactions which take place. The whole thing seems to be a hidden conspiracy between the officers of State and private buyers with the object of fleecing the country. I hope it is not going to continue. We make this reasonable request that on Report stage the Minister should introduce an Amendment providing for 1346 the issue of a White Paper which will lie on the Table of the House for a certain period before any transaction of this kind becomes legal. In making this request I am holding out the olive branch, in order that we may make some progress. We do not want to remain here any longer than we can help. We want to make progress on this Bill and I should like to hear a statement from the Minister as to how far it is intended to proceed to-night. Is it still his intention to try to get all 26 Clauses of the Bill? With our help he has now got to Clause 8 and I do not know where he would have been had we been opposing the Bill. I certainly do not want to go on all night. The Solicitor-General may have important legal work to do to-morrow, involving large sums of money for the community and he could do it much better after a good night's rest. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury may have to sign important documents to-morrow—documents which require to be read carefully. How can he read them carefully if he is half asleep, after being up all night in this House? I ask the Minister and the Solicitor-General to accept the reasonable compromise which I have suggested.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
I wish to enter my protest against Clause 8. Again, I would remind the Committee that on the Second Reading we drew attention to the unsatisfactory nature of this and other provisions of the Bill. We have not yet had from the Government any statement of policy on this point. I object to the first two words of the Clause—"A sale." Why should the Government sell mineral rights such as way-leaves in this way. The Government are losing a golden opportunity of getting rid of these way-leaves altogether. If there is one thing more annoying than another in connection with all forms of mining, it is this charge for wayleaves, above and under ground, for the passage of minerals, water, air and so forth. In the last generation the attention of the House has been called repeatedly to this matter. An important Royal Commission in 1894 recommended the abolition of wayleaves. Since then we have had the Sankey and Samuel Commissions, both of which have denounced these wayleaves. Wayleaves are a very serious hindrance to the 1347 efficiency of mining and the Government are perpetuating a nuisance and a burden. They ought to seize this opportunity of saying that, so far as Crown land is concerned, "We will abolish wayleaves as they are a burden to the administration of mining operations in this country." I would like to know whether they are prepared to consider that point or not? I take it for granted that every Member of this House is very familiar with mining operations, and, as they have an extensive knowledge of the subject, I need only point out that the charging of these wayleaves is a scandal to the nation. Imagine the royalty owner having the saying, because he owns the surface, that, in addition to charging royalties, he has the right to charge on minerals which are being passed under his ground to adjoining ground. There are many collieries in which the burden upon production is excessive, because of the charge for wayleaves on minerals passing from one estate to another estate. In most mines they are greatly troubled with water, and, merely for the passing from one estate to another ground, they have a right to charge. They charge not only for coal and water, but for air, which is a vital thing. It is a national scandal, and here the Government are perpetuating that scandal when they have an opportunity, as Crown land owners, of setting the matter right and giving an example to private owners.
§ Mr. BATEY
This is an important Clause, and Clauses 7 and 8 are to mining members the two important Clauses in this Bill. We voted on Clause 7 with little discussion. As Clause 8 is an important Clause, I want to say to the Minister of Agriculture, and he might very wisely have accepted the suggestion of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and have been satisfied to-night with that portion of the Bill which has already been got through. To deal with Clause 7 and then ask us to deal with Clause 8 at this time of the night is really too bad. There is a Clause which gives mineral rights. With one of my colleagues who recently spoke, I believe that power to the Commissioners to sell mineral rights ought to be retained by the Crown, and not sold. I am not sure 1348 that the Commissioners would be doing a just thing to sell mineral rights at the moment, because only a week ago the Miners' Federation decided that they were opposed to compensation for royalties. The Commissioners may sell mineral rights to someone who in a short time would not be able to get compensation for the money paid to the Crown. From that point of view, it would not be fair for the Commissioners to sell these mineral rights at the moment. I believe that within a few years the mines of this country will be nationalised, and, when the coal mines are nationalised, that a moderate Labour Government, even a Government belonging to the right wing, will not be able to give compensation for royalties.
§ Mr. BATEY
I was rather wishing to warn the Minister of Agriculture against disposing of these mineral rights, because, by disposing of them, he might inflict hardship upon persons foolish enough to buy them. We have been told that this Clause was taken out of some other Act of Parliament, but even then I think the Government would have been wise to adjourn the debate in order to delete this Clause. After all has been said and done, the Government have done sufficient harm already. Last year they did sufficient harm to the mining industry, and they should not attempt to inflict any greater harm on it. I hope the Minister is going to accept the suggestion to report Progress.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I wonder whether it is in order to ask you to accept this Motion? I should like to point out that we have already passed seven Clauses of a Bill which cannot be considered unimportant. I ask you to accept the Motion from a very impartial standpoint. I have not entered into an arrangement to oppose this Bill, but it deals with matters more far-reaching than many people had anticipated. A great many hon. Friends of mine would have been here if they had realised that so many vitally important matters were to be discussed. It does not lie in the 1349 mouths of hon. Members opposite to laugh at the paucity of attendance of Members on this side. There is only one relief present on the other side, and not very many of them. I would like to ask if the Government cannot come to some arrangement not to try to take the whole of this Bill to-night. After all, there are 26 Clauses, every Clause dealing with matters of some substance and extremely controversial. Perhaps it is going too far to say that, but they open up subjects on which Members would like to express their opinions at some length. We have got one Clause for every quarter of an hour during which
§ Question again proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."1350
§ the Bill has been under discussion, and even that rats might be expedited if the Government were not to attempt to do the rather unreasonable thing of taking the whole twenty-six Clauses of the Bill at this hour of the night. I should like to ask whether something cannot be done to reduce the amount of the Bill that they intend to take to-night.
§ The CHAIRMAN being of opinion that the Motion was an abuse of the Rules of the House, put the Question thereupon forthwith.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 18; Noes, 111.1349
|Division No. 188.]||AYES.||[12.42 a. m.|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maxton, James|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Mr. Pethick-Lawrence and Colonel|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Hanbury, C.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Ashley, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Harland, A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Hartington, Marquess of||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hills, Major John Waller||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hilton, Cecil||Shaw, R. G (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby.)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Cope, Major William||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Loder, J. de V.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lumley, L. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Macintyre, Ian||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||McLean, Major A.||Ward, Lt.-Col, A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Ellis, R. G.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fermoy, Lord||Margesson, Captain D.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Finburgh, S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Wells, S. R.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Oakley, T.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Womersley, W. J.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Captain Bowyer and Mr. Penny.|
§ No reply has been made by the Government to any of the points raised. I should like to ask the Solicitor-General if he has any intention of replying to any of the speeches. I have asked him what 1351 he thinks of laying before the House a White Paper on the state of the transactions of the Commissioners. If he is going to turn the suggestion down, he might at least tell us. Are we going to be turned down because we are a small number? I do not want to sit here all night, but, if we are to be treated with contempt as we are being treated, there is nothing for us to do but to fight on until 8 o'clock or 9 o'clock in the morning. My train is at 10 'clock in the morning, and, if we sit until that time, I will save some money by not going home. I do not mind sitting here until then. On the other hand, I ask the Solicitor-General if it is fair to inflict such a sitting on the other Members. I made a reasonable request, but he has made no reply. Nor has he made any reply to any of the other speeches. The attitude is "Oh! they are only 18 irresponsibles." If that be the attitude, we accept it. I do not mind hon. Members holding a very low opinion of me, because I have a very low opinion of them, and they are entitled to the same view about me. But the Minister of Agriculture has treated us with absolute contempt so far. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) was here a short time ago, and made a reasonable speech. Other hon. Members have made reasonable speeches. I myself asked about the White Paper. But it is quite obvious, from the Solicitor-General, that he will not believe a word that we are saying tonight. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has taken a keen interest in this Bill, and we think we are quite serious. We do not mind the fair Parliamentary game, but we are not going to sit here to be treated with absolute contempt.
The hon. Member is really making an imaginary grievance. If he will carry his mind back to what took place, he will remember that he and his colleagues asked certain questions. Before any of my colleagues were able to reply, an hon. Member from the other side of the gangway moved to report Progress, which, under the Rules of the House, was put without any debate or without any opporunity to reply. It was not our fault. I had the Report in my hand.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
On a point of Order. I want to resolve a doubt which the statement of the Minister of Agriculture arouses in my mind. I want to ask, Sir, whether it is the case that it is not possible, even with your permission, to debate a Motion to report Progress.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Under Standing Order 23, the Chairman is empowered, either to disregard the Motion altogether or to put it forthwith, without any discussion. I put the Question forthwith.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is it not also provided in the Standing Orders that you have a third alternative? You can choose to neglect the Motion, you can put it immediately, and, if you think it has further value, you can allow it to be debated. The hon. Member, when he moved it, thought you might have chosen the third alternative.
Surely the point is that the Motion to report Progress took precedence over the Debate which was then being carried on, and prevented me or my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General from answering the question which had been put. I am prepared to answer that question now. I had the Paper in my hand, with a view to giving an answer. At the present time, the Report of the Commissioners of Crown Lands does give the information for which hon. Members ask. It gives full information about leases and sales of land. None of these transactions takes place without detailed Treasury sanction, and they are reported to Parliament in the White Paper which hon. Members opposite have consulted this evening. I do not think there is anything further.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
But that cannot be got in the Vote Office. It is not published in the ordinary way. Take the Scottish Board of Agriculture, where they issue an annual report. That annual report is quite easily procurable through the Vote Office, but we cannot get this paper through the Vote Office, and, so far as I know, it does not appear in the White Paper. We have tried to look through the papers of the Vote Office and the Stationery Office and, despite fairly good efforts, the only way we could ultimately get it was, by a good deal of looking with the librarian.
I think the hon. Member will find it is published in the Stationery Office list, and is available on the terms put down on the Stationery Office papers. As to his suggestion that we should not continue the discussion, I would remind him that the whole of the important provisions of this Bill were fully discussed in this House only two years ago in connection with settled land. The House decided that certain powers were desirable in the case of settled land. The land under the control of the Crown Commissioners is on all fours with the land to which the Act passed two years ago applies, and it is obviously most inconvenient that there should be conflicting powers and varying codes to apply to land in the hands of the Commissioners of Crown Lands and land privately owned. The fact that this Bill embodies for the most part, in all the important details, the powers and provisions which were fully discussed two years ago in this House, does make it not unreasonable that we should ask for a decision on these matters without undue delay. This Bill has been examined by a Select Committee, and this hybrid Bill procedure does give the House an additional check over the legislation which is brought before it. Under these conditions, I do ask the Committee to let us have this Bill.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I want to say, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman, that his explanation, while very full, is not complete. He tells us that this Annual Report is available to Members if they are prepared to look through the Stationery Office list and happen to notice it. I question very much whether there are 10 Members in this House who look, in close detail, through the monthly list of Stationery, Office publications. I am quite sure that very few members do so, and that does not seem to me to be an effective and adequate way of bringing to the attention of this House important transactions, such as this, which are being put through in a routine way. It is not strictly accurate to say that all these are subject to detailed Treasury revision, because, under certain monetary limits, the Department itself has complete power over its transactions. They may ultimately go to the Treasury, as every bit of public work does ultimately touch the Treasury in some way or another; but it is not true to suggest 1354 that the Treasury has got any adequate control over the detailed transactions that the Crown Lands Commissioners carry through. The right hon. Gentleman makes the point that this particular Bill received detailed examination by a Select Committee.
I was on that Select Committee, and I understood that a Select Committee of this description on a hybrid Bill which touches certain private interests—a Select Committee which is performing a quasi —judicial function —is deciding whether there is a primâ facie case for the Bill getting further considered by this House in Committee and on Third Reading. I was on that Committee. I think there were three meetings of the Committee, one purely formal.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not understand what either the remarks of the Minister or the remarks of the hon. Member in answer have to do with Clause 8. I was about to stop the Minister when he stopped himself. But I really do not think that this argument as to the proceedings of the Select Committee should be much further continued. The hon. Member is quite in order in answering the Minister, but I do not think he can do more than that.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I do not wish to quarrel with that ruling in any way. I will merely say this, that I know that the only adequate examination that was given by that Select Committee to the Bill was given by myself. I was the only person who troubled to attend the Committee and the only person responsible for Amendments and for the discussion taking place now. To say that one can expect this to be concluded in a very short time is wholly unfair, because there is one Amendment further down on the paper that touches the disposal of Church property and is one which I am sure will arouse very serious controversy, and not along party lines at all, involving very important principles.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member has answered the point the Minister made. I am afraid I must blame myself for not having stopped the Minister, but I think the hon. Member is now breaking into completely new matters which are 1355 not relevant to the Question, that the Clause stand part.
§ Mr. MAXTON
It is relevant to this point that unless the Minister is prepared to accept the reasonable proposal to consider the remainder of the Bill at some future date this discussion on Clause 8 and the subsequent Clauses must be continued at some considerable length. Some of the subsequent Clauses will arouse very strong controversy along other than merely party lines. Clause 8 itself is not adequately safeguarding the interests of the public in the administration of Crown lands, and I join with my hon. Friends who have opposed the Clause. I hope that they will see their way to carry that opposition to a Division.
§ Mr. BATEY
I thought the Minister was going to give some reason for this Clause, but he did not advance any solid arguments for it being in this Bill at all. What he did do was this. He gave us two reasons. One was that this matter was discussed two years ago, and the other was that the Treasury had to receive a Report. These did not seem to me to be sufficient reasons for Clause 8. There have been such a lot of mining discussions during the last two years that it is not possible to remember the particular discussion that took place then. It may have been discussed very fully or it may not have been discussed at all, but it is no reason why to-day we should not be informed why the Government are putting this Clause in the Bill. I want to remind the Minister that Clause 8 gives to the Commissioners enormous powers—powers for the sale of land with or without reservation of all or any of the mines or minerals. I was wondering, coming across the word mines, whether the Minister of Agriculture can tell us just what mines there are which belong to the Crown and which are under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners. If there are any mines one would like to know where the mines are and whether the Minister can tell us what is the result of the working of these mines. The other reason given for this Clause was that any saving was reported to the Treasury. That rather frightened me. The fact that the Treasury has got a hand in it makes me more afraid of this Clause than I was before the Minister spoke. Under this Clause, the Commis- 1356 sioners can sell all the mineral rights they have, and, if the Treasury has a hand in it, the Treasury may encourage them to sell. One cannot forget the action of the Treasury last year and this year. Last year they raided the Health Insurance and the Unemployment Insurance funds, and this year the Chancellor seized the twelve million surplus in the Road Fund. Next year he may have to balance his Budget again, and, there being none of these funds to raid, his eyes may be drawn to Clause 8 in this Bill. The Chancellor is not here to-night, but the Financial Secretary is here, and he may draw the attention of the Chancellor to-morrow to Clause 8 in this Bill. Then the Chancellor may say to himself, "I have something here for the Budget this next year if it is not possible to balance it," and he may insist upon the Commissioners of Crown lands selling all the mineral rights they have in order that the Treasury may have more money to balance the Budget for next year. This Clause is a very dangerous Clause. There could be no more dangerous Clause in the Bill than this. If the Government insist upon going on with this Clause, we shall have no option but to divide the House against it.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
There is a great deal of substance in the remarks of the hon. Member who has just spoken, and the temptation of the Treasury to raid the balance of the Crown Lands for the next Budget. It is pretty well anticipated that the Government will get into a difficulty with the Budget, and the Chancellor is very avaricious and does not hesitate to find money wherever he can get it. According to the Select Committee's Report, the annual income of the revenues amount to £1,100,000 a year, and that capitalised would produce a very substantial sum, and it will be a great temptation to him. I want to ask the Government why the Secretary for Mines is not in his place to-night to deal with this particular Clause which so concerns the mining industry. I am under the impression that the Secretary for Mines is somewhere about the House. If that be so, he ought to be in his place. I certainly think it is a great discourtesy to the Committee that the Secretary for Mines is not in his place. He has absolutely no excuse for not being here. We made it clear to him during the Second Beading debate that we desired informa- 1357 tion on this Clause. We are discussing Clauses which deal very largely with minerals. Clauses 7 and 8 are vitally concerned with the mining property of the Crown. He ought to be here so that we might get from him information we have failed to extract from any of the Government representatives on that bench. Frankly, they know nothing about the matter, and they are wasting our time and the time of the Committee. If the Secretary for Mines is about the House, the Serjeant-at-Arms should be asked to bring him in. These points about wayleaves have not yet been answered by the Government spokesmen in charge of this Bill. We do attach the utmost importance to the subject, because wayleaves are a tremendous burden on the industry.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
This discussion has shown that there is a genuine feeling among members on this side of the House that there are no adequate safeguards under the existing law to prevent the improper disposition of Crown lands. Examples have been given, one case being that of a salmon fishery let at a rental of 5s. per annum. This Clause empowers the Commissioners of Crown Lands to do certain things and states:A sale, exchange, lease or other authorised disposition, may be made either of land, with or without an exception or reservation of all or any mines and minerals therein, or of any mines and minerals, and in any such case with or without a grant or reservation of powers of working, wayleaves or rights of way, rights of water and drainage.There are two very important rights there, or easements, that affect the public—the right of way and the right of drawing water. I can conceive that in connection with such cases feeling
§ might be aroused, for nothing arouses more animosity than tampering with a right of way or the right to take water. The Solicitor-General told that the Treasury exercised general supervision over all transactions. If that be so, the supervision has not been effectively exercised. Several examples have been given to show that the supervision exercised by the Treasury has not prevented improper disposition of Crown lands. If I may say so without any disrespect to the Minister of Agriculture, it is useless for him to come here and cast aspersions on the character of the Debate from this side of the House. We are content to come and make our arguments, however little he thinks about them. Our point of view may be very unintelligent, or the Minister may at this hour of the night have become a little obtuse, but there is a feeling that the rights of the public are in danger. I do not insist that a White Paper should be laid on the table of the House in every case. I do not think anyone does—
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
But I would like to see some safeguard to prevent almost indecent transactions, because there have been some indecent transactions in Crown land. Is there any additional safeguard which the Minister of Agriculture can offer which will relieve the minds of hon. Members, for the Crown Lands Commissioners are under the present system empowered to make dangerous concessions of public rights without adequate consideration.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 108; Noes, 18.1359
|Division No. 189.]||AYES.||[1.15 a. m.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hanbury, C.|
|Ashley, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Harland, A.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Headlam, Lieut. -Colonel C. M.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Heneage, Lieut. -Col. Arthur P.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Ellis, R. G.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Fermoy, Lord||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fielden, E. B.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Finburgh, S.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Hilton, Cecil|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Christie, J..A.||Gault, Lieut. -Col. Andrew Hamilton||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gilmour, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Grotrian, H. Brent||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Cockerill, Brig. -General Sir George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Loder, J. de V.||Raine, Sir Walter||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Luce, Maj. -Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Remer, J. R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Lumley, L. R.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Macintyre, Ian||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|McLean, Major A.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Ward, Lt. -Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Mason, Lieut. -Col. Glyn K.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Wells, S. R.|
|Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Shepperson, E. W.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Oakley, T.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Stanley, Lieut. -Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Storry-Deans, R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Major Cope and Mr. Penny.|
|Batty, Joseph||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Maxton, James|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Potts, John S.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Tinker|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.