HC Deb 26 June 1935 vol 303 cc1178-9

Order for Second Reading read.

7.16 p.m.

The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This Bill is even shorter than the Diseases of Animals Bill, and I am sure that it will prove to be equally non-controversial. It has been introduced to remove an anomaly of which, I think, hardly anyone knew the existence, and which has been found to be extremely inconvenient. Under the Defence Act, 1842, which was applied by later enactments to the Admiralty, and by Order in Council to the Air Ministry, that is, the Act under which land is acquired for defence purposes, you are able to enter upon land and do anything except build barracks. You can build hangars, stables or cover the place with tanks or aeroplanes or any other contraption, but the one thing you cannot do is to build barracks or huts for the unfortunate men who have to live there. This is a strange exception, and I have had careful search made into the matter. It is wrapped in mystery, and I can only conclude that it was introduced in 1842 on the assumption that Every prospect pleases, And only man is vile. Therefore, this Bill has been introduced, and it comes to us from, another place, in order to remove that strange and inconvenient anomaly, and to enable barracks as well as every other form of edifice to be erected on land which is acquired by one of the Defence Ministries under the Act of 1842. The Bill makes no other alteration whatever, and the procedure remains exactly the same as under the Act of 1842, and this strange anomalous exception will, if the House agrees to the Bill, be removed.

7.18 p.m.


It is not in the order of things that I should speak upon the subject of barracks, but my hon. Friend who arranged to say a few words on this subject has missed the boat or mistaken the time, and is not here. All I have to say is that I am not sure that the House is not in the sort of mood to pass almost anything on this hot June evening. Anyhow, we do not want to stop the British Tommy having at least a place in which to live while he has to exist as a soldier. I would very much prefer that you were not going to build any barracks for anybody, but if you have an army, obviously you ought to give as good conditions and amenities for the men concerned as possible. I understand the reason why the Act of 1842 was not allowed to apply to soldiers barracks was that those who possessed the land were not so favourable to the presence of soldiers, because of the danger of poaching and other illegal acts.


I did not make that suggestion.


But somebody made it to me, and I thought that I would pass over the bad joke in order to give some reason for supporting the Bill. I hope that if and when the Socialist Government come into power—and I say this quite seriously—and we want to take land and property, and to alter and apply old laws for the benefit of socialisation, the right hon. Gentleman who is now Prime Minister is then Leader of the Opposition, he will be as friendly to our proposition as we are to this proposal.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Captain Margesson.]