HC Deb 30 May 1945 vol 411 cc250-2
The Attorney-General (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)

I beg to move, in page 42, line 44, at end, insert: (4) Where a Minister has acquired or has power to acquire any land under the Defence Acts or would have power so to acquire any land if he did not already own it, and that land contains part of a continuous main or pipe or the whole or part of works used in connection therewith, any rights necessary for or incidental to the maintenance or use of any part of the main or pipe which is in, over or under land not owned or acquired by the Minister may, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of this Act relating to the acquisition of easements, be acquired by him as, and, if so acquired by him, shall be deemed for all purposes to be, easements for the benefit of such of the first mentioned land as he owns or acquires: Provided that in relation to the acquisition of any such rights, the reference in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section seven of this Act to easements which are in the opinion of the Minister essential to the full enjoyment of the land therein mentioned shall be construed as a reference to easements which in the opinion of the Minister are essential to the full enjoyment of the main or pipe. This Amendment deals with the position which arises in connection with the trunk oil pipelines which have been laid down by the Government. There may be a case for acquisition, under Clause 5, of the land for the pipes or the boosting stations which are attached to them, and also for acquisition of portions of the underground strata, but in some places the pipes are over ground and cross rivers and canals, in which case Clause 5 would be inappropriate. In that case we desire to acquire easements which will secure that these sections of the pipe can be used or maintained. There is a legal difficulty in the acquisition of easements and treating these as easements, because in the case of easements you have to have a dominant tenant, but in this case we are treating the pipe as the dominant tenant and taking power to acquire the easements for the carriage of the pipe on that basis. It is a simple if somewhat special point, and I commend the Amendment to the Committee.

Mr. Turton

I would like some further explanation on this point. Apparently this Amendment would give power to the Government to acquire certain easements, but it is an Amendment to Clause 59, which is purely an interpretation Clause. Can the learned Attorney-General, whom I congratulate on his new office, give any example of any other Act of Parliament where an interpretation Clause, which merely says what certain words mean in the Act, gives a Government Department power to acquire a fresh right? I suggest that either at a later stage or in another place this new Subsection, if we now agree to it, should be taken out of Clause 59 and inserted either as a new Clause or, if that is preferred, inserted in Clause 25 where we are dealing with deep lines. I feel that it is more germane to Clause 25 than to Clause 59, and I cannot see how any Minister can defend the insertion in an interpretation Clause of a new right to acquire land.

The Attorney-General

I had the other day an example on this very point of easement. In that case the definition of easement was extended in the definition of a Section of a Finance Act which was dealing with certain special provisions. It is not unheard of to deal with the matter in this way and in this Bill I think the course we have taken is the most convenient one, because this new Sub-section will relate both to Part II and Part VI of the Bill. Therefore it seemed to me that the definition Clause was not an out of the way place in which to insert it. Of course if any hon. Member can suggest an improvement in drafting we will try to carry it out—I have so assured my hon. Friend on other occasions,, because I am always ready to consider what he says—but it did not seem to me that we were outraging precedent as severely as he suggested. I hope he will not press his opposition at this stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in Committee and on recommittal) considered.