HC Deb 28 April 1948 vol 450 cc493-4
Mr. T. Fraser

I beg to move, in page 51, line 18, to leave out from the beginning, to the end of line 20.

This proviso now proposed to be deleted is unnecessary and inappropriate. In Committee we accepted an Amendment that seemed to limit the effect of the proviso, though I myself did assert on that occasion that the proviso was unnecessary.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

The hon. Gentleman may think it serves no useful purpose, but is it doing any harm? How is it embarrassing him? When we have a statute which lays down a restriction, that restriction ought to be observed. Why does the Under-Secretary of State want to be absolved from following the directions of other statutes? This Clause deals with any land which he happens to acquire under this Bill. Then, if he is satisfied that it ought to be used for some other purpose than the purpose for which it was used, he has the right to use it in such manner as appears to him expedient.

That is perfectly all right in the case of land under no statutory restriction, and in a case where he is under no statutory restriction; but we may have statutes that restrict the use of that land, or we may have certain statutes that restrict the Secretary of State from doing certain things in his capacity as Secretary of State. I have no doubt that there are statutes of that kind. Why should those statutes be brushed aside in the case of land that the Secretary of State happens to acquire? This Bill would still remain operative, I assume, in the case of any land he acquired under any other enactment. Land may be taken completely out of agriculture. It may be used by the Secretary of State for some entirely different purpose. I have difficulty in understanding the case for this Amendment. It seems to me to be introducing an odd distinction. Perhaps, if we were given a practical example it would help.

The Lord Advocate

This Clause deals only with land acquired by the Secretary of State under this Bill. Therefore, if, in relation to that land, other Acts apply by virtue of the terms of those other Acts, then, to that extent, the use of the land will be qualified by the terms of the other Acts. It is manifestly unnecessary and redundant to include in this Clause a proviso to the effect that the use of the land is subject to any provisions made by other statutes, because the use of any property in this country is subject to the provisions of any statutes that affect that particular type of property. If this is redundant, as it is, I cannot understand the need for preserving it. Criticism so far has been very fair. It has been that we have put too much into our legislation that would be overloading the Bill. Now, when we try to tidy up legislation, and to cut out a proviso, the complaint is made that we are doing so, and we are told we should leave an unnecessary proviso in the Bill. The proviso is not necessary, and that circumstance, I think, is a complete justification for removing it.

Amendment agreed to.