EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, ex- 2128 plained that the 5th clause would give the Secretary of State for War power to take lands by the well-known machinery of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, which he had already the power to take under the Defences Act.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, he had no objection to the Bill as it was originally drawn; but their Lordships would observe that as it stood now there was a great difference between the 4th and 5th Clauses. By the 4th Clause cities and corporations were empowered to obtain land by agreement, but the 5th Clause gave the Admiralty and the Ordnance power to obtain land compulsorily. This was a very dangerous power to entrust even to the Government; in point of fact, it would give the Ordnance the right to compel a sale of Mount Edgecumbe for the defence of Plymouth.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
explained that the power given to the Admiralty was inserted in the Bill at the request of a Member of the late Board, and not at the instance of the present Board. When it was referred to him he understood that it was merely giving the Admiralty the facilities of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, when they had obtained lands by agreement, and he was informed that that was the correct intrepretation of the clause; but as it seemed to him that under the clause, as it now stood, the Admiralty might take any lands, whether adjoining the sea or belonging to private persons in an inland county, he should have no objection in Committee to limit the right to taking lands by agreement. The Bill did not give any new power to the Ordnance or War Department beyond the powers they already possessed under the Defences Act. It only gave them new machinery.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, there could be no doubt that, as far as the Admiralty was concerned, a new and very formidable power would be given by the clause as it now stood; but the assurance of the noble Duke that the Admiralty should merely have power to take lands by agreement was perfectly satisfactory.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
objected to additional power being given to the Board of Ordnance in a direction where it was so liable to abuse.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
explained that, while this Bill conferred on the Board of Admiralty the power which it did not at present possess of acquiring land compulsorily, it did not confer additional 2129 power on the War Department. That Department already had it in its power to take land under the Defences Act, subject to a certificate signed by the Lord Lieutenant or by two Deputy Lieutenants of the county. As the Defences Act was passed in 1842, when there was no excitement or immediate apprehension of war, it was not likely to contain any provisions which were not necessary for the defence of the country; and it had been occasionally enforced down to the present time. Looking to the necessity of increasing our national defences at the present moment, it was possible that they might require to call the Act into more frequent operation than formerly, and the object of the Amendment was not to give them additional power, but to enable them to drop a machinery which had been found defective and inconvenient.
§ Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Tuesday next.