§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Lord SANDHURST)
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, as this was his first endeavour to pilot a Bill through their Lordships' House, he had to ask their Lordships to regard his shortcomings with, leniency; and, on the ground of his inexperience, to forgive any errors of which he feared he must inevitably be 2 guilty. The Bill which he asked their Lordships to read a second time was of a very simple nature, and he should have to occupy them but a very few minutes. The Bill was one—For extending, with amendments, to grounds for drill and other military purposes the enactments relating to the acquisition and regulation of rifle ranges.He must, therefore, refer to the two Acts of which this Bill was to be the extension. One was the Volunteer Act, 1863; the other the Artillery and Rifle Ranges Act, 1885. In the first of these, a power was given to Volunteer corps, with the assent of the Secretary of State, to acquire land for artillery and rifle ranges; and it was now contemplated to extend this power in order to acquire land for drilling purposes for Volunteers and all other military forces. These powers related merely to the acquisition of land. The Act of 1885 contained power for the Secretary of State to make bye-laws which should secure the safety of the public, and, at the same time, prevent any intrusion on the ranges to the incon- 3 venience of the corps using them. It was intended to embody powers to that effect in this Bill, with the slight difference and addition that, if necessary for the safety of the public and to secure the body of troops exercising from molestation, the grantors of the land should themselves make the bye-laws, subject always, of course, to the sanction of the Secretary of State. Of course, the ordinary law of trespass was sufficient for drill grounds in the possession of the Secretary of State or of the corps. Public Parks being public property, there was no power to exclude anyone, or to inclose any plot of ground temporarily during military exercises. He might add that he had reason to believe that many Corporate Bodies were most anxious to give them these facilities; but they had no power to do so. They therefore proposed by this Bill to give them this power. Their Lordships, especially any noble Lords who had served either in the Regular or Irregular Forces, must know how difficult it was, not to say impossible, to manœuvre a regiment when surrounded and pressed by a crowd of enthusiastic spectators. With the new Infantry extended order, he ventured to say it was impossible. The provisions of this Bill would inflict no injury on the public by temporarily excluding them from a small plot of ground during the short time of drill. The Volunteers were very enthusiastic and zealous for instruction. Their efficiency was already at a high standard. This Bill would give facilities for raising that standard; and as he knew there were few warmer sympathizers with the Volunteers than their Lordships, he had every confidence in asking them to read it a second time.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Sandhurst.)
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
said, he must compliment the noble Lord opposite upon the exceedingly clear and able manner in which he had moved the second reading of the Bill. He should give the noble Lord every assistance in his power in carrying the measure into law, as he entirely approved its principle.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.