That the Sessional Order of the 8th of March, 1898, 'That no Provisional Order Confirmation Bill originating in this House shall be read a first time after Tuesday, the 3rd day of May next,' be dispensed with in respect of a Bill to confirm certain Provisional Orders of the Secretary of State under the Military Lands Act, 1892."—(Marquis of Lansdowne.)
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
I propose to state to the House the circumstances under which this Bill is introduced. The Provisional Orders referred to relate to the acquisition of land for the purposes of the War Department at Colchester, where it is intended to extend the rifle range; at Woking, where we are adding to the barrack accommodation, and also on Salisbury Plain, where, as your Lordships are aware, we are acquiring a very large area as a training ground for recruits. My Lords, all these purchases have involved prolonged and troublesome negotiations. We always try to come to terms with vendors by means of amicable negotiations, but in all the cases I am referring to, we have not been successful, and it has been necessary to enforce the compulsory machinery of the Military Lands Act. The procedure under that Act is somewhat lengthy. I may, perhaps, state that in the case of Colchester the report of the public inquiry was not received by us till the 25th May, and in the Woking case not until the 18th May. With regard to Salisbury Plain we have had to deal with a very large number of different vendors, and our representatives, though they have pressed forward the negotiations as rapidly as they could, were not able to complete them within the specified time. I need not urge that in cases of this kind further delay would have very serious consequences, in the public interest, particularly in the case of Salisbury Plain, where until the purchases are completed we shall be able to do little in the way of providing ranges or obtaining a 762 water supply, or, indeed, to complete the numerous and intricate financial arrangements which are necessary. Under these circumstances I appeal for the indulgence of the House to allow me to suspend the Standing Order for the purpose of giving a First Reading to this Bill.
§ Motion agreed to. Bill read a first time, and referred to the Examiners.