§ Clause 3, page 3, line 36, leave out ("one month's") and insert ("three months")
§ The Commons disagree to this Amendment, but propose the following Amendment in lieu thereof:
§ Clause 3, page 4, line 7, at end insert ("Provided that such notice as aforesaid shall not, in the event of the 'matter being referred to an Advisory Committer as hereinafter provided, be given until the Committee has reported").
THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (THE EARL OF LYTTON)
My Lords, in the first place I beg to move that your Lordships do not insist upon your Amendment to leave out "one month's" and insert "three months." Your Lordships will remember that when this subject was under discussion in the Committee stage in your Lordships' House a point was made by my noble friend Lord Islington and other speakers that one month was too short a time in which to give notice to any undertaking of the intention of the Minister to take possession of it, and in meeting the objection to the one month's notice I pointed out to your Lordships that a provision was made later in the Bill that in the case of the owners of any undertaking objecting to the Minister taking possession the matter would be referred to the Advisory Panel and opportunities would be given to the owners of the undertaking, so objecting to state their objections, and that it would not be until after the whole matter bad been discussed with the Advisory Panel that this notice would be given.
Then your Lordships will remember that my noble friend Lord Cave pointed out that as the clause stood in the Bill it was not made clear that notice of intention to take possession could not be used as notice to take possession, in which case the one month might be running concurrently with the discussion, and no clear notice would be given to the owners of the undertaking 922 at all. In re-inserting the one month's notice in the Bill, the Commons propose an Amendment that is on the Paper which will make it perfectly clear, as I explained to your Lordships was always the intention of the Government, that this notice of one month shall be a clear notice after all negotiations between the Advisory Panel and the owners of the undertaking have been completed. I endeavoured to persuade your Lordships when we were in Committee that this notice of one month was merely a token notice, and t[...] at it was inserted in the Bill as a matter of courtesy rather than because anything could be done during that time. I think my noble friend Lord Islington stated char even after negotiations had taken place he felt that ad deal was required to be done. I think he described it in the following words, "that important internal matters would have to be taken into consideration." I hope I can assure your Lordships that from the moment when the notice is given, if this Commons Amendment is accepted, there would be nothing to be done at all by the undertaking. It is imply a one month's "dead" time in which there will be nothing to be done. It is really unnecessary that more than a day's notice at that stage should be given, but one month's notice is given as a matter of courtesy, and, if I am not making any mistake in the matter, I would appeal to the directors of railway companies who are in your Lordships' House to say whether or not I am right or wrong in assuring your. Lordships that from the moment the one month's notice is given no further steps would be required on behalf of the owner of the undertaking. I therefore press very strongly upon your Lordships that you do not insist upon your original Amendment and that you accept the Commons Amendment thereto.
§ Moved, That this House doth not insist upon the said Amendment.—(The Earl of Lytton.)
§ VISCOUNT CHURCHILL
My Lords, in response to the appeal made by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill, I am bound to endorse what be says with regard to the one month. A clear month is ample time, as there is practically no business to be gone through that has not been discussed before, and in the case of the Act of 1871, under which the railway companies were taken over at the beginning of the war, we had only twenty-four hours' notice, and it does not make the slightest difference. There is 923 really no business to be gone through, and the time is, as the noble Earl has described it, dead time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was not the author of this Amendment, but I think it a good Amendment. I think the undertakings are entitled to three months. But I admit that the proviso which the Commons have put in does a good deal to meet the argument addressed to your Lordships when the Bill was in Committee. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Cave, made a very considerable impression cm your Lordships by pointing out that the Inquiry before the. Committee might take up all the time of the notice, and so by the time that the Committee had reported there might be no notice left at all that the undertaking was going to be taken over. That danger has now been eliminated by the Commons Amendment and, as far as I am concerned, I shall not oppose, in this particular case, the Motion of the noble Earl.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Earl of Lytton.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.