§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, the Bill which I present for Second Reading is designed to give legislative effect to part of the recommendations of the Report of the Mines Department Advisory Committee for the metalliferous mining and quarrying industry. This Committee, which is a statutory body, set up under the Mining Industry Act, 1920, was invited in May, 1930, by the then Secretary for Mines to enquire into the possibilities of developing or reviving the work of metalliferous and associated deposits in Great Britain. The Report was published in May, 1932, and on page 7, paragraph (e) occur these words: 657In some instances the rates of royalty charged constitute an undue burden on the industry. In addition the terms of some mining leases with regard to the restoration of the surface frequently impose on mine owners the necessity for expenditure considerably in excess of the value of the land for agricultural purposes. In order to provide a means of overcoming these disadvantages we recommend that Section 13 of the Mining Industry Act, 1926, which made important amendments, as regards coal and minerals worked with coal, to the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act, 1923, should be extended to apply to metalliferous minerals.The principal Act is the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act, 1923, which was designed to facilitate the working of minerals by providing in certain cases for the compulsory acquisition of rights without which the minerals could not be worked. The granting of the necessary rights is vested in the Railway and Canal Commission, who mast satisfy themselves that it is in the national interest to do so. Very considerable use has been made of this Act, and its scope was appreciably widened by Section 13 of the Mining Industry Act of 1926, which of course dealt only with coal. It is these latter provisions which it is now proposed to extend to cover the case of metalliferous and certain other minerals. It is not possible to estimate with any precision the extent to which the additional powers given under the Act of 1926 have actually been used, because since that Act it has been the practice for all applications to the Court in the case of coal to be made under the Acts of 1923 and 1926 jointly; but it is clear that the 1926 Act has proved of real substantial value, and I think it is certainly safe to say that the mere existence of its powers has been enough to bring about the settlement of difficulties without recourse to the Court and with a minimum delay and expense.
The Bill itself is short. Clause 1 extends Section 13 of the Mining Industry Act of 1926 so as to give the Railway and Canal Commission power to grant facilities in the case of certain minerals. Subsection (2) makes the Bill apply to the various minerals as specified in the Schedule and any other minerals worked in conjunction with them, and Clause 2 is the short title of the Bill. It is hoped that the Bill will in no way prove contentious, but if there are any suggestions which any noble Lord may care to make concerning the Bill, or with 658 the object of adding to the existing minerals set out in the Schedule, they will receive the very careful consideration of the Department which I have the honour to represent. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Munster.)
My Lords, my noble friends have asked me to express their support of this Bill. In doing so may I congratulate the noble Earl on the very clear explanation he has given to the House? The only other comment I have to make is that we have consulted our friends who represent the great mining unions in another place. They welcome the Bill also, and we all of us think it is not only a very useful measure but it might have gone a great deal further. For example, it would have been even simpler to have done something about the royalty question on the lines of the Bill which your Lordships will have before you to-morrow for the control and future ownership of petroleum. Your Lordships will notice that oil shale, the solid oil in a way, is within the scope of this Bill, and from that we produce oil, whereas the liquid oil will be dealt with in a different manner and very much more in accordance with the policy which my noble friends believe would be in the great interest of the country. However, as things are, we consider this is a very useful measure, and I wish to assure the House of our support of it.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.