HL Deb 13 November 1934 vol 94 cc376-8

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, by a curious coincidence it is, to-day, exactly a year since I presented the previous Expiring Laws Continuance Bill to your Lordships. There is very little I need say, but perhaps I may point out that three Acts have been dropped out of the Bill this year which appeared last year—namely, the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act, 1920, and two Poor Law Emergency Provisions (Scotland) Acts, 1921 and 1927. On the other hand, two Acts appear this year which were not in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill last year—the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) Act, 1918, in so far as it affects tramways only, and the Canals (Continuation of Charging Powers) Act, 1922. I should point out, however, that these are not additions to the Measures that appear normally in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. They were in the Bill in 1931, and then they were continued for three years, so that it was not necessary for these Bills to appear in either the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill of 1932 or that of last year.

The House will see that we have been able to reduce the number of Acts appearing in this Bill. That, I know, is in accordance with what your Lordships have constantly stated to be your desire, but I am afraid that even now the Lord Chairman may not be entirely satisfied. I understand he is going to raise again the question of the Public. Works Facilities Act, 1930, appearing in this Bill, and that he wishes to make some remarks about it. I told the House last year that I would find out from the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Health and other Departments whether it was possible for them to drop this Act out of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill when it came before your Lordships again. I have done so, and I am sorry to say that they still find this Act of very real value and are very unwilling to let it go. It is the only measure, as I think I told your Lordships last year, by which the local authorities can acquire land compulsorily for civil aerodromes. The Air Ministry have only so far confirmed four orders under this Act, but there are about twelve more in which they think it is quite possible the powers may be brought into use. I understand that the Secretary of State for Air is likely to introduce a measure next year to establish these powers in a permanent form, so that argument will, I hope, have lapsed before another Expiring Laws Continuance Bill appears before this House. But, as your Lordships are well aware, there is a mass of legislation awaiting us in the next Session of Parliament, and whether that particular Bill will be brought before Parliament it is of course impossible for me to say.

There are, however, other reasons in addition to that of aerodromes which make this Act, I will not say necessary, but very desirable. Over 350 Orders have been made under Clause 2, of which 267 have been made by the Ministry of Transport and seventy-two by the Ministry of Health. The Orders made by the Ministry of Transport, I understand, have been of considerable value in shortening procedure and in endeavouring to cope with the heavy casualties on the road, which is a subject that your Lordships have constantly discussed during this Session. Moreover, Clause 3 of the Act is a very convenient way of enabling highway authorities to acquire easements for the construction of bridges over railways and canals, and its terms were agreed between the highway authorities and the railway companies. It would seem a pity to bring that to an end, and, therefore, that, too, is quite a useful provision.

My noble friend the Lord Chairman of Committees is naturally the watchdog of your Lordships' Select Committees, which all of us feel have immense value, and none of us wish to try to dodge the procedure which is followed by Committees upstairs, but this is a shorter and cheaper way of enabling these various steps to be undertaken by local authorities and others. Although I cannot pretend that this has a great deal to do with unemployment, which was the reason for which the Act was originally introduced, it is nevertheless a useful measure and one that probably will in due time find its way on to the Statute Book in permanent form. But with the congestion of public business it is, as your Lordships know, difficult to get a Bill of that kind through Parliament. I hope I have given sufficient reasons to have softened the stern heart of the Lord Chairman, and that he will not deal as severely with this Bill as I think he did last year. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Stanhope.)


My Lords, I cannot help regretting that my noble friend, who promised last year to make representations to the various Ministries concerned, and has done so, has not been more successful in obtaining a revision of the position as it was last year. As he has told your Lordships, Section 2 of this Act, which is now being renewed, was brought in for the relief of unemployment primarily; and it is now being used for other purposes. It would be far more satisfactory, I am sure your Lordships will agree, if an Act of Parliament is necessary for these purposes, that it should he drafted and passed for them alone, and exactly for them, and that an Act passed for something totally different should not be made use of for the various necessities which my noble friend has mentioned. I am glad to hear that the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Air is hoping to bring in a Bill to deal with the acquisition of civil aerodromes. I hope the other matters will also be dealt with next year. I do not suggest that your Lordships should refuse my noble friend his request, but I would ask him if he would again address himself to the various Departments as he did last year and try to get this matter put on a more regular basis than exists at present.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

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