§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
My Lords, this is a short and simple Bill designed to relieve the Secretary of State for War of the duty of having personally to sign documents in connection with the acquisition, management, or disposal of any land or other property to which he is expressed to be a party. I should like to explain to your Lordships that the Bill is concerned mainly with the formal business of authenticating documents. It does not in any way affect the powers of the Secretary of State with respect to the acquisition, management and disposal of War Department land. A disproportionately large amount of the Secretary of State's time is taken up in signing documents which in other Government Departments are executed on behalf of the Minister or Board. For instance, neither the First Lord of the Admiralty nor the Secretary of State for Air is under the necessity of signing such documents. Relief for the Secretary of State for Air was secured by Section 26, subsection (4), of the Air Navigation Act, 1936, and this Bill is based on the provisions of that subsection. In view of the fact that no objection of any sort was made to the provision in the Air Navigation Act during its passage through this House to the Statute Book, I think it may fairly be claimed that the Bill now before your Lordships is non-controversial. The relief sought by the Bill is especially required at the present time when the number of conveyances and similar documents to be signed is unusually large owing to the extensive purchases of land by the War Office for various defence purposes. I therefore beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.