§ 3.5 p.m.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and from his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Reverter of Sites Bill, have consented to place their respective prerogatives and interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
In my speech at the Second Reading I explained the purpose of this short and technical Bill. I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, who spoke in support of the Bill at Second Reading, and to all your Lordships. No amendments were put down in Committee, the Order of Commitment was discharged, and I now ask the House to give the Bill a Third Reading. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
My Lords, the Bill was welcomed on all sides of the House on Second Reading, and at Committee stage. As the noble and learned Lord has indicated, it remedies problems arising under various statutes of the 19th century—whether better drafted than contemporary statutes, I know not—allowing individuals to donate land for charitable purposes on the basis that if the land ever ceases to be used for the stated purpose it will revert to the donor or his successors.
We on this side of the House and, indeed, Members on all sides of the Chamber welcome the Bill. I recently received from the Law Society some useful queries about the Bill, and I have also had the advantage of receiving the comments of the Lord Chancellor's Department upon them, which, if I may say so with respect, I find acceptable. In those circumstances, I welcome the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Lord Denning
My Lords, I, too, should like to join in the welcome given to the Third Reading of this Bill, because it affects the school that I attended 80 years 715 ago in our little town of Whitchurch. There, under the School Sites Act, the school was built in 1841 and continued as a school until 1973, when a new school was built on the other side of the town. The question then arose as to what would happen to the site of the old school. There was no solution available at the time, because no one knew the owner to whom the site would revert, though the old deeds were obtained and it was seen that there would be a reverter to the owner under the 1841 Act. How was that to be dealt with?
As far back as 1981 the Law Commision produced an excellent report putting forward some solutions, and now comes this Bill, which, if I may say so, is admirable in every way. I have studied it in relation to its application to our little school, and I think we shall have no difficulty in the future. The vicar will become the trustee. He will have a scheme made by the Charity Commissioners, and then I hope that all our problems will be solved. At all events, I thank the Law Commission, the parliamentary draftsman and the Government in particular for enabling this Bill to be brought forward, and for so solving our own little problem.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, I am grateful to both noble and learned Lords, and to the parliamentary draftsman for the plain English in which the Bill is couched.
§ On Question, Bill read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.