HC Deb 12 August 1919 vol 119 c1128W
Captain W. BENN

asked the Attorney-General whether the surface owner has any property in the oil beneath his land?


This is a difficult question, upon which opinions may easily differ. Personally I incline to the view that the surface owner is the owner of the oil beneath his land in the sense that he alone has the right on his land to search and bore for oil and becomes the owner of the oil if and when he gets it. This right, however, is subject to the provisions of the Petroleum (Production) Act, 1918 (8 and 9 c. 5 c. 52) which prohibits any per son other than a person acting on behalf of the Crown, or holding a licence under the Act for the purpose, from searching or boring for or getting petroleum within the United Kingdom. Licences may be granted under the Act by the Minister of Munitions on such terms and conditions as the Minister thinks fit.