§ Moved, "That the Order made on the 25th day of March last, 'That no Provisional Order Confirmation Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after the 18th day of June next,' be dispensed with, and that the Bill be now read 2a."—(Earl Carrington.)
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord BALFOUR of BURLEIGH)
My Lords, I am afraid I must make a short statement in regard to this matter. I do not propose to ask the House to object to what is intended to be done, but I think it right that the circumstances should be fully explained. The mere suspension of this Standing Order is not without precedent, but what is to follow under the suspension of Standing Order 1906 XXXIX.—namely, the passing of the Bill through the remainder of its stages—is a matter which has not been done before in the case of a Bill of this class; and I am sure your Lordships will see that, holding temporarily the position I do, it would be a breach of duty on my part to allow a new precedent to be made without informing the House of what is proposed. If this were an ordinary Provisional Order Bill I should be obliged to ask your Lordships not to allow it to pass with all this speed, because in that case the passing of it through all its stages on the same day after reading it a second time would be tantamount to cutting out the right of objecting on the part of any possible objector, as before being taken in Committee the Bill should lie on the Table for a certain period. But this is not an ordinary Provisional Order Bill. It is a Bill under the Commons Regulation Act, 1876, and the procedure under that Act is laid down with extreme precision. The procedure is extremely long and complicated, and up to the present it has been carried out in absolutely all its details. The inquiry for the purpose of securing this Order began in the autumn of last year, and in January the Board of Agriculture proceeded to make the Order. Some legal difficulties supervened, and it was not until 10th April that the draft was approved. It was then properly deposited in the locality for anyone who desired to do so to object to it. On 5th May the Select Committee of the other House of Parliament which looks after these matters was convened, but they could not proceed until the consent of two-thirds of the commoners had been obtained; that consent was obtained, but not until 28th May. Then, owing to the illness of the Chairman of Committe and the Whitsuntide adjournment, the Committee did not sit until 23rd June. They reported this month, and, so far as they can ascertain, there is no local opposition. The Bill was brought in on Friday, 10th July, in the other House, and the House of Commons suspended the corresponding Standing Order to that which your Lordships are now asked to suspend. The Bill now comes up to your Lordships' House, so far as we can tell, without the slightest local opposition. But there is a certain difficulty. My noble friend the 1907 Chairman of Committees, who was communicated with at various stages of the matter by the Board of Agriculture, seems to have been entirely satisfied that this was a proper procedure and had undertaken to agree to the suspension of the Standing Order. The new circumstance that has supervened is the proposal to carry the Bill through all its stages now, which could not have been foreseen at the moment when my noble friend left the House; but in a letter sent to him by Sir Thomas Elliott early in July it is pointed out that if the Provisional Order is not confirmed this session, not only will the injury alleged to be suffered by the commoners be continued for another year, but there is a risk of the agreement between the various parties breaking down, while additional expense which the locality could ill afford would be incurred. It is understood that there are some threatened encroachments by buildings which the people are anxious to avoid. In the circumstances, the local people having had such ample opportunity to object if they had wished to do so, I think the House may safely agree to the request which is now made. I hope your Lordships will excuse me for having made this statement, but I naturally felt that there was a certain amount of responsibility resting upon me in regard to the creation of a precedent.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the House is grateful to my noble friend for the statement he has made, without which we should have been very much astonished at the proposal. I do not think the House can be too careful in maintaining its procedure, especially when private rights are involved. But I rose to ask my noble friend a question. He referred to a letter from Sir Thomas Elliott, in which he said it was of great importance that this matter should be put through during the present session. Well, in the situation in which we are placed that phrase is rather ambiguous. In popular parlance the present session very often means the present sittings of the House. If that be so, there would be reason for pushing a Bill through now. But it is possible that what is really meant is that the work during the present year, which would be put an end to by the Prorogation, should not be forfeited. 1908 If that is what is meant, there is no reason why the Bill should not be passed through the remaining stages during the autumn sesssion. I should like to ask my noble friend whether, so far as Sir Thomas Elliott's letter is concerned, we should not fulfil all that is required if we passed the Bill during the autumn session.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I had an interview with the official of the Board of Agriculture who has charge of the matter, and I put that very question to him. Undoubtedly the opinion of the Board of Agriculture is that it is advisable to get the new authority set up as soon as possible, in order to prevent encroachments which might go on even during the few weeks that elapse before the Bill becomes law.
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
My Lords, this is a matter agreed upon by all the parties. The object of the Bill is to confirm a Provisional Order under the Inclosure Acts 1845 to 1899 relating to Towyn Trewan Common in the County of Anglesey, near where I live. I think I can state a reason which will induce noble Lords opposite to agree to the Motion. One of the purposes of this arrangement is to lay out a golf course. It is close to a growing seaside resort, and if the Bill passes now those concerned will be able to lay out the course during the summer months.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly.