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Winfrith Heath Bill

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 30 May 1957

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Order for Second Reading read.

3.58 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The purpose of the Bill is very limited. It is to extinguish certain common rights which may exist in an area of Dorsetshire which is to be used by the Atomic Energy Authority for an extension of its Harwell establishment and to provide for suitable compensation, That is the total purpose of the Bill, and it goes no further. For example, it is not concerned with the question of preserving the amenities of the countryside. That is a matter of town and country planning legislation and the proper procedures have already been carried out in the case of Winfrith Heath. A public inquiry has been held and planning permission has been given.

Nor does the Bill confer any new powers of compulsory purchase of land. It is strictly limited to the extinguishing of these common rights, which may or may not exist, and the provision of compensation for them.

I think I should explain briefly why this is necessary, who will be affected and why we have adopted this particular and somewhat unusual procedure of introducing a hybrid Bill. The Atomic Energy Authority has decided that it must extend its Harwell establishment to a new site. As the House is well aware, Harwell is the foundation of Britain's advance in atomic energy. It is the establishment where all the basic research is carried out. It is expanding, and I am sure that we want to see it expand as rapidly as is practicable, but it is not possible to go any further on the Harwell site itself, for two reasons.

First, Harwell is already as large as can reasonably be managed in the number of personnel and the amount of work which is done there. Secondly, there is a definite limit on the amount of effluent which can be moved from Harwell into the Thames. It was, therefore, quite clear that any further extension would have to take place on a different site, and for some time now the Authority has been looking for a new site.

It is, of course, very difficult to find a site that is suitable, because the conditions are rather stringent. It must be near to Harwell, because it is an extension of that establishment, and in order that people can travel easily from one to the other. It must be on soil which is adequate to sustain the great weight of the atomic reactors. It must be near to a very large supply of cooling water, which is needed for the atomic reactors, and it must also be sited in such a way as to enable the easy disposal of the radioactive effluent. In addition, of course, it is desirable to avoid the use of good agricultural land.

Obviously, all those conditions, taken together, mean that it is not easy to find a suitable site, and the Atomic Energy Authority, in consultation with the Government Departments concerned, looked for a long time, and considered, altogether, about 70 different sites, before deciding upon this one at Winfrith Heath. in Dorsetshire. As soon as the Authority had decided that this was the best site, it consulted the planning authority—the Dorsetshire County Council—other local authorities, and a number of other bodies, including the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, the Nature Conservancy, the National Farmers' Union, and many others. In addition, in June, 1956, the Dorsetshire County Council advertised in the newspapers locally, inviting people who objected to register their objections.

Application was subsequently made to the County Council, as planning authority, for planning permission to go ahead with this establishment. That permission was granted, but the County Council felt that, although it was entitled to give planning permission, the project involved such a large departure from the county plan that it should refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government. In turn, my right hon. Friend considered this to be a matter of national importance, and that, therefore, although the planning authority was prepared to approve, a public inquiry should be held.

A public inquiry was then duly held, at which the County Council and all the local authorities concerned—the borough councils and the district councils— supported the proposal. As a result, my right hon. Friend, subject to certain conditions which will be fulfilled, gave planning permission to the Atomic Energy Authority. At that stage, therefore, all the necessary procedures had been gone through to obtain planning permission and, in fact, the project had received the active support of the duly-elected local authorities in the area.

It was at this stage that the question of common rights arose. It had not arisen before, because the Atomic Energy Authority was acting in the belief that there were no common rights on this stretch of land. It had two adequate reasons for thinking that. First, the question of common rights was never raised by any of the local authorities whom the Authority had consulted about the site. Secondly, the owners of the land, who are also the lords of the manor, said that they did not recognise any common rights as existing in that area. Moreover, I understand that such rights have not been exercised for a very long time, because the nature of the land itself is such that it is not suitable nowadays either for turf cutting or for the grazing of cattle.

At the inquiry, however—at which no commoners themselves at all were present to object—a document was produced by one witness. It was a conveyance, dated 1792, of a cottage, and referred to the existence of rights of common consisting of the right to graze three cattle and the right of common and turbary, which established that, at some time, common rights existed, although this particular document, I understand, did not set out the land to which the rights referred.

The document made it clear, however, that at some stage there were common rights on this particular piece of land, so, clearly, the Atomic Energy Authority had to do something about it. It instituted a search, and it was discovered that an award was made back in the eighteenth century which did set out certain common rights attaching, at that time, to certain properties in the area. Unfortunately. the map which was attached to the award of 1771 had been lost, and it is difficult, if not impossible, at this stage to trace who are the present owners of these common rights, if they are still in existence.

I think the House will agree that although it is impossible, or very diffi- cult, to trace any such common rights, and although no objection has ever been made at the inquiry or to the Authority by any commoner, the Authority would be quite wrong to go ahead and put its establishment there without having taken proper steps to extinguish any common rights that may exist. There is, of course, the practical argument that it would be a pity to put up an atomic reactor and then have someone come along and say, "You must remove your reactor—it is in the way of my cow." It would also be uneconomic.

Seriously, however, it would be quite improper for anyone to go ahead in this way and to act as if common rights did not exist, when there is a possibility that they may. That being the case, the Authority thought it necessary to take steps to extinguish the rights—

I am rather interested in this. Earlier in his speech, the right hon. Gentleman said that it was the intention of the Authority to take the proper steps to extinguish the rights if they exist, and to pay compensation for them. As the search for the owners of the common rights has proved abortive, to whom would compensation be paid in the event of the Bill passing into law?

I think that if the hon. Gentleman will study the Bill, he will see that that is what it does.

The normal way of dealing with such a matter would be through the procedure of the Land Clauses Act, but the Authority was advised that this procedure would take from 12 to 18 months. It took the view, I think very rightly, that as this is a very important project, it would be quite wrong to hold up the construction work for a period of 12 or 18 months in order to go through the normal procedure for the extinguishing of these rights—which, in practice, do not appear to have been exercised for some time.

There was available to the Authority the alternative of this procedure of a hybrid Bill, which I am recommending to the House this afternoon. The purpose of this hybrid Bill is to do quickly what could be done otherwise only through the machinery of the Land Clauses Act. What we very much want to do is to get this Bill through Parliament in such time as to allow the Authority to start work on the establishment this autumn, or this summer. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done—laying roads, laying drains and setting up water pipes, and the rest—and it is important to get as much of this work as possible done before winter sets in, and it seems that the only was to do that is by proceeding through a hybrid Bill such as this.

I have dealt with the three main points with which, I think, I ought to deal. First, what this is needed for, and why the rights have to be extinguished. Secondly, who is affected. It appears very doubtful whether anybody is affected—certainly, not much more than a handful of people. Thirdly, the reason that this procedure is adopted, which is simply that for the Atomic Energy Authority to accept a delay of 12 or 18 months would be, I think, quite clearly contrary to the interests of the nation.

The Bill itself is relatively simple. Clause 1 lays down that these rights of common, such as they are, shall be extinguished. Clause 2 enacts that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food shall appoint a valuer, whose job it will be to try to ascertain what common rights do exist in this area. He will start, obviously, from the eighteenth century documents, and by diligent search of such documents as he can lay his hands on he will try to establish what rights, if any, still exist.

He will publish those, and advertise for claimants, and when anyone makes a claim the valuer will assess to what compensation the claimant is entitled. All the decisions of the valuer, however, as to the nature of the common rights, or as to the amount of compensation to which anybody is entitled for those rights, will be subject to appeal to the Lands Tribunal, if either party wishes to appeal. Provision is also made for the Atomic Energy Authority to pay the cost of any claimants making claims of common rights through the procedure of the Bill.

I think, then, that it is fair to say that no commoner, as a result of the introduction of this Bill, could possibly be worse off than he would have been had the Authority used the more normal procedure of the Land Clauses Act. In fact, people will probably be better off, because if the valuer is very successful in his search he may find a number of people possessed of common rights, of which at the moment they are quite unaware and for which they will receive compensation which otherwise they would not have expected.

The House is always very vigilant over any proposal to interfere with common rights. Indeed, it would be a pity if that were not so. That is why I ask, this afternoon, that the Bill should be regarded as an entirely necessary Measure to enable the advancement of our atomic energy programme.1have tried to set out the arguments. Harwell must expand, must go to a new site and this is the best new site. The project has the approval of the planning authority, there has been a public inquiry procedure and, it has the support of all local authorities in the area. This is a desirable project in the national interest.

At the last moment, it was discovered that there might be these ancient common rights which, in practice, have not been exercised, but which exist and which are rights of which the House must take cognisance. They have to be extinguished in the interests of establishing this expansion of the Harwell Atomic Energy Establishment and the only means of doing that, without waiting for a very long time, is by means of this Bill, which makes proper provision for the establishment of any claims which exist and for proper compensation to be paid for those claims.

4.11 p.m.

Last week, in the New York Times, Mr. Drew Middleton thought it desirable to give certain advice to Americans who would be visiting this country during the summer. He said:

" It is no good telling them that things in Britain are much better than you expected. The British are much happier when they think the country is going to hell in a handcart. If you praise the nuclear energy program, you will be told its plants spoil the view."
That is very much the spirit in which we are approaching the Bill this afternoon. Naturally, we shall not oppose it. We welcome it as new evidence of the development of atomic energy, but we feel it necessary, at the same time, in Mr. Drew Middleton's words, to say, "Look at the view." As Socialists, we are proud of the world leadership that this State enterprise has already achieved, but, also as Socialists, we want to preserve the amenities of the British countryside for our people.

Before turning to the question of Winfrith Heath itself, there are certain general considerations which I should like to raise. In the first place, I should like to echo what the Paymaster-General said about the importance of commoners' rights. Those are rights which, presumably, have been held since time immemorial and which were, as the right hon. Gentleman himself reminded us, as it were codified in a document of 1771.

The right hon. Gentleman reminded us that we must be vigilant in matters of this kind and we certainly hope that the House will never treat with complacency any proposal for extinguishing rights of this kind. The existence of these rights means, other things being equal, that the people have an open space in perpetuity. We should, therefore, be very jealous of these rights and agree to extinguish them only after the most careful consideration.

There is one special criticism we want to make of the Government proceeding in this way at this time. It seems to us regrettable that a Government Department should come along with a Bill of this kind just at the time when a Royal Commission, appointed by themselves, is considering the whole future of commoners' rights and the commons of this country. Secondly, we regard the circumstances in which the Bill has been introduced as, at any rate, open to criticism. I was not completely satisfied with some of the explanations which the right hon. Gentleman gave.

I should have thought that if the Atomic Energy Authority had been more vigilant in the early days of this project, it should have been possible for it to discover the existence of these commoners' rights. Indeed, my information is that the Government themselves have known for a considerable time that a Bill of this kind would be necessary if the project was to go forward. The Minister of Housing and Local Government gave his planned approval to the scheme on 1st February, but it was only eight days ago that the Bill was presented to the House. The Committee reported on the Bill yesterday and today we have a Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the Prime Minister saying that the petitioners against the Bill must submit their petitions to the House within the next five days.

That seems to me to be unnecessarily rushing the matter, especially when it is remembered that two of the next five days are a Saturday and a Sunday. I should have thought that there was no need for the Government to rush the matter in this way. It is vitally important that as a House we should pay the most scrupulous attention to the position of those people who might conceivably be adversely affected by the decisions we take. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) has tabled an Amendment to the Prime Minister's Motion which would have the effect of extending the period from five to fifteen days, and I plead with the Government that they will accept that Amendment.

To turn to the wider issues, this is a problem which is of much greater importance than just the future of Winfrith Heath itself. I understand that we are to have between 15 and 20 atomic power stations built over the next ten years. Work has already begun on two of them and, certainly, in both those cases there has been considerable opposition. I know very little about the position at Berkeley where one is being built, but I very much resent the fact that Bradwell was one of the sites chosen. There we are now seeing rising against the skyline a new atomic power station within a stone's throw of what is probably the earliest surviving Christian church in this country. It seems a pity that greater thought was not given to the project before it began to destroy one of the finest and most interesting skylines on the Essex coast. In the case of Hinkley Point, in Somerset—

I doubt whether the Bill is a broad enough foundation for the considerations which the hon. Gentleman is now advancing to the House. The Bill concerns only Winfrith Heath and its commoners. While I do not want to be over-strict, we cannot discuss all the other power stations to which the Bill does not apply.

Naturally, I fully accept what you have just said, Mr. Speaker. The point I was making is germane to the Bill and concerned the methods which the Atomic Energy Authority pursues in selecting sites of this kind. However, I have already made my point about the other sites in question and I turn now to the general application of the circumstances relating to Winfrith Heath.

I understand from what the Paymaster-General said, and from what I have read in the reports of the inquiry into the Winfrith Heath proposal, that the Atomic Energy Authority considered a number of sites before choosing Winfrith Heath. Colonel Raby, who is the Deputy Director of Engineering at Harwell, said that 50 sites were inspected before Winfrith Heath was chosen. Sir John Cockcroft, on the other hand, said that 70 possibilities had been investigated. It seems to us that in this matter we are putting a quite unfair burden upon the Atomic Energy Authority.

It is part of the Government's policy that these atomic energy establishments should be sited remote from built-up areas. In paragraph 37 of the White Paper, "A Programme of Nuclear Power" (Cmd. 9389), we read:
"The reactors that will be built for the commercial production of electricity will present no more danger to people living nearby than many existing industrial works that are sited within built-up areas. Nevertheless the first stations, even though they will be of inherently safe design, will not he built in heavily built-up areas."
I appreciate that this is to be an experimental establishment, but I hope that before we conclude this debate a spokesman of the Government will he able to tell us how long a period must elapse before the Government and the Atomic Energy Authority are satisfied that these establishments can be built in more built-up areas and not in remote areas which are at present being selected.

I find it a little disturbing to read, in the Eighth Report of the Central Electricity Authority for the year ended—

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, in relation to your Ruling a short time ago about the scope of this debate. There is nothing that the House wants to do more than to have a full debate on the amenity considerations involved in siting these great. Government establishments, their design and every other aspect from the public point of view, but you have defined the debate to run narrowly. Would it be in order to appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, that at an appropriate time we might discuss these wider questions, when many more hon. Members might be present?

I realise the importance of the considerations which the noble Lord has urged. Of course, it is not for me to arrange the debates of the House; I am here only to apply the rules of order. I can conceive of some considerations of amenity in so far as they affect the particular project which might well be in order, but I do not think that the Bill will stand a general debate on amenity considerations all over the country and in general. The purpose of the Bill seems to me to deal with the rights of the commoners.

On that point of order, Mr. Speaker, it is of importance to some of us who might like to take part in the debate to get the position clear. Some of us would find difficulty in deciding our attitude to this proposal unless we have knowledge from the Government as to whether this procedure is to be applicable purely to this particular case and will not be used in other cases which may arise. That is bound to affect our view on this Measure. That kind of issue, it seems to me, would have to be raised by hon. Members.

I have said—I think the House agrees with me—that the purpose of the Bill is to deal with certain common rights, providing for their extinguishment and compensation by a method which is peculiar to the Bill. I think it would be relevant to ask whether, in similar cases of common rights arising, this method is to be pursued. That, I think, would be proper for a Second Reading debate so that the House can judge what it is doing. That, however, applies only to commons and not to the general considerations.

May I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker? One of the reasons—perhaps the main one—why this establishment is to be sited in a location of this kind is that it is of an experimental nature and we suspect that possibly those who are responsible are unwilling to expose a large mass of population to the possibility of risk. That being the case, is not amenity part of the argument and can we not discuss it, at least to a certain extent? It would appear that if the population at large is to gain, a few people must lose.

Would it not be right to say, Sir, that as planning permission has been granted in this case, the procedures laid down by this House for the protection of amenities have been completed and the Bill is concerned only with the question of common rights?

Was the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) raising the question of the siting of the station and its possible effects upon health?

I do not know that that has much to do with the commoners. I do not, however, like to give hypothetical rulings. I want first to hear what is said.

:I am sure you will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that one of the historic grounds on which Enclosure Acts were resisted in this House in the past was to preserve common lands in the interests of the health of the country.

In so far as the Bill proposes to extinguish certain common rights, an hon. Member is entitled to argue that these rights should not be extinguished, or to speak in those terms. All I am concerned with is that we do not make this a peg on which to hang a general debate, either on atomic energy. which the Bill will not sustain, or on the other atomic stations all over the country.

This is important, Mr. Speaker, in fixing the limits of the debate. The Minister, far from putting before the House a proposition which confers rights on commoners, is putting forward a proposition which will deprive a hypothetical bunch of unknown, undiscovered commoners of existing rights.

If the question is to be properly considered in proper perspective in any inquiries which are made, they must be inquiries not only into the title of the people who once held or were purported to hold a title to common rights, but also into what happened in the case of the Enclosure Acts, a large number of which were carried through this House between 1760 and 1832 and many of which related to this part of the south-west of England. Surely, if an inquiry is to be conducted, we shall want to know how many of the people who are now tenants or occupiers and who may claim compensation under the Bill acquired their rights by enclosure of commons between 1760 and 1832.

I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, for your Rulings on those various points of order.

To refer for a moment to the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), it was a great pity that he did not find it convenient a week ago to attend the House to move the Motion about amenities which stood in his name. We all appreciate, however, the difficulties that he was having with his party at that moment and he has, of course, a great deal of sympathy from all of us.

The point I was making when those helpful points of order were raised concerned the wider aspects of the problem. I was saying that we appreciate the difficulties of the Atomic Energy Authority and would prefer that the responsibility for finding these sites did not rest on the Authority itself. We are anxious that if future establishments are always to be sited in remote parts of the country, we shall see a gradual erosion of some of our most beautiful areas.

In spite of what the Minister said about the local support that this proposition had received, I modestly suggest that, unfortunately, local opinion is not always the best guide in matters of this kind. The prospect of bringing new industry to an area, with additional employment and with revived prosperity in the shops and public houses, is a temptation that it is often difficult for a locality to resist. That is no doubt why, when the Winfrith Heath inquiry was taking place, the Welsh Economic Development Council, the Monmouthshire County Planning Committee and the Penzance Chamber of Commerce all indicated that they would be delighted to receive the experimental atomic energy establishment if the Minister decided against it in the case of Winfrith Heath.

Our view is that these areas of remoteness and natural beauty have much more than a local significance. They are part of our national heritage and we believe that it is unfair on the Atomic Energy Authority to leave the choice to that body. The responsibility should rest upon the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who should prepare a nationwide plan, scheduling those areas in which development of this kind would be allowed. I think that if the Minister of Housing and Local Government accepted responsibility for that, it would be possible to avoid all the difficulties and all the damage to our amenities that will result unless we have a national plan of that kind.

If the Government can be persuaded to undertake a survey of that kind, it might be possible for them to consider using disused stone workings, quarries or other man-made depressions in the land to hide some of the detrimental effects which otherwise these establishments will have. We believe that in establishing a national plan of this kind, the Minister should have the advice of a national body of the calibre of the Royal Fine Art Commission.

Finally, if I may turn to the question of Winfrith Heath itself—and there is not a great deal that I wish to say on that point—it is, as I think all hon. Members in the House will know, the survivor of Thomas Hardy's "Egdon Heath". Although Hardy is not one of my favourite novelists, anything that went to make up his England must have a sentimental claim upon all of us.

It is true that Winfrith Heath has largely been spoiled by the activities of tanks from Bovington Camp, just as the village of Wool has largely been spoiled by the bungalow development which followed on the military occupation of the area. Nevertheless, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England did oppose the scheme at the inquiry, and when the Minister of Housing and Local Government communicated his decision as a result of the inquiry, he conceded that Winfrith Heath was, as he called it, "remote, beautiful and unspoiled countryside." I wish that it had been possible to site this atomic energy establishment elsewhere.

After all, what will be comprised in the scheme? The atomic energy establishment will consist of six reactors, with process plants, office blocks and laboratories. In six years' time, it will employ 1,200 people, and ultimately double that number, and houses for 10,000 people will be needed. In addition, of course, there will be schools, shops and all the other paraphernalia of civilised life, and all that will be needed on a site of great natural beauty which is only three miles from what is the first unspoiled stretch of coast west of Ramsgate, and within three and a half miles of Lulworth Cove.

In "The Return of the Native", Thomas Hardy had this to say in the first chapter, writing of "Egdon Heath":
"It had waited thus, unmoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so many things, that it could only be imagined to await the last crisis—the final overthrow."
It is we today who are giving "Egdon Heath" the final overthrow by passing this Winfrith Heath Bill. It is not a very easy decision for any of us to take, and I hope that the Government, by accepting the suggestion which I have made for a national plan, will spare us from a similarly difficult decision in the future.

4.34 p.m.

I think that when the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. A. Greenwood) complains about only five days' notice being given to petitioners he should remember that this was an alteration in procedure made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), when he was Leader of the House during the time when his hon. and right hon. Friends were in control of the procedure of this House.

The five days which he mentioned is a minimum period, and it is open to this House to decide how long the petitioners shall have in which to lodge their petitions. That is a matter with which we shall have to deal when the Amendment is considered. It is quite untrue to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) laid down any such monstrous proposal.

I think that perhaps I have been too short in what I said. The right hon. Gentleman reduced the period in the Standing Orders from a minimum of fifteen days to five days.

I wish to ask only one question, and it is whether my right hon. Friend will look again at Clauses 2 and 3 and consider whether he could not use the Land Clauses Act, rather than the new procedure. Personally, I think that Sections 21 and 32 of that Act would be a much better idea than this new system of a valuer, which my right hon. Friend proposes for the first time.

In regard to costs which may be incurred before the valuer, Section 34 of the Lands Clauses Act enabled all expenses and costs to be paid, whereas the proposal of my right hon. Friend is only in respect of reasonable costs. I shall have more to say in Committee, but I hope that these two points, which will be of value if any schemes are submitted, may form part of the amended Bill before we agree to part with it.

4.36 p.m.

On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the fact that there is nobody on the Treasury Bench who is competent to reply to this debate? The Paymaster-General, having spoken, has already exhausted his right to speak, and I shall certainly object to his speaking again. I think it is highly desirable that—

I wish to start by apologising in advance to whoever is to reply to the debate for the fact that I doubt whether I shall be able to be here, because I have to attend a meeting of the Committee of Privileges at a quarter past five. I dislike leaving the House having already spoken and not waiting to pay at least the courtesy of listening to anybody who is to reply, and I hope that the House will believe that it is only because I am engaged on the duty of the House in another matter that I depart from my usual practice. It may be that there is sufficient interest in the Bill to keep the debate in progress until I am able to get back here, having discharged that duty.

I want to speak on behalf of the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, which has done me the honour of electing me its president. I want, first, to draw attention to the fact that there is really no excuse for the hurry with which this Bill is being brought before us. The fact that there were common rights in this common was made known at the inquiry which was held last year, when the Dorset Land Resources Committee produced the evidence which was cited by the Paymaster-General that there is in existence at least one document which preserves the right of common to the occupier of some cottage and land, which cannot at the moment be more definitely recognised. It is almost certain that, in an area of this kind if such rights exist in one cottage and one piece of land, other dwellings and other pieces of land also entitle the dwellers therein to the exercise of common rights over this tract of land.

Great tracts of land and open spaces have been preserved in this country by the existence of just these rights. In fact, when Burnham Beeches and Epping Forest were in jeopardy, the City of London, which, in those days, was a leading liberal community in the country, actually bought land having common rights so that, when enclosure was attempted, the City could appear as possessors of common rights to resist the enclosure that was contemplated. In fact, in the case of Epping Forest, it secured the throwing back into the common of all the land that had been enclosed within the twenty years previous to the hearing of the case in which the City was concerned. Therefore, it must be emphasised that the existence of these rights is a safeguard, not merely for the commoner, but for all the people who enjoy air and exercise upon the lands that are involved.

The hon. and gallant Member for New Forest (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre) will know that the New Forest was preserved because it was discovered that there were rights of common in vicinage, that is, a person who has rights in one common had the right of grazing his cattle on commons in adjoining parishes into which they might stray, because cattle could not recognise the dots which King Alfred placed upon the map when he divided the country into parishes. The non-recognition of subsisting rights of common by a Government or by a Government agency is really a great attack upon the privileges that all of us enjoy as a result of the existence of these rights.

If I am correctly informed—and I have taken the trouble to be sure that I am correctly informed—that the existence of these rights was disclosed last year at the inquiry, why do we have the Bill produced in this great hurry at this stage? I am certain that the House is anxious, as the Society whose opinions I am voicing is anxious, that all proper measures for the development of atomic energy in the country should be taken, but the Government should not presume on that to endanger the rights of quite poor people who may be in jeopardy if these rights are extinguished. Therefore., I hope that when it comes to the inquiry and the appointment of a valuer efforts will be made to find the pieces of land in which rights may subsist and also to find the persons who have the opportunity to exercise them.

I am not impressed when the Paymaster-General says that the lords of the manor did not recognise rights of common. That is the common habit of lords of the manor, because if they can only act on that assumption their power over the land is very considerably increased, compared with what it is while one single commoner remains. When I inspected the plans and associated documents, I noticed the names of the persons who claimed to be lords of the manor.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will note the form of words I use—"the people who claim" to be lords of the manor or representatives of lords of the manor. These names were fully set out, and these persons have had all the necessary notices. But I hope that the Government will feel that in this matter they have a duty to other people, less capable of employing legal assistance and surveyors and valuers, to see that it is made quite plain that any existing right will be recognised and when extinguished will be paid for.

The main purpose of Clause 2 is to carry out exactly what the right hon. Gentleman says.

I am very glad to hear that. I noticed when I inspected the plan that at least two of the Queen's highways appear to run across these tracts of land. Is it proposed to divert them and wipe out the rights of way? What action is proposed with regard to them? One of the roads that appears to run almost directly from east to west seems to run almost through the middle of the tracts of land that are proposed to be affected by the Bill. Is it proposed to divert the road or to extinguish the rights of way? If so, what process is proposed to be employed?

Nothing is said about that in the Bill. and in the documents that I inspected nothing was said about the highways either. If, for the moment, the highway running through the middle is to be maintained, I can see some excuse being found in the future for suggesting that, having these valuable buildings with all their processes in two curtilages instead of one. requires further applications with regard to the stopping up or diversion of the highways. We should be told at this stage what are the Government's intentions in that matter.

If somebody comes along and claims these rights, they not having been extinguished in the legal form which we are now proposing, the Paymaster-General said, in language that came very trippingly off his tongue, that the result would be obviously uneconomic. I was interested for a long time in one of the most valuable commons in the country, Epsom Downs. The existing grandstand was erected on part of the land which was still subject to rights of common. Epsom Urban District Council, of which I was chairman, had rights of common in that common.

When the Council drew attention to the fact that the grandstand had been put on land subject to rights of common, those concerned decided that the best and most economical rejoinder was to offer the Council a considerably greater tract of land adjoining the common, in compensation for the piece on which, the Council was assured, one corner of the grandstand had been put quite inadvertently.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will assure us that in future, before any such tract of land as this is considered for an atomic energy station, efforts will be made at the very earliest stage to ascertain whether any rights of common are involved, so that either other land can be sought or the inquiries and the valuation can be made at a far earlier stage.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) referred to the question whether there should be five days or 15 days for the lodging of petitions. It is very desirable that in these cases there should be at least 15 days. I cannot think that the loss of 10 days would be serious to the Atomic Energy Authority, but that extra period would enable everyone to feel that the Government are not now proceeding upon the most rigorous application of the Standing Orders of the House. The House itself is responsible for the application of its Standing Orders and I hope that when my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) moves his Amendment, which will provide for a period of 15 days, the Government will find it possible to accept it.

I want to protest most strongly against a matter, known, at any rate, to one Department of the Government as long ago as last year, being proceeded with in this way. The Paymaster-General appears to be dissenting, but I can assure him that the Dorset Land Resources Committee brought this matter to the attention of the inspector at the inquiry.

I gladly concede the right hon. Gentleman as much as that, but, after all, we are now at the end of May. At the end of five days most of us will be going off to attend the Derby. I suggest that those people who are not going might very well spend the sixth of the 15 days in assisting people to formulate their claims under this Bill and the Resolution of the House.

4.50 p.m.

I do not follow the reasons for the anger of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) about the way this Bill has been framed and the time at which it has been brought before the House, because, so far as I can see, no harm has been done to any individual in the country. If anything, the only sufferer is the Atomic Energy Authority, because it is only after the passage of this Bill that it can get to work on the site. The right hon. Gentleman has been speaking on behalf of the individual, the common right owner, and he is provided for in this Bill. Even if the Bill had been delayed five years his position would not have been jeopardised in any degree, so I do not understand the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman.

I know the noble Lord is very hard of understanding, but a thing that was known to the Government in January ought to have been brought to the attention of the House long before now.

I think that the whole House by now agrees that a debate on the town and country planning aspects of the siting of large Government establishments, whether atomic energy or otherwise, is urgently required. We have had abortive attempts in the last few months to get a debate, but they have been frustrated by time and procedure in one way or another.

Some of my hon. Friends and myself tried to raise this matter on the Report and Third Reading of the Electricity Bill two or three months ago. Unfortunately I was not able to move my Motion on going into Committee of Supply on Civil Estimates last week because I was on the Parliamentary delegation visiting France and Germany about roads. Today Mr. Speaker has ruled—quite rightly, in my view, if it is not presumptuous to say so—that the debate must be narrowed to very simple confines. However, I appeal to my right hon. Friend to try to arrange through the usual channels, if he would be so good as to speak to the Lord Privy Seal on the subject, for a whole day's debate before the end of the summer on the major questions that are not being satisfactorily settled, and which arise out of the decisions to site new atomic energy establishments, electricity stations, and so on, in the countryside.

Speaking now directly for my own constituency, I say on behalf of my constituents that, by and large, they have no complaint against Her Majesty's Government for the way this matter has been handled. Nor have they any complaint against the local authorities. All has gone forward in due form and order, and the conduct of affairs has been admirable. There are some lessons to be learned from the way the subject has been tackled, but I should like to reserve those for the main debate which hope will follow.

There has been opposition to this proposal, principally on behalf of those for whom the right hon. Member for South Shields affected to speak, and for others concerned with the preservation of the countryside and with the natural beauties and amenities of Dorset. Again it has come from others who fear that the water table will be unduly lowered by the requirements of the Atomic Energy Authority. Yet all these people have had a fairly full hearing for their grievances, and in the last resort the majority of my constituents, and their representatives in the local authorities, have decided that it is entirely satisfactory to have the station established there from many points of view. For instance, from the point of view of taking up any slack in unemployment which may be manifest in the coming years in South Dorset; from the point of view of absorbing some of the products of our secondary modern schools in the scientific and technological side of this work, and from the point of view of promoting trade and thus elevating the general level of civilisation of the countryside.

This place could be called a blasted heath, but it is satisfactory to know that it will not be further blasted by any bombs or explosions, and that it is an experimental centre conducted under very full safeguards. So the majority of my constituents are in favour of the station and want to see it established right away. There is one, and only one, outstanding question which worries them, and I would like an assurance on this point from my right hon. Friend if he replies to the debate. Will the 690 acres which have been acquired be put in a wire fenced perimeter and held there, or will it be allowed to expand, five years by five years, across the whole of South and East Dorset? There is the fear that though at the moment this is a defined experimental centre, limited in purpose, conducted with every safeguard, yet somehow the scientists will find it convenient in the next ten years, having got this group of buildings on the ground, having got industry associated with the project, to come again under their compulsory powers and demand further land. There is the fear that somehow, by default, this beautiful part of England will be urbanised and suburbanised from, shall we say, Dorchester to Poole Harbour. Those hon. Members and right hon. Members who know my beloved county will, I am sure. wish to join with me in exacting from my right hon. Friend a pledge, if he can go so far, that such a thing will not he done.

4.57 p.m.

We all join with the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) in his appeal, although I thought that some of his earlier remarks were couched in rather arrogant terms, particularly when he suggested that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was only affecting to speak for certain very real interests in this matter. However. I have no doubt that it was merely a slip of the tongue and not anything more offensive.

I found that many of the contributions to this debate rather assumed that the only interests affected were those of the commoners, but there are consequential interests involved, and my right hon. Friend referred to them. Indeed, the question of the right of access to this area involved in the proposal before us presents us with a difficult problem, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) pointed out.

We all recognise the importance of the proposal, and none of us would wish to impede its progress, but we are equally conscious that there are many other proper public interests in the retention of such open spaces, and many of us are afraid that if we concede this proposal it will weaken our argument in other cases. Whilst I appreciate that we are attempting to have a narrow debate on this issue, it is impossible for us to consider this case fairly without bearing in mind its relevance to other cases which we all know are bound to come before us sooner or later, where again the rights of commoners will be affected, and where again the general right of access to open country will be concerned.

It is purely because this area has already been so damaged by War Office and other operations that there has not been more protest about the proposal put before us by the right hon. Gentleman, and that is not a very satisfactory reason. Indeed, it is something of a tragedy that already there has been a great deal of spoliation which has taken one very beautiful section of Britain out of general enjoyment. So this must be a warning to us to be more careful and more vigilant about our protection of areas of wild countryside in the future, rather than encouraging us to give any easy approval to this proposal.

We know that this area is closely adjacent to Purbeck, and we know, too. that very many people have been denied access to that area because of War Office and other activities in the district. This is merely a further addition to the disabilities from which the general public have been suffering. I think it is right that we should ask for specific assurances from the Government that they are not proposing this as a first step towards a series of proposals of this kind on other areas where common rights exist, because these areas—and there are relatively few of them—are of very great importance to the general public. In a country that is so rapidly becoming more and more urbanised, it is all the more essential that we should fight hard for the preservation of open spaces and the right to breathe. However absurd it may appear to some people that we should even appear to be contrasting the importance of the right of access to a small piece of open common with the importance of an atomic power station and the development of power in this country, it is right that we should pose that question in this House, however academic it may appear to some people.

I would emphasise the point made that we are not at all happy about the general procedure for consultation with the wider interests that are involved, not merely the commoners themselves but all those who do represent, and do not just affect to represent, very large numbers of people who are anxious to walk over these areas and make use of them. It has been suggested that as this problem is bound to arise again—many of us think so at any rate—it might be wise to look at it in advance to try to establish some form of consultative body which the Minister and others might approach to consider the whole future development of this programme and how best we can avoid difficulties of this sort arising again.

I agree that it is a little disturbing that we should have to consider a Bill of this kind, by which we are adopting a special procedure, when we know that the Royal Commission is considering the whole matter and is likely to bring forward proposals altering the provisions in respect of common land. We would ideally have much preferred that we should have had its considered views rather than adopt a special procedure in this case and then find that we may have to approach the matter in quite a different way when other cases arise. I appreciate the difficulties of doing so in this instance.

This inevitably gives rise to very real and serious anxiety on the part of many of us who are desperately concerned that at a time when there are so many pressures on the limited amount of land surface that we have in this Island, people shall be able to enjoy in the future, as some of us have done in recent years, walking in open country and with reasonable prospects of open spaces, and not be faced always with chimneys of some vast new project wherever there is wild country in the British Isles.

It is from that point of view that I hope that we may have from the Government some further assurance of their attitude and willingness to consider the possibility of some advisory body such as I have suggested.

5.5 p.m.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) has spoken with some feeling about the need to preserve beautiful areas of the countryside like Dorset. I certainly agree with a great deal of what he said, as I agree with a great deal of what has been said from the Front Bench opposite, because I believe that in Dorset we have a particularly beautiful and unspoiled county.

I was glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned the point that Dorset has already made a large contribution to land that is required for public purposes; indeed, standing on Winfrith Heath and glancing across the river one can see Bovington Camp extremely close and also the tank ranges where the land has been churned up.

In view of the fact that I am supporting the hon. Member in trying to preserve Dorset, will he not extend the same support to me in attempting to preserve some part of the Cheviots and Northumberland as well?

I will certainly look on it with sympathy when the time comes.

My reason for intervening is that, although Winfrith Heath is just outside my constituency the whole of the question of its development is a matter of great interest throughout Dorset and will undoubtedly have considerable consequences in my constituency. I am a little surprised, knowing this area as I do, that it was not discovered earlier that there were common rights over this land. My information is that, whatever the real rights of the commoners may be, a number of cattle have been turned out on this land. It is also well known to anyone who has had anything to do with common rights that they are apt to be ill defined.

I had occasion a few years ago to cause the summoning of a court-leet, and we had the greatest difficulty in determining who exactly the commoners were and what their rights were. I do not think that it need occasion surprise that there has been difficulty in this matter here.

The general question of this research station at Winfrith Heath has been the cause of considerable local controversy for some time, and as has already been pointed out there are many who have been won over to the scheme; but there are still those who are against it and have some doubts about it. However, there has been a public inquiry, and I do not think that it would be right to go very fully into this argument at the present time. The amenity argument has been very fully put in the debate this afternoon. The question of water supplies, which is still a source of anxiety to many people in the country. has been mentioned, and I hope that when the Minister replies he will make some allusion to some fresh evidence on this point given only two days ago by Professor Debenham, who is the Emeritus Professor of Geography at Cambridge. He expressed the opinion that it would be dangerous to take such a large supply of water.

To come back to the exact area in which common rights are being taker away, there is also a point which I hope that my right hon. Friend will clear up when he replies to the debate. When I went to see the plans I was surprised to find that in the area north of the railway, where, as I understand it, there will be no buildings, the common rights are going to be extinguished as well. As I understand it, all the buildings will be situated on the south side of the railway. I was, therefore, a little surprised that he was extinguishing the rights on the north side as well. Is that merely to establish a protective belt of trees, or what is the reason for it?

There are a large majority of people in Dorset who welcome this scheme for general reasons, not because they do not think that it will have some effect on the amenities. I think that the reason that they welcome it is that they hope that it will bring money and employment to the district. In that connection, I trust that their hopes will prove well founded and that my right hon. Friend will be able to say something about the encouragement being given to Dorset boys to join the apprenticeship scheme of the Authority when it moves there.

The hon. Member is getting rather far from the Bill. which is very limited in its scope.

I do not think I need pursue that point very much further. To return to the question of compensation for these commoners, I hope that a real effort will be made to compensate them. and perhaps I might say that it should be done on not too legalistic a basis. I believe that cattle have been turned out on this heath, and I hope that an effort will be. made to give compensation to those who are to lose grazing rights.

Finally, I should like to say that realise that it is of the greatest importance that the atomic development programme should proceed. There are few in Dorset who would wish to hold it up in any way. Therefore, I give my support to the Bill knowing that, although a number of my constituents will disagree with me, the great majority are in favour of pressing on with this Measure as one which is necessary in order to implement the scheme.

5.11 p.m.

The last words of the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) were in support of the scheme, and I entirely agree with him. Although he knows the area very much better than I do, I support the Bill, in part at least, for the reasons he has given. None the less, we know that this site, which was one of the many inspected, was chosen not because there was any desire to extinguish amenities or commoners' rights, but because it was suitable for the purposes of the Atomic Energy Authority.

There was an article in The Times of 9th January of this year in which Sir John Cockcroft stated that the intention was to build about six small-scale experimental reactors over a period of ten to twelve years, and also some small-scale process plants, offices and laboratories. This will, I hope, give excellent opportunities for many young people in the area.

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I would remind him that the scope of the debate is limited.

I accept that Ruling, but I would point out that by the Bill we are extinguishing commoners' rights. We cannot very easily support or accept the Bill unless we understand the benefits which will accrue from the action which it is proposed to take. Therefore, I made a passing reference by which I was trying to show that in supporting a Bill which extinguishes commoners' rights we do that for the common benefit of a number of people in the area especially, and the people of the country as a whole. That, I suggest, with great respect, is not very far out of order, especially as I do not intend to speak for very long.

These six types of reactor which are to be built must include experimental types which have not yet been seen anywhere in the world.

Again, with respect, I would say that I fully understand how narrow the Bill is; but is not this why we have had to take action against commoners in order to extinguish their rights—because we dare not put experimental buildings and a research station of this type in the middle of a city? We simply must not do that. That being accepted by us all, we have had to go to this site, although it was one of a number that were examined. The constituents in the area are prepared to accept a certain amount of possible risk, knowing that everything will be done to safeguard them in every possible way. None the less, they accept the risk and we have a right to be grateful to them and to say something about it. Therefore, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, do not you think that my remarks apply very strictly to the Bill?

Again, this is not a point on which I propose to dilate, but I would say that the fact that there is a risk means that we should consider the matter as it affects people at large and the people in the area, too. The Minister will remember that a few years ago we discussed a similar project not connected with atomic energy but with hydro-electric power in North Wales. The Minister of Fuel and Power came to the House. I remember this very well, because I took part in the proceedings. All the others concerned were my Welsh colleagues. We demanded from the Minister certain action by way of amenities to see that the buildings put up were not unsightly, that they should be hidden as much as possible, and that not too much water should be taken from the rivers or canals.

The Minister not only agreed to do all this, but he told us in detail how a great deal of money would be spent so that in North Wales, where many people go for holidays, the amenities should be spoiled as little as possible. This pleased the House very much indeed. We have a right to say that, in respect of this part of Dorset, we expect the Minister to give a promise that the siting of the buildings and their shape, will be given considerable thought, that they should be as attractive as possible, and that access—if it is safe and reasonable on security and other grounds—should be given to the greatest possible extent.

When there is a tremendous scientific revolution such as we are now experiencing, I suppose that it is impossible to achieve the kind of pre-eminence for which we are hoping, and which we expect, without paying a price for it. We all hope that, given every care in the conduct of valuable research, we shall achieve everything we require in the way of cheap power with the least possible amount of damage either to amenities or to health. I think that I should be out of order if I spoke at any length about health risks, but one thing is quite certain and that is that the country will expect that no money will be spared to ensure that the maximum possible safety measures are taken. It is quite certain that they are taken already. Having said all that, may I thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for your courtesy in allowing me to go so far?

5.19 p.m.

I wish to make one particular and one general point about the Bill. The particular point is concerned with the work of the valuer who is to be appointed under Clause 2, which says that the Minister of Agriculture

"…shall appoint a valuer or other fit person.…"
who is to have the title of valuer for the purposes of the Bill. The Clause describes what the work of the valuer shall be.

Could the Minister give some idea of what kind of person is likely to be appointed? What qualifications are required? It appears to me from paragraphs (a) and (b) of Clause 2 (2) that the work of the valuer is really work for an historical research student as much as for anybody learned in the law of land ownership. He has to find out whether any rights of common exist, and, if so, what is the nature of those rights.

I am quite serious when I say that this is a topic on which a thesis could be written by a learned man, and on which a book could be published; a topic on which an opinion reached in perfectly good faith and after much study might, perhaps, years later be shown, in consequence of further discoveries, to have been completely mistaken. The valuer, has nevetheless to give an opinion.

A remarkable thing about the Bill is that no limit appears to be prescribed as to how long he is to take to do it. There are time limits once he has made a decision as to what rights exist. There are time limits during which anyone who feels he has a title to those rights can put forward his claim. The valuer can make more than one decision as to what the rights are. As far as I can see from Clause 2, he can make his decisions in instalments, any number of instalments, two or more decisions, and, as far as I can see, there is no time limit imposed on him.

May I help my hon. Friend by pointing out that it goes even further? The Bill provides for the decision's not being made in the lifetime of the valuer and for the appointment of somebody else to make a decision. That is in Clause 3 (5).

I cannot help feeling a pang at my hon. Friend having pointed that out, because I was hoping to lead up to that. It is true, as my hon. Friend points out, that Clause 3 (5) provides for the melancholy contingency of the death of the valuer on the job.

If we are to pass a Bill of this kind at all, then it ought to provide for certainty and finality for its purpose and give certainty to the Authority responsible for erecting the power station, so that once it has been put up nobody can come along, perhaps years later, and say, "I can upset the whole thing because of a legal right still inhering in me." If what the Bill proposes is what we want to do, there is no point in not doing it properly.

Does it need to be made clear explicitly in the Bill—because to a layman's eye it is not made clear explicitly —that after a certain time there can be no further questions raised? I do not find anything in the Bill that says explicitly that by a certain time the valuer must give his final judgment on the matters at issue, and that, after that final judgment, questions cannot be raised again. For all a layman can tell, that may be implicit in the legal wording of the Bill, but certainly on a layman's reading of it it is not clear that that provision is there, and I think it ought to be there.

So there are two aspects I am pointing to of the matter of the appointment of the valuer. The first is the question, what kind of person is it considered ought to perform this job which requires both legal and historical knowledge? The second is the question, how long is he expected to take over the job, and what certainty is there that, once he has reached a decision, that decision cannot ultimately be questioned either by anyone else or even by himself, if he goes on making further research and finds his earlier decision, reached in good faith. was wrong?

It is remarkable how many opinions which appear to have great, weighty authority behind them at the time they are given, are subsequently overthrown by the progress of historical knowledge; and in no matter is that so true as it is in the matter of rights connected with the ownership of land. I think that, perhaps, it is a little doubtful whether anybody will be found who can really claim to have inherent rights of common in this region, since it would seem from the unhappy history of Dorset that everyone who had such rights was hanged, drawn and quartered after Monmouth's rebellion or was transported overseas after the last peasants' rising in 1831.

I turn from the particular to the general. To those of us who have spent a good many walking holidays in that part of Dorset, who have walked over Egdon Heath and who have read Hardy, this proposal is hound to be a melancholy one. It may ultimately result in the establishment there of a community of some 10,000. It is very difficult for anyone with those associations and interests to feel enthusiastic about it.

However, if we read Hardy's works carefully it is interesting to notice that some of the most likeable characters in his books are those who were not limited to what, after all, was the terribly narrowing life of the countryside which he described. The most agreeable character, the Mayor of Casterbridge, was quite keen on introducing into the county what was in those days the latest agricultural machinery. So if we are devoted adherents of Hardy we are not bound per- manently to regret the inevitable march of modern developments, and I think it would be wrong, whatever our convictions may be, to try to obstruct the developments of the Atomic Energy Authority. They have all got to come.

We know these things have got to come somewhere. We have to try to seek a balance between the development of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and all that it means to mankind, and the preservation of amenity. If that is to done, I think the Government must pay great attention to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) and others of my hon. Friends about having a proper national plan, so that we do not have these proposals cropping up piece by piece and we do not have to be asked in each successive case, "Are you going to stand in the way of progress merely to preserve a beauty spot in which you are interested?"

Recognising that some amenities have got to be sacrificed, we ought. if we are to make a proper judgment in the matter, to have an idea of how all this development is to be worked out over the whole country, so that we can strike a balance between the needs of the present and the future, between the desire on the one hand to preserve what is beautiful and has honoured associations with the past, and the desire on the other hand for progress.

I have been on holiday in that part of the world, and I have used a little guide book written by one of the inhabitants of that part of the country, and which has as frontispiece a lovely picture of Warbarrow Bay, and yet I have never been able to get to Warbarrow Bay because some Government Department has stood in the way. It is with some grief, therefore, that one perceives that yet another piece of Dorset is to disappear.

However, as I have said, we cannot object to developments everywhere. We should not go round the whole country saying we object to an atomic station being put up in any place. We have to recognise that these developments have to be put somewhere. We are prepared to admit that there was careful consideration before this Bill reached the House. We ought, however, to have some idea how development of this sort is to be worked out over the country as a whole.

If the Government want to reconcile all of us to a process which, while we know it is a necessity, we cannot welcome with wholehearted enthusiasm—and the Government want us to be reconciled to it, want the public to be reconciled to it—they must proceed with as much graciousness as possible, and they can do that a little later in our proceedings by accepting the Amendment which my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) will move to the Motion which the Government are to move after the Second Reading of the Bill. Were they to do that, that at least would be some indication that they recognise the amount of feeling there is on this question in general.

5.30 p.m.

The debate that we have had so far has shown the whole House that there are a great many very important points of both principle and detail involved in the Bill. They seem to me to fall into two categories. First, there is the general question as to how we should decide on the balance between the demands of further atomic stations and the demands for the preservation of amenities. Secondly, there is the question of the procedure which the Government have adopted for the Bill.

I feel that I ought at the outset to say something, if only out of respect for the Minister, in elaboration of an interjection which I made earlier. Like many of my hon. Friends, I have been intrigued to discover who is to reply to the debate. A number of hon. Members opposite appear to have assumed that the Minister will reply. I cannot for a moment believe that that is so. The rules of the House are express. In a Second Reading debate an hon. Member is entitled to speak once only, except with the leave of the House. The Minister has exhausted his right to speak, and it would, to say the least, be presumptuous for him or his hon. Friends to assume that he will be allowed to speak again.

I mention this not out of any disrespect for the Minister—I have the greatest admiration for him—but because I feel that the undesirable practice of having only one Minister to speak on Bills of importance is growing. It is a practice to be deprecated. It has the grave disadvantage that it deprives the House of the services of other Ministers who ought to be present when we consider Bills of this kind. After all, the Bill is presented by the Prime Minister, supported by the Attorney-General, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

It is obvious that a great many legal points arise. We have had occasion in the past to complain about the absence from our debates of the Law Officers of the Crown. The absence of the Law Officers during the proceedings on the Finance Bill has become notorious. This is one occasion on which we can express our will that there shall be a Law Officer present, because on this occasion we are able to refuse permission to the Minister to speak again.

We can do this without any inconvenience to the House, because there is no need for the Bill to be given a Second Reading today. If it is not convenient for one of the Law Officers or one of the other Ministers to be present today—I assume that the Minister will not leave it to a back bench Member to reply—then we can adjourn our debate, either the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General will be able to read what has been said by hon. Members on both sides, and we shall be able to resume the debate after Whitsun. This will have the further advantage that it will enable my right hon. and hon. Friends to proceed at an early hour today with further consideration of the Finance Bill.

Turning to the Bill itself, I am bound to say that the more I hear about it the less I like it. This is an enclosure Bill. The history of enclosures in this country is a long and chequered one. As the Minister says, in matters of enclosure it is necessary that the House should be particularly vigilant, because the history of enclosures over many centuries shows the trouble, agitation, injustice and unpopularity which has resulted first from illegal enclosures and then from enclosures rushed through the House.

The Minister will remember that it was the enclosures in the middle of the sixteenth century, which were totally unlawful, which led to Kett's rebellion in Norfolk and other rebellions. It was then recognised what a serious matter it was to extinguish common rights. It was recognised that, because common rights are so traditional and so inherent in our national life, they should be extinguished only by an Act of Parliament. I thought the Minister tried to belittle the importance of communal rights. He said that only a handful of people were affected.

I tried to draw a distinction in that the number of individuals concerned was very small but the principle was very important. If I did not make that clear, I must apologise.

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. It is important to emphasise that it is not only a matter of the number of people in the locality who may be affected. There is also the fact that it is difficult to trace and identify them. Also, besides the people living in the localities, the public generally are interested in these matters. That is why it is important that the consent of Parliament should be required before common rights are extinguished.

I do not think the Minister is entitled to complain of the difficulty of tracing people who enjoy common rights. In the nature of things, common rights are not registrable. They existed from time immemorial before any question of registration arose. It is because in past centuries people have been vigilant to prevent invasion of common rights that today we enjoy such open spaces as we have. This accounts for open spaces round some of our great towns. In the case of London such places as Hampstead Heath and Wimbledon Common have been preserved. These open spaces have prevented the asphyxiation of large urban areas.

I appreciate that whenever questions of enclosure arise the House has to balance the respective advantages of, on the one hand, making concessions which involve the destruction of amenities and common rights and, on the other hand, making concessions in order that we as a country may march forward and take advantage of scientific development. Speaking for myself, I am impressed by what has been said by hon. Members representing Dorset constituencies. They are in touch with local feeling, and they have testified that large numbers of their constituents, perhaps the majority of them, are not averse to the Government's proposal.

I am sure that they realise that the beauties and attractions of Dorset are not confined to those who live in that part of our national heritage. As has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) and others, all those who have enjoyed Hardy's novels and treasure memories of Egdon Heath are deprived of something if what has hitherto been common land is given over to the Atomic Energy Authority. Nevertheless, speaking for myself, I am prepared to preserve an open mind. I am not unsympathetic towards the necessity in this day and age of providing somewhere, though not necessarily here, suitable sites for the development of atomic energy.

I must, however, take serious exception to the procedure which the Government have adopted in trying to rush the Bill through. There was not the slightest justification for it. I am not impressed by the fact that there was a planning inquiry in Dorset.

I think it necessary to mention the facts of the timetable which the Government have sought to impose. It was only as recently as 16th May that a notice first appeared in The Times and not until 21st May in the London Gazette giving notice. in accordance with the Standing Orders, of the Authority's intention that the Bill should be presented. The Bill was presented the same day, 21st May. Next day, 22nd May, it was referred to the Examiners for them to report on whether it complied with the Standing Orders. On 28th May the Examiners reported that it did not comply with Standing Orders. Prima facie, it then ought not to have come before the House at all during the current Session. After the report of the Examiners, the Bill was then referred to the Standing Orders Committee. The Standing Orders Committee met yesterday, and its report appears in the Votes and Proceedings dated 29th May. It is item No. 13, a curious item, which reads as follows:
" Resolution reported from the Standing Orders Committee; That, in the case of the Winfrith Heath Bill, the Standing Orders ought to be dispensed with:—That the Bill be permitted to proceed "
I am not sure whether that Resolution is debatable or not. I should have thought that, prima facie, it was a Resolution which this House at some stage was entitled to debate. What it says is that, notwithstanding non-compliance with Standing Orders, the Bill is to proceed.

Curiously enough, it then says, "Resolution agreed to". In fact, the words "Resolution agreed to "are a mere formality, but the House should know what has happened. The Standing Orders Committee met yesterday and decided to recommend the House that, notwithstanding non-compliance with Standing Orders, the Bill should be allowed to proceed. There is not a moment's interval between the consideration of that procedural matter by the Standing Orders Committee and the Second Reading debate. There ought to have been an interval, as the Minister knows perfectly well, and, if there had been an interval, it would have been open to any hon. Member to put down a Motion challenging the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee. But that has not been done.

The Government proceeding with a rapidity and despatch which seems quite inexcusable, for which no justification has been offered to the House, the Second Reading is down for hearing today. To make matters worse, the Prime Minister is to propose, if the House gives a Second Reading to the Bill, it being a hybrid Bill, that before any progress is made further, it should be referred to a Select Committee and that petitioners who have a right to be heard will have to file their petitions within five days. The five days includes Saturday and Sunday, so that, if his Motion stands, it will mean that petitions will have to be filed by next Tuesday afternoon at five o'clock.

It seems to me that, in a matter of this importance—

I think that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this point he is dealing with now really arises on the next Motion.

I am much obliged; I will not pursue it now. I refer to it at this stage merely as an indication of what appears to me to be the entirely unjustified speed with which the Bill is being rushed through the House. That in itself is ground for some suspicion.

This is a matter in which not only the Society mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) but other societies, such as the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society and others interested in rights of way have an interest, and all of them may wish to appear, apart from those who live in the locality. All may want to present petitions, and there is very little time available for them to obtain advice and present petitions.

It seems to me that all the surrounding circumstances in which the Bill comes before us give ground for suspicion. Public opinion has had no opportunity of crystallising, still less of formulating a view and expressing itself on the subject. While I, for my part, would not be disposed to oppose the Bill in principle. I would, therefore, think it desirably nevertheless that, before the House proceeds further, every possible opportunity should be given to those interested in opposing it to make their voice heard. My attitude towards the Minister may be summed up in this way, if I may so put it, that whereas it is for him to decide whether the beauties of Winfrith Heath are to be violated. the outrageous speed with which the matter has been carried through is an offence to Parliamentary and public decency.

5.45 p.m.

It should be recorded that it is only by accident that we are having this debate at all. upon which depends the building of this atomic research station. Had it not been that the site selected happened to be on a piece of land where common rights exist. Parliament would not be discussing the wider aspects of the matter. When it is considered that the power station programme is a fairly big one, and that. by the very nature of atomic power stations, they must inevitably be sited in some of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles, it is very useful and fortunate that we have had to have this Bill before us almost at the beginning of the programme.

As I understand, Winfrith Heath is selected, as every other site for a nuclear power station must be selected, because it is as far away as possible from populated areas. I understand that this necessity arises because no one can guarantee, although there has been only one happening of the kind in the world that there would not be a leak from such a station. If a leak were to occur, people would have to leave the area. Consequently, since it would be quite impossible to evacuate large towns and cities, the stations are built in places like Winfrith Heath to make evacuation possible and effective.

Moreover, the sites must be where there is a plentiful supply of water. I understand that this particular research station to be built at Winfrith Heath will require 10 million gallons of water a day. That is a fantastic quantity of water. Such requirements presuppose that all these stations will have to be built near the sea, on a river, or a place where there is a very good water supply. Inevitably, we are, I think, driven to site these power stations in the most beautiful parts of Britain, contrary to the practice with steam power stations, which are always placed in areas of great population because of the distribution economies to be secured in that way.

This debate, therefore, seems to me to provide a proper opportunity for suggesting to the Paymaster-General that there is here raised a matter of tremendous public importance, far beyond the dispossessing of a few people of their common rights. As has already been said, when these people are dispossessed, so is the rest of the nation. That is why it is good that, very early on in the atomic power programme, this Bill has come before the House. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that he is the sponsoring Minister for the whole of this programme and that he has a responsibility to the House, because, in the absence of a Bill such as this, there will be no opportunity for Parliament to have a single word to say about the despoliation of such areas as Winfrith Heath.

It would, therefore, seem right and proper that when the Minister is considering the further progress of the Bill he might take into consideration all the other decisions that he will have to make concerning the compulsory acquisition of land in the most beautiful parts of the country. He might come to the conclusion that the right people to select sites are not the operators of the atomic power programme but a Minister of the Crown, who can be informed by the atomic power authorities of the prerequisites of these sites, such as a good water supply and a remoteness from populated areas. Such a Minister would be responsible to the House and we could question him in the House.

It may well be that the appropriate Minister would look at certain aspects of the site quite differently from the operators of the power programme. He might consider some of the areas—again in beautiful country, and very often remote from populated areas—which have already been desecrated by the winning of gravel and the taking up of raw materials. I do not see why there should be any technical difficulty in building stations like this below the skyline and even underground where existing conditions permit.

The Minister, who is responsible for putting this Bill before us—a Bill to take over part of Winfrith Heath—should consider some of these other factors and should concern himself with the public aspect of the question of the spoliation of Britain in relation to the whole nuclear energy programme. I hope that the Minister will give very serious consideration to the advisability of either he or the Minister of Housing and Local Government taking over the responsibility for finding sites for the erection of nuclear power stations.

We shall probably discuss the question of the time that has been permitted for petitioners to present their petitions on an Amendment which has been placed upon the Order Paper by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), but I beg the Minister to see that a reasonable time is given to petitioners. Five days, with Saturday and Sunday intervening, does not seem an adequate period. It seems to me that 15 days would be a reasonable minimum. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman can see his way to accepting that point of view.

We shall not vote against the Second Reading because, upon the relative merits of the research station and Winfrith Heath, the research station has it, on balance. But, although we shall not vote against the Second Reading, I hope that the Minister will take into consideration all that has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House on the whole question. We are all very anxious to proceed with our power station programme, but we are also extremely jealous of maintaining the best that is left in this industrial country of ours.

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like to reply to the many points which have been made, especially those of a general character.

On a point of order. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) sat down, both the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) rose. As I understand the rules of the House, no Member is entitled to make a second speech—certainly not while other Members are waiting to speak. As far as I understand the rules of order, a Minister is in no different position in this respect from any other hon. Member.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West rose at the same time as the Minister. Surely my hon. Friend is entitled to speak if he catches your eye, whereas the Minister is not entitled to speak without leave of the House.

I thought that the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) was concluding the debate on behalf of the Opposition and that it would therefore be convenient to the House if I replied to the many points which had been made. If other hon. Members still wish to speak, however, I shall be very glad to give way in order to meet their wishes.

5.55 p.m.

I had every intention of catching your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, at some convenient time. In the circumstances, I will try to make some of the points I have in mind. I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), because he made a point of first importance which ought to have been made and which I was not going to make. He also made a point of great importance which I was going to make, and which I propose still to make.

The noble Lord, the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) himself said—and I think that the whole House would agree—that the time has come for a debate upon the general question. We cannot have that debate now, but this really is a rather classic example of the way in which the House delegates its powers, often without realising it. As my right hon. Friend said, an important matter like this has come to us in this quite extraordinary form and in these quite unusual circumstances—in the form of what I understand is certified to be a Hybrid Bill—for discussion under special rules.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) has called my attention to something that I had completely overlooked—and I say this frankly as one who tries to keep himself abreast of procedure in the House. Apparently there was put from the Chair, yesterday—without any notice to the House, and without its ever having been on the Order Paper—a Motion that the Standing Orders of the House should cease to apply to this Bill when it was discussed. I have not seen such a Motion before. I do not pretend, therefore, to make any observation on the matter with any authority, but if none of the Standing Orders apply to the House, I do not see how we can discuss any Bill—and there is no indication which Standing Order is suspended.

It is not in order now to discuss the decision of the Standing Orders Committee.

I do not mind about that. I would not challenge that Ruling for a moment. I was going to say that in the event of the wrong procedure having been followed and the possibility that somebody could apply to the courts in twelve months' time and say that this Statute had never been passed because it was never brought before the House, it might be convenient to decide the issue now instead of when the atomic energy station has been built.

That point could not arise. This is the normal procedure before the Standing Orders Committee.

I accept that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have been here for only twelve years, and it has not happened before in my time.

During the time that the hon. Member has been here a number of Bills have been before the Standing Orders Committee.

I do not doubt that. I am not a member of the Standing Orders Committee and I am not saying that it has not been diligently performing its duty. What I am saying is that the Bill comes before us in what appears to be an abnormal form.

This brings me to my second point. I know that in the course of finance debates we sometimes call facetious attention to the absence of Her Majesty's Ministers, and so on. We employ four Law Officers of the Crown and they are paid rather more substantial salaries than other Ministers, but we have not seen one of them for days and days and days, so far as I know—and I have been present in the course of the last week when comments have been made about the absence of the Law Officers, which comments seemed completely justified.

The right hon. Gentleman is now raising one of the most complicated matters of law that could be placed before the House—a law upon which there is only one volume in the whole House of Commons Library, and someone has pinched that—but we have not got a legal adviser of any kind to help us with this problem. It really is an impossible situation.

I do not want to criticise the Attorney-General in his absence. I think that he has recently been subjected to a good deal of criticism which is completely unjustified, but I think that my present complaint is justified. In view of the fact that this comment was made before four o'clock, I suggest that two hours was sufficient to get someone here to deal with these extremely complicated points.

Everyone in his heart realises the dichotomy which always faces these lovely areas. I doubt whether anyone, whatever his local patriotism, would dispute my submission that Dorset was the most unspoilt county in Britain until some lunatic in the War Office discovered Lulworth Cove; but being an unspoilt county is not an unmixed blessing. It is nice to look at all these charming thatched cottages, but they are not always the best appointed residences or the best places to live in. In an unspoilt county most of the resources of industry and the higher standard of life which industries have to give are, perhaps, removed rather more from the inhabitants.

We have precisely this dilemma, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, on the West Cumberland coast. That was a pretty barren area of coast. But in fact it is very near to some of the loveliest parts of the Lake District and the place which has been put up there has brought a great deal of prosperity to the area. It has added to the standard of life by providing them with a "middle-class". I do not say this in any snobbish sense. Everyone who has lived in a village knows that if one can get a number of people on the higher wage levels to live in the village, one is able to get more forms of social life going—tennis clubs and sports clubs—

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he is getting far from this Bill which deals with the extinction of common rights.

I will not dispute that for the moment. I have gone from Dorset to West Cumberland which is a distance of about 300 miles. But, to get back to Dorset, I say with respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that Mr. Speaker gave a considered Ruling on this in the early stages of the debate and indicated that he had no wish for it to develop into a widespread debate on atomic power. I understood him to say that we were in order when considering this Bill to discuss shortly whether the Bill should be passed at all—in other words, whether we were in favour of an atomic energy station being erected on what the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South referred to as the "blasted heath". I distinctly heard the noble Lord say that, and for a moment I listened in shocked surprise. For a moment I did not recog-the quotation and I thought that the noble Lord was making rather less than an urbane comment on his former Chief Whip.

I remembered afterwards that it was the place of which Hardy wrote so beautifully, and I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend who administered a gentle admonition to the many who admire Hardy as one of the greatest of our English novelists. He should be appreciated as essentially a novelist of the countryside and country life and a novelist of a period with which we associate, unfortunately, not only the things he so well described but enclosures, which were not one of the things he appreciated so much.

As I have said, this is a difficult legal question and it was on this point that the right hon. Gentleman was singularly unconvincing. He made an extremely able speech and one which tended to commend the Bill to the House despite some of the difficulties about which we have spoken. The hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) said he believed that the right of grazing, of pasturage, had been exercised with some regularity until recently, and that is a fact which could be checked beyond the possibility of dispute. The right of estovers, turbary and piscary can either be appendant, appurtenant or in gross. In the main, one would say in this country almost exclusively, the right is attached to the property itself. The right is attached not to the manor, not to the heath, but to the inhabitants who use and exercise the right. Therefore, when we say we cannot find out who they are, presumably they are all dotted round the heath. They are the people who occupy these premises. One cannot, at any rate in Britain, have the right of turbary on Egdon Heath, for example, and then leave the district and take that right to Leicestershire. The person who takes over the residence takes over the right.

I appreciate and say at once that these matters may not seem to be of great national importance compared with the development of atomic energy. I had hoped that the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who is our expert on fuel, would have taken advantage of the opportunity to refer to peat which is one of the most delightful of fuels, if it is maintained in an appropriate open fire, and which provides not only warmth and heat but a healthy smell and the development of the use of turbary.

The hon. Gentleman has left out the most important single characteristic of peat which is, of course, that it is smokeless and therefore a direct contributor to the clean air policy.

Yes, I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I have lived in a cottage in Donegal which had peat fires, and certainly, apart from the fact that it requires rather more bulk than coal, I think it is an admirable form of alternative fuel which might very well be considered.

I am most grateful to the hon. Member, although his agreement fills me with a certain amount of dubiety.

If it is so easy to find out, surely it is easy to find out who are the people with the right of turbary. One thing which the right hon. Gentleman did not do in the course of an informative but not a short speech—I am not saying it was a long speech—in which he covered the ground with his usual ability, was to tell us what sort of inquiries have been made.

I think I did say that there was an award of 1771 to which was attached a map, but unfortunately the map has been lost.

I thought that the right hon. Gentleman said 1792, but we will put the date back by twenty years. A grant of the eighteenth century is not a relevant document. These rights exist by prescription. In point of fact, the whole of this problem arose in the thirteenth chapter of Genesis, verse 6—[Laughter.] When I make an extremely serious historical statement, someone laughs, and so I will quote the verse.

" And the land was not able to bear them. that they might dwell together: For their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
And there was a great strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle."
There it is, Genesis, chapter 13, verse 6. Any authoritative book on these things will reveal that the right has existed so long as there has existed a disparity between the ownership of the land and the number of the people. It is a right which comes because there are people without land and people who need it. It is a right which can be created by statutory prescription or by long user or by deed or grant or by tenancy of manner or by custom. But if it exists at all. it is "all Lombard Street to a china orange" that it exists among the inhabitants of the particular village which surrounds the "blasted heath". In those circumstances, we might think it not a difficult matter for the Atomic Energy Commission, charged with complicated and difficult duties, to go and see that everyone was satisfied, instead of coming to the House of Commons with a Bill to extinguish it.

My right hon. Friend raised a point which I consider of great importance. I do not know to what extent the Paymaster-General has discussed this matter with the Home Secretary, but a few weeks ago we were told in this House that in the event of war, or impending war, we should evacuate about 15 million people. But where to? That question, "Where to?" was a big question before this—

With respect, may I say that the question whether we are to stick an atomic energy power station—which of course will be an object of aerial attack in the event of war—in all the evacuation areas is a very serious question to put before the House when we are considering whether we should pass this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman's case is that until we pass the Bill, the whole thing is held up. Therefore, if we refuse a Second Reading to the Bill, we shall get the necessary delay for consideration. As my hon. Friend has said, we could also have a little delay for consideration if the right hon. Gentleman would say, "We will adjourn until the Attorney-General comes back from Eastbourne and then we will consider this matter again."

I do not want to put sentimental values against a matter of this kind, but the important consideration of the preservation of beautiful England is not a sentimental matter. It is a matter which concerns every inhabitant of the country. Time after time we find that almost every Government Department seems determined to come into these areas and therefore—I do not put it any higher than this, and I confess that I can see the advantages and disadvantages—it is a duty upon us, which we should not have delegated in 1954, to see that every step is taken to try to do as little damage as possible to the beauty of these unspoilt areas.

I confess a sentimental interest in the rights of common, turbary, and so on, which the reforming zeal of the late F. E. Smith began to wipe away. The abolition of copyhold was what he called the simplification of our legal system. I have never found it was made much simpler since he passed a whole series of Acts which many of us have spent so long trying to master; but we have lost the actual picturesqueness of historic England with the abolition of the manor and copyhold, and with it some of the rights appertaining to the manor and the manorial system.

I certainly agree that it is right that we should listen carefully before we use the steamroller of an Act of Parliament to extinguish individual rights. It is not always the magnitude of a matter which is important; in this case it is a very small matter. Apparently there are only a very few villagers concerned and the rights have not been very strongly exercised; so far as turbary is concerned not exercised for some time. Once we start the new world in which we are constructing aerodromes, atomic energy stations, new towns, and so on, we create precedents which begin to grow. One of the problems of Socialism, and certainly the whole art of Government, is to reconcile the needs of the majority with the rights of the minority. Only when we keep that principle in mind, as an essential liberal principle, can we discharge our duty here.

6.11 p.m.

Perhaps I may, with the permission of the House, answer the points made in the debate. I shall be glad to have the opportunity of doing so. Many points have been made, some particular and some general, and I should like to deal, so far as I can, with all of them.

The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) who, as was explained to the House, could not be here at this time, asked me particularly about the position of the highway which runs across the Heath. There is no intention of either closing or diverting that highway. I think that is the answer the right hon. Gentleman wanted. My noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) was concerned about the area. The total area involved is, think, 688 acres, of which planning permission has been given for only 400 acres. The present plan of the Authority is to use only this area, and to keep the other 288 acres in reserve against their requirements some twenty years ahead. So far as they can see they are not likely to be wanting this area for about twenty years. My noble Friend can be satisfied on that point. I would here pick up a point raised by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) and say that there will be the need for a lot of accommodation. The housing plans will be fitted in to the plans of the local authorities, as they are developed.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) raised the question of access and whether this Bill would become the general procedure. The reactors to be put on the site will each occupy an area of about three acres. They will be enclosed. The rest of the area, after clearing away scrub, which is necessary by reason of fire risk, will be left open for the public to walk across. On the point whether today's procedure will become general, I can answer that that is certainly not the intention of the Government. The only reason we are adopting this procedure is the need for speed. It is fairly clear that no Government would choose to act in every individual case by means of a Bill when there is other procedure already in existence which, though slower, does not involve legislation. There is no intention of making this a precedent. I am glad of the opportunity to tell the House that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) asked two questions. in particular about water supplies. This matter has been gone into with very great care between the Authority and the local water authorities. I understand that between them they consider that they can reach agreement about how the problem is to be tackled. I have not heard about this particular statement of the last two days to which my hon. Friend referred, but I can assure him that if anything new is brought forward it will certainly be taken into consideration. We quite understand that it is very important that the water supply of the area should not be adversely affected by what is, admittedly. a very large new demand.

My hon. Friend also asked about the stretch of land north of the railway. The local planning authority asked that trees should be planted on the area to screen the rest of the site. That is the purpose of eliminating common rights on that part of the Heath. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) asked about a number of things, including two particular points. The first was about the siting and appearance of these stations. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that when my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government gave his permission it was subject to several conditions, including the condition that the site, design and external appearance of all buildings must be agreed with the local planning authority or, failing agreement, must be determined by the Minister, and that screens of trees should be provided as agreed with the local planning authority. I think that point is fairly well covered. As to safety measures, the authority is very well aware of their importance and a considerable tribute is due to the Authority for the efficiency with which it has dealt with the matter.

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) asked interesting questions about the valuer, and the type of person we envisage. The valuer would probably be a member of the Bar with experience of conveyancing, and a legal knowledge of land and land values. Possibly a land agent might be the alternative. He would necessarily be a person with the qualifications to carry out fairly exhaustive feats of legal research.

The question of a time-limit was raised. The Bill provides that the valuer must produce his award when he is satisfied that he has examined the thing thoroughly, but there is no time-limit. I appreciate the reference of the hon. Member for Fulham to the possible death of the valuer. To be serious, there was only recently a case of a gentleman who died when holding a public inquiry, and the whole thing had to be started again. New arrangements had to be made. We should have to make provision about that. The effect of the Bill will be that his judgment, when made, is final.

Most of these points will be examined again between now and the Committee stage of the Bill. Those are the main points of detail. Now I turn to the wider question raised by hon. Members that the Bill, narrow as it is in substance, poses a wide problem of reconciling the national need for power with the natural desire to retain as much as we can of the beauty of our countryside. It is a terribly difficult problem, and I know that a number of hon. Members consider that this is a matter which should be debated at a time when we can give it proper consideration. It cannot, however, be discussed within the rules of order in any detail today.

I should now like to deal with the question why we want to eliminate these common rights. It is very difficult to find sites which meet the necessary requirements of atomic energy reactors and power stations. This is an experimental station belonging to the Atomic Energy Authority, and is in a rather different category from the new power stations of the Central Electricity Authority which have been referred to. In either case, the requirements of water supply and the disposing of effluents are the same.

One or two points were raised about the safety of these things. One of the reasons for siting these reactors in remote areas is safety. It is important for me to reaffirm with all the vigour I can that there is no danger whatever in the case of power stations of anything in the nature of an atomic explosion. The fact is that they contain highly toxic substances, as indeed do some chemical works. Until we have had experience of these power stations it is reasonable to site them away from populous areas so that if a poisonous substance should escape we can evacuate the area.

That will not apply indefinitely to the power stations, but I cannot, in answer to the hon. Member for Rossendale, forecast the time when that will change. This is an experimental station, and what I have said applies to it more than to the power stations. One will gain experience of how they work as one goes along. I accept that it is very difficult in these matters to decide between the requirements of national power policy and the maintenance of the amenities of the countryside. That, however, I do not think is entirely the matter we are discussing in this Bill, because there are statutory provisions whereby these matters are balanced up at a public inquiry and finally settled, as in this instance, by the Minister of Housing and Local Government. That statutory procedure has been gone through fully and with very great care and circumspection, as was said by my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South.

The point we are discussing is whether we should agree to the elimination of commoners' rights by this particular method of a hybrid Bill because they could have been eliminated by other methods—by Private Bill legislation or by procedure under the Land Clauses Act. The case really rests on this. If it is agreed that this station should go on this site it is vitally important to get ahead with the job. It is generally agreed that the case for putting this station on this site has been accepted at a public inquiry and accepted and confirmed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government. Therefore, should not we get on with it as quickly as possible, because nothing is more important for the economy of the country than the development of our atomic energy resources? To delay an important part of the Harwell scheme seems something which the House should not accept, because that would be a serious and definite handicap to expansion in the atomic field.

It would not be possible to get ahead this year with this station without the machinery of a hybrid Bill. If the Authority had to proceed with the machinery of the Land Clauses Act, or by a Private Bill—which is another possibility we considered—it would not then be possible to obtain the approval of Parliament in time to start work on the site this autumn. If we do not start this autumn we shall not be able to start properly on the constructional work and roads until next year. The damage to our economy as a result would be severe and the opportunities we should be losing would be considerable. Therefore, I think the justification for giving a Second Reading to the Bill this afternoon is that, having recognised, reluctantly, that we have to establish a station like this at Winfrith Heath, we should accept that the work should begin as quickly as possible. I hope that, with that explanation on the points which have been raised, the House will be prepared to give a Second Reading to the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Select Committee of seven Members, four to be nominated by the House and three by the Committee of Selection. —[ Mr. Maudling.]

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That any Petitions against the Bill presented being deposited in the Private Bill Office at any time not later than the fifth day after this day in which the Petitioners pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel or Agents, shall stand referred to the Committee, but that if no such Petition is presented, or a all such Petitions are withdrawn before the meeting of the Committee, the order for the committal of the Bill to a Select Committee shall be discharged and the Bill shall be committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Maudling.]

6.25 p.m.

I beg to move, to leave out "fifth" and to insert "fifteenth".

The object of this Amendment, as the House will have gathered, is to extend by 10 days the time available to persons desirous of petitioning against the Bill to lodge their petitions with the Committee which has now been set up to consider the Bill. We had some discussion about this during the Second Reading debate. I think the right hon. Gentleman must have been impressed by the representations made by a number of hon. Members about the considerable hardship which may result if he persists in this extremely curtailed opportunity to enable people who have grievances, or think they have grievances, to make representations.

In the Motion that the right hon. Gentleman has proposed, petitions would have to be filed at the Private Bill Office within five days. Today being Thursday and the week-end intervening, I understand that the time limit would be to 5 o'clock next Tuesday. I should have thought that time quite inadequate. The right hon. Gentleman has attempted to justify the adoption of the hybrid Bill procedure on the grounds that any of the alternative methods open to the Government—namely, by Private Bill procedure or under the Land Clauses Act—would have involved months and he has persuaded the House to give a Second Reading to the Bill.

Nevertheless, I do not think that the national interest would be jeopardised in any way by giving persons whose rights are being extinguished, and who, so far, have had very little notice about this matter, an opportunity of saying what they want to say. In these matters, it is not merely sufficient that justice should be done; it is necessary that justice should he seen to be done.

It is not easy to prepare a petition of this kind and get it into right form without a certain amount of professional advice and, perhaps, consultation with the Private Bill Office. We are extinguishing the common rights and passing what, virtually, is an enclosure Act—the last of a long series—in the passing of which it is the duty of this House to be vigilant in seeing that the interests of those whose rights are being extinguished are not neglected and that they are not extinguished without due thought and due protection. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will respond to the representations made to him and conciliate what opposition there has been to this very difficult problem by accepting the Amendment.

6.30 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

I wish to support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) and to urge the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the fact that we have facilitated the passage of the Bill, to remember that we must have some consideration for those who have to prepare petitions. It would seem that 15 days is reasonable and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment.

6.31 p.m.

I appreciate the spirit in which this Amendment has been moved and I wish I could do something to meet the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) but, for reasons I have explained, I cannot do so. I do not, in fact, think that the time allowed is anything like so inadequate as has been suggested. The period of five days is practically the standard period in the case of hybrid Bills. In twelve out of the last sixteen the period was five days and the longest period was seven days.

What is more important, is that notice of this Bill was given in the local newspapers on 16th May. There has been that amount of notice, but what is still more important is that there has been local discussion of this project for more than a year now. Everyone in the district who could possibly be affected has been aware of this as long ago as June, 1956. Advertisements were published in the local newspapers by the local planning authority, stating that anyone affected could make representations and a full inquiry was held, but no commoner came forward or made an objection. No commoner has expressed objection to the Atomic Energy Authority. The public has been well aware of what was happening and no one objected. There has been a reasonable period in which to consider the matter.

It is important that we should get the legislation before the House rises for the Summer Recess because, if not, the Authority would be held up until November and we should not get the work done. It is important to get the Bill passed before the House rises. We might jeopardise the whole purpose of the Bill if more than five days were allowed. That is the reason why, with regret, I cannot accept the Amendment. This has been common knowledge in the district for more than a year now and one cannot see that there is any real danger of unfairness to individuals arising.

6.30 p.m.

This is a monstrous proposition. I do not care whether we have done it before or not. When a grievance is called to our attention, the time has come to remedy it. I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should advance this theory that farm labourers in Dorset cottages read the London Gazette or even the public notices column of the local newspaper, because that theory is somewhat remote from reality. I know that there has been a public inquiry and I know that there are people like the rural preservation societies who know all about it, but—

If they do not read the paper they will not read the hon. Gentleman's speech, which is advocating an extension of time from five to fifteen days. This extra ten days makes no difference.

I am sorry to have to talk to the noble Lord about Dorset, because he has been the Member for South Dorset for a long time. But Dorset villagers—and I lived there—are not the sort of people who buy evening papers. There is, or was, 'the Dorchester Echo, which is an excellent provincial paper, if it is still going; it was going in my time. But it certainly is not taken around Little Hinton and Tolpuddle by cycle at seven o'clock in the evening.

The result is that the first chance the average person in Dorset has, not of reading a report of my speech but of reading a report of the fact that this Bill has been given a Second Reading, will be when the weekly paper comes out. That is his first chance. When the average Dorset labourer gets his weekly paper he puts it behind the clock on the mantelpiece until Sunday afternoon, and on Sunday afternoon he sits down and spreads himself; and then he has the chance suddenly of finding out that something which affects him very much has been passed by the House of Commons.

I thought at least that there would be five Parliamentary days in which to present a Petition and I was shocked—indeed, I could hardly believe it—when I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) state that the Petition must be deposited in the Private Bill Office by five o'clock on Tuesday.

What is to happen? The chap who thinks his grandfather had a right of turbary or the man who wants to preserve the amenities of the district has to go along to the local inn, first, and consult his fellows about it. He has to ask. "Where is this Private Bill Office and what do we do about a Private Bill?" Let us face it: Dorset may be very well represented, although politically backward, but how many of us could answer the questions if we were in the public house that night and they asked us, as hon. Members, how to deposit a Petition in the Private Bill Office, who will draw it up, what fees will have to be paid and whether they have to send a stamped and addressed envelope or to present it in person, or how it is done? Who knows'? I wonder whether the Minister would care to say that he knows.

In point of fact, the whole of the wretched procedure, as we all know, is a public scandal, hived out to a number of lawyers whose sole qualification is that they bought the partnership of the man who had this monopoly before them, with fantastic fees, fantastic problems and fantastic difficulties, to which none of us has had time to apply his mind and to which some of us ought to apply our minds before long.

Let us examine what the Minister has said. He has said. "If you give them fifteen days you will hold us up ". This shows a lack of communication between Ministers, because it is only a day or two ago that the Leader of the House was telling us that he hoped we should have a long holiday for Whitsuntide because the Government are now reconsidering their special problems, including, no doubt, the by-election result at South Edinburgh. He said, "We shall, therefore, not trouble about bringing the House together for something like a fortnight, provided we make reasonable progress with business." Heaven knows, we have been flashing through the Finance Bill at an almost unprecedented speed. There has been no hold-up.

If the right hon. Gentleman accepts the Amendment it means that Dorset will be given an extra ten days in which to simmed down and prepare these Petitions and that they will arrive in the middle of the Whitsuntide holiday. Does the right Gentleman seriously suggest that this Committee of seven will get together to consider Petitions immediately after Tuesday and before the House rises for the Adjournment? If it does, then I submit that it will be doing it with undue haste. The right hon. Gentleman can accept the Amendment without hurting anybody and by accepting it can do a little good. He can say. "We will give you Whitsuntide to think it over in order that you can make up your minds". That, of course, may be to his own advantage, possibly preventing people from rushing into Petitions which. on reflection, they would not have troubled to submit.

It is obviously in the public interest. What is the difficulty about it? It is the difficulty which seems to afflict every Minister in the House, that somewhere or other is a civil servant saying to him, "This is not what we have done before. Therefore, if you do it now, they will want you to do it again, and you will have created a precedent". I appreciate, of course, that it is the fundamental faith of Tories not to create precedents, that the essence of Conservatism is to leave things alone and that the fundamental principle of Toryism is to go on doing what one's grandfather did. As far as rights of turbary are concerned, I am all in favour of that.

When the Minister rises on a matter of this complexity, on which the House has not had any legal advice, let alone the Dorset labourers, and says that they must prepare the Petition over the weekend and that it must be received by the second post on Tuesday or delivered in person by Tuesday, it is altogether unreasonable and it casts some doubt on the good faith of the arguments given before the House on Second Reading. There is no ground whatever for refusing this modest Amendment, and I hope that my hon. Friends will support me in demanding that it be accepted.

6.35 p.m.

The first time I met the Minister, many years ago, I made him write 50 lines, and if, tonight, I find it necessary to criticise his attitude I know he will appreciate that I do it in the most kindly and helpful way possible. I find his reply very disappointing and most unconvincing. I hope that it was a reply given without proper consideration and that now that he has had the advantage of a whispered colloquy with the Chief Patronage Secretary it may be possible for him to take a more flexible view.

This is a hybrid Bill, which raises issues of great complexity and, I think, very considerable importance. We are doing something which the House always hesitates to do—interfering with the common law rights of individuals. As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) said, it is most important that we should give the appearance of doing everything that is possible to protect the rights of those individuals.

I do not think that five days is a reasonable length of time to give to people circumstanced as these commoners, if they exist at all, are circumstanced at present. Some years ago I was on the Select Committee on hybrid Bill procedure which made recommendations upon which the period of time is based, but it was certainly not our intention at that time that five days should be the standard period. It was the intention that five days should be the minimum time.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman could take a more generous view than he appears to be taking. Most hybrid Bills are a great deal simpler than this. I remember one hybrid Bill relating to the purchase of the Westminster Hospital site when, for months before the Bill came before the House, there were discussions between the Ministry of Works, the hospital authority and the London Transport Executive. That was an occasion on which to have insisted on five days would probably have been reasonable.

I find it very surprising that, having told us how difficult it was to discover the existence of these rights, the Minister, in the course of his refusal to accept the Amendment, said that the existence of these common rights was common knowledge in the district a year ago.

What I thought. I said was that the fact that these commons were to be taken by the Atomic Energy Authority and the rights abolished was known a year ago.

That is very different from what the right hon. Gentleman said earlier, and I am glad of the correction.

Nevertheless, as hon. Members on both sides have stressed, the need for this Bill has been known, or should have been

Division No. 129.]

AYES

[6.41 p.m.

Agnew, Sir PeterCooke, Robert C.Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Aitken, W. T.Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Gulden, Harold
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Corfield, Capt. F. V.Hall, John (Wycombe)
Alport, C. J. M.Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Harrison, A. B. C (Maldon)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir WilliamCrowder, Sir John (Finchley)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Arbuthnot, JohnCrowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Armstrong, C. W.Cunningham, KnoxHarvie-Watt, Sir George
Ashton, H.Currie, G. B. H.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Atkins, H. E.Davidson, ViscountessHeath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryHenderson, John (Cathcart)
Baldwin, A. E.Digby, Simon WingfleldHicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Balniel, LordDodds-Parker, A. D.Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Barlow, Sir JohnDonaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Barter, JohnDoughty, C. J. A.Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Baxter, Sir Beverleydu Cann, E. D. L.Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Beamish, Maj. TuftonDugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)Hirst, Geoffrey
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Duthie, W. S.Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)
Bennett, Dr. ReginaldEden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Hope, Lord John
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Elliott, R.W.(N'castle upon Tyne,N.)Hornby, R. P.
Bidgood, J. C.Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynHornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Biggs-Davison, J. A.Errington, Sir EricHorobin, Sir Ian
Birch, Rt. Hon. NigelErroll, F. J.Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence
Black, C. W.Farey-Jones, F. W.Howard, Hon. Grevllle (St. Ives)
Body, R. F.Fell, A.Howard, John (Test)
Boothby, Sir RobertFinlay, GraemeHyde, Montgomery
Boyle, Sir EdwardFisher, NigelHylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry
Braine, B. R.Fletcher-Cooke, C.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Brooman-White, R. C.Fort, R.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Bryan, P.Gamer-Evans, E. H.Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Burden, F. F. A.Gibson-Watt, D.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Butcher, Sir HerbertGlover, D.Joseph, Sir Keith
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)Godber, J. B.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot
Campbell, Sir DavidGomme-Duncan, Col. Sir AlanKaberry, D.
Carr, RobertGoodhart, PhilipKeegan, D.
Cary, Sir RobertGough, C. F. H.Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Channon, Sir HenryGraham, Sir FergusKerr, H. W.
Chichester-Clark, R.Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)Kershaw, J. A.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Green, A.Kirk, P. M.
Conant, Maj. Sir RogerGresham Cooke, R.Lagden, G. W.

known, by the Ministry for at least five months, and it ought to have been possible to give the House longer notice than it has been given and certainly a longer time for consideration. We have, however, accepted—I think with great good humour—the fact that the Ministry has been rushing us on this point.

It will not inconvenience the House to add 10 days to the time in which petitioners can deposit their petitions to the House; but it will make a great deal of difference to the people concerned, and we cannot really believe that it will make any difference to the speed at which this project will be developed. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman—especially now that he has the assistance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—will be able to take a more accommodating and flexible view than he was able to take a few moments ago.

Question put, That "fifth" stand part of the Question:—

The House divided:Ayes 221, Noes 172.

Lancaster, Col. C. G.Neave, AireySmithers, Peter (Winchester)
Langford-Holt, J. A.Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Leavey, J. A.Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)Spearman, Sir Alexander
Legge-Bourke, Maj, E. A. H.Oakshott, H. D.Speir, R. M.
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Orr Capt. L. P. S.Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Stevens, Geoffrey
Linstead, Sir H. N.Osborne, C.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Page, R. G.Storey, S.
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)Summers, Sir Spencer
Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.Partridge, E.Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Lucas, Sir Jooelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Pickthorn, K. W. M.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughPike, Miss MervynTeeling, W.
McAdden, S. J.Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Temple, John M.
McKibbin, A. J.Pott, H. P.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Powell, J. EnochThornton-Kemsley, C. N.
McLaughlin, Mrs. P.Price, David (Eastleigh)Tweedsmuir, Lady
McLean, Neil (Inverness)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Vane, W. M. F.
MacLeod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Raikes, Sir VictorVickers, Miss Joan
Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)Ramsden, J. E.Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Maddan, MartinRees-Davies, W. R.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Hornoastle)Remnant, Hon. P.Wall, Major Patrick
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Ridsdale, J. E.Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Marshall, DouglasRippon, A. G. F.Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Mathew, R.Robertson, Sir DavidWaterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Webbe, Sir H.
Mawby, R. L.Roper, Sir HaroldWhitelaw, W. S. I.
Medlioott, Sir FrankRopner, Col. Sir LeonardWilliams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.Russell, R. S.Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Molson, Rt. Hon. HughSchofield, Lt.-Col. W.Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Morrison, John (Salisbury)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesSharpies, R. C.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Nabarro, G. D, N.Shepherd, WilliamMr. Barber and Mr. Hughes-Young
Nairn, D. L. S.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)

NOES

Ainsley, J. W.Greenwood, AnthonyMason, Roy
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Grey, C. F.Mellish, R. J.
Allen, Scholefieid (Crewe)Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Messer, Sir F.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mitchison, G. R.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)Griffiths, William (Exchange)Monslow, W.
Benson, G.Grimond, J.Moody, A. S.
Beswick, FrankHale, LeslieMorris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Blackburn, F.Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm,S)
Blenkinsop, A.Hamilton, W. W.Mort, D. L.
Boardman, H.Hannan, W.Moyle, A.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)Mulley, F. W.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)Hastings, S.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Bowles, F. G.Hayman, F. H.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Boyd, T. C.Henderson. Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)Oliver, G. H.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethHerbison, Miss M.Orbach, M.
Brookway, A. F.Holmes, HoraceOwen, W. J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Houghton, DouglasPadley, W. E.
Burke, W. A.Hubbard, T. F.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Burton, Miss F. E.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Palmer, A. M. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Hunter, A. E.Pargiter, C. A.
Champion, A, J.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Parker, J.
Chapman, W. D.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Parkin, B. T.
Chetwynd, G. R.Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Paton, John
Clunie, J.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Pentland, N.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Plummer, Sir Leslie
Collins, V.J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)Jeger, George (Goole)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Cove, W. G.Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Kenyon, C.Proctor, W. T.
Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)King, Dr. H. M.Randall, H. E.
Dodds, N. N.Lawson, G. M.Rankin, John
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Ledger, R. J.Redhead, E. C.
Edelman, M.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Reeves, J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)Lindgren, G. S.Reid, William
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Lipton, MarcusRhodes, H.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Logan, D. G.Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mabon, Dr. J, DicksonRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)MacColl, J. E.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Finch, H. J.MacDermot, NiallRogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Fletcher, EricMcInnes, J.Ross, William
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)McKay, John (Wallsend)Royle, C.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Car'then)Mahon, SimonSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Gibson, C. W.Mainwaring, W. H.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)Skeffington, A. M.

Sorensen, R. W.Taylor, John (West Lothian)Willey, Frederick
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankThomson, George (Dundee, E.)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Steele, T.Thornton, E.Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Stewart, Michael (Fulham)Tomney, F.Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)Viant, S. P.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Stonehouse, JohnWade, D. W.Winter-bottom, Richard
Stones, W. (Consett)Wells, Percy (Faversham)Woof, R. E.
Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)West, D. G.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)Wheeldon, W. E.Zilliacus, K.
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.Wilcock, Croup Capt. C. A. B.
Sylvester, G. O.Wilkins, W. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Pearson and Mr. Deer.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That any Petitions against the Bill presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office at any time not later than the fifth day after this day in which the Petitioners pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel or Agents, shall stand referred to the Committee, but that if no such Petition is presented, or if all such Petitions are withdrawn before the meeting of the Committee, the order for the committal of the Bill to a Select Committee shall be discharged and the Bill shall be committed to a Committee of the whole House.

Any Petitioner whose Petition stands referred to the Committee, subject to the Rules and Orders of the House and to the prayer of his Petition, to be entitled to be heard by himself, his Counsel or Agents, upon his Petition provided that such Petition is prepared and signed in conformity with the Rules and Orders of the House, and the Member in Charge of the Bill to be entitled to be heard by his Counsel or Agents in favour of the Bill against such Petition:

Committee to have power to report from day to day the Minutes of the Evidence taken before them:

Three be the Quorum. —[ Mr. Maudling.]