I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill, which has been introduced by the War Office, applies to land now in occupation of the Department. Under the existing Defence of the Realm (Acquisition of Land) Act, power is given to this Department to close highways, occupy land temporarily, and purchase compulsorily land already occupied. In each case application has to be made to the Railway and Canal Commission by a certain fixed date, and has to be granted by the Commissioners at a subsequent fixed date. The Commissioners have an enormous amount of work to do, and they cannot settle all these cases by the required dates. The object of this Bill is, in the first place, to give six months law, and the Bill keeps the highways closed during the period until the case is actually decided. It also allows the Department to continue in temporary occupation until the case is actually decided, provided the delay so caused is not more than six months. If the delay be longer, a special application has to be made to the Commissioners for extension. Sub-section (3) deals with the case of compulsory acquisition. In that case, power is taken to acquire land already in occupation of the Department, if application be made to the Commissioners within the required time, and notice to treat be given within three months after the Commissioners have given their consent.
I would ask my hon. and gallant Friend for a little information concerning Wimbledon Common. At present the Department occupies part of the Common as a military camp, and I gather, from the operation of the Bill, that the period of occupation may be prolonged for, at any rate, six months more. There is resentment at the continued occupation of this part of Wimbledon Common by the War Office. I trust my hon. and gallant Friend will be able to give the House some information as to whether at an early date the Common, will be vacated.
I can only speak again by leave of the House, but I may say that this Bill applies to a great many cases. I could not say off-hand what is its effect in relation to Wimbledon. Had I had notice, I should have been glad to get the information for my hon. Friend. My impression is that the War Office are going to get off Wimbledon Common as quickly as they can.