I move amendment No. 39:—
In page 23, Section 32 (1), line 57, after the word "play-ground" to insert the words "aircraft landing grounds."
I did not move this amendment on the Committee Stage because this section of the Bill came up for consideration only at the end of the Committee Stage. As the amendment stands on the Paper it will have to be altered in view of the last amendment which has been passed. That is, in order to fit it in with the section as it now stands amended it will be necessary to change to some extent the wording of my amendment. I put down this amendment as a first step in order that local authorities might be given power to acquire land for the provision of aircraft landing grounds adjacent to local towns. There was to have been introduced—I understood it was to have been introduced to-day but it has not been—a Town Planning Bill. I do not know when that Bill will now be introduced but I understand it is ready. It will be necessary probably to insert certain amendments in that Bill also in order to give powers to local bodies in towns to acquire and maintain landing grounds for aircraft. This section will have particular reference to country districts because under the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 it is possible for county councils and rural district councils to act as trustees under the Acts. It was only in the Act of 1923 that that power to act as trustees was extended to corporations, urban councils and town commissioners. In this Bill, as it is proposed to extend the powers conferred by previous Acts, it will be possible for trustees to be appointed by local bodies, trustees approved by the Minister, to represent villages and places which have not got any local authority. I refer particularly to tourist centres and seaside resorts. It will be possible for them to appoint trustees for the purpose of providing landing grounds adjacent to their districts. It might be said that this perhaps is not the proper occasion on which to begin to provide air facilities in the country but I think it would be unwise to allow this opportunity to pass, without, at any rate, extending the powers of local authorities in this direction.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, speaking last Saturday, stated that it was the intention of the Government to assist local authorities in the development of aerial communications. He stated:—
"The organisation of regular air services between our cities and towns is an immediate task in the performance of which I can undertake, on behalf of the Government, that every assistance and facility will be provided."
He went on to say:
"The development of the air-port facilities which will attract private aviators to our country is a matter mainly for local authorities, but, again, I can promise Government assistance in full measure."
The Minister states there that it is primarily a matter for local authorities, but in their present position they have not got powers to provide landing grounds adjacent to the country towns and villages. It is in order to make a beginning in that direction that I have put down this amendment. The Government, so far, has not announced any general national policy with regard to the development of aviation. When it does so, it will have to consider it not only from the point of view of this Department but of practically all the Departments of State. The Minister, in his dual capacity, will be very much interested; so will the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and other Department, such as Fisheries Protection, Board of Works, Ordnance Survey, Technical Education and so on. Before the Government have announced their general policy as to co-ordinating the various Departments, I think it would do no harm if we made a beginning in this Bill to enable local authorities to preserve for the purpose of landing fields or aerodromes any likely sites which might become available under this Act. As I say, the local authorities have got no powers up to the present and I think they will need much more extended powers which, I hope, will be provided under the Town Planning Bill. Even the Town Planning Bill will not provide for the cases I have mentioned of tourist centres and seaside resorts and, perhaps, other centres in rural districts where county councils or other local authorities might think it wise to provide landing ground facilities. I do not think it would be any inconvenience to the Minister to accept this amendment. As it is, under previous Land Acts, he has complete power and discretion in the matter. He can veto any scheme put up by any body of trustees, and there can be no question that he will do so, presumably, in the general interests, and in co-ordination and co-operation with the other Departments. Accordingly, I hope the Minister will be willing to accept this amendment.