§ MR. T. DUNCOMBE
said, in proposing the question of which he had given notice to the right hon. Baronet the Chairman of the Committee on Water Supply (Sir James Graham), he begged to assure him that 561 nothing was further from his intention than in any way to hurry or to embarrass the proceedings of that Committee. It was a matter of very great importance to this city, and he thought the House and the country were much indebted to the Committee for the manner in which they had pursued their labours. But the House was well aware that considerable irritation, and perhaps alarm, existed in the public mind from the belief that it was the intention of the Government, whether the report of that Committee was made early or not, to force legislation on the subject during the present Session. He believed the apprehension on the part of the public was unfounded; but he believed it would be much better if the right hon. Baronet would favour the House as to the prospect of the proceedings before the Committee closing, that they might come to some understanding with the Government as to their intentions during the present Session. The question he had to ask was, whether, in the event of the present Session of Parliament terminating about the usual period, there is any probability of the Committee completing its inquiry within sufficient time to enable this House to give any measure for an improved supply of water to the metropolis that consideration which so important a question demands?
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, that the Committee of which he was a Member had prosecuted their inquiry with all the diligence and attention which they conld apply to the subject. The House was aware that many Bills had been referred to them, the first to which their attention had been given being that of the Government, and there were four or five others which remained to be considered. The preamble of the first Bill was now under consideration. The promoters of that Bill had closed their case, and the opponents of it had been divided into two classes. The first class was that of those who contended that if there he a new control to be exercised over the supply of water, it ought to be exercised by a principle of self-government, by local bodies chosen by popular election. The first class of objections were now being heard, and their case had not yet closed. The second class were the existing water companies, who were dissatisfied with the plan of the Government, which was an amalgamation of the companies, and that second class had not yet opened their case. His hon. Friend's question really resolved itself into a nice 562 speculation upon two remote probabilities—first, the contingency of what time the case would be closed; and, secondly, the duration of the Session. He might say that the labours of the Committee would be pretty nearly co-extensive with the ordinary duration of the Session; and that branch of the case now under consideration was showing to them evidence of the water question being necessarily and intimately connected with the sewage question. What would be the probable duration of the inquiry under those circumstances, his hon. Friend could form as good an opinion as himself.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he must express a hope that the answer which the right hon. Baronet had been allowed to give, would not be drawn into a precedent. Both the question and the reply were irregular.