HC Deb 16 July 1861 vol 164 cc1006-10

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a second time.


moved the second reading of this Bill, which he stated referred to the proposed re-distribution of a debt of £94,000 among certain parishes, some of which the Metropolitan Board of Works thought had been unfairly burdened. The case of the parishes had been heard last year by the Select Committee to which the whole subject of this and the previous Bill had been referred, but two very important parishes, Camberwell and Wands-worth, alleged that they had not been heard, and that their cases, which were of extreme hardship, had not been fully considered. It was a matter the Board as a public body were unable to give an opinion upon, and as he, Mr. Tite, had always intimated, he intended, if the House should read the Bill a second time, to move that it be referred to a Select Committee, who would decide the justice or injustice of the case of the parishes in question.


said, he rose to appeal to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department to give his assistance in rejecting the Bill. The provisions of both the preceding Bill and that under consideration were contained in a measure which was brought before the House last year. That measure was referred to a Select Committee, over which the present Secretary to the Treasury presided, and after a most careful examination, extending over seventeen days, and the hearing of witnesses from all sides, the Committee passed that portion of the measure which was contained in the Bill which had been just read a second time, and rejected that portion which was contained in the Bill now before the House. In that decision the Metropolitan Board of Words had acquiesced by proceeding with No. 1 Bill; yet they now came forward, he thought, in a very sly manner to impugn the decision of the Select Committee and reopen the whole question. If they meant to reverse the decision of the Select Committee, why did they not bring forward both Bills as one measure? He hoped the House would not encourage such irregular attempts at legislation, which would plunge the metropolitan parishes into a most wasteful, unnecessary, and useless expenditure.


What I understand this Bill to effect is a fresh repartition of debts created under the Main Drainage Act. There is no allegation, I believe, that these debts were not properly partitioned according to the provisions of the Act; but the Metropolitan Board of Works think that a different distribution would be more equitable, looking to the results of the drainage. They accordingly came here with a Bill last Session, substantially identical with the one which has now been read a second time, calling for a new distribution of these charges. Well, the Bill was referred to a Select Committee, of which my right hon. Friend who is now Secretary to the Treasury was chairman. I believe that Committee was very well constituted, and they went most fully into the whole matter, hearing counsel, and sitting seventeen days, at a great expense of attention to the Committee and of money to the parties. The Committee struck out the clauses which now constitute No. 2 Bill, and the Bill came back to this House without those clauses. The Bill, however, did not pass this House last Session, in consequence principally of the want of time. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite), now the organ of the Metropolitan Board, has introduced these two Bills this Session—one the Bill that came out of the Committee last Session; the other consisting of the clauses struck out by that Committee. Now, I certainly do not think my hon. Friend open to any charge of slyness in respect to that procedure.


I did not mean the hon. Member for Bath, but the Metropolitan Board of Works.


In respect of that procedure I must say I do not see anything unfair or unreasonable in putting this matter into two Bills. But what my hon. Friend proposes is to read this Bill a second time on the 16th or July, and to refer it to a Select Committee, to be named by the Committee of Selection, who should hear counsel reargue the case. The House, however, is not in a position to form any opinion on the merits of this question and the distribution of these burdens. We are called on to reconsider the decision of the Select Committee last year without any ground being shown why that decision was an improper one. Under these circumstances I think it will be desirable that this Bill should not be proceeded with, and I would strongly advise my hon. Friend, who, I repeat, is not open to any charge of slyness, to withdraw the Bill.


said, that the Bill of last year contained about 200 clauses, and, so far from the present measure having been considered for seventeen days, it had not been considered for more than sixty minutes, and besides, as the Metropolitan Board of Works were the promoters of the Bill, the parishes were not heard before the Committee of last Session. It was on that account that the Metropolitan Board of Works came forward now and asked that the parishes might be heard at their own expense before a Select Committee.


said, he did not wish to insinuate any charge of slyness or anything else against the hon. Member for Bath, but he thought it hard upon his own constituents that they should a second time be put to all the trouble and expense of a contest before a Select Committee merely because the people of Camberwell and Wandsworth had been too negligent to come forward to state their case at the proper opportunity. He, therefore, begged to move that the Bill be read the second time that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, he rose to second the Amendment. The measure was brought in as far back as the 22nd of February, and he could not understand why its progress had been so slow. If he had charge of it he would have had it passed months ago, even if he had only had Wednesdays for the purpose. It was a little too much, now that they had reached the dog-days, and were within a fortnight, or, at the most, three weeks of the prorogation, to ask them to refer the measure to a Select Committee, in order that Camberwell and Wandsworth might have an opportunity of pouring out all their griefs. He knew something of what it was to hear the complaints of those two parishes, and believed that a whole Session would hardly be enough to satisfy them. The people of Metropolis must be greatly obliged to the hon. Member for Bath and the hon. Member for Kidderminster for volunteering to conduct their affairs, for it was by those Gentlemen that these two Bills were introduced, and he certainly could not compliment them on the manner in which they had performed their task. On behalf of the Metropolitan Members he repudiated all blame for the present unsatisfactory state of this question.


said, that the absence from the Bill of last year of a clause for relieving Camberwell and Wandsworth from other parishes led to so much opposition and delay that he was obliged to withdraw the Bill. He was still in the unhappy dilemma of being between these fighting parishes. He denied that it was owing to any laches of his that the Bill had progressed through the House so slowly. The Coal Duties Bill, though brought in by the Government itself, had not been advanced at a much more rapid rate. Neither he nor his hon. Friend (Mr. Bristow) had obtruded their services upon the inhabitants of the Metropolis, but they had been freely chosen by popular election in their respective districts to represent Chelsea and Greenwich at a Metropolitan Board. As, however, the opinion of the House seemed adverse to proceeding with the measure he would not persevere with it further.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn.