§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
, in moving the appointment of a Select Committee to revise the Standing Orders, said, that what he desired was the appointment of a Committee of experienced Members to consider certain alterations in the Standing Orders, which he believed would tend to the better conduct of the private business of the House, diminish expense, and shorten the time which was to be devoted by Members to attendance on Private Bill Committees. If it should succeed in the latter object only, it would confer an immense boon on the Members of the House. The private business of the House had been continuously increasing of late years, until a difficulty was experienced in finding a sufficiency of Members to attend to it. During the present Session they had had to consider and decide on no less than 505 Private Bills. All these were not opposed; but in consequence of their mere number it was impossible to go through them properly, so as to enable the other House of Parliament to consider them equally with the House of Commons. Arrangements had been adopted by which the vast number of Railway Bills introduced into the House every Session were classified into groups, and the Committees were appointed by the Committee of Selection, and were presided over by an experienced Member taken from the "Chairmen's Panel." Few duties were more creditable to Members of that House than those which were discharged by those Gentlemen who devoted themselves to the business of presiding over Railway Committees; but the disadvantage attending the present system was that it was necessary to place a great number of Bills before the same tribunal, and thus many parties promoting Private Bills had to wait from an early period of the Session until the time came for their case to be considered; and then to find that they could not be passed through this House until it was so late as to preclude the possibility of their going before the House of Lords. Two cases which occurred during the present Session afforded a strong illustration of the inconvenience which might sometimes result from this arrangement, for two Railway Bills (the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Company Bill, and the Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Rail- 1454 way Company Bill), which were ready to be proceeded with on the 1st of April, could not be taken into consideration until other Bills preceding them in the list were disposed of, and their turn did not come on until the Standing Orders of the House of Lords came into play, and prevented the second reading of the Bills in that House. Thus the whole time and expense of the parties were thrown away. This was no fault of theirs, nor did he throw any blame on the Standing Order of the House of Lords, for the other House had a right to claim due time for the consideration of Bills brought before it; but it was a hardship which the House of Commons should prevent if possible. Some time ago the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) proposed a Resolution to the effect that it was desirable in Private Bill legislation to disentangle the facts of the case from the merits, and to submit the investigation of the facts to a tribunal exterior to that House. The noble Lord, however, withdrew the Resolution, as the House appeared unwilling to part with the jurisdiction. Nevertheless, many Members were convinced that it was desirable to disentangle the facts from the merits of a Bill, provided the investigation was not conducted by a body beyond the walls of that House; and, since that time, several Members had met together and considered whether it would not be possible to accomplish the object to a certain extent. After considerable consultation, though they were not able to effect the object to a great extent, they thought they might propose a plan which to a slight extent would disentangle the facts from the merits. What they proposed was—1. The Chairman of Ways and Means and three persons to be appointed by the Speaker, and to hold office during his pleasure, of whom one shall be an engineer officer, to be Referees on Private Bills; two of the Referees to be a quorum. The salaries of the three appointed Referees to be fixed by the Fee Fund Commissioners of the House. 2. The Referees to hold sittings in some Committee-room of the House; all their proceedings and practice to be regulated and subject to be altered by the Chairman of Ways and Means; such regulations to be laid on the table of the House. 3. The Referees to inquire into, take evidence, and hear counsel and agents upon such matters of fact requiring investigation as are from time to time referred to them. When inquiry completed, the Referees to make a Report to the House, such Report to stand referred to the Select Committee on the Bill; and no further evidence to be taken upon the facts reported on, unless the House shall otherwise order.1455 Then came the question, what were the facts which might be submitted to these Referees; and it was thought that the following facts might very well be separated from the consideration of the merits and referred to the Referees:—First, in Bills authorizing the construction of works, the engineering character of the undertaking, the efficiency and fitness of the works for the proposed objects, and the sufficiency of the estimate; second, in Bills for authorizing new lines of railway, the nature and amount of the traffic proposed to be accommodated; third, in Waterworks Bills, the nature of the proposed source of supply, the quality of the water, the sufficiency of the supply for the wants of the district, and the provisions as to reservoirs; fourth, in Gas Bills, the quality of the gas, the cost of production, and the tests of purity and illuminating power, &c.4. In addition to the matters regularly referred to the Referees upon each class of Bills, according to Standing Order, the Committee on any Bill to be empowered, with the approval of the Chairman of Ways and Means, to refer any question of fact arising in the course of their inquiry, which they may think suitable, to the Referees for their opinion, in the shape of a case stated in writing, and signed by the Chairman of the Committee. The Referees, after inquiry, to certify their conclusion to the Committee.5. All questions of locus standi of petitioners to be referred to and decided by the Referees previously to the sitting of the Committee on the Bill.With regard to the second suggestion, the case was thought to be more difficult, and it would possibly require some little consideration before its adoption; and he proposed that the Committee to which the consideration of his suggestions should be referred should not adopt it unless it were clearly made out that those facts could be ascertained without interfering with the consideration of the merits. With regard to the fourth suggestion, the matters there referred to were facts and not merits, and private interests could not be injured by those facts being ascertained out of the Committee on the Bill. With regard to the question of locus standi, that was a matter which had sometimes occupied Private Committees for several days, and it was believed that if some rules were laid down to regulate and decide the practice with respect to locus standi, a very great benefit would be done to all parties. The only objection to that part of his proposals was, that some persons connected with Railway Companies said they would prefer that all questions of locus standi should be referred to the Chairman of Ways and Means on all occasions. In a Committee appointed last Session his noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) proposed that Committees on Private Bills should for 1456 the future consist of only three Members. There was a great deal to be said on behalf of that suggestion, which he believed found favour with many Members; but on consideration they had come to the conclusion that it would not be advisable. That did not arise from any want of confidence in that number of Members; but everybody who was acquainted with the practical working of Committees knew that illness, applications for leave of absence, and a number of other things occurred to take Members away in the middle of an investigation. Committees reduced to three each would be too small to deal satisfactorily with the vast interests which would come before them, and such a change might possibly diminish the confidence of the public in these tribunals. It appeared, however, to those who bad considered the matter with him, that they might reduce the number from five to four, which would give the Chairman a easting vote. At present Chairmen were all selected because they were believed to be the most competent Members of the House for conducting such investigations; and it would not, therefore, be too much on questions of difficulty and doubt to give them a double vote. These proposals were submitted to the House with the greatest possible diffidence, with the object of saving the time of Members, which was taxed too severely by the increasing amount of business which came before them. He might claim, at least, one merit for the scheme—that it was very simple; and if it failed they bad nothing to do but, to use a common phrase, "smash it up," and nobody would be injured. If it led to increased expenses, as some apprehended, or if it did not work well in any other respect, Mr. Speaker could draw his pen through the Standing Orders on the subject, and promoters of Private Bills would still have the old tribunal to which they could submit their projects. When the Resolution to appoint a Committee was agreed to, he would move the next Resolution, which stated simply that it was desirable to do so and so. If any Member had any suggestions to make, he and those who were acting with him would be ready to consider it, with every desire to meet the wishes and suit the convenience of the House.
§ Moved, "That a Select Committee be appointed to revise the Standing Orders." —(Colonel Wilson Patten.)
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, the House 1457 must feel much indebted to the hon. and gallant Member and those who had considered the matter with him for the trouble they had taken. They were all anxious to shorten the labours of Private Bill Committees as much as they could, not merely from selfish and personal motives, but in order to spare suitors the heavy expenses which were involved in a protracted investigation. With all deference to his hon. and gallant Friend opposite, he thought the proposals he had made were of too important a character to be affirmed at once, and that it would be desirable to allow further time for their consideration. He had not a word to say against any of the Gentlemen who were nominated for the Committee, but he was of opinion that it would be advisable to add to it some others who paid a great deal of attention to the matter, and perhaps held different views from the hon. and gallant Member. He therefore gave notice that to-morrow he would move that the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir Henry Willoughby) and the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) should be added to the Committee. There were other questions connected with the Standing Orders besides those which had been referred to, which it would be well that the Committee should consider. For example, there was great perplexity as to what was a Public, what a Private, and what a "hybrid" Bill, and a great deal of confusion had been caused thereby.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, he desired to call attention to an evil which had very greatly increased of late years—the number of witnesses who were called by counsel before the Committees to speak to the same facts. There seemed to be no limit to this practice. It was in vain that the Chairman told counsel that the Committee had had sufficent evidence on the point before them. The regular reply was, "Oh! you must not take the conduct of our case out of our hands. We do not know what objections the other side may make, and it is necessary for you to listen to all the evidence we deem it necessary to adduce." The consequence was that the proceedings of Committees were spun out to a great length by superfluous testimony, in order to suit the convenience of counsel, or perhaps of the parties in the case, who desired to have the opportunity of making private arrangements outside 1458 the Committee-room. He suggested that at the commencement of the inquiry a list of witnesses should be furnished to the Chairman, with a note of the points on which they were going to give evidence, so that a selection might, if necessary, be made.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he had had an opportunity of hearing the opinions of gentlemen connected with I some of the great Railway Companies, who; furnished, perhaps, the largest amount of work for Private Bill Committees, and could state that the proposals of the hon. and gallant Member were received by them with every desire to give them a fair trial. They felt many of the evils which had been pointed out, and had great confidence in the hon. and gallant Gentleman and those who acted with him. He believed there was among experienced persons some doubt as to whether the Referees could possibly overtake the amount of work that would be imposed on thorn. When they considered the various branches of inquiry in each case, and the discussions; of counsel, they would see that the labours; of the Referees would be very heavy and; comprehensive. It was to be hoped, how ever, that by their uniformity of practice, and by the authority which would belong to them, they might shorten the form of procedure which would be a great benefit not only to the House but to all concerned.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the hon. and gallant Member for North Lancashire proposed that three persons, in addition to the Chairman of Ways and Means, should be appointed Referees, one of whom was to be an engineer officer; he wished to ask whether the other Referees were to be Members of the House, and to have the power of out-voting the Chairman of Ways and Means? He also suggested that the House should not affirm the proposals absolutely, but should adopt them as an Instruction to the Select Committee to consider these points.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, he had moved the Resolutions only with the view which the hon. and learned Member had expressed. The appointment of the Referees would be in the hands of the Speaker, and the tribunal would, no doubt, consist of the Chairman of Ways and Means, who would preside, assisted by the Speaker's Counsel, an engineer, and two other individuals.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he thought 1459 the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets worthy of consideration. It would be better to move the Resolutions as an Instruction to the Committee, and not to pledge the House to the plan proposed in them. He believed they were all prepared to give a fair trial to the new proposal as an experiment. He was quite prepared to see this experiment carried out; but he thought it ought to be understood, that if the Board of Referees should fail, Parliament should be at liberty to put an end to their labours, so that they might not become a vested interest and entail a permanent charge upon the public. There ought to be a clear understanding upon that point. With regard to the duties of the Board, he was not sanguine, unless they had some final authority, that they would save the House or the promoters of private legislation either labour or expense; because if, when the Parliamentary Board of Referees found certain facts, those facts were afterwards to be contested, and if persons were to be at liberty to come to the House and move that such facts should be investigated by the Select Committee upon the Bill, the House would have done nothing more by this Resolution than was attempted years ago under the Preliminary Inquiry Act, and would only be adding one stage more to the inquiry upon Private Bills. He thought the Board would have a great deal of work to do. If three Gentlemen, assisted by the Chairman of Ways and Means, were to investigate any considerable portion of the material facts which were now considered by Select Committees on Private Bills, in order to enable them to pass the preamble, be thought they would have very great labour thrown upon them, and he doubted whether one such Committee would be able to get through the work. His hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Patten) submitted his plan to the Committee on Private Bill legislation last Session. The Committee did not condemn it, but took a favourable view of it, and in their Report they stated that if the facts could be found by any Board such as that with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman was connected, they would no doubt be useful to the Select Committees of the House. There would, however, be considerable difficulty in laying down what were the material facts to be found by a Board such as his hon. and gallant Friend proposed, and what were to be the guiding facts to enable Committees to come to a conclusion upon the preamble of a Private 1460 Bill. Counsel would have to be heard before the Board of Referees, and arguments would also be urged as to the bearing of the facts upon the preamble of a Bill. He had no wish to prejudge the case, but he had merely mentioned these circumstances as matters of difficulty which were likely to arise.
§ MR. RICHARD HODGSON
said, be understood that it would be the duty of the Committee to make a Report upon the various questions which were submitted to them, and in that respect the scheme would work well. There was, however, one point upon which he entertained considerable doubt—namely, whether counsel ought to be hoard before the Referees. If counsel were to be heard before the Referees it would institute a kind of double inquiry, as counsel would almost in every case endeavour to resuscitate before the Committee the arguments which they had raised before the Referees. He also doubted the propriety of having four Referees instead of three. Some time ago certain Resolutions in reference to Railway Bills were passed by the House, and referred to the Committee of which the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) was chairman. They related to traffic arrangements of a very important nature; some of them gave general powers for amalgamation, and others related to the power of Railway Companies to set up steamboats. Up to the present time those clauses bad not been considered, and he hoped that the Committee about to be appointed would take them into consideration.
§ MR. WHALLEY
thought that no satisfactory result would be arrived at until competition ceased to be recognized as a ground of opposition to new schemes. If it were refused to be recognized, a very proper limit would be imposed on the power of the great companies. He thought that the appointment of four Referees instead of three would jeopardize the character of the Private Bill legislation, by placing more power than was necessary in the hands of the Chairman. He had no wish to accuse the Chairman of Private Bill Committees of partiality; but it was notorious that one Chairman took a view upon a particular question entirely opposed to that taken by another, and it was a matter of constant difficulty for the promoters of Railway Bills to know upon what rule or principle they were to be treated. The question of competition, as a ground of opposition, ought to be settled at once, and 1461 if it was to be disallowed hereafter all this machinery would become unnecessary, and railway business would be conducted with much greater facility.
said, he rose chiefly in consequence of the appeal which had been made to him by his hon. Friend (Mr. R. Hodgson) in reference to certain clauses which his hon. Friend had obtained the consent of the House to refer to the Committee on Railway Bills. Unfortunately, up to the present time, that Committee had been unable to take those clauses into their consideration. Their excuse must be that every Member of it had been occupied in presiding over some one of the Committees sitting on Private Bills. He thought the more convenient course would be that that matter, as well as the other subjects for consideration, should be referred to the Committee on Standing Orders about to meet. With regard to the plan of his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Fatten), in one part of it he cordially concurred—namely, the proposed reduction in the number of Members on Private Bill Committees from five to four. He had himself last year proposed a still further reduction, feeling sure that three Members in such cases would act under a greater sense of responsibility than a larger number. As to the possibility of one of the Members being taken ill and additional power being thereby thrown into the hands of the Chairman, it would be recollected that when he made his proposition he coupled it with a proviso that no Member should be required to serve more than ten days on a Private Bill Committee, except to finish the hearing of a case that had been actually begun. Under such an arrangement he believed that little or no practical inconvenience would result from smaller Committees. As to the adoption of some rule to prevent a multiplicity of witnesses being called to establish the same point, he thought the Committee had ample power now, and, if a Chairman knew his duties, it was not necessary that there should be any such rule of the House, for it was easy to intimate to counsel when sufficient proof had been adduced on a particular point. There was not, as a rule, according to his experience, any intentional waste of time by counsel. The leading counsel of the Parliamentary Bar were men of high position and reputation. They had little or nothing to gain personally by lengthening out these inquiries; and whenever there 1462 had been a waste of time in one of these Committees he had noticed that it generally arose from the over-zeal of some junior, who, in the absence of his leader, feared to pass over a single point. The real remedy for the length of time over which these inquiries occasionally dragged would be this:—He should like to see the Members serving for a shorter period than they did at the present, but, at the same time, for a greater number of hours at each sitting. The real waste of time lay in the fact that they did not get more than three-and-a-half hours of absolute work from each sitting; and every one, he thought, would agree that in two days of six hours each they would get through a great deal more than in three days with four hours each. If the number of sittings were reduced as he suggested, there would be no great bard-ship in lengthening the number of hours. With respect to the plan for instituting Referees, the House ought to look upon it as an experiment to which they should, indeed, give fair play, but to the success of which they were in no way committed. He thought there would be a difficulty in defining the exact duties of the Referees, and if there were to be an appeal from their decision, they would be introducing additional delay and expense. On the other hand, if the Referees had an independent jurisdiction to decide a certain class of questions, he foresaw that there would be a good many complicated questions arising as to what points should be sent before the Referees and what points should be decided by the Committees. These difficulties, however, need not prevent their giving the proposal a fair trial. One of the questions which the Select Committee might consider with great advantage was the awkward and perplexing question as to locus standi. This question ought to be subjected to some more definite and stricter rule than at present, and in that respect his hon. and gallant Friend's plan might work well. If adopted, it should, he thought, be adopted only for a limited period, and should expire of itself unless renewed by the House. The House should insist on seeing in some detail what was to be the definition of the duties of these Referees, the class of questions which were to be submitted to them, and the extent of their power to deal with them. Subject to those reservations, he believed that the plan of his hon. and gallant Friend deserved the sanction of the House.
§ LORD EDWARD HOWARD
desired to point out the great hardship to which 1463 private individuals were often exposed by being dragged to London at great expense in order to appear sometimes year after year before the Committees of that House on Private Bills. It was believed that railway schemes were sometimes got up as mere speculations by one or two persons, who would themselves be very sorry to see their Bills become law. These proceedings, however, entailed on private individuals, often of very small means, the necessity of defending their rights in Parliament; and he would, therefore, suggest that the Committee should be empowered to take into consideration the propriety of giving compensation to owners of property who were put to the expense and trouble of opposing these projects.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
thought the suggestion of the noble Lord well deserving the serious consideration of the House. The hardship inflicted on private individuals by railway projectors compelling them to go before that House at a gigantic expense ought not to be suffered to continue. The remedy for that was very easy. There was no other tribunal in the kingdom which was not armed with the power of mulcting in costs those who inflicted, for frivolous and vexatious reasons, heavy expense on their opponents; yet all attempts to arm Parliament with that power had hitherto been made in vain. So intense was the contempt which the House entertained for the tribunals which it persisted in maintaining that it would not arm it with one of the most rudimentary functions of a tribunal. The House placed in its hands the power to dispose of enormous sums of money, and gave it a jurisdiction over gigantic interests; but when it came to the question of inflicting costs, either on those who promoted foolish schemes or who set up a frivolous defence, it was said, "Oh, the constitution of this tribunal is so peculiar that you can't invest it with authority to do that!" Their reluctance to give that authority to these Committees was, to his mind, the most damaging condemnation of the whole system which it would be possible to pronounce. Among the other useful reforms which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had undertaken in that system, he trusted that he would turn his mind to this, which was, on the whole, the greatest grievance of all. He therefore concurred with all the hon. and gallant Gentleman's proposals, and he hoped they would be effectually car 1464 ried out, for he was sure the good they would do would be great.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
pointed out the difficulty that would arise from having to divide subjects into two parts—one, that of matters of fact for the decision of the Referees; the other, the points which were to be left for the decision of the Committee. If the report of the Referees were final, how was it to be supposed that it would be better than that of the Committee itself? But if, on the other hand, the report was not final, be thought the evil would be increased instead of diminished. If the Referees did not possess an independent and final jurisdiction, the scheme would only lead to a prolongation of the inquiries and additional expense.
§ MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
wished to remind the House, that while they considered the rights of one class of persons they ought not to overlook the injustice to which the other class was exposed. No doubt these Railway Companies very often inflicted great hardship and injustice on individuals; but, on the other band, individuals frequently inflicted great hardships and injustice on Railway Companies, because it was within the experience of all who served on Railway Committees, that very often a line was desired by a whole district, the great bulk of the landowners were favourable to the scheme proposed, but there might be some one landowner, perhaps occupying only two or three acres, who insisted on going into the whole question, and canvassing every fact connected with the engineering of the line forty or fifty miles distant. Now, if it was fair to give costs in one case, it would be but fair on the other hand that Railway Companies should be protected against such an abuse as that. A case had occurred not long ago, where arrangements being made with every landowner on the line except one small proprietor, he demanded nearly £100,000 for his piece of land, and the Committee having come to a decision adverse to his claim he offered to take £6,000, instead of £100,000, and ultimately the company were obliged to pay him a considerable sum of money in order to save the expense of his threatened renewal of a similar question in another place.
§ MR. MASSEY
said, that Committees being practically intrusted with interests of great magnitude, it seemed almost absurd that they should not have the power of deciding questions of subordi- 1465 nate importance. He thought it practicable to frame Resolutions which would render it perfectly safe and just to empower Committees to award costs. The Act conferred the power of awarding costs on Election Committees where the opposition to an hon. Member appeared to be frivolous and vexatious, and he had never heard that the exercise of that power had been complained of. He could not, therefore, see why they should withhold from Committees on Private Bills a similar discretion. They must all feel that the present mode of transacting the private business was not satisfactory to the parties, and not creditable to the House. As a great number of the plans propounded for its improvement had nut found favour, he did trust that the scheme which had been sketched by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lancashire, who had so much experience in these matters, and which had been pronounced by those who had been consulted as feasible, would be considered with indulgence and tried as an experiment. He quite agreed that no vested interests would be created in favour of those who received appointments under this scheme. It was entirely an experiment. There were obvious difficulties connected with it, but these, he thought, were not insuperable. It was quite practicable to separate questions of fact from questions of opinion. Questions of fact and of Parliamentary inquiry not involving matters of policy, being settled as proposed by this scheme, would furnish the Committee I with materials for deciding questions of policy. The difficulty was to draw the line without trenching on the final decision of the Committee on the merits. He hoped the House would have sufficient confidence in the Committee on Standing Orders to expect from it some matured scheme which, when laid on the table, would be ripe for the decision of the House, and that it would be received with at least that limited degree of confidence that the plan would be adopted as an experiment next Session.
said, that a distinct recommendation with reference to the power of awarding costs had been adopted by the Committee which reported last week. It would be necessary, however, that an Act of Parliament should be passed on the subject if possible during the present Session.
§ MR. WALTER
said, it appeared to him 1466 that the power of awarding costs ought to be adopted, if at all, with very great caution. It had been stated, indeed, that Election Committees possessed the power of awarding costs; but there appeared to be an essential distinction between an Election Committee and a Committee on a Private Bill. An Election Committee was more analogous to a court of law, in which a man had to maintain an existing right; but in a Private Bill Committee it was not an existing right that was to be maintained, but parties claimed a right to be given to them. There was a clear distinction between the two cases. Besides, he thought it would be a very invidious and difficult discretion to exercise for Committees to award costs in matters of that kind, where there was a trial of strength between two parties, and where both claimed the same right.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
hoped that during the recess some further progress would be made by the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, in bringing about a satisfactory solution of the vexed question relative to the fees of Parliamentary counsel.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, no Members of the House would be paid. The Referees would not be Members of the House, and should be paid some salary; but it was quite understood that the scheme would be tried merely as an experiment, and if it failed no party could have any claim to compensation.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Select Committee appointed, "to revise the Standing Orders:" — Mr. Massey, Lord STANLEY, Mr. EDWARD PLEYDELL BOUVERIE, and Mr. Milneb Gibson, nominated Members of the said Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Sotheron Estcourt be one other Member of the said Committee.
§ MR. SOTHERON ESTCOURT
rose to request that he might not be placed upon the Committee. It appeared to him most desirable that all opinions upon the subject should be represented upon the Committee, and as he, having acted for some years with the hon. and gallant Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee (Colonel Wilson Patten), could not, perhaps, avoid look- 1467 ing at the matter in a somewhat routine light, he hoped the House would allow his name to be withdrawn. Notice had been given of a Motion to enlarge the Committee beyond the number of fifteen, and if that were agreed to, he trusted that the additional names would be chosen from among those Members who had not yet had an opportunity of serving upon the Standing Orders Committee. He thought that such a course would tend to strengthen any opinion which might be arrived at concerning an experiment which was well deserving a trial. It was quite time some steps were taken to relieve Members from a burden which greatly interfered with their power of giving duo attention to public business. A striking instance of the severe pressure of the present system was afforded by the labours of the noble Lord near him (Lord Stanley), who, with an hon. Gentleman opposite, had been engaged every sitting day since the 12th of April.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. GATHORNE HARDY, Lord ROBERT CECIL, Mr. INGHAM, Mr. EDWARD EGIERTON, Mr. SCOURFIELD, Mr. HASSARD, Mr. ADAIR, Mr. LOWE, Colonel FRENCH, and Colonel WILSON PATTEN, nominated other Members of the said Committee: —Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
then moved that it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider whetherIt is expedient that Referees should be constituted under the authority of this House for the more speedy and economical decision of certain questions of fact commonly arising in the proceedings upon Private Bills.
§ Motion agreed to.
That it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider the expediency of constituting Referees under the authority of this House for the more speedy and economical decision of certain questions of fact commonly arising in the proceedings upon Private Bills.—(Colonel Wilson Patten.)