HC Deb 27 June 1865 vol 180 cc861-79

Standing Order 88 read.


in rising, pursuant to notice, to call attention to the Report of the Committee on the Court of Referees on Private Bills, said, that before he adverted to the alterations in the Standing Orders which he was about to propose, he wished to say a few words on the Private Business of the House, not only in its present state, but as it had existed for some years past. The attention of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair had been directed to the subject for several years past; but many hon. Members might not recollect the period when the introduction of railways so greatly increased the Private Business of the House, that it was found necessary to abandon the old system of district Committees, no longer adequate to deal with the Railway Bills, and to substitute Committees of five for each Bill. That was a most important change, and one which gave satisfaction to the public. But business continued to increase so much that it was soon found impossible to transact it without appointing so many Committees that the Parliamentary Bar made complaints of their inability to discharge their duties to their clients. It was also found that so much variety of opinion and such conflicting decisions were arrived at by Committees that it was impossible for parties applying for Bills to form a judgment in regard to the result of the inquiry. These difficulties led to another alteration—the formation of the Chairman's Panel of seven or eight Members, who acted as Chairmen of all the Committees to which the railway business of the Session was referred; railways were grouped into districts, and the number of tribunals was thus greatly reduced. This was a great improvement. Greater uniformity was obtained, and the length of the proceedings on Private Bills was curtailed. This system, however, now failed to meet the requirements of the day. If hon. Members would look at the Votes they would find that in no one Session for some time past had either House of Parliament been able to transact the Private Business in a proper manner. Its increase in the meanwhile so largely added to the duties of Members that complaints were continually made and hopes expressed that some other mode of transacting it might be devised. The present Session was not altogether a fair illustration, but he would remind hon. Members that a few days since he had brought under the notice of the House the fact that there stood on the notice paper not less than sixteen Notices of Motion by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Charles Forster) for suspending the Standing Orders as the only means by which the business of the one House might be properly transmitted to the other. During the last eight days not less than fifty-five Motions of that kind had been made. On that very day there were five or six Motions of a similar kind—making sixty Notices of Motion within nine days to suspend the Stand ing Orders. These Orders had been enacted for public objects and for the protection of private and public interests. If they were of no importance, let them be wiped off at once; but, if otherwise, it was inconsistent with the order and regularity of their proceedings that they should be suspended sixty times within nine days. Several Committees had been appointed from time to time to consider this subject, and on all hands, without exception, a common complaint was heard that the system of transacting the Private Business of the House did not work satisfactorily. Last Session several Members met together to consider what improvements might be made. Mr. Sotheron Estcourt, the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), and several others were present, and offered suggestions. He (Colonel Wilson Patten) had suggested that at least time might be saved to Members by detaching from the inquiry before Committee all that part of the business that did not relate to legislative merits, but to the engineering and other statistical details. The subject was afterwards referred to a Select Committee, which recommended that a trial should be made of the suggestion which he had the honour to make; and the House ratified the recommendation of the Committee. Having had the experience of one Session the House was now in a position to determine whether, on the whole, the advantages gained by the appointment of the Court of Referees were such as to induce it to continue the system for another Session, or for good. He would now tell the House the result of the inquiry of its Select Committee. The Committee proposed to themselves three heads of inquiry. The first was, had there been a saving of time to Members of the House? Secondly, if there had been such saving of time, had there been a saving of expense, or, if not, what increase of expense to the parties had occurred? Thirdly, had the new system tended on the whole to expedite the Private Business of the House? The Committee called before them several witnesses best calculated to give a Bound opinion on the matters at issue; but with regard to the Bar, he (Colonel Wilson Patten) did not select a single witness. He requested that at least two barristers who were most opposed in principle to the Court of Referees might be deputed to give evidence. He did the same by the Parliamentary agents. He also endeavoured to ascertain the opinion of the Chairmen of Select Committees in regard to the saving of time by hon. Members serving on Committees. The following Members of the Parliamentary Bar were examined by the Committee:—Mr. Phinn, Mr. Davison, Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Rodwell, and Mr. Vernon Harcourt. Mr. Phinn was unfavourable to the new system; he doubted whether it had either saved expense to the parties or the time of the House. It appeared, however, that Mr. Phinn had not only included the time spent by hon. Members, but also the time during which the Referees had been occupied. Mr. Davison doubted whether there had been a saving of time, yet thought that one branch of the inquiry, the locus standi, was better dealt with before the Referees than the Committees. Mr. Coleridge was of opinion that there had been a saving both of time and expense. Mr. Rodwell expressed a similar opinion, and was in favour of the Court of Referees. Mr. Vernon Harcourt was adverse to the principle of the double inquiry, but, in justice to the Court of Referees, he (Colonel Wilson Patten) should like to read to the House a portion of the evidence given by this gentleman. Being asked his opinion upon the results of the Court of Referees during the present Session, he said— I should wish, in the first instance, to say that it is impossible to express too strongly my opinion of the extraordinary work which has been done by the Referees in the course of this Session, both in respect of the stupendous industry which they have shown, and the great ability which has been brought to bear upon the questions with which they have dealt. All I have to say is, that if you could find a sufficient number of persons to constitute Committees, as efficient as the Courts of Referees, the whole system would be superfluous, because I do not suppose that anybody would think of removing from a body so constituted the consideration of the whole of the question which is to be decided. I have been before the Referees in cases of the greatest possible consequence, and the only feeling which I have had is one of regret that, after gentlemen of such competence to deal with the question have gone into the inquiry in a most elaborate manner, just at the moment when the matter is ripe for a final decision, it should be withdrawn from them and carried before another tribunal, which has, necessarily, a much less acquaintance with the question upon which it has to pronounce. The Parliamentary agents examined were Mr. Coates, Mr. Venables, and Mr. Gregory. Mr. Coates doubted whether time had been saved, and pointed out instances in which the new system had caused unnecessary delay and increased expense. Mr. Venables was in favour of the new system in all respects, and hoped it would not be given up. Mr. Gregory preferred a system of his own, but thought that the new system led to a saving of time. The only engineer examined was Mr. Harrison, who suggested a mode by which estimates might be put forward in greater detail at the commencement of the Session. His hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Adair) had given notice of a Motion for carrying that suggestion into effect. The Committee also had the evidence of the Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Dodson). He had given the subject his impartial consideration, and he was in favour of a further trial of the new court. The hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Woodd) and the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. A. Mills) were also examined, and they were on the whole favourable. The former was of opinion that the labours of Members in private Committees had been materially shortened by the Referees; and the latter was of the same opinion, but thought that further improvements might be made. The result was that it appeared to the Committee desirable to continue the present system, subject to such modifications as he had given notice of. There was a Standing Order limiting the number of counsel before the Court of Referees to one. Complaints were made by Mr. Phinn, Mr. Vernon Harcourt, and Mr. Coates against that restriction. On the other hand, evidence was given that in the generality of cases the rule was beneficial. There were only three or four cases in which an inquiry occupied more than one day, and the Committee came to the conclusion that the existing rule should be adhered to, but that the Referees should have the power of admitting more than one counsel if they thought fit, on the application of the parties. Another suggestion was, that where the Referees decided that the estimates were insufficient, the Bill was not to be proceeded with except by Order of the House. The Committee held this to be a good rule, as tending to insure a stricter performance of the requirements of the House, and that the estimates and the engineering details should come before the House in a more perfect state than they had hitherto done. A few Sessions ago the leading members of the Bar complained of the shortness of the sittings of private Committees, which nominally met at twelve and adjourned at four; but the average duration of each sitting was practically about three hours and a half. With a view to remedy this defect the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Adair) proposed that all the Committees over which he presided should meet at eleven instead of twelve. The right hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Mowbray) also endeavoured to carry this change into effect, but it was found impossible to obtain the concurrence of Members generally; and this was not surprising. To be in the Committee-room at eleven, a Member must leave his house about half-past ten. This allowed a totally inadequate interval for a due attention to his duties to his constituents, to say nothing of his correspondence and private affairs. At four o'clock he had to perform his duties in the House, which sat from that hour to twelve and one o'clock, and sometimes later. He thought, therefore, that this alteration ought not to be forced on Members. Every witness before the Committee spoke in favour of two points—the taking away the decision of locus standi from private Committees and giving it to a separate tribunal. The Court of Referees had sat on an average six hours a day, and one witness stated that they did more in six hours than would be done in a sitting of two days before a Committee of that House. Under these circumstances it was for the House to determine whether they would adhere to the recommendation of the Committee—namely, that, with certain alterations, the Court of Referees should be continued to another Session. The Committee believed that many of the defects of the new system might be met by the experience acquired in its working. No doubt the system of double inquiry was open to objection; but on the whole the Committee were, he thought, justified in the conclusion to which they came, that there had been a great saving of time to Members. There had been an increase of expense, no doubt, to certain parties, but on the whole it was clear that a saving of expense had been effected, and that the expedition with which the Private Business of the Session had been transacted had been much greater than if it had been referred entirely to Select Committees of the House. The Committee were of opinion that when the Court of Referees had discharged their duties under the Standing Orders with reference to estimates and statistics, they should inquire into the whole case, with the consent of the parties, and report to the House, and that when the Referees agreed that a Bill should be proceeded with, it should be referred to the Chairman of Ways and Means, and treated as an unopposed Bill. He thought that, without infringing upon the constitutional rule of the House, some further time might be saved by adopting this rule. He was convinced that the House had done wisely in keeping the Private Business within its own jurisdiction. He believed that the Private Business was on the whole well Conducted by the House, but that the time was coming when it must be still more seriously considered by both Houses of Parliament. Every one knew the dilemma in which the Legislature was placed at the present moment. Parliament had been sitting for five months, and now, at the end of June and on the eve of a dissolution, he believed there were forty Bills before the other House which their Lordships had not yet had time to consider. One great advantage of the new Court he had omitted to state—namely, their lengthened sittings. Two Members of that House—the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Has-sard) and the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Adair) had by a sacrifice of time, which the public could scarcely sufficiently appreciate, devoted themselves in a manner beyond all praise to the duty of presiding over the Courts of Referees. He begged to thank also his right hon. Friend in the Chair for the selection he had made in the members of the Court of Referees, which had given satisfaction to every one. He had not heard a single doubt or criticism in regard to the Gentlemen selected to sit upon these Courts. They had been selected by the Speaker without regard to party or to any other consideration, except the best mode of transacting the business of the House. The Select Committee having seen that the Chairman of the Court of Referees had given up their time from the very beginning of the Session to the discharge of their onerous duties, thought it was not fair to ask them to continue their services without compensation. He (Colonel Wilson Patten) was in the first instance opposed to the payment of Members of that House for the services in question; but he saw no other way of meeting the difficulty, and he was now prepared to waive every objection to the payment of the two Chairmen who presided over the Court of Referees. He must now apologize to the House for having taken this matter up. The management of the Private Business of that House was really in the hands of his hon. Friend the Chairman of Committee of Ways and Means (Mr. Dodson). He looked upon himself as acting under his hon. Friend and it had been with some reluctance, and only because he had for many years filled an office which made him more immediately acquainted with the services of Members on Private Committees, and their grievances, that he had put himself forward on the present occasion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Standing Order be repealed."—(Colonel Wilson Patten.)


objected to the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for North Lancashire as an important change in the constitution of the House, and as contrary to the solemn assurance given by the late Chairman of Ways and Means that the new system should be so carried out that the House should never be reduced to the position of paying its Members. But by this proposal the Speaker was enabled to convert any two Members into his own stipendiary officers. He must also say that the House was not in the position to consider a change of so much importance, inasmuch as it must itself soon cease to exist. One of the greatest evils of the present system of conducting the Private business of the House arose from the fact that there were none of those legal rules of procedure which, in his opinion, were necessary to enable a Court to arrive at a proper judicial conclusion. It would certainly be an improvement to separate the question of locus standi from the trial of the cause, and to that extent he entirely acquiesced in what had been done; but after that preliminary point had been disposed of he could not understand upon what principle there should be two Courts to hear each case.


said, he could not believe it to be fair to call upon two Members of the House to devote the whole of their time to expediting the Private business, and to make great sacrifices of their own affairs without awarding them some adequate compensation—it was another question whether, at the close of a Parliament, and in a very thin House, hon. Members should be asked to come to a decision upon so important a question as whether they should be paid. Possibly it might be well to leave it over to a future occasion. He entirely acquiesced in the decision of the Committee, and he thought that the Court of Referees might be allowed in many cases to give an opinion upon the question of expediency as well as of fact.


said, he quite agreed with the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets that the question of paying Members was one which ought to be maturely considered before the House came to any decision, but he had no hesitation in saying if the system was to be continued it was a question which ought to be faced, for it was impossible that any Gentlemen should be expected to give their continuous attention to the business of Committees without some remuneration. The tribunal was, from the nature of its constitution, a weak one, and it was necessary to consider whether it could not be improved. With regard to the important question, how far the system had inspired public confidence, he felt a strong conviction that it had done so to a considerable extent, and that if it was continued it would maintain its position in that respect. A suggestion had been made that when a question was before the Referees they should be at liberty to inquire into the whole matter. He was convinced that the success which had hitherto attended the working of the new plan arose from the Gentlemen who acted as Chairmen and their assessors giving their continuous and undivided attention to the business, and he was of opinion that if questions were to be wholly decided by the Referees, there would be a great saving of time and expense, and greater equity in the ultimate decision. The work spread over a great number of Committees might be concentrated in two or three tribunals, and he thought it desirable that power might be given to Committees to sit when the House was not sitting. Two or three tribunals sitting continuously would, he believed, be able to dispose of the whole of the Private business in a satisfactory manner; but then the House must be prepared to give an adequate remuneration to the Gentlemen who gave up their whole time and experience to the work.


desired to point out that if the settlement of this matter were left over to the new Parliament a considerable portion of the Session would be lost for the transaction of Private business. He concurred in wishing to continue the system, so that the House might give it a fair trial, which it had not yet had. While the House had had an unusually large number of Private Bills to deal with, it had had an unusually brief period to dispose of them. There might be forty Bills yet to be disposed of, but these would be got through without inconvenience if Parliament sat until the usual period of the year. He felt confident that his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Patten) had fairly quoted the evidence of witnesses before the Committee, yet it was contrary to the practice of the House to come to a decision on the very day that the evidence was laid before them. He had always entertained the greatest objection to the introduction of a system under which Members of the House were to be paid for their services, and he should reserve his judgment on the point until a Motion for the payment of the Chairmen of the Court of Referees should be formally made.


said, he did not think the House ought to tie themselves or those who might come after them in the new Parliament to the great changes which were indicated in the proposal submitted to the House by the hon. and gallant Member. He was perfectly willing to consent to the pure and simple continuance of the Court of Referees, for he was not only willing but desirous to give the present system another fair trial. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman had given notice of important alterations in the system introduced this Session. It was not two Chairmen alone who might be appointed. The Resolution referred to an unlimited number, and it appeared to be the necessary consequence of agreeing to it that the Chairmen should be paid. The House, in its present condition, ought to pause before it acceded to so grave a proposition. No one would undervalue the labours of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. Hassard) or the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Adair); but directly they opened the door to the payment of Members they did not know where the thing might stop. The three principal questions referred to the Court of Referees were the estimates, the engineering details, and the locus standi. But, according to the plan sketched out by the hon. and gallant Member for North Lancashire, every other issue that the parties could agree to submit to them was to be decided by the Court. The opponents and promoters of a Bill were usually the only parties before a Committee, and on this new scheme he did not see who were to take care of the public. If the Court of Referees agreed to the Bill, it was to go before the Chairman of Ways and Means. But suppose he said the preamble was not proved? The Bill would then come to be debated on the floor of the House. The House had not yet seen the evidence taken before the Select Committee, and they ought to have an opportunity of considering the subject fully before coming to so important a conclusion. He trusted the House would not be called upon to express any opinion beyond that of simply saying that the system should be continued.


said, that the House must have felt that no apology was needed from his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Patten) for undertaking to bring this subject before the House. The appointment of the Court of Referees had proved successful beyond all his expectations. He had deemed it open to the fundamental objection of a divided jurisdiction. That was still his opinion. He had also doubted whether it would practically work; but herein he had been mistaken. It had worked on the whole well, and had effected a great improvement on the former state of things. The effect had been to expedite business, to save time and labour to Members of that House, and at the same time the questions of engineering and estimates, which were the special subjects of consideration before the Referees, had been sifted and investigated in a manner never before performed. He thought that the Courts of Referees might be composed of Members of the House assisted by permanent assessors, and should then have the same power as ordinary Committees of dealing with Private Bills, and reporting upon them; but as the Committee had recommended that the system should be continued as it had hitherto been conducted he hoped the House would consent to the Resolution—which proposed that where all parties are agreed the Referees shall have power to inquire into the whole subject matter of the Bill and report to the House; the Bill thereafter to be treated as an unopposed Bill. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) asked who were to represent the public, but the public would not be in a worse position than if the Bill went before a Select Committee. He did not see how the interests of the public would be in the least degree endangered if the whole question went before the Referees. With regard to the payment of the Chairmen, it was not in reason to be expected that the present system could be continued for another Session unless the House were prepared to remunerate Members who devoted the whole of their time to the duties. The payment of these gentlemen was almost a sine quâ non of the continuance of the system, for he did not believe the House would find gentlemen who would permanently undertake these duties another Session without payment. Their duties had been very great and serious. The Courts had been sitting at the rate of six hours a day, and then the Chairman had, in addition, the labour of framing their reports in the evening to be laid before the House the next day. It was said an expiring Parliament should not deal with so important a question, and this appeared to be one of the principal objections felt to the repeal of the Standing Order before them; but there was always a great deal of pressure at the beginning of a Session, and if the House could not start with the Private Business at once there was the greatest possible difficulty in getting through with it. The duty of the present Parliament, as it seemed to him, if they thought the new system of Private Business worked well, was to bequeath it to the next Parliament with every facility to enable that Parliament to take up and continue the experiment. He could not believe that the present House of Commons would be exceeding its limits if it handed down the present system with such alterations and improvements as experience had suggested. If the present Parliament rescinded the prohibition of the payment of Chairmen of the Courts it would not preclude the next Parliament from dealing as it thought fit with the question of remuneration. No remuneration would be granted except by a Vote of the House, when the whole question would be discussed. He trusted that the House would agree to the repeal of the Standing Order now proposed.


thought that the speech of the hon. Gentleman, the Chairman of Ways and Means, had disclosed the greatest possible objection to the proposal now made, for he said that the payment of the Chairmen was a sine quâ non of obtaining the services of competent gentlemen to act in that capacity. The answer was, first, that such a question should not be brought before Parliament without distinct notice. The blue-book was only delivered at ten that morning, and at twelve o'clock the House was invited to weigh the evidence and decide upon the recommendations of the Committee. An important question affecting Members of that House was now raised—namely, whether their attention was to be withdrawn from the consideration of the national, imperial, and political questions intrusted to them, and to be entirely occupied with the details connected with Private Bills. Another objection was, that the present Motion raised the question of the payment of these hon. Members in the most indirect manner, and without the least notice. He did not wish to prejudge the question, but he entertained the strongest objection to the payment of Members for services rendered in that House. A belief prevailed in the minds of some people that Members of Committees on Private Bills received ten guineas a day for their attendance. The reply had always been that, with the exception of the Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means, no Member of that House received any remuneration for the discharge of the Private Business of the House. If they once began to remunerate Members where was it to stop? If the Referees were to be paid would not the Chairmen of Committees on Private Bills expect remuneration? If their claims were admitted how long could they expect Chairmen of Select Committees, who sat day by day for several weeks of the Session, to serve without payment? If the House agreed to this Resolution, the Government would feel compelled in the next Session of Parliament to propose a Vote for the payment of these Chairmen. The next Parliament ought not to find the question thus settled for it, and he trusted that his hon. and gallant Friend would not press his Motion.


said, the House must see that his hon. and gallant Friend, having moved for the appointment of the Committee to inquire into the working of the new system, could not do otherwise than bring under its notice the recommendations of the Committee, and to propose such Standing Orders as they deem desirable. It was, however, obvious that, if they went beyond a mere Continuance Bill, there ought to be something like a general concurrence of opinion in any change that might be made. It was difficult to answer the appeal that the evidence had only just been laid before the House. Late, however, as the period of the Session was, it became the duty of the House to signify to the public what kind of tribunal would next Session begin the consideration of Private Bills—the present House of Commons ought to leave some directions to the future Parliament; but he would suggest to his hon. and gallant Friend that he would do well either to withdraw his Motion and move it again on Monday or agree to the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Milner Gibson.)


said, it would not be desirable to withdraw his Motion, and have his speech to make over again, but he would not object to the adjournment of the debate. At the same time he wished to remind the House that at present there was no proposition made by the Committee to pay the Chairman. He only asked the House to try the plan proposed by the Committee as an experiment, and let it be for future consideration whether it should be made permanent or not. All he desired was that these Resolutions should be a continuance of the experiment which had already been tried, subject to the improvements suggested by the Committee. He had no objection to postpone the consideration of the question until Monday, although he could not see what satisfactory object could be attained by a postponement.


said, it was natural the House should wish to examine the evidence before it came to a decision, and it was only with that object his right hon. Friend had moved the adjournment of the debate. No doubt the passing of the Motion now before the House would be regarded as an expression of opinion that the Chairmen ought to be paid, and would pledge the Government to propose the Vote in the next Session of Parliament. He would not express any opinion whether such payment would be advisable or not, but the House ought to know the evidence on which the Committee found their recommendation.


said, that in spite of their utmost exertions it had been found impossible to get the evidence printed and in the hands of Members before that morning.


agreed that it was undesirable to come to a vote on the question until the evidence had been considered. Still the House would do well not to form an opinion too rashly against the payment of these two gentlemen, or without considering the enormous amount of business performed by them.


, in voting for the further trial of the experiment, distinctly understood that the two hon. Gentlemen referred to would not continue their labours next Session unless they were paid. In recommending the continuance of the system next Session, therefore, the Committee regarded the payment of the Chairmen of the Courts of Referees as a sine quâ non. The work they had been called upon to perform had been truly described as enormous.


said, that if there was a general concurrence of opinion that the experiment ought to be continued, he did not see how the House could postpone the question of the payment of the Chairmen Until next Session.


said, that if the House rejected the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend it would be understood that it was opposed to any payment being made. Now, he had been as unwilling as any one to begin a proceeding of that kind, but he had come to the deliberate conclusion that if they insisted on the Chairmen being Members of the House, they would be unable to carry on the present system unless they paid them. He suggested that the House might amend the Standing Orders with the exception of No. 88, and leave the question of remuneration to the Chairmen to be dealt with next Session.


thought it probable that if the debate was adjourned to Monday there would be a still smaller House than at present.


suggested, that instead of adjourning the debate it would be better to let any alteration in Standing Order No. 88 remain over for consideration till next Session.


consented to withdraw the proposition for the payment of the Chairmen of the Court of Referees, on condition that the other recommendations of the Committee, to which he did not think there could be any objection were agreed to.


regretted that his hon. and gallant Friend had yielded himself in this way into the hands of the enemy. Another discussion on this subject two or three days hence would have done a great deal of good. The argument that if they paid the Chairmen of these Courts they could not refuse to pay Chairmen of all other Committees was a hobgoblin argument of the purest breed. A superstition more utterly baseless never interfered with a practical, sensible, business-like proposal. He was sure that the salary paid to these gentlemen would not exceed the value of the services they had rendered. The only Member who was paid, except the Speaker, was the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means; and if the payment of Members proceeded in the ratio of past progression, the House would arrive at the fifth "point of the charter"—the payment of Members—in about 10,000 years. It was calculated that the new Parliament would be composed to the extent of about one-third new Members, who would have had no experience of the conscription exercised by his hon. and gallant Friend, or the evils and inconvenience of the present system of private business. Surely a Parliament that had had experience was fitter to deal with this subject than a Parliament that had none. He trusted that his hon. and gallant Friend would lose no time, but that in the very first week of the new Session he would introduce the question on which he had now unfortunately given way.

Motion and Original Question, by leave, withdrawn.

Standing Order 89 read, and amended.

Standing Order 90 read, and amended.


I wish to offer my personal thanks to those Gentlemen who were so good as to take upon themselves the duties of the Court of Referees at my request. I wish to mention the names of the Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Dodson); Mr. Hugh Adair, Chairman of Court of Referees; Mr. Hassard, Chairman; Mr. Rickards, Counsel to the Speaker; the right hon. Sir W. Gibson Craig, Sir John Duckworth, Colonel Stuart (Bedford), Sir Edward Colebrooke (Lanarkshire), Mr. Leveson Gower (Reigate), and Mr. C. W. Wynne (Montgomeryshire) the last three Gentlemen lending their assistance when the pressure became greatest. By the ability and assiduity which all these Gentlemen brought to bear upon their duties, the Private Business of the House has been performed in a manner satisfactory to the House and to the country.


said, that although the House, for the reasons assigned, appeared to be disinclined to consider the payment of the Chairmen of the Court of Referees, both the House, and the public, were deeply indebted to those hon. Gentlemen for the time they had bestowed and the ability with which they had conducted the business of the House.

Resolved, That, in case the Promoters and Opponents of any Bill shall agree that all the questions in issue between them upon such Bill shall he referred to the Referees, it shall be competent to the Referees to inquire into the whole subject matter of the Bill, and to report their opinion thereon to the House; and, in case they shall report that such Bill ought to be proceeded

ESTIMATE of the proposed (Railway).
Line, No. Whether Single or Double.
Miles. f. ch.
Length of Line ——
Cubic yards. Price per Ld. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Earthworks: —— ——
Soft Soil
Embankments, including Roads Cubic yds.
Bridges—Public Roads Number
Accommodation Bridges and Works
Culverts and drains
Metallings of roads and level crossings
Gatekeepers' houses at level crossings
Permanent way, including fencing:
Cost per Mile.
Miles. fgs. chs. ——
£ s. d.
Permanent way for sidings, and cost of junctions
Contingencies per cent.
Land and buildings:
A. R. P.

The same details for each Branch, and General Summary of Total Cost.—(Mr. Hugh Adair.)

Resolved, That when a Railway is intended to form a junction with an existing or authorized line of Railway, the course of such existing or authorized line of Railway shall be shown on the

with, the same shall, unless the House shall otherwise order, be referred to the Committee on unopposed Bills, and shall be treated as an unopposed Bill.—(Colonel Wilson Patten.)

Standing Order 91 read, and amended.

Resolved, That, in case the Referees shall report, with reference to any Bill, that the Estimate deposited in respect thereof is insufficient, or that the engineering is inefficient for the proposed object, the Bill shall not be further proceeded with unless the House shall otherwise order.—(Colonel Wilson Patten.)

Standing Order 149 read, and amended.

Resolved, That the Estimate for any works proposed to be authorized by any Railway, Dock, or Harbour Bill, shall be in the following form, or as near thereto as circumstances may permit:—

deposited plan for a distance of eight hundred yards on either side of the proposed junction, on a scale of not less than four inches to a mile.—(Mr. Hugh Adair.)

Resolved, That when a Railway is intended to form a junction with an existing or authorized line of Railway, the gradient of such existing or authorized line of Railway shall be shown on the deposited section, and in connection therewith, and on the same scale as the general section, for a distance of eight hundred yards on either side of the point of junction.—(Mr. Hugh Adair.)

Ordered, That the said Resolutions be Standing Orders of the House.

Ordered, That the Standing Orders of this House relating to Private Bills, as amended, be printed. [No. 420.]