HC Deb 27 February 1866 vol 181 cc1203-18

said, he should not be justified in troubling the House with many observations, because statements had already been made in the House bearing on the conclusion at which he wished to arrive. But he felt it necessary to make a few remarks in order to prevent any misapprehension respecting the motives and objects which he had in view. It was easy to suggest a theory for getting rid of all inconveniences which annoyed the inhabitants of the metropolis, but when the subject was considered practically it was beset with considerable difficulties—not the least of which was the immense magnitude of the undertaking. They had to deal with an area larger than that of any other city—some 70,000 acres, with a population approaching 3,000,000, occupying 360,000 houses. The value of the property at stake could only be measured by its rateable value, which amounted to £13,000,000. The real annual value was probably not less than £15,000,000. It was not easy to grapple with such a state of things, but the difficulty was increased when it was known that for 200 years the metropolis had been allowed to grow up and govern itself in the manner which accorded most with the views of the various local bodies. The result was a most extraordinary chaos. Everything connected with local government had degenerated into abuse. The interests of the community were sacrificed for the benefit of private individuals. It was in this state of things that Lord Llanover undertook the task of establishing municipal institutions for the metropolis. The House must be struck with the great ability he manifested. It was open to Parliament at that time either to let the metropolis be governed Imperially and to set up prefects, after the manner of Paris and other continental cities, or to establish bodies more in accordance with our own Constitution and the municipal institutions of the country. The latter course was adopted. Parliament determined to establish a municipality adapted as far as possible to the peculiar circumstances of the metropolis. He did not think the House would be disposed to recede from the conclusion at which it then arrived. But Lord Llanover, contemplating the difficulties of his position, was compelled to show some deference to opposite opinions, and arrived at conclusions in the nature of a compromise. Instead of giving full scope to municipal institutions he passed a measure containing many peculiar qualifications, and amongst others he reserved to the Government the power of controlling the chief municipal body. By taking that course the worst of all possible systems was established—that of divided responsibility. In the first effort made by the Board the Government attempted to interfere, a collision between the Government and the local authorities ensued, and the result showed the disastrous consequences arising from such a state of things. Lord Llanover was led by speculative individuals into proposing a draining scheme, the estimated cost of which was from £7,000,000 to £11,000,000. The Metropolitan Board, taking a common-sense view of the matter, were satisfied with a scheme, the estimated cost of which was about £3,000,000. The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), who was then in office, adopted the wise course of declining to interfere in the municipal affairs of the metropolis. He committed the whole affair to the responsibility of the Metropolitan Board, and repealed those portions of the Act which established any control over their proceedings. The Board had carried out their plan at a cost, owing to the rise in prices, greater than that originally proposed, but at about one-third of the cost of the speculative scheme suggested by the Government. Since the adoption of that scheme by the Metropolitan Board an instance of divided administration had been seen in the setting up by the Government of a scheme of embankment. Instead of adhering to the wise policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, a noble Lord present on the Opposition side of the House (Lord John Manners) again interfered, and proposed a scheme for the embankment of the Thames. It was a most ill-considered scheme, in which grave errors existed. The Government, unfortunately, had not to pay the money required from the public revenue, but from local resources. Government did not seem to be impressed with a due sense of the responsibility connected with the undertaking. At the time he (Mr. Ayrton) pointed it out as an ill-considered plan, that streets had been laid out which never could be made, that certain bargains had been made with influential noblemen, and that these bargains would be set out as schemes which had been sanctioned by Parliament, and that it would be impossible to carry out the plan—and yesterday he was sorry to say he had seen all his predictions fulfilled. The Metropolitan Board, not being allowed to proceed, had no responsibility. They accepted the measure of the Government, causing an absolute loss to the metropolis which could only be measured by hundreds of thousands of pounds. He hoped this result would warn the Government against making themselves responsible for local self-government. However much individuals might depreciate the position of those who undertook the task of local self-government, yet in the end they were found to be people of common sense and sound judgment, and better able to deal with the subject than some persons who were intrusted with the dignity of Ministers of State. In submitting his Motion to the House he had no intention of departing from the principle of local government recognized by it at first, and afterwards sanctioned by the Administration of Lord Derby. Undoubtedly the task set the municipality was one of great and increasing magnitude and difficulty. No sooner was a great municipal body established than wants, which had been long neglected, were brought under the consideration of the House. It found that the easiest mode of dealing with them was to hand them over to the Metropolitan Board. From Session to Session grave duties and serious responsibilities had been imposed upon the board. Therefore, it was that the Metropolitan Board and the subordinate boards, although well suited to the duties first imposed on them, were not suited to many of the duties which they now had to discharge. He felt this difficulty so much, that five years ago he moved the appointment of a Select Committee, which investigated many questions of great importance, but nevertheless its labours came to a close at the end of the Session. He did not complain of the result of the labours of that Committee. On the contrary, it disposed of some important matters, and the metropolis derived great benefit from its labours, not the least of which was to place on the Metropolitan Board and the local boards the duty of protecting the inhabitants from railway invasion, instead of throwing that responsibility on individuals. He would not enter into any minute examination of the recommendations of that Committee, or the extent to which those recommendations had been carried out. But the growing extent of the duties of the Metropolitan Board rendered it necessary to take up the subject again, in order to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion with respect to the improvement necessary to enable them to perform the duties devolving upon them. That would be the first object of the Committee. The next object would be to inquire into the taxation of the metropolis, and that inquiry would not be prosecuted without difficulty. It was easy for a board to improve the metropolis provided they had an unlimited supply of funds; but the people of this metropolis were unwilling to be taxed for the gratification or caprice of other persons, and there was a steady resistance to the attempts to impose large sums in the shape of local taxation. The Metropolitan Board, wherever it was charged with any dereliction of duty, or want of zeal in carrying out improvements, invariably stated that they had not sufficient resources at their command, and that the local taxation was so extremely heavy that it had reached its utmost limit. That statement was to a considerable extent correct. The total amount of local taxation in the metropolis amounted to upwards of £2,500,000. That was no inconsiderable sum, but if it were thought necessary to gratify the desires of some hon. Members and of some scientific gentlemen out of the House, especially those who dedicated themselves to the cultivation of art, it was impossible to say to what extent local taxation would be necessary. The taxation of the metropolis was twofold—direct and indirect. Nothing could be more inconvenient, or in the end more disastrous, than to allow local boards to raise money by indirect taxation, because by that means they obtained large resources without making the expenditure at once and directly felt by the community. The advantage of direct taxation in local government, on the contrary, was immense, because the ratepayers were thus made alive to the expenditure, and were induced to look after their own interest. The direct taxation of the metropolis was upwards of £2,000,000. The indirect was comparatively small, but it was of a most pernicious character, and entirely at variance with the principles laid down with respect to the general taxation of the country. A few years ago a treaty was entered into not to levy a duty on coals exported to France, and yet a duty was levied on coals imported into London, and used for all the manufacturing industry of the metropolis. It was impossible to conceive a state of things more anomalous or ridiculous. If there was an evil in indirect taxation, it was still worse to anticipate it by loans, and make them chargeable not only on the year, but to mortgage them for many years to come, thus throwing the burdens on the future. That was a state of things which the House ought not to sanction without some cogent necessity. It became, therefore, the duty of Parliament, when a demand was made by the Metropolitan Board for increased revenue by additional taxation, to inquire into its proceedings, its necessities, and its true resources. It was necessary to examine the question of taxation, and to see whether it was levied in a manner consistent with justice. If the result should be that indirect taxation could not be upheld, then the resources necessary must be raised by some other mode. He did not think it necessary to enter into the details of the question, as he should thereby be anticipating the purpose he wished to accomplish by the appointment of the Committee. Suffice it to say, that as the Metropolitan Board was pressing forward improvement Bills, the Committee might feel it their duty at once to enter into an investigation of the means by which those improvements might be carried into effect, and he trusted that its labours would lead to the solution of a question of considerable difficulty. Having given a sufficient explanation of the objects which he had in view, he would abstain from touching on any of those topics of irritation which were sometimes introduced. He did not think any good could result from abusing classes or individuals, and be hoped the hon. Members would believe that the classes who undertook the duty of managing the affairs of the metropolis were entitled to as much consideration and respect as the class who happened to sit in that House. He made this remark because he had recently heard observations which he thought ought not to have been made, and he thought when anybody undertook to attack vestrymen they should know something about their capacity and their qualification. He was all the more surprised that anyone should decry such a class after delivering a speech which was the reproduction of a pamphlet written by a vestryman, scarcely adding a single observation of his own. The hon. and learned Member concluded by moving for a Select Committee to inquire into the Local Government and Local Taxation of the Metropolis.


said, that he seconded the Motion. No one could doubt the Metropolitan Board had effected many important works, but they were now before Parliament for three, all of great value to the public—namely—1st, the approaches to the Thames Embankment; 2nd, the Park Lane improvement; and 3rd, the continuation of the Thames Embankment, and consequently the great road to Chelsea. These were undoubted necessities. But the difficulty the Metropolitan Board had to contend with was that morally, although not legally, the taxation which fell upon the occupiers was so heavy that it could be carried no further. For instance, in Chelsea a £20 house was subject to a rating of £5. It had been suggested that the coal tax should be continued, or, again, that an improvement rate should be imposed; but, be that as it might, some resources must he found beyond the present rates, or further improvements in the metropolis must be suspended. He trusted the appointment of the Committee would not have the effect of delaying the measures which the Board thought necessary to meet the emergency of the case. The justice of a rate was, however, to be measured by its uniformity; and he should like, while upon that subject, to refer to some Returns with regard to metropolitan assessment for 1864 which had been moved for by the hon. Member for Lambeth. From those Returns he found that some most extraordinary inconsistencies prevailed. In Chelsea, for instance, with which he was best acquainted, he found the state of things to be this that under Schedule A the return of the value of property, land and houses, was £290,000 per annum, while the police rate was £240,000, the county rate £234,000, and the poor rate £229,000. Taking the great parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, he found the property was rated under the property tax under Schedule A at £1,365,000; the police rate being £964,000, the county rate £943,000, and the poor rate £920,000. The proportion in these two instances, therefore, was very much the same. He next came to the great inconsistencies of the system. In St. Pancras the return under Schedule A gave the sum of £3,818,804; the police rate being only £864,000—not much more than one-fourth—the county rate £800,000, and the poor rate £820,000: the disproportion here was inconceivable and unaccountable. Again, in the parish of Paddington he found the rating under Schedule A to be £2,400,000; the county rate was only £526,000, the police rate was £588,000, and the poor rate £607,000, or not much more than 25 per cent upon the income tax. In the City of London the inconsistencies were not so great, but they were exceedingly great even there, and showed the necessity for some inquiry. With regard to the constitution of the Metropolitan Board, the system was devised by Lord Llanover; it had worked well, and it had been in existence long enough to furnish a reasonable amount of experience. Both the vestries and the Metropolitan Board of Works would welcome inquiry. The Board stood well for what it had done. Although composed of men in a comparatively humble position of life, it had displayed ability in the conduct of business, and it had carried out great works to the satisfaction of the public and of the House of Commons. He supported the Motion for inquiry, thinking that it would be useful, and he hoped that the inquiry would be specially directed to matters that bore upon such uniformity of rating so that each person might bear his fair share of the burdens of the State.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the Local Government and Local Taxation of the Metropolis."—(Mr. Ayrton.)


said, he had ventured on Monday to remark that no metropolitan Member could touch this subject without danger of either offending his constituents or sacrificing his conscience. He presumed that the fear of offending his constituents had led the hon. Member to adopt a course which good taste might have induced him to disapprove. In disregard of a rule of debate, the hon. Member had quoted his speech of last night, and alluded to himself, although not byname, telling him that he was not to abuse individuals. The hon. Member had, however, shown how he could be praise certain individuals; his enemies might say indeed that he had fawned and cringed to them; the hon. Member had also seized every opportunity of throwing dirt upon the leaders of his own party. After a long and rambling disquisition, consisting of argument without point, and a labyrinth of topics without any definite object, the hon. Member had drawn the conclusion that the House ought to be warned against allowing the Government to have anything to do with the management of the metropolis and the constitution of the Metropolitan Board of Works. He praised the Opposition side of the House, and cast dirt upon the Ministerial side, in a manner which might be expected from an individual who had not attained the object he desired, and who was smarting bitterly under some recent disappointment. The hon. Member spoke as the representative and champion of metropolitan vestrymen. If he had defended merely those of the Tower Hamlets, the defence might have been accepted as an electioneering speech, such as they all sometimes indulged in; but he had said not a word about them. He travelled to St. Pancras, in the constituency of Marylebone, and confined himself to an apology for them: they being the only individuals to whom he (Lord Robert Montagu) had alluded. His (Lord Robert Montagu's) own case rested on the letter of Dr. Horace Jeaffreson, which had appeared in The Times, exposing the procedure, conduct, and language of London vestrymen. The hon. Member would find that he had no rival in the House who would desire to ingratiate himself with the vestrymen and appear as their proper and duly qualified representative. Any one who read of the way in which they hindered a sanitary officer from removing certain fever dens which had scattered death far and wide would not think the hon. Member's speech had added a new laurel to his brow. His speech of yesterday, the hon. Member said, was a plagiarism from a pamphlet by a vestryman. He had seen one pamphlet from which he had copied a few figures, and several omissions were supplied to him at the offices of the Metropolitan Board, where he was furnished with a complete list of metropolitan jurisdictions. But no other pamphlet or production on the subject had fallen in his way. He knew it would be useless to appeal to the Home Secretary, who had already promised to support the Motion. The hon. Member had said that Lord Llanover, backed up by a Commission on which Sir George Lewis sat, and by a powerful Government, was forced into a compromise. But was the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets backed up by a Government on which he had attempted to cast dirt. Was he supported by a Commission? Would he not, too, be forced into a compromise which might perhaps be still more ignoble? The hon. Member had also said that Lord Llanover, who was a hard working official, was led away by speculative individuals; and had not the hon. Member himself in the last Parliament been led away by speculative individuals, particularly in reference to Metropolitan Bills? [Mr. AYRTON: What Bills?] Against the Sewage Bill for instance. If the Committee which had investigated this subject five years ago and had acquired much information was unable to agree upon any measure, what reason was there for supposing that a Committee given to the hon. Member now would be more successful? Was not the want of success of a former Committee an argument against appointing a new one, particularly as local jurisdictions had become more important than they were formerly, and more able to resist a searching inquiry? Not content with grappling with a difficulty which was proved to be insurmountable before the hon. Member had complicated it by adding the question of direct or indirect taxation, which alone would be enough for any Committee of ordinary men. The ordinary rule in these cases was to appoint a Committee to ascertain facts; and when these had become known then a Royal Commission was generally appointed to devise a measure which would meet an acknowledged difficulty. Thus there had been Committees and Commissions upon Poor Law and Rivers' pollution. Last year, moreover, the Secretary of State said it was not necessary to appoint a Commission upon this subject, because the House had long been cognizant of the facts, and yet the right hon. Gentleman assented now to the appointment of a Committee to acquire this knowledge. The truth was the right hon. Baronet desired to postpone the evil day; he was afraid, and he therefore displayed the hesitation which he lately did in the question of the cattle plague. The proper course would be to appoint a Commission who could make available the information already obtained.


said, it was not his intention to enter into the matters at issue between the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets and the noble Lord. He only wished, as one of the representatives of the City, to say, as the City authorities were generally supposed to be at issue with the Metropolitan Board of Works, that they would interpose no difficulty in the examination of any matter having reference to the government or local taxation of the metropolis, but would be ready to afford the Committee all the assistance in their power.


said, that the feeling of the House seemed to be in favour of the contemplated inquiry. He regretted that personal matters had been introduced in the debate, but he thought that a sufficient case had been made out for inquiry by a Committee. The noble Lord seemed to differ from the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets only in this, that he thought a Commission would be better than a Committee. But it appeared to him that a Committee of the House of Commons was very competent to deal with this question, particularly when they took into consideration that Members from different parts of the metropolis might be very useful in the course of the inquiry, There was only one other observation which he wished to make, and it was with regard to the Bills promoted by the Metropolitan Board of Works. He understood the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) to say that it was desirable to interpose as little delay as possible in the prosecution of those Bills, and that, therefore, the inquiries of the Committee might be directed in the first place to the question of taxation without waiting for the general Report to say by what funds those improvements might be carried out. It was very desirable to interpose no unnecessary delay in the way of those Bills, and with that understanding the Government were ready to assent to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman.


said, he would not have risen but for certain observations which he had heard with some apprehension, and coming from the quarter they did, that apprehension was by no means diminished. He referred to what had fallen on the question of taxation from the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite), who held a responsible position in that House. Now, he felt it his duty not to let this matter go further without at once expressing a very earnest hope that neither a Committee of that House, nor that House collectively, would approve what the remarks of the hon. Member led him to think the Metropolitan Board of Works were hankering after— namely, a continuance of the coal tax for metropolitan improvements. The hon. Member pointed out that the limits of the ordinary taxation of occupiers in the metropolis had been almost exceeded—that it had got to a point beyond which it would not be safe or politic to advance. Now he, as a ratepayer of the metropolis, fully endorsed that statement. Those metropolitan improvements might be very useful and valuable to certain classes, but they were of no benefit whatever to others. They might benefit those who had great shops, and whose traffic filled our streets—they might benefit the wealthier classes. But it behoved the House to remember that if they sanctioned this unnecessary interference with the homes and habits of the poor, they should be very cautious not to touch their pockets in doing so. The increase of the coal tax had not unfrequently been made a pretext by the retail dealer for an advance in the price of this necessary article, and that in a degree far more than commensurate with the amount of the duty. Coal, as fuel, in the metropolis was an absolute necessary of life, and there was no impost to which he understood there was a greater objection, because it was in fact an "Octroi" duty levied in its worst form. He might be supposed to speak in the interests of the coal producer, but he was quite alive to also those of the consumer. He was quite ready to submit to the House of Commons that this tax ought to have expired already, but it had been mortgaged for the benefit of the metropolis, and he hoped that this mortgage would not be allowed to continue beyond its present limits.


said, he entirely agreed with every word which had been said in condemnation of the coal tax. It pressed very heavily on every consumer in the metropolis, but particularly on the poorer classes. They were all aware that I the moment a tax was put upon any article of consumption the retail price rose more in proportion, and this was especially true of the coal tax, which he trusted no attempt would be made to perpetuate. With regard to the Committee moved for by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, it was in his opinion calculated to do a great deal of good, and if its attention was directed to the taxation of the metropolis it might be found that those who had the strongest interest in metropolitan improvement were in reality most free from taxation. In point of fact the taxation fell principally upon the occupiers of the metropolis, while the freeholders, who derived immense revenues from their property, scarcely paid anything. That was a matter which ought to be looked to. Every improvement benefited to an enormous extent the owner of the property, and he ought, therefore, to pay in proportion. There was a strong feeling in the metropolis that the duty upon hackney carriages, which did so much injury to the streets and created a necessity for such extensive repairs, ought to be applied to the improvement of the metropolis, instead of being diverted into the Imperial Exchequer. He would make no suggestion on that point, but the general feeling was as he had said. The hon. Member for Bath had referred to the extraordinary discrepancy between the rating under Schedule A of the parish of St. Pancras, amounting to £3,000,000, and that of the wealthy parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, which was not above a million. But the explanation of that was to be found in the fact that the three great railway termini and canals, all subject to heavy rating, existed in St. Pancras. The same observation would apply to Paddington, where the Great Western had its terminus and the Metropolitan had a station, and where canals also existed. This fully accounted for the apparent disparity.


said, with regard to the general questions before the House, there were few which required more careful inquiry than the local management and general taxation of the metropolis. But there was another subject upon which he wished to say a few words, and that was with regard to the comforts of the poorer classes. One would have imagined from what had passed that up to the present Session no one had ever taken into consideration how public improvements, whether in the shape of railways or others, might affect the working classes of this city. Now, it was only due to Parliament to say that a Standing Order—No. 91, made in 1865—of the House of Lords required that— In the case of any Bill for making any works requiring compulsory powers for taking houses occupied wholly or partially by tenants or lodgers, the promoters should be obliged to deposit in the office of the Clerk of the Parliaments by a certain day a statement of the number, description, and situation of such houses, the number of persons to be displaced, and whether any or what provisions were made in the Bill to remedy the evils of such displacement. He would be extremely sorry to say anything that would appear to depreciate the efforts made in that House by the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. T. Hughes); but he, at the same time, thought it only fair to read the Standing Order; and, by so doing, show that the attempt to protect the rights of the poor was first made by the other House. He hoped that the House of Commons would adopt a provision similar to that unanimously adopted by the House of Lords, and that in any Bills introduced by the Metropolitan Board of Works care would be taken to insert clauses to make some provision for the poor deprived of their dwellings for the purpose of making improvements.


said, he was sure that when this subject was before the House yesterday, the noble Lord who had just sat down was not aware of the existence of the Standing Order which he had read. For his own part he considered that Standing Order to be a very desirable one, and he hoped that it would be adopted by the House. Until the noble Lord read the Standing Order he did not know that any definite action had been taken in the matter, although he was aware that much discussion had taken place, and that during the course of last Session Lord Derby had frequently urged on the House of Lords in the strongest terms the necessity of protecting the poor by preventing their dwellings being destroyed by railway companies. Improvements must be made, but the House should take care that as little harm as possible should be done to the working classes. The question of providing proper dwelling houses for poor persons whose residences had been destroyed by railway companies was one of the greatest difficulty, for the inhabitants of many of the metropolitan parishes objected, in the strongest terms, to dwellings for the labouring classes being built within the limits of their parishes. They did this because they feared that if the labouring classes settled in their parish some of them would finally become chargeable to the parish rates. This difficulty would be obviated if a scheme which he and the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had often advocated in that House was adopted—namely, the equalization of poor rates throughout the metropolis. If that system was adopted, the rate would not press too heavily on any parish; if, for instance, at present there was to be a uniform rate in all the metropolitan parishes it would amount only to 1s. 6d. in the pound. At present the richest parishes were the lightest taxed, the inhabitants of the parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, for instance, only paying a rate of 6d. or 7d. in the pound. That would be raised, but the equalized rate would be no burden. He thought that it was not fair to expect the working classes to live together in suburban villages; like the rest of the world, they ought to be allowed to live where they wished themselves. If an equal rate throughout the whole area were adopted there would be no longer any disposition to discountenance the erection of dwellings for the working men in any part of the metropolis. Such dwellings should be built where the necessity for them arose, and the working men would not be sent out to suburban places, perpetuating the highly objectionable practice of placing together persons all of one class.


said, that up to this time the Standing Order which had been adopted by the Lords had had no practical results, save the introduction of two clauses into three Railway Bills compelling the companies to run cheap trains for the benefit of the labouring classes. He hoped that if the House of Commons adopted a Standing Order, intended to prevent the destruction of houses of the poor by railway companies, they would not adopt one similar to that passed by the House of Lords. If they did, they would find that their Standing Order would prove almost entirely useless for the purpose intended. With respect to the erection of dwellings in the neighbourhood of those pulled down the Standing Order had no effect whatever. He hoped that if the House passed a Standing Order on the subject it would be of a more stringent character than that which had been adopted in the Upper House.


said, he regretted to hear the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell), and the hon. Member for Marylebone, express a hope that the Committee which had been consented to by Her Majesty's Government would pass by a certain point of taxation which would be brought before them. The question of metropolitan taxation was of the greatest importance, and he considered that the Committee ought to inquire into every possible source of local rating, in order that they might thus, if it be possible, discover some means of reducing the present high rate of taxation. He hoped that the Committee would fully inquire into these matters, and would do everything in their power to place the metropolitan taxation in a more satisfactory position than it now occupied, making the expenditure press as lightly as possible on the poorer ratepayers.


said, in reference to what had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu), that the noble Lord seemed to imagine that he imputed blame to Lord Llanover. He did nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he had spoken with the greatest respect of the noble Lord, and had only regretted that he was compelled by the difficulties which beset him to undertake a course of which he was sure his Lordship did not himself approve. All he had done was to show that with a divided administration the work had not gone on satisfactorily. He had deprecated the introduction of any personalities into the debate, and he had asked hon. Members not to abuse the vestries, and the result of his doing so was that the noble Lord abused him instead. The value of abuse always depended on the weight generally attached to the opinion of the person who used it, and he did not therefore much mind the language that had been used towards him by the noble Lord. Laudari a laudatis was an old maxim, and he supposed that the reverse also held good. The noble Lord had made against him one very serious charge. He had charged him with having used his Parliamentary influence to obtain the passing through the House of a Bill connected with the sewage of the metropolis. Now, there never was made against any man a more unfounded charge, and there was no one who ought to know that fact better than the noble Lord himself. So far from assisting in passing the Bill, he had opposed the concessions made to the promoters as injurious to the public interests. When the Bill was before Committee he then urged that the concessions that had been made to the promoters ought not to have been made. He was defeated in Committee, and he then brought the matter before the House, and succeeded in having the decision of the Committee reversed and the concessions withheld. Such were the simple facts of the case, and yet the noble Lord charged him with endeavouring to get passed a Bill the most important concessions in which he had, in the interest of the public, most strenuously op-posed. He certainly had prevented the noble Lord from sitting upon that Committee, and he was sure that was not prejudicial to the interests of any one. Having set right the only fact alluded to by the noble Lord, the House could now understand what the noble Lord's explanations and opinions were worth; but for his part he did not think them worth notice.

Motion agreed to.

Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into the Local Government and Local Taxation of the Metropolis.—(Mr. Ayrton.)

And, on March 7, Select Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. AYRTON, Mr. TITE, Mr. BAZLEY, Mr. LOCKE, Mr. ALDERMAN LAWRENCE, Mr. BARING, Mr. MILL, Mr. HANBURY, Lord JOHN MANNERS, Mr. BEECROFT, Mr. TURNER, Sir WILLIAM GALLWEY, Sir MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY, Mr. SANDFORD, and Mr. KEKEWICH:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.