HC Deb 29 May 1866 vol 183 cc1434-6

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


, in moving that the Bill be read the third time that day fortnight, said, he desired to bring under the notice of the House that the question of the supply of gas to the metropolis, had been the subject of inquiry by a Select Committee appointed so recently as the 6th of March, and which had only just reported. A few Sessions ago an Act was passed by Parliament entitled the Metropolitan Gas Act, having for its object to regulate the supply of gas to the metropolis. In consequence of the dissatisfaction prevailing amongst gas consumers at the conduct of the Gas Companies, notwithstanding the existence of that Act, the City of London were driven to the expedient of proposing to construct gas works to supply gas at the cost and charge of the corporation of London. That proposition was felt by many Members to be a very inconvenient remedy for the evils complained of, and it was thought much better to inquire into the operation of the Metropolitan Gas Act, and see whether, if defective, it could not be improved in such a way as to secure the benefits contemplated by the City of London. A Committee was accordingly appointed, and had carried on an investigation over a great number of days. On the 15th of this month they made a very able Report, and the House ordered the evidence to be printed. At the present moment, however, the House had only the Report before them; the evidence would not be out of the hands of the printer until Saturday, and without that evidence it was impossible to proceed. They were not in a position to decide what to do with the Bill, with a due regard to the previous step they had taken in appointing the Committee. Until they had read the evidence they could take no safe action in the matter. The Report recommended that the minimum illuminating power should be increased, and the maximum price of gas diminished. On that Report only it would not be prudent to act. Therefore he moved that the Bill be postponed for a fortnight.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day fortnight."—(Mr. Ayrton.)

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


said the Bill did not ask for additional powers; it was merely a finance Act, rendered necessary to comply with the wishes of Parliament.


, Chairman of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the operation of the Metropolitan Gas Act, said, this Bill was entirely in accordance with the Report of the Committee — namely, that the illuminating power should be greater and the cost of the gas much less. He saw no objection to the Bill passing. The House of Lords had carefully examined its provisions, and the Committee passed it without opposition in the state in which it came down from the House of Lords.


said, the gas monopoly was the greatest monopoly in the world, and its supply ought to be put under very stringent regulations, and this was a good time to commence it. No new Gas Company should be allowed to divide 10 or even 7½ per cent. The Bill ought to be postponed on the grounds asked.


said, that while he concurred in thinking that great caution should be exercised in granting increased powers to Gas Companies, yet they should take care not to deal harshly or unjustly towards those Companies. The Bill had been treated in a somewhat unusual manner. Though an unopposed Bill, it had been sent to an hybrid Committee upstairs, where it was delayed for many weeks, and it would be a very hard measure to refuse the third reading when they had the assurance of the Chairman of the Committee that its clauses were not opposed to the recommendations of the Committee. It was simply a Bill to raise capital to carry out the wishes of Parliament, and any objection to it ought to have been raised at an earlier stage. If any general legislation were found necessary on the Report of the Committee with regard to Gas Companies in the metropolis, the Company promoting this Bill, like other Companies, would become subject to it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.