HC Deb 20 July 1876 vol 230 cc1679-81

Order for Committee read.


My opinion having been asked whether this Bill could properly be proceeded with, seeing the extent of the alterations made in the Bill by a Select Committee, I have to state, for the information of the House, that it has been held that the Amendments made to a Private Bill by a Select Committee ought not to be so extensive as to constitute a different Bill from that which has been read a second time by the House. This is not a private Bill, but as affecting private interests, it has been dealt with as a quasi-private or hybrid Bill. It cannot be questioned that the Amendments are of a very extensive character; for the Preamble and the clauses have been completely changed, and both in form and substance it is a new Bill. But the circumstances under which this Bill has been considered by the Committee are peculiar. Early in the Session a Bill was introduced for throwing open the Metropolitan Toll Bridges. But the second reading of this Bill was postponed to a later period; and, in the meantime, the whole subject-matter of the Bill was referred to the consideration of a Select Committee. When that Committee had reported its recommendations to the House, the Bill was read a second time and committed to a Select Committee, nominated partly by the House and partly by the Committee of Selection. To this Committee were referred the Reports of several Committees on the subject, including the Report of the present Session recently made to the House. These circumstances are certainly exceptional. The House deferred the second reading of the Bill until it had received the Report of its Committee, and in committing the Bill to a Select Committee seemed to indicate the scope of the Amendments to be considered by a reference to previous Reports. This proceeding was indeed in the nature of an instruction to the Committee, which permitted a greater latitude of Amendments than is generally allowable. In view of these special circumstances, the House may probably not consider that the Committee has so far exceeded its powers as to require the withdrawal of the Bill. There is, however, a question affecting the Standing Orders which ought not to be overlooked. After the first reading the Examiner reported that the Standing Orders had been complied with. The Committee has since made Amendments affecting private rights and interests, and I would suggest, for the consideration of the House, whether the Bill as amended should not be referred to the Examiners to inquire how far the Standing Orders have been complied with in the Amendments made by the Committee.

Order discharged.

Bill, as amended, referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills to inquire whether the Amendments involve any infraction of the Standing Orders of the House.

Leave given to the Examiner to sit and proceed forthwith.