§ Order for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the Amendment to the Second Reading [12th March], read.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he wished to put a Question to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the measure. This matter was in a most unfortunate position. He had ascertained from the authorities of the House that if a Bill were brought forward with regard to any other town in England for the purchase of waterworks, it would be a private Bill, and, consequently, it would be subjected to an inquiry by a Select Committee upstairs. Owing to the operation of the half-past 12 o'clock rule, the present Bill had not the least chance of ever coming on, unless the Govern- 759 ment gave some assistance. It seemed to him that the time had now arrived when, after an inquiry by the House, the question should be determined by a Committee of the House as to whether it was desirable that the waterworks of London should be purchased; and, if so, upon what terms? He was told that a most serious evil was arising from a delay in the settlement of this question, inasmuch as a large amount of speculation in the Water Companies' snares was going on, and if the Water Companies were purchased, the ratepayers would have to pay a great deal more for them than they would otherwise have had to pay. He therefore wished to ask whether, in the event of the Order for the second reading of this Bill being discharged, the Government would offer any objection if a Motion were made for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the subject? That would not pledge the Government to support this or any other Bill.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
admitted that there was a practical evil, and would have liked very much to have this Bill discussed on the second reading; for there were two questions to be considered. The first was as to whether it was wise that the Water Companies should all be amalgamated in some form and be under one management? This was a question which came, to a considerable extent, before the Select Committee which sat some time ago. Then there was a second question as to whether, if it were right that the Water Companies should be amalgamated, the Metropolitan Board of Works was the body under which they ought to be placed? He could not at present give an answer to the hon. Member's Question; but he should probably be able to do so at some future time if the Question were repeated.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tuesday next.
§ House adjourned at One o'clock till Monday next.