§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. MONK
said, that very great interest was taken in this Bill on the part of a considerable number of the ratepayers of the City of London, who had presented Petitions on the subject, and who desired to draw the attention of the House to the way in which their interests were dealt with. There was one clause to which he wished to draw special attention, and which ran as follows:—The Board may from time to time during the year ending the thirty-first day of December one thousand eight hundred and eighty-one expend … such money as they think fit. … The aggregate amount … shall not exceed one hundred thousand pounds.The Petitioners complained that the effect of that clause, if passed, would be to authorize the Board to pay out of the rates the expenses that had been incurred in promoting certain Water Bills; and, further, to authorize the Board to pay the expenses they had incurred in the promotion of the Tower High Level Bridge Bill. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Truro (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) would, in Committee, accept an Amendment providing that that clause should not allow the Metropolitan Board to apply any portion of that sum of £100,000 in payment of the expenses incurred in those matters. If that were done, he would have no objection to the House going into Committee.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
could assure his hon. Friend that that clause had nothing to do with the expenses which it might possibly cover; the clause really enabled the Board to continue to make grants already sanctioned. The improvements upon which an expenditure was sanctioned must be within the Metropolitan area, and the expenditure to which his hon. Friend had alluded was for effecting works outside the area. The Metropolitan Board could not make an expenditure for effecting works practically outside their jurisdiction.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clauses 1 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 7 (Power for Board to expend under 18 & 19 Vict. c. 120, s. 144, and 25 & 26 Vict. c. 102, s. 72).
MR. MONK moved, in page 3, line 2, after the word "respectively," to insert the words—
Provided always, That nothing in this section contained shall he construed to authorise the payment by the Board of any expenses incurred in the preparation or promotion of any Bills which shall have been disallowed by the auditor.
If the Bill was not to authorize the payment by the Board of expenses incurred in the promotion of those Bills, he did not see that the insertion of that Proviso would prejudice the action of the Board; but would only make it clear that they had no power to pay those expenses.
In page 3, line 2, after the word "respectively," to insert the words "Provided always, That nothing in this section contained shall be construed to authorise the payment by the Board of any expenses incurred in the preparation or promotion of any Bills which shall have been disallowed by the auditor."—(Mr. Monk.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, that he could not assent to the Amendment. The clause in no way sanctioned any payment in respect of those matters. Under these circum- 481 stances, the insertion of the Amendment would only practically tie the hands of Parliament. He thought that the Amendment was entirely unnecessary.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
did not see why the Amendment should not be accepted. Everything that the Government wanted they got by the Bill, and there seemed to him no reason for not inserting the Amendment. It was clear that expenses, which had been disallowed by the auditor, ought not to be paid, and he thought that the insertion of a Proviso to that effect was very proper.
§ MR. BARING
said, that either the clause did not authorize the expenditure on the matters in question, in which case there could be no objection to the Proviso, or it did authorize the payment of those matters, and then there was still more reason for the Proviso being inserted.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
was sorry to say that at that moment the Corporation of Sheffield had expended £11,000, which they were liable to pay out of their own pockets. That was in consequence of some selfish ratepayers going to the Court of Queen's Bench. The Corporation had really only done its duty to the ratepayers in protecting them against the acts of the Water Companies, and yet they had had to pay the expenses so incurred out of their own pockets. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had now permitted that to be done in the case of London which had not been allowed in the case of Sheffield.
MR. C. BECKETT-DENISON
thought that no more unfortunate instance could have been adduced with regard to this question than that of Sheffield. The hon. Member for Sheffield had held out what had taken place in that case as the selfish act on the part of the ratepayers. But the case had also been considered as a selfish disregard by the Corporation of the opinion of the ratepayers. It was the most unfortunate instance that could have been adduced on the present occasion. He did not think that, by quoting that instance, his Lon. Friend the Member for Sheffield had done anything to get rid of the incubus that weighed upon the hon. Member who objected to the insertion of the Amendment on that occasion.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 15; Noes 53: Majority 38.—(Div. List, No. 215.)
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time To-morrow.