HC Deb 25 February 1879 vol 243 cc1773-90

, in rising to move— That an humble Address "be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the supply of water to the manufacturing districts of Lancashire and the west of Yorkshire, and any deficiencies likely to arise therein; and, whether it is necessary or expedient to resort to the Westmoreland and Cumberland Lakes to make good any deficiencies in such supply; and, if so, to what extent, and under what conditions, such resort should be sanctioned, said, that he felt it necessary to submit the reasons which induced him to call attention to this subject a second time. Last year be placed upon the Paper Notice of a similar Motion, but the Eastern debate intervening, he was compelled to postpone it, and he then raised the question by moving the rejection of the Manchester Corporation Water Bill, stating, at the same time, that if he was successful in obtaining the rejection of the Bill he should move for a Royal Commission. The reason of his opposition to that Bill was that it was a Bill of too great public importance to be dealt with by a Private Bill Committee, but that a careful investigation was demanded. The present Prime Minister, in one of his earlier works, stated that the opinion of a country was better represented through the Press than through Parliament; and if that statement was as full of "sense and truth" as some of his later utterances were said to be, they were fully justified in carrying on their opposition to the Bill, because almost the whole Press of the country united in condemning it. The result of their efforts last year was that a Select Committee was appointed, with special instructions, to Inquire into and report upon the present sufficiency of the water supply of Manchester and its neighbourhood, and of any other sources available for such supply: To consider whether permission should be given to make use of any of the Westmoreland and Cumberland Lakes for the purpose; and, if so, how far, and under what conditions: To consider the prospective requirements of the populations situated between the Lake District and Manchester: To inquire and report whether any, and, if so, what, provisions should be made in limitation of proposals for the exclusive use of the water of any of the said Lakes. The opponents of the Bill agreed to the conditions, because they believed they contained the principle for which they had been contending—namely, that the question was one of public interest and importance; that the inquiry ought to be public; and that the expenses of fighting it should not be thrown entirely on those individuals who had formed themselves into an Association for preserving the natural features of the Lake District. The Committee commenced at once to regard the case simply as one between the promoters and opponents. They did not seem to have sought any further evidence. Now, it was impossible for that Association to which he had referred, with its limited means, to present such elaborate plans and details as Mr. Bateman, the Engineer to the Manchester Corporation, was able to produce. The Manchester Corporation had the services of Sir Edmund Beckett, who treated the evidence of the opposition in his usual complimentary manner, and the Committee seemed to have adopted his views. They said, moreover, that the evidence which had been adduced as to the supplies which might be obtained from other sources was unworthy of consideration, and thus simplified their task by assuming that there was no other water supply. He (Mr. Howard) had been told that evidence was offered to them of an entirely different and most comprehensive scheme, and that they declined to go into it. He maintained, therefore, that the opponents of the Bill had raised a primâ facie case that there were other sources of supply, and that the Select Committee ought to have gone further than they did; and that that Committee did not use the powers with which they had been armed to the extent to which the public had a right to expect. The Committee seemed to accept the statements of the promoters of the Bill without sifting them. Take, for example, the question of population. To begin with, there was a remarkable discrepancy on this point. When the Bill was first introduced into this House, a deputation from Manchester waited on the Chairman of Ways and Means, and, in presenting their case, the Mayor of Manchester said that the number of people the Manchester Corporation had to supply with water was 800,000. But a few weeks afterwards, before the Committee, it was stated by the promoters of the Bill that the number of people was over 900,000. He (Mr. Howard) did not know whether these people had been hastily manufactured in the interval, or how Manchester had increased so rapidly; but if the population of Manchester was to keep on increasing with such power of multiplication, any scheme for supplying them with water short of a reproduction of the Flood would fail in its object. One of the main allegations of the supporters of the Bill was that in less than 10 years there would be a deficiency in the supply of water at the present rate of increase in the population. Twenty-five million gallons was the present supply, and' they admitted that that would be sufficient for 1,000,000 people; but they said that before 10 years the population of Manchester and district would have increased to 1,300,000, and that, therefore, there would be a deficiency of water; and they argued that, because it would take seven years to carry out their present scheme, there ought to be no delay in passing their Bill. But how did the Committee arrive at that estimate? They took the number of additional houses and warehouses erected each year in Manchester and the neighbourhood, allowing five persons to each house. That was the way the estimate was arrived at that Manchester and the neighbourhood would increase to so great an extent. It ought to be remembered, however, that the time at which these calculations were made was a time of exceptional prosperity, when houses and manufactories were springing up like mushrooms; and he (Mr. Howard) did not think the number of additional buildings in any one year formed a sound basis on which to calculate the increase in the population. Taking the Census itself, the figures told quite a different tale. The increase was estimated by the Committee and by the Manchester Corporation to be very nearly 39 per cent; whereas, if estimated according to the last Census Returns, the increase would only be 12½ per cent. Perhaps he might be told that the increase rose in every decennial period. On the contrary, the fact was that when they came to compare those periods since 1821 they would find a regular decrease. The county of Lancashire gave a return of 27 per cent from 1821 to 1831; from 1831 to 1841, 25 per cent; from 1841 to 1851, 22 per cent; from 1851 to 1861, 20 per cent; and from 1861 to 1871, 16 per cent. Taking Salford and South-East Lancashire, the percentage decreased from 30 per cent in 1821–31 to 13 per cent in 1861–71. Therefore, the estimate of the Select Committee was formed on entirely erroneous information. Beyond this, the independent investigations which the Committee had made had cost the Treasury simply six guineas—and this in a scheme which involved an estimated outlay of £4,000,000; which estimate would probably increase much faster than the population which had to pay it, and which would more like reach to £6,000,000 before the works were completed. He, therefore, contended that the Committee had limited the nature of their investigations to such an extent that the inquiry was not at all adequate to the subject, and that they failed to give it that consideration which the public had a right to expect. However, they passed the Bill with certain alterations. They were very good alterations. They required that Manchester should supply all the towns on the line of conduit, and supply it at a profit of not more than 5 per cent. That did away with the speculative character of the Bill, because it was notorious that the object of the Corporation was to obtain a monopoly of this supply, and then to sell it to all the towns which might be hard up for water for as much money as they could get. The House of Lords threw out the Bill on the Standing Orders, and it had been introduced again this year, amended in accordance with the proposals of the Select Committee. Therefore it was that he had now thought it worth while to ask the House to pause once more before sanctioning this scheme—a scheme which involved such great alterations in the features and characteristics of the Lake District which many of them prized so high, a scheme which involved the outlay of a sum equal to that which Her Majesty's Ministers thought fit last year to ask the House to grant for the preservation of the Empire. He asked the House, before sanctioning such a scheme, to institute a thorough inquiry into the whole question of the water supply of those districts. The importance of the subject was too evident to need demonstration from him. About 10 years ago a Royal Commission was appointed to consider the water supply of London, and they were also instructed to extend their inquiry to the provincial towns. But the nature of the first inquiry was so protracted that they could not go into the second, and they merely laid down a few general principles, and pointed out a few gathering grounds for future investigation. The further investigation had not taken place, and if it seemed important then it must be much more important now. No doubt he should be told that because a Select Committee had already inquired into the subject there was no need for further inquiry; but he submitted that be had already shown that the inquiry of the Select Committee of last year was of too limited a nature, and was not such as the public had a right to expect. He thought he had also shown that their estimates of the increased population of Manchester and the probable requirements of that population had been much exaggerated. It was admitted that the present waterworks of the Manchester Corporation cost more than was estimated; and, no doubt, it was in order to make up for that that the Corporation had been obliged to sell the water to manufacturers which had been intended for future generations. This had occurred in years of prosperity, when new manufactories sprung up in the district, and that was the reason why they were short of water now, when their works ought to have lasted much longer. They were told on the highest authority that the present depression of trade was due to over-trading. Perhaps they might not have an opportunity of repeating that process for some time to come, and no doubt they would be glad to postpone it as long as possible. He thought, therefore, in all the circumstances, delay would not be a misfortune to Manchester, but rather a great boon and benefit, by delaying or preventing the execution of this scheme, involving such an enormous outlay to the ratepayers, and calculated as it was to reproduce that distress from which they had so recently suffered. For these reasons, he asked the House to assent to the Motion. If a Royal Commission were appointed, they would insure that the Lakes should not be subjected to such operations as were contemplated by the Bill until other resources had been fully inquired into and found wanting; and if the Royal Commission should decide that it would be right and proper to use the Lakes for the purposes contemplated, they would lay down limitations as to interference with the natural features and characteristics of the district; but if the Bill were allowed to pass, and the Royal Commission were not granted, and if Lake Thirlmere were to be "restored to its ancient condition," they should submit to the inevitable result, and see their Lakes taken one after another and "restored" to their ancient or some other shape by some eminent engineer. He was afraid there were many persons, although he was not one of them, who would agree with the wish of an eminent Professor, that "rather than see the waters of Thirlmere brought to the tops of the houses of Manchester, he would prefer to see the houses of Manchester brought to the bottom of the waters of Lake Thirlmere." The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.


, in seconding the Resolution, said, that he was strongly of opinion that it would not only be in the interests of the people of the West Riding of Yorkshire, but also in the interests of the ratepayers of Manchester, to have this question of water supply from Thirlmere fully inquired into. He might say that no one would be more willing than himself to facilitate any measure for supplying the inhabitants of Manchester with an abundant supply of water; but he denied, in the first place, that there was any danger of a water famine in that town; and, in the second place, he believed the Thirlmere scheme was the most expensive that could have been devised by the Corporation of Manchester or any other body of persons. The people of Manchester had quite close to them, in Derbyshire, one of the most admirable gathering grounds that could be imagined—a gathering ground which could give a supply of water for any length of time and in any circumstances, at a rate infinitely less than it would cost to get water from the Cumberland Lakes. There were, of course, those who would tell them that the people of Manchester knew their own concerns best, and that they could undoubtedly carry on their business better than anybody else. Now, while giving the people of Manchester every credit for the proper comprehension of their own affairs, he would accept any such statement on this particular question with more or less reserve, and for this reason—that he believed the idea of gathering water for the legitimate supply of Manchester on the spot where it could be most usefully utilized had never been dreamt or thought of practically until the Thirlmere Water Scheme had taken possession of certain minds in the Corporation of Manchester. And, again, the Corporation of Manchester itself was not unanimous by any means in favour of the Bill, for after the scheme was introduced into Parliament there was ample evidence of this. It was well known that, in the first instance, it was the intention of the Corporation of Manchester to become practically a huge association of dealers in water; and that if they had been successful in passing this Bill in its original form, they would have proceeded to make their own terms for the supply of water to other towns. They also knew, as a matter of fact, that if the Corporation of Manchester succeeded in getting their Bill, even in its amended form, and were allowed to appropriate the Lake, a precedent would be established for other towns to follow. Other Corporations would assuredly come to Parliament and say—"We want this Lake, or that Lake," with the inevitable result that at last there would remain no available source of supply for West Yorkshire. Leeds itself, and the other large towns, it was true, could not be said to have a bad supply of water; but when they came to the small manufacturing towns in the district running from Todmorden to the east of Leeds—a very wide district, indeed—they found that immense pressure had existed on account of the general want of an adequate supply of water. The water supply had been certainly deficient throughout this network of small towns and villages; and to allow any one Corporation to say to the inhabitants of West Yorkshire—"We will appropriate by Parliamentary powers, if we can get them, the whole of a large Lake, and you may get your supply as best you can," would be a matter calculated, not only to irritate, but to work public injury. It was with great cordiality, therefore, that he asked, on behalf of those who surrounded him in the neighbourhood of Leeds, that, before any legislation took place on the question, they in that district should have what they asked for—namely, a full and searching inquiry, not only for Manchester itself, but for the whole district to which he had referred. In the event of such an inquiry taking place, he sincerely hoped that it would not be confined to Thirlmere, or to any other Lake of East Cumberland. The whole question of the permanent water supply throughout the entire North of England should be entered into; and it should be ascertained whether Manchester might not have confined itself for a water supply to the immense gathering ground afforded by the rivers and other head waters in its vicinity. If it were possible to obtain water so close at hand, such sources would be far better utilized for the purposes of Manchester than that contemplated by the Thirlmere Scheme. In conclusion, he would again cordially press upon the House the advisability of adopting the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Cumberland.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the supply of water to the manufacturing districts of Lancashire and the West of Yorkshire, and any deficiencies likely to arise therein; and, whether it is necessary or expedient to resort to the Westmoreland and Cumberland Lakes to make good any deficiencies in such supply; and, if so, to what extent, and under what conditions, such resort should be sanctioned."—(Mr. Edward Howard.)


I listened with great regret and no less surprise to the speech of the hon. Member for East Cumberland, who introduced the Motion. I was prepared for an attack on the Manchester Corporation and upon those who have promoted the Manchester Corporation Water Bill; but I was not prepared for an attack to be made on the Select Committee by whom the Bill was last year considered. That Committee was chosen with great care, and was, I am sure, as competent to deal with this important question as any Committee that could have been chosen by this House—I would also venture to say as competent, probably, as any Royal Commission Her Majesty's Ministers could choose for this purpose. The question of the Thirltnere Scheme was laid before the Select Committee, and their Report upon it was, I believe, adopted with singular unanimity. That unanimity was no less felt in the district which it is proposed to benefit by the scheme. A public meeting was held, according to the Statute bearing upon the question, in Manchester, to approve or disapprove of the scheme. A poll was demanded, and a poll was taken, and the result was a majority of 40,000, as against less than 3,000, in favour of a scheme which we are told is so heavily to tax the people of Manchester. Then we are told in the same breath that it is to relieve Manchester from the burden imposed on it by the failure of the present water scheme. I am free to admit that that water scheme has cost a great deal more than was originally contemplated; but I should say, from the observations of the hon. Member for East Cumberland, that he has a superficial knowledge of the subject himself. He tells us that from the present sources there is an abundant supply of water, only that the Corporation are obliged to sell it in order to raise the money to recoup the expenses. Now, the fact is, all the water that is sold is sold under statutory obligations. The Corporation of Manchester is bound to supply the neighbourhood and district. The water is readily taken, and when a dry season occurs considerable distress is felt. I submit that the question of providing an abundant supply of water to a great population is one that ought to be treated with the greatest favour by this House, owing to the necessity for it in our manufacturing districts, both for the personal wants of the population and for manufacturing purposes. This scheme, as the hon. Member has truly stated, has been enlarged by the direction of the Committee, so that it is not merely a scheme for supplying water to Manchester, but for providing the manufacturing districts of South-East Lancashire. He approves of that alteration, so does the Corporation of Manchester; therefore I would suggest to him that if he does wish the House to accept his Resolution, that he should eliminate from it everything which relates to the county of Lancaster, and content himself—probably with the approbation of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheel-house)—with confining it to West Yorkshire—if, indeed, it should be found to be desired by that part of the country. I very much question, however, whether the West Riding does desire a Royal Commission of this kind. The Report of the Duke of Richmond's Commission is substantially carried out by the Thirlmere Scheme as it now stands. I might bring forward many other arguments to show why this Motion ought not to be passed, and I do not think that any practical purpose would be served by passing it. Of course, the wants of West Yorkshire deserve the utmost consideration. Yorkshire ought to have every opportunity of making known its requirements; but it is not the case that this Motion is really supported by West Yorkshire, and it is perfectly clear that the object is to hinder and obstruct the Manchester Scheme, at whatever cost and whatever inconvenience to a population approaching 1,000,000, in order that the æsthetic views of the hon. Member and his Friends may be respected. The views of the hon. Member are not the views of his constituents, for the people of Cumberland generally are in favour of the scheme; but there are a few persons who take views similar to the fullest extent. I believe those views are imaginary. I believe the Corporation of Manchester will be able to satisfy them that the picturesque beauty of the Lakes will not be interfered with, and that every care will be taken to preserve the natural features of the country. The principal holders of property in the district are already satisfied, and there is, in short, no real substantial objection to the Bill. I therefore think that this Motion, which is one merely hostile to the Manchester Bill, ought not to be accepted by this House.


said, he was of opinion that the House should not appoint a Royal Commission as proposed. The whole question of water supply was one which deserved the attention of the House. At this moment there were before Parliament 23 Bills and 10 Provisional Orders dealing with water supply; and when he informed the House that these schemes involved an expenditure of nearly £6,000,000, the importance of the subject would be perceived. The practice of the House had been when such Bills had been read a second time to refer them to Select Committees, who dealt with them according to the evidence that came before them. One great objection to that system was that there was no uniformity in the action of those Committees. The General Acts which governed the question of water supply, though sufficient in former years, were not sufficient at the present time; and if reference were made to the Acts of 1835 and 1847, it would be found that they might now be greatly improved upon. As regards the purity of the water, for instance, it was not of such a high standard as it ought to be. Then, again, it very often happened that the Water Companies or Corporations taking powers to supply areas failed to supply portions of those areas, and thus practically created a water famine in the parts which they were bound to supply. This was a question which ought to be scrupulously investigated and guarded against in every private Water Bill. In the case of the Manchester Bill, the Committee were empowered to consider questions outside the area which the Manchester Corporation was supposed to supply; but in all the ordinary Water Bills it was impossible for the Committee to consider the water wants of any village or town which might be outside the particular area proposed to be supplied. These were matters which ought to be remedied; and he would suggest that the Chairmen of the various Committees which would be formed should have some means of laying down a uniform line of action. He desired to see some kind of uniformity with reference to these Water Bills; and if they would compare one Bill with the other, they would see that these points should receive attention, and that uniformity was required. He believed it was necessary that further provisions should be made in these Water Bills for the protection of the public. His suggestion would be that a number of experienced Members of the House should be chosen as Chairmen of the Private Bill Committees who would consider all the water schemes submitted, and that they should be formed into a panel, similar to the General Committee on Railway Bills, and by that means the House would insure that not only uniformity would be preserved, but that justice would be done. He cared very little what the remedy was to be; but he did object to the present system, which was really chaos, and anything they could do to improve it would be acceptable. He hoped in making these remarks he was not out of Order; and he made the suggestion simply that more experienced Gentlemen in the House should take the matter up and do something in the direction he had indicated. He must, however, conclude by saying that he should oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for East Cumberland.


The House will hardly expect that the Government will be prepared to assent to the appointment of a Royal Commission on the statement which we have heard from the hon. Member who proposed the Motion. The statement he made was of a very limited character, and resolved itself into the details of what is known as the Thirlmere Water Scheme—which will, I believe, be before the House to-morrow—and the view the Committee took of that matter last year. I should have thought, in bringing such a subject forward, the hon. Member would have done so on broader grounds; that he would have attempted to show that the Lake Districts were being injured, and that the water supply of certain localities was in danger in consequence of a preference being given to certain large towns over some of their smaller neighbours, or that there was fear of a water famine in Lancashire or South Yorkshire. Indeed, I should have supposed that the hon. Member would have brought forward a case which unmistakably called for the intervention of Parliament; but in that respect he has, I consider, entirely failed. The question of a Royal Com- mission on the subject of water supply is a large one, and it was brought before me by an important and influential deputation in 1874, and by the Society of Arts in the early part of last year. Had the hon. Gentleman proceeded on broader grounds, and applied for a Royal Commission as a reformer in respect of water supply, and as one anxious to promote the general interests of the public, I should have been able to give information from Blue Books, as there are not only the Report of the Duke of Richmond's Committee, but in the sixth Report of the Commission on the Pollution of Rivers in 1874 there is a mass of evidence of an exhaustive character and great precision, and a number of suggestions as to a quantity of districts, all more or less bearing on this subject. There are also other Reports, and other Blue Books and Notices, having reference to water supply generally, which are open to the inspection of anyone, and are of a most valuable description. I may mention that there is a compendium, which was arranged last year at the request of the Society of Arts, which gives information as to the whereabouts of any of these Reports; and for that, among other reasons, I do not see the necessity of further special inquiries. If I had been challenged as to the grounds upon which I objected to the Motion, I should have said simply that I did not see what useful end could be gained by appointing such a Commission. The Public Health Act of 1875 greatly increased the powers of local authorities with reference to water supply, and protected them against Water Companies, and under that Act large sums of money are being borrowed for the purpose of water supply. Again, we are indebted to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. H. Brown) for the Committee which sat last year, and which greatly facilitated the powers of local authorities to obtain water. That Committee, I consider, obtained ample information, and the Bill which was before them came out a good and improved measure. Having thus dealt with the general subject in the way I have mentioned, the present Motion does not commend itself to my mind, because it is not only an attack upon the Committee of last year, but it is also an attack upon the Thirlmere Water Scheme, which is to come before us on another day. The House was not last year prejudiced in favour of that scheme. It was read a second time after ample discussion; it was referred to a Hybrid Committee; and when that Committee was appointed the whole subject was left to them. The Committee amended the Bill and reported in its favour, and it was lost in the Lords because the promoters accepted the suggestions of the Committee and embodied them in the Bill. It has now been revived, and the Manchester ratepayers have strongly supported the policy of the Corporation in bringing the subject again before the House; and the Bill, I believe, is set down for second reading to-morrow. I cannot, therefore, see what the House would gain by accepting the Motion, and thus delaying the second reading of a measure which comes to us so strongly supported. The hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) went so far as to admit that there was an ample supply of water for Yorkshire itself already existing; but that is not the case at Manchester. Manchester, however, does not seek to monopolise the Lakes; but, on the contrary, a large population will be supplied by the aqueducts which carry the water. In these circumstances, I do not see that any case has been made out for a Royal Commission. Whether the Committee did all the hon. Member thinks they ought to have done or not I am not prepared to say; but if he desires to challenge the conduct of the Committee, I think he should have done so by a more specific Motion, so that the Members of the Committee might have been prepared to meet it, and might have been made aware that their conduct was under examination. It is a little unusual to make such attacks as the hon. Member has levelled at the Committee without giving the Members of it notice; and we shall be led into endless controversy if the action of every Committee is to be brought in review before the House, as has been the case here. If the Committee obeyed the instructions given to them by the House, as I must assume they did, those instructions were not very wide from what the hon. Member would give to a Royal Commission, and the House will see that the Committee did obey their instructions, because they improved the Bill in a manner acceptable to the House, and put the whole subject in a form which was still further developed in the Bill of this year. On the part of the Government, therefore, I may say that we do not feel called upon, simply upon the ground stated, to issue a Royal Commission on the subject.


said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Howard) had stated his case to the House, and, he (Mr. W. E. Forster) felt bound to say that on public grounds he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth). He (Mr. W. E. Forster) said this as one who had taken considerable interest in the water supply from Thirlmere Lake, and the question of the Lake scenery generally. He hoped his hon. Friend would not put the House to the trouble of dividing upon the question. He would not now enter into the question of whether the water could be obtained elsewhere or not; that was a point decided by the Committee; but it appeared to him that the Corporation of Manchester had consented to obligations which, if Manchester was to get water from the Lake at all, would, as far as possible, protect the Lake scenery. Looking at the matter from the point of view in which he was most interested, he did not think that any advantage could accrue from the appointment of a Royal Commission. On the other hand, he was not at all sure that even greater interference with the Lakes than had already been proposed would not be the result of such a step. It was said that care would be taken to prevent the water being taken from the Lakes, unless it were clearly shown that it could not be obtained elsewhere. But he would not like to guarantee that this Commission, or the Committees, to whom future Bills might be referred, would endorse this view of the matter. With regard to the Bill of last year, he confessed that he thought the promoters had a good case. The Hybrid Committee appointed last year gave great consideration to the subject. That Committee had come to a conclusion he regretted; but he could not deny that it was a Committee which included many able men, who fully entered into the subject, and they made certain recommendations which the promoters accepted, and it was in consequence of that that they lost their Bill in the House of Lords. He repeated he was sorry the Corporation of Mau- Chester had set their minds upon getting water from Thirlmere; but he believed they were doing what they could to secure that as little harm as possible was done to the scenery; and, looking at all the circumstances, he was unable to vote for the Motion.


said, that the hon. Member for East Cumberland was not open to censure for bringing this subject forward. His hon. Friend asked him whether it would be regular for him to move an abstract Resolution on the second reading of the Bill; and he (Mr. Raikes) pointed out the difficulty that would naturally arise if he did so. The consequence was that the Bill was read a second time after a very full and important discussion. He (Mr. Raikes) had taken an active part in the proceedings of the Hybrid Committee of last year, and he considered that no Committee was over better constituted. His greatest difficulty, which was one of policy, was removed by the action of the Committee in depriving the Bill of the speculative character it originally possessed, and in insuring that a reasonable price was paid for the water. But he thought that the hon. Member had a perfect right to be dissatisfied with the result arrived at, and to come before the House to ask, if he deemed such a course necessary, for a Royal Commission, thus challenging the opinion of the House on the subject before the Bill that had been brought in could be read a second time. At any rate, this was a much more convenient course than if the whole question had to be raised on the Motion for the second reading. He had not the advantage, apparently possessed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, of being familiar with the large amount of information upon this subject to which he referred; and he regretted that so much confusion should exist on this question throughout England in those districts where the different communities were fighting for the water which was to be had from the several watersheds—a rivalry that was, in reality, a great scandal. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had, however, stated that the Government would supply Members with the Rules under which, in their opinion, water supply should be regulated. It would be very convenient to Members to be supplied with those Rules.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


, in conclusion, advised the hon. Gentleman not to press his Motion to a division.


said, he had had the honour of being Chairman of the Hybrid Committee that had sat for many weary days, and had devoted much time to the examination of this question last year. The Committee was, indeed, more like a Royal Commission than an ordinary Committee of that House. Its Members had examined the whole question in an impartial sense. They had to deal with a general meteorological fact, for the great south-western winds swept over the Atlantic and evaporated a large quantity of water on the way, while the high mountains of Westmoreland and Cumberland acted as condensers, so that the water was poured over the district in which those mountains were situated. The Committee had to consider whether the Lake regions thus formed were to be regarded as the property of one district, or whether they belonged to the whole of England, from the position in which they were placed, and the peculiar function they discharged; and, consequently, they had examined the question in its fullest and largest sense. It so happened that in the House of Lords the Bill, as it passed from that Committee, was thrown out because a Local Bill had been made into an Imperial Bill. The Duke of Richmond's Commission had examined the Bill in the same catholic spirit, and the House of Commons' Committee were, in reality, only able to ratify the decisions of that Commission. Not only had they to consider the question of the supply of other towns in Lancashire besides Manchester, but they had also to consider how all the intervening towns might benefit from the common depository of water in the Lake district. The Committee, therefore, did not restrict its labours, but examined the question most fully. Under these circumstances, he thought, considering the fact of so much time having been devoted to this question, and so much labour having been expended upon the Bill, which was not a Local Bill, but one generally affecting the great manufacturing districts of the country, that to form another Royal Commission would cast some doubt on the fulness of the labours of that Committee; and therefore he trusted the hon. Member for East Cumberland (Mr. Howard) would not press the matter to a division, but would be contented with having called attention to the subject.


wished to be allowed to state, before withdrawing his Motion, that he was very much obliged to the hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes) for coming to his assistance, and saying that he had done nothing irregular; because he thought, from what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Selater-Booth) said, he had done something which was not only irregular, but atrocious. He begged leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.