HC Deb 24 February 1880 vol 250 cc1278-95

Order for Second Reading read.

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


rose to move that it be read a second time on that day six months. He said that, in making that Motion, he did not propose to enter into questions of the individual injury which would be inflicted by the provisions of the Bill upon those who resided in the Severn Valley, inasmuch as it would be alleged that those were matters which were better fitted for an inquiry of a Committee of the House, and ought not to be discussed upon the Second Reading of a Private Bill. He proposed now simply to call attention to the principle of the Bill which empowered the Corporation of Liverpool to supply itself with water not from sources perfectly open to them and almost inexhaustible in their own county, but from outside their own county, by enabling them to go into a watershed which was not within their own geographical limits, and to abstract a supply of water which, from time immemorial had been devoted to the use of the district through which the river flowed. There could be no question that the taking away of the head waters of the Vyrnwy would be a great injury to the Severn Valley. Those waters were the only pure and uncontaminated waters flowing into the Severn; the rest of the waters of the district were contaminated more or less in consequence of the geological strata through which they flowed. On principle he contended that they ought not to allow one district, however large and important, to go to another watershed and take away the water which had been provided by nature for that district, without showing some stronger reason than had been alleged on behalf of the Liverpool Corporation. The Corporation did not propose to take away merely a certain quantity of the water; but they proposed to take away the whole of it, with the exception of a small quantity—some 8,000,000 gallons a-day—which they proposed to guarantee to the Severn Valley. Nor was it proposed to enforce this guarantee in a way that would insure its performance, for nothing was said about penalties, on the supply of an inadequate quantity. The Bill simply said that this quantity should be provided, the Corporation having the power to take the whole of the rest of the water of the district for the benefit of Liverpool, and not merely for its sanitary benefit, but for its commercial advantages as well. The quantity the people of Liverpool would require for sanitary purposes, in addition to what they had now, was very small indeed; but they had large factories which required to be supplied. He was told that one sugar factory alone paid £4,000 a-year to the Corporation of Liverpool, and the present Bill proposed to take away the water of the Severn from the sanitary purposes it was naturally designed for, and for which it had hitherto been used, in order to enable the Corporation of Liverpool to obtain a large revenue from the sale of the water for manufacturing purposes. By taking the average flow of the head waters of the Vyrnwy, and retailing it to the Liverpool manufacturers, the Corporation of Liverpool would be enabled to secure a very large revenue. But this proceeding would bear very hardly upon the sanitary authorities in the Valley of the Severn, and would prove most disastrous to the interests of the population of the small towns on the banks of the Severn. He therefore wished to urge upon the House that there was no reason why the water of one district should be appropriated for the use of another, and why the authorities of the small towns near the Valley of the Severn should be left to fight a battle for the possession of their own natural property against a large and powerful Corporation like that of Liverpool. The Commission of Inquiry which sat about 10 years ago, and over which the Duke of Richmond presided, considered the question in reference to the water supply of the Metropolis, and they reported against a plan which was precisely identical to this, on the ground that, in their opinion, Parliament ought to maintain— That no town or district should be allowed to appropriate a source of supply which naturally and geographically belongs to a town or district nearer to such source. He begged to move that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.


seconded the Amendment. He wished to express surprise that no one was present on the part of the Corporation of Liverpool when the Bill was called on to move the Second Reading, and the consequence was that the Motion was made without one word of explanation. This was no ordinary case. On the contrary, it was one of great importance, and one which very nearly touched the supply of water not only to Liverpool but to the great towns and cities in this country. This was an application on the part of the Corporation of Liverpool to take away the water of the River Vyrnwy and the other rivers which ran into the Severn. By so doing, Liverpool went out of its own district and into the watershed of the Severn, with which it had no right and no geographical connection. As the House was aware, this was contrary to all the principles of the legislation which had guided that House in similar cases. When a very strong case had been made out it had been the practice to allow a town to go into another district, with which it had otherwise no right to interfere, for the supply of water. But in the case of Liverpool there was no such necessity. Last year the great Thirlmere Water Scheme was passed by Parliament, and in that Act power was reserved to the Corporations of Liverpool and of other large towns to avail themselves of that scheme for the supply of pure water. By availing itself of the Thirlmere Scheme, not only would Liverpool be saved a very considerable expense, but it would have a much readier supply, and one which could be made available much sooner than by going to the Severn watershed. The water-pipes in connection with the Thirlmere Scheme would be laid within three miles of the Liverpool district, and the expense of obtaining an efficient supply from the Thirlmere reservoirs would be very much less than by the scheme which was now before the House. It might be said that for some time Manchester would not be able to supply the quantity of water Liverpool might require, and that great delay must take place; but there was no doubt that eventually an efficient supply would be afforded. It might be necessary, perhaps, to construct and deepen the large reservoirs; but that was a mere question of expense. The truth of the matter was, this was part of a very great question; and the President of the Local Government Board yesterday, in reply to a question addressed to him, said that the Government were possessed of sufficient evidence and sufficient information with regard to the water supply throughout the country to render it unnecessary for any further evidence to be taken. The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Rowley Hill) showed with great force that the Corporation of Liverpool, in entering a district with which they had no connection, and availing themselves of the waters of the watershed with which they were not geographically connected, were putting the Corporations of the towns in the Severn Valley at considerable expense in opposing their scheme. At present, the towns of Shrewsbury, Tewkesbury, Bridgnorth, and Worcester obtained their supply from the Severn; and other towns, such as Bewdley, Stourport, and Upton-on-Severn, would be seriously affected by the abstraction of the waters of the Vyrnwy. Under these circumstances, he asked the House, in all seriousness, not to permit the Bill to be read a second time, unless Liverpool made out a very strong case, which, at the present moment, she had not made out, as she had made out no case whatever. So far, the House had not heard one word in support of the Bill. There was another point to which he wished to call attention. The district in which the Vyrnwy rose was part of the Severn watershed, to which the salmon went up for the purpose of breeding; and by this scheme the breeding of salmon would be almost entirely destroyed, because the salmon would no longer be able from want of water to go up the fish passes at the weirs, where at present they found their access to the breeding grounds. That would entirely cut off the supply of salmon to the Severn, and was a very serious matter indeed, and one that he hoped the House would take into its serious consideration. The compensation of 8,000,000 gallons was wholly insufficient. He might add further, that it was a great hardship for the towns in the Severn district to be required to appear before a Committee of that House and incur the heavy expense which was involved in opposing a Bill of this nature, especially when it was known that the town of Liverpool could obtain as good and as large a supply as it could require from the Thirlmere reservoirs. There could be no doubt that this was not only a Bill for the supply of water, but a Bill for the establishment of a commercial undertaking on the part of the Corporation of Liverpool, who proposed to repay themselves the cost of the scheme by selling the water taken out of the Severn district to the public of Lancashire. Under these circumstances, he had much, pleasure in seconding the Amendment.

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

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


was sorry that his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) was not in his place, as he would, no doubt, be able to state why the Bill should be read a second time better than he (Mr. Hibbert) could. He certainly thought that if the Amendment which had been proposed were passed it would be dealing in a very hard manner with the proposal now before the House. Of course, he did not know very clearly all the arguments that might be used in favour of the proposal of the Liverpool Corporation; but he did know that there were very many reasons why Liverpool should obtain a better supply of water. They were told by his hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment that they might obtain a supply from Thirlmere. But he remembered in the Report of the Committee on the Thirlmere scheme that the pro- motors of the scheme did not hold out any probability that any large supply would be given to any other towns than those in the immediate neighbourhood of Manchester. Then, again, the Thirlmere Scheme was not likely to be completed at all within 10 years. If that was really the case, and the water from Thirlmere would not only be required by Manchester and the towns in the neighbourhood of Manchester, but that the scheme could not be completed for 10 years, Liverpool was compelled to go elsewhere for a supply. He was informed that about nine-tenths of the existing supply was already required for the use of the present inhabitants; and as they knew the great increase that was going on there it was evident that in a very short time the whole of the present supply would be required. What, then, was Liverpool to do? If they went out of their own district anywhere else, they would be met by the same objections as were urged against them in this case. They could not take the water from the red sandstone, because it was found to be impregnated with sewage and unfit for consumption; and, therefore, it was entirely out of the question that they could have recourse to that means of obtaining a supply. The only doubt he entertained in regard to the present proposal was whether, as it was intended to go so far from Liverpool, the water abstracted might not interfere with the supply of towns nearer to the source from which the supply was taken. That question, however, could be satisfactorily inquired into by a Committee such as that which was suggested by the President of the Local Government Board. That, he thought, might be a fair subject for the consideration of the House; but he could not believe that the House would consent to throw out a Bill of this importance on the Second Reading without giving the promoters a chance of being heard before a Committee; and whether that Committee was to be an ordinary Committee or a Hybrid Committee was a matter for the House to consider. His own opinion was that so many questions of importance might arise in regard to the proposal that probably the Committee suggested by the President of the Local Government Board was the one which would deal with the question in the manner most satisfactory to the House. He should, therefore, give his vote in favour of the Bill being read a second time, and he trusted that that would be the genera] feeling of the House.


regretted that the hon. Member for Liverpool opposite (Mr. Rathbone) was not in his place to represent the case of Liverpool. At the same time, he was sure that the hon. Member's absence was a matter of accident, and the House had already been placed pretty fully in possession of all the facts of the case. He did not desire to say anything on behalf of Liverpool. He was told that that town was in great want of water, and that the works necessary for increasing its supply required to be constructed immediately, as the needs of the place were of a pressing character. It was, therefore, necessary that the House should disregard the usual rules that guided legislation on this subject, and which laid down the principle that people were not to trespass beyond their own watersheds for the purpose of obtaining water. He had risen more particularly to answer some of the remarks which had been made by the hon. Gentleman opposite who moved the rejection of the Bill (Mr. Rowley Hill), inasmuch as the hon. Member appeared to imply that there was a great and widespread opposition in the Severn district to the proposals contained in this Bill. He held in his hand a Petition which he had received that morning from his own constituents, 105 of the largest owners and occupiers of the district between Tewkesbury and Gloucester, representing almost the whole of the riparian tenantry of the district, who were anxious that this Bill should pass into law. The Petitioners said they believed that their property would be much benefited if Parliament sanctioned the works proposed to be carried out by the Bill, inasmuch as they would tend to regulate the flow of water down the River Severn and diminish the floods by which much damage was done to their property. This showed that, so far from being afraid of the effect of taking away a certain portion of the water of the Severn, the riparian owners and occupiers welcomed the proposal as being one that was likely to result in diminishing the flow of water in the summer, and any bad effect which might arise from the river in the winter. During the last 10 years various works had been constructed by the Severn Commissioners at the expense of the riparian owners and occupiers, for the purpose of regulating the flow of water, and Mr. Fowler, the engineer, had prepared a scheme upon the subject some time ago. It would be impossible to find a higher authority upon the matter than Mr. Fowler, who was thoroughly acquainted with all questions of this kind. He had seen the Report of Mr. Fowler, and that Report declared that the propositions contained in this Bill, if carried out, would tend rather to benefit than to injure the district. He did not wish to detain the House any longer; but he thought it right to mention that he had received this communication from a large number of his constituents, and he would leave to Liverpool itself the task of satisfying the House as to the necessity for supplying this water. He trusted the House would bear in mind that there was anything but a unanimous feeling in the counties of Gloucester and Worcester as to any danger that was likely to result from the adoption of this scheme.

An hon. MEMBER said, he trusted that the House would not consent to read the Bill a second time. The River Severn, from its mouth upwards for about 40 miles, contained a large number of locks for facilitating the navigation of the river; and the navigation itself would, in his opinion, be very seriously impaired if the large quantity of water proposed by this Liverpool Bill was abstracted from the river—something like 4,000,000 gallons a-day. He had himself seen in the summer time the locks and weirs of the Severn almost bare, with scarcely any water going over them at all, and when the locks were opened the river itself was drawn beyond the level of the locks. He mentioned that to show how seriously the proposals of this Bill might interfere with the navigation of the river. Already something like £300,000 had been expended in improving the navigation of the Severn. There was a compensation clause in the Liverpool Bill by which something like 8,000,000 gallons a-day were to be supplied; and if these 8,000,000 gallons were to be turned from the river the navigation must be considerably impaired. He had himself seen people walking dry-shod over the weirs in the summer time. He failed to see why Liverpool should leave its own districts and come to the best gathering ground now left unoccupied and propose to take possession of it, not for domestic and sanitary purposes, but for the commercial requirements of Liverpool, in order to realize a profit. That that was the case was shown by the fact that the Corporation of Liverpool looked forward to so large a profit that the rates of the town of Liverpool were in the future to be considerably reduced, by the profits anticipated from this scheme, if it were carried out. He trusted that the House would reject the Bill, for, keeping in view the prospect of future legislation on the subject and the necessity of supplying large towns with an adequate supply of pure water, he was satisfied that this district could not afford to dispense with the large quantity of water which Liverpool proposed to abstract. He thought Liverpool ought to be contented if it could be shown that the Corporation were able to obtain a supply of water from their own watershed. When the Thirlmere scheme was before a Committee it was stated that this scheme would be able to supply Liverpool with as much water as the town could require. But, however that might be, there were still other sources available for Liverpool; for instance, there was Ulleswater, which was perfectly open to supply Liverpool with water; and it was undoubtedly a fact that in the watershed of Liverpool there were plenty of sources of supply for Liverpool, and for the whole of South Lancashire, without any necessity for taking the water supply of the Severn Valley. He thought it was a great hardship that the inhabitants of the Severn Valley should now be called upon, at great expense, to defend themselves against this attack on the part of Liverpool, and he trusted that the House would not consent to read the Bill a second time.


said, that, having a Motion on this subject, he might, perhaps, be allowed to make a few observations. Although representing a constituency in the Severn Valley, he did not desire to speak as a partizan or an advocate. He was not sure that interests were always best represented by advocates; but he desired to appeal to the impartial judgment of the House, and specially to those hon. Members who had given attention to these subjects. This was a proposal by Liverpool to come 70 miles into another watershed to subtract water for its supply; and, perhaps, it might serve to show the magnitude of the undertaking if he observed that the proposal was to make an artificial lake of 1,000 acres, submerging a village and a church. But it was not the magnitude of the engineering undertaking, so much as the importance of the principle of the question, that he desired to call attention to. There were in England—excluding the Highlands and Dartmoor—only two great gathering grounds for water supply on a large scale; one was the Cumberland Lakes, the other North Wales. A year or two ago the former was taken by Manchester, and now it was proposed to take the latter for Liverpool, which was practically the same district. He was quite ready to admit the urgent necessity of water supply to our great towns. He also believed that these undertakings, enabling the great populous places to be water-carriers to a district, might, under proper restrictions, go far to solve the question of water supply. He went further—for he desired to be frank with the House. He thought such undertakings might serve to diminish floods; but vested interests must be regarded; they could not sacrifice the water supply, navigation, fisheries, and sanitary requirements of a whole district even to supply another great population. The proper principle, he apprehended, was this—that no town should appropriate the water supply belonging to another district, unless special circumstances could be shown to justify it. The people themselves of the district must be first served, and for this obvious reason—that then the water was returned to the stream; and whereas they might be affected by reducing the flow of water, they were compensated by the supply—and that was the principle laid down by the Duke of Richmond's Commission in 1869. But Liverpool said, "We have no alternative." Was that so? He was informed that the Rivington mains only required proper cleaning to supply 4,000,000 gallons a-day now. Then he held in his hand Reports by eminent engineers to the Liverpool Corporation as to supply from the Cumberland Lakes, the Lakes of Ulleswater, and Haweswater; also the Rivers Wyre and Bleasdale; also the Bala Lake, in North Wales. As to the last, he might observe that, though in North Wales, it had a watershed down the Dee Valley towards Liverpool, and would not, therefore, be open to the objection of a separate watershed. So that it was not true that there was no alternative, though the circumstances of each case might have to be considered by a Committee with the objections thereto. Then, as to precedent and principle laid down by this House, they had the Report of the Duke of Richmond's Committee and the Rivers Pollution Commission; also the Rivers Conservancy Bill of last Session. He found that in 1865 a Water Bill of Gloucester and Cheltenham, to obtain a supply from the Thames Valley, was thrown out on the Second Reading by a majority of 30, on the same ground—namely, that the watershed belonged to the Valley. Then they had the case of Thirlmere, a year or two ago, which was referred to a Hybrid Committee. He would only observe that the cases were not quite similar, because in the case of Thirlmere there was no population affected by the withdrawal of the water, and it was practically a case within the watershed of the town of Manchester. There were also æsthetic questions which did not occur in the case of the Severn Valley. He trusted, therefore, he had said enough to show that if the House was disposed to read the Bill a second time it could only be on the understanding that it was referred to a Hybrid Committee, with an Instruction such as he had given Notice of. As he saw that his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board had put on the Paper that morning a Notice substantially the same as his, and that, in fact, his right hon. Friend had adopted his proposal, he would venture to ask his hon. Friend the Member for Worcester to withdraw his Amendment, on the understanding that the Bill was so referred to a Hybrid Committee, with such an Instruction as he had given Notice of, and his right hon. Friend had adopted.


said, he did not intend to occupy the time of the House by discussing the merits of the Bill upon the Second Reading. Undoubtedly it was a Bill of a peculiar character, and he could not wonder that its provisions had attracted the notice of persons who were interested in the waters of the Valley of the Severn. His hon. Friend the Member for Worcester had proposed to reject the Bill upon the Second Reading; but neither his hon. Friend nor the hon. Member for Gloucester, who seconded the Motion, nor the deputation which waited upon him (Mr. Sclater-Booth) a few days ago, representing the population of the Severn Valley, stated their views in such a manner as to justify an assertion that the Bill was altogether opposed to their interests and wishes. He had no intention of becoming an advocate of the Bill; but he thought he might venture to say that he was aware that Liverpool stood in need of an improved and extended water supply, and he had believed that good reasons could be shown for the selection which had been made in the plan now submitted to the House. But whether that were so or not, whether it proved to be a good one or one that the House would afterwards decline to sanction, undoubtedly the Corporation of Liverpool, representing such vast interests and such an enormous extent of population, had a right to expect that a well matured scheme, such as the House might expect this to be, would receive full consideration at the hands of the House of Commons. On the other hand, he was free to admit that, following the analogy of the Thirlmere Scheme of last year and the year before last, which was thought of such peculiar importance that it was referred, to a tribunal of a different constitution from that to which Private Bills were usually referred, the same course should be pursued in this case. No doubt the two cases were not exactly similar; but there was some analogy between them. If this course were adopted, the Bill would be referred to a tribunal that would be capable of taking a wider view of the matter than an ordinary Private Bill Committee; and it certainly appeared to him that the interests of those who dwelt in the Severn Valley should be secured and maintained, seeing that they had a sort ofprimâ facieright, not, perhaps, to the monopoly of this water, but to have their interests fairly secured and considered before the water was taken away from them. He had, therefore, taken upon himself to place a Notice upon the Paper of a Motion that if the Bill were read a second time it should be referred to a Select Committee of nine Members, five to be nominated by the House, and four by the Committee of Selection, and that such of the Petitioners as should have presented Petitions against the Bill might, if they thought fit, be heard by Counsel before the Committee. His hon. Friend below the Gangway (Mr. J. R. Yorke) very fairly stated that the Bill was not opposed by many of the constituents whom he represented, but whose interests were connected with the Valley of the Severn. Whether that was so or not was a question which might be fully inquired into, if the Bill were referred to a Hybrid Committee, with the Instruction which he proposed to add for the guidance of the Committee, and the language of which he hoped the House and the hon. Member behind him (Sir Baldwyn Leighton) would approve rather than that of the Motion of which his hon. Friend had previously given Notice. If that were so, he hoped his hon. Friends (Mr. Hill and Sir Baldwyn Leighton), who had taken upon themselves the serious responsibility of asking the House to reject the Bill on the Second Reading would be content that it should be referred to a Committee charged with the consideration of the interests of everybody concerned in the water of the district. He undoubtedly thought that it would be for the promoters of the Bill to show that they were not taking away more water than was absolutely required for the necessities of Liverpool, and that instead of seeking to abstract it in order to make a profit out of it, they had in reality no other available source of supply. He believed that good reason should be shown why the Thirlmere Scheme could not be made available. He would not detain the House further, as it was necessary to proceed with the Public Business. The Resolution which he intended to propose, after the Bill was read a second time, in the event of the Amendment now before the House being withdrawn, was— That the Bill he referred to a Select Committee of nine Members, five to he nominated by the House and four by the Committee of Selection, and that such of the Petitioners as shall have presented their Petitions against the Bill may, if they think fit, he heard before such Committee by their Counsel. That it he an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to inquire into and report upon the present and prospective sufficiency of the water supply of the district which the Corporation of Liverpool are authorized to supply, and into the existence of any other available source of supply; and whether, having regard to the various interests affected by the scheme, and to the present and prospective requirements of the population in the Severn Valley as to water-supply, fishing, navigation, and the scouring effect of floods, compulsory powers should be given to take water from the River Vyrnwy and its tributaries; and, if so, to what extent, and under what conditions, as to compensation water, or otherwise; and also what provisions are requisite for enforcing and securing such conditions.


was anxious to make a few remarks on the part of those who opposed the Bill. He thought it might mislead the House if it were supposed that in any churlish spirit they were endeavouring to deprive a large and important population like that of Liverpool of the means of obtaining water for domestic and sanitary purposes. The fact of the matter was that the inhabitants of the Severn Valley who were interested in the gathering grounds of the Vyrnwy River-head believed that an efficient water supply could be obtained by Liverpool at Ulleswater, or if sanitary purposes were the object of the promoters of the Bill they might avail themselves of the powers given to Manchester, under the Thirlmere Water Scheme, of obtaining from that source 25 gallons per head per day, which were sufficient for all sanitary purposes. It was because the proposal was to take away this water for trade purposes that the inhabitants of the district objected to it. It was important, no doubt, for a manufacturing and commercial town like Liverpool to have an abundant supply of water for manufacturing purposes; but the promoters of the Bill were contemplating the abstraction of an amount of water that must necessarily interfere with the navigation of one of the most important rivers in the Kingdom. At the present moment the River Severn was navigable for 42 miles; the daily traffic upon it amounting to thousands of tons, and it brought in a revenue of £8,000 a-year. This navigable river was really a great artery of the trade and commerce of the Midland counties; and it, therefore, did seem a monstrous thing that for the purpose of supplying Liverpool with a large amount of water for manufacturing purposes, and enabling the Corporation of Liverpool to sell it at a large profit, the Commissioners of the Severn, who were the guardians of that river, were to have their water supply so much diminished that the navigation of the river would be injured and obstructed. It might be said that it was a question how far compensation could be afforded for the water that was taken away from the navigation of the Severn. But then, again, there was the sanitary question, which required full consideration, and was of the utmost importance to such towns as Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, and Worcester, which derived their water supply from the Severn. He had thought it only right that he should endeavour to point out these considerations to the House, and he might add that he had not the slightest idea of opposing the Bill in order to deprive the town of Liverpool of a supply of water.


said, he knew nothing yet of the merits of the proposal to supply Liverpool with water from this particular source, or of the grounds of opposition to it; but he thought the House would do well to adopt the course which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had proposed. If the House appointed a Hybrid Committee, having no local interest on either side, or as little local interest on either side as possible, they would secure that the subject would be examined strictly on its merits. Undoubtedly, a large town like Liverpool had great need of water, and every well-considered scheme that could be submitted for providing a supply must receive every attention. On the other hand, when a town left its own watershed, a great deal of proof was necessary to convince the House that such town was justified in separating from its own natural watershed, and going into another part of the country for a supply. He thought the present case was very similar to the case of the Thirlmere Water Bill, and if it were referred to a Hybrid Committee he believed that full justice would be done to it. There was, however, one suggestion which he should like to make. The hon. Gentleman who sat on the other side of the House (Mr. Raikes) had often done him the honour of making him Chairman of such Committees as this; but as he had served so recently on the one which sat to inquire into the Thirlmere Scheme he trusted that he would not be asked to act again. On general grounds, he thought it was of great importance that an inquiry should take place into the proposals made to the House, and he therefore hoped the House would not reject the Bill.


said, that the only part of the speech just delivered by the right hon. Member for Edinburgh with which the House would not agree was that in which he expressed his unwillingness to sit upon the Committee. The House was aware of the good services which the right hon. Gentleman had already rendered as Chairman of the Manchester and Thirlmere Committee; and he (Mr. Raikes) hoped that if a similar Committee were constituted in regard to the present Bill they might at least profit by the information acquired by the right hon. Gentleman. It was most desirable, when Committees of this sort were constituted, that they should possess such weight with the House as to satisfy it that they had fairly considered the best interests of all the parties concerned. But there was one point in regard to the proceedings in connection with the Thirlmere Bill to which he wished to call the attention of the House. He wished to remind hon. Members that when that Bill was first before Parliament the promoters of it were put to great inconvenience on account of the action taken in "another place," where it was held that the introduction of additional matter into the Bill was a contravention of the Standing Orders of the House of Lords. He hoped the Committee upon the present Bill would bear that circumstance in mind, and be careful, if possible, so to shape any Amendments they might introduce into the Bill as not to infringe the Standing Orders of the other House of Parliament. After what had been said by his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, and the general feeling which had been expressed on the part of the House, he presumed that the Bill would be read a second time and referred to a Hybrid Committee. It was not necessary, therefore, that he should say anything upon the particular merits of the question itself; but it was important that his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board should have accepted himself the responsibility of framing an Instruction to the Committee, because, in that case, they had the special advantage of knowing what the system was which he advised. Very great public interest was felt in schemes of this sort, because the principles incidentally raised in them might have a material effect upon the interests of other districts. The main question involved in the present Bill was how far it was to be considered desirable that a large population, at a great distance off, should be allowed to appropriate water belonging to another watershed. The importance of that question could not be overrated. And it was desirable that the Hybrid Committee to which it was proposed to refer the Bill should be assisted in their labours, as far as possible, by having evidence before them which should elucidate the views of the Government. Such evidence would be far more valuable than any evidence from particular witnesses brought to support the views either of the promoters or opponents of the scheme. He hoped they would have this advantage in consenting to refer the present Bill to a Hybrid Committee.


said, that after the proposal which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, supported as it was by other hon. Gentlemen of great influence, he would, by the leave of the House, withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave,withdrawn.

Main Question put, andagreed to.

Bill read a second time.


said, he proposed to withdraw the Motion of which he had given Notice in favour of that which was proposed by the President of the Local Government Board, as they were substantially the same.


then moved— That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee of nine Members, Five to be nominated by the House and Four by the Committee of Selection, and that such of the Petitioners as shall have presented their Petitions against the Bill may, if they think fit, be heard before such Committee by their Counsel.

Motionagreed to. Ordered,That such of the Petitioners as shall have presented their Petitions against the Bill on or before the 1st day of March next may, if they think fit, be heard before such Committee by their Counsel, and Counsel may be heard in support of the Bill against such Petitions. That it be an Instruction to the Committee, that they have power to inquire into and report upon the present and prospective sufficiency of the water supply of the district which the Corporation of Liverpool are authorized to supply, and into the existence of any other available source of supply; and whether, having regard to the various interests affected by the scheme, and to the present and prospective requirements of the population in the Severn Valley as to water supply, fishing, navigation, and the scouring effect of floods, compulsory powers should he given to take water from the River Vyrnwy and its tributaries; and, if so, to what extent, and under what conditions, as to compensation water, or otherwise; and also what provisions are requisite for enforcing and securing such conditions."—(Mr. Sclater-Booth.)

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