§ MR. FIRTH
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether the Government have decided upon the character and powers of the body to which the investigation into the Livery Companies of the City shall be com- 1340 mitted; and, if so, when he will make a proposition upon the question to the House?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Sir, it is the intention of the Government to issue a Royal Commission in the ordinary form and with the usual powers. For that purpose it would not be necessary to make any application to the House. I do not know if I am mistaken in assuming that my hon. Friend points to a Parliamentary Commission armed with extraordinary and compulsory powers. That would be a most unusual proceeding, and could only be required or justified on the assumption that the Companies would be unwilling to respond to the invitation of the Crown and refuse to furnish information which is sought for the public advantage. I am altogether indisposed to take for granted that these bodies would act in a manner which would not be worthy of the position they occupy and the trusts with which they are charged. I think it would be unjust and impolitic to approach the question in a hostile spirit or a menacing attitude. It will be time enough, if the hopes and expectations of the Government are disappointed, to consider the expediency of any other course.