HC Deb 15 June 1882 vol 270 cc1389-93

Order for Second Beading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he regretted having to make this Motion at such an advanced hour; but it appeared that the Motion must be made late, or at a later period of the Session, when it might be more inconvenient. He was encouraged to move the second reading because there was, practically, nothing new in the scope of the Bill. It was conceived on the lines of previous Bills, and contained no principle different from that in its predecessors. There were, no doubt, new loans sanctioned; but they had been already authorized by Parliament. A great part of those loans was necessary to carry out schemes which had been approved in the main this Session. The total sum contained in the Bill was £1,500,000, made up of loans for the Metropolitan District (City Lines) Railway, the management of Asylums, School Board management, and other undertakings. When the Bill was before the House last Session, in the last week in July, the question was raised of referring it to a Select Committee. His Predecessor (Lord Frederick Cavendish) expressed the opinion that the matter was one which might be favourably considered by a Select Committee, and promised this year to introduce the Bill at such a period that it could be referred to a Select Committee. The House could now consider whether that course should be adopted; and the next stage of the Bill he (Mr. Courtney) proposed to defer till Monday next, so that the question could be considered. During the interval he should be happy to confer upon the most convenient course with hon. Members. At the present moment, however, it seemed to him that it would be impossible to refer the whole subject to a Committee, because that would be nothing less than referring the whole of the financial action of the Metropolitan Board to a Committee, and such a reference would overtax any Committee that could be appointed. A Committee this Session could only consider a small part of the functions of the Metropolitan Board. This question, however, could not be very well considered at that hour of the night; but he should be happy to confer privately with hon. Members, and if they could come to any agreement hereafter, they could probably devise plans for working out what was a large and complicated question.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Courtney.)


said, he was not about to raise again a question which Mr. Speaker decided last year; but it seemed to him an abuse of the Standing Orders that a Bill which was really promoted by the Metropolitan Board of Works should be held technically to be promoted by the Government. He should not enter into that question; but it was a hardship upon other parties that the Board of Works should come in under the shelter of the Government and avail themselves of this technicality, against which he had protested last year. This Bill was nothing more than the annual budget of the Board of Works; and he wished to take the opinion of Mr. Speaker on the question whether the Board had a right, in this Money Bill, to introduce the 10th clause, which had nothing to do with money.


on the point of Order, observed that this clause was included in last year's Bill, and sanctioned by Parliament and the highest authorities.


It appears to mo the clause in question is, in fact, part of the financial arrangements of the Bill, and I see no reason why the House should not agree to it, if the House thinks proper to do so.


said, ho thought it was much to be regretted that the Bill had been brought on at so late an hour, though the Secretary to the Treasury had made the best excuse he could for adopting that course. It was a Bill of great importance, for it was to enable the Board of Works to raise, by taxing the Metropolis, an additional sum of £3,217,000; but he would not examine into that now. He rose to say that last year he moved that a similar Bill to this should be referred to a Select Committee; and his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury was not quite correct in his statement of what took place. He (Mr. Monk) withdrew his Motion, on the distinct understanding that the Bill this year should be referred to a Select Committee. The late Secretary to the Treasury said— He hoped his hon. Friend would not press the Motion to a division, although lie was very much inclined to agree with the object of it. It seemed very desirable that this Bill should he considered by a Select Committee. And he went on to say— He hoped the Bill would ho introduced next year at such a period that it might ho referred to a Select Committee."—[3 Hansard, cclxiii. 1726.] Then the hon. Member for Chelsea expressed a hope that he (Mr. Monk) would withdraw his Amendment, on the distinct undertaking to refer the Bill to a Select Committee the next year, and on that distinct understanding he (Mr. Monk) then withdrew his Motion. Avail, be really did not understand from the Secretary to the Treasury what were the objections to taking that course. He felt indebted to him for having brought in the Bill at a much earlier period than usual this Session, when there was plenty of lime to have it so considered; and he thought that the hon. Baronet the Member for Truro (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) would agree with him that it was not right that the Board of Works, which came for powers for raising a sum of £28,000,000 in the shape of taxes on the ratepayers of the Metropolis, should refuse to submit to Parliamentary control the raising and expenditure of such money. He would only say that ho intended that evening to put clown a Notice for a Select Committee, as well as an Amendment for the omission of Clause 10, to which the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) had taken objection. He also objected to Clause 8, which gave power to the Treasury to authorize a further expenditure of £300,000 without the consent of Parliament. If such a power was to be granted, he should object to the passing of the Bill without the examination of a Select Committee.


said, he did not think the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) quite represented the facts of the case. Ho must be aware that these Bills year by year simply embodied the powers that had been given by Parliament, over and over again in recent years, for the expenditure of money. If, as he gathered, his hon. Friend did not intend, on the present occasion, to divide against the second reading, but intended to take the view of the House as to a Select Committee, he would not at that hour discuss the Bill, beyond saying that it was a Bill which had been over and over again confirmed by Parliament; and there was not a single power in it that had not previously received Parliamentary sanction. He would point out to the House that the Board of Works were now in the midst of great and important contracts, and arrangements for improvements in streets, in drainage, and other matters, which would be hindered and delayed if they were to be submitted over and over again to a Committee of the House. Then the hon. Member talked of the increased powers given to the Treasury; but the hon. Member was paying no attention—


said, he had heard all the hon. Baronet's observations.


said, the reason for asking these powers from the Treasury was this. The Board of Works, in their Bill, had confined their demands to the smallest limits; but if, in the course of their street improvements, bridges, and other matters, they should find it necessary to go beyond the powers given them, it was left to the Treasury to consent, should it think proper, and allow the Board to expend a small sum beyond that asked for by the Board.


said, it was well under-stood last year, when his hon. Friend withdrew his Motion for a Select Committee, that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee this year. It was a matter upon which not much was said by himself; but it was entered into, and he did ask his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion on the understanding referred to. That was the best course to pursue before the House voted these large sums of money, which the people of London would provide, and in the disposal of which they had no voice. There was a sum of £100,000 for the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and he supposed if the people of London were consulted nine-tenths of them would vote against such a proposition. It was an extraordinary proposal that all this money should be voted without anyone knowing the reasons for it; but if the suggestion for a Select Committee were accepted, then that was a course that would result in the proposals becoming more public, and to the expression of representative views upon them.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday 26th June.

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