§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Sir James M'Garel-Hogg.)
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he thought that, at that hour of the night, it was impossible for the House to discuss the Bill with any advantage. The Bill was a very important one, and the second reading of it was passed with out any statement having been made by the hon. Baronet who was in charge of it; and who still, without making any statement with regard to it, now proposed to go into Committee. There 2011 were very important matters affecting the City of London raised in the Bill, which he was quite sure the hon. Baronet would consider when his attention was called to them. Therefore, it was probable that they would really gain time by postponing the Committee, because the opposition now raised to the Bill might be disarmed if certain alterations were made in it affecting the Metropolis generally, but affecting also, very materially, the City of London. If the Bill were carried in its present shape those who had the direction of improvements in the City would be prevented from acting, and from using the powers already possessed by them under special Acts of Parliament. The clauses of the Bill certainly required more consideration than could be devoted to them at that hour of the night. There were altogether 25 clauses in the Bill, and most of them affected the City of London. In the City of London, a Body called the Commissioners of Sewers had the management and direction of the laying out of the streets, and the street improvements; but if the Bill passed as it now stood they would be entirely deprived of their authority. That authority was conferred upon them by more than one Act of Parliament, and the passing of this new Bill would prevent them from carrying out those Acts for the benefit of the inhabitants of the City and of the Metropolis generally. It was well known that the City of London still retained many of the peculiarities of all old cities; many of its streets were very narrow, and when improvements were being effected, it would be impossible, in many cases, to make streets where streets were most urgently required, because, under this Bill, no street was to be made that should be less than 40 feet in width. It was well known that in many parts of the City, where new streets and thoroughfares had been most advantageously opened out, it would have been altogether impossible to provide that they should be 40 feet wide. Consequently, if the Commissioners of Sewers were to be controlled by the provisions of the present Bill, many of the improvements, which it was still desirable to carry out, would be prevented. He was afraid that the Bill bad been drawn up without proper thought; and it would be improper to call upon the House to consider all the 2012 important details at such an hour of the night, when it was impossible to examine them thoroughly. Then, again, as to the question of making thoroughfares. There were many thoroughfares in the City of London that were simply footways, and the Commissioners were constantly extending these footways and opening up new communications; but their future action in that respect would be prevented by one of the provisions of the Bill. As the Bill stood, it would be necessary for the authorities in the City to apply for permission to the Metropolitan Board of Works. Such a provision might be all very well where they were dealing with new districts—where the land had not been built upon already. It was essential that in such a case the streets authorized to be constructed should be wide, and laid out with due regard to all modern sanitary requirements, and to the communication proposed to be effected with existing thoroughfares. But it was impossible to do that in the City of London. The circumstances of the City were exceptional; and, therefore, the City ought to be exempted from the operation of the provisions of the Bill. Hon. Members might feel some surprise that the City should ask for exemption from a measure which was introduced for the general advantage of the Metropolis; but the City already possessed Parliamentary powers fully adequate to enable them to carry out their own improvements, and the authorities ought not to have their efforts crippled by the intervention of another public Body. The Corporation of London were not backward in carrying out necessary improvements. Notwithstanding the difficulties they had to contend with, they had not been deterred by any question of expense from undertaking any improvement that the interests of the public demanded. The present Bill, under the circumstances he had pointed out, would require careful consideration, clause by clause; many of its provisions would require material alterations, fresh clauses would have to be brought up, and the whole framework of the Bill would require reconsideration and considerable discussion. No statement was made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Truro (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) on the second reading of the Bill, beyond a short explanation that it was merely a formal 2013 measure to carry out an Order of the House. In moving that the House should go into Committee upon it, the hon. Baronet still refrained from making a full explanatory statement, and moved its committal as a mere matter of form. But he (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) was satisfied that when the Bill got into Committee, and the clauses came up for consideration, they would be found to be anything but a mere matter of form; and certainly the hon. Baronet would not have expedited matters by having abstained from making any preliminary statement. In introducing a Bill of this nature, some understanding ought to have been come to between the Metropolitan Board of Works and the authorities of the City of London. There ought to be a mutual good understanding between the two Bodies. It was the duty of both to carry out improvements for the benefit of the Metropolis; but it was not necessary that either should interfere with the action of the other. Both of them had different spheres of action, and both possessed very large powers. Hitherto such powers had been used beneficially for the inhabitants of the Metropolis; and this was not the first time that the Metropolitan Board of Works had introduced clauses into a Bill which would give them the right of interfering materially with the powers possessed by the City. But the House bad always declined to sanction such clauses; and he must say that he looked upon the action of the Board of Works, in the present instance, with some surprise and astonishment. The second reading was obtained at the close of the Day Sitting on Wednesday last, and it was obtained rather as a matter of surprise. There were three Motions on the Paper against it; but the hon. Gentlemen who had given Notice of such Motions were not in their places between a quarter to 6 and 6 o'clock, and the second reading was moved and carried without opposition, the hon. Baronet being in his place to watch the interests of the Bill. But the second reading having been accomplished in that way, surely it became all the more necessary that the principle and objects of the Bill should be explained and discussed on the Motion for going into Committee. The hon. Baronet, however, had not considered it his duty to take such a course, and had contented himself with moving, as a 2014 matter of form, the committal of the Bill. Some of the provisions were admirable ones. It provided, very properly, that no temporary or permanent erections should be constructed within the district under the control of the Metropolitan Works without an application, in the first instance, to the Board. But was it right that the City of London should be placed in the same position as a private individual in regard to the Board of Works, and that the Board should have power to control and regulate the proceedings of the City in regard to all questions affecting street improvements? At the present moment the City of London was engaged in the erection of additional Courts in connection with their Court of Common Council, and they were carrying out other public buildings. Was it to be tolerated that in regard to similar vented from carrying them out, unless, in works in future they were to be pre-the first instance, they applied to, and obtained the sanction of, the Metropolitan Board. Such an intention was never put forward when the Board of Works was established. He was satisfied that his hon. Friend the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board would say that if that was the meaning of the Bill it was not his intention; but, unfortunately, the House could not take his hon. Friend's intentions. They could only take the provisions they found in the Bill, and in regard to those provisions it was highly essential that so important a Body as the Corporation of the City of London should be fully protected, and should have an opportunity of going thoroughly into the matter. The Bill consisted of three parts, and it raised a great variety of questions. Clause 7 related to the construction of new streets; and as the hon. Baronet had not made any statement whatever in reference to the provisions of the Bill, it was necessary that he (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) should do so, in order to justify the course he was now taking. Clause 7 proposed that after the passing of the Act, any person forming a road passage or footway, which did not form a direct communication between two streets, should be required, in the first instance, to obtain the approval and sanction of the Metropolitan Board of Works. [Cries of"Divide!"] The impatience displayed by the House to enter into the question at all showed the impropriety of the course pursued by the 2015 promoters of the Bill, and quite justified his assertion that this was not the time when the House should be required to go into a discussion of the Bill clause by clause. But he wanted to know if it was more likely, when the Speaker was out of the Chair, that a Committee would feel itself in any better condition to go into the Bill clause by clause? The clause to which he was now referring was one of the most important parts of the Bill. It stated that where any road, passage, or way would not afford a direct communication between two streets, the persons by whom it was proposed to be made should, at least three months before such road, passage, or way was commenced or laid out, make an application to the Board of Works giving notice of the intention, and setting out a plan of the proposed street, with such particulars as the Board might direct; and that the Board might, within such period of three months, lay down any conditions it considered necessary, or might altogether decline to sanction the laying out of such road, passage, or way. The existence of such a clause would prevent the Commissioners of Sewers for the City of London from carrying out any new street improvements, or laying out any road, passage, or way between one street and another, without being delayed in commencing their works for a period of three months. If the clause were carried, the City of London would be required to pray the Board of Works to permit them to make a new street; and if the Board contested the matter, the interests of the public would suffer, and street improvements which, under existing powers of the City authorities, were now making day by day would be entirely stopped. The Commissioners of Sewers met for this very purpose once a fortnight, and their committees weekly, and it was very rarely that a sitting was held without some suggestion being made for opening out a communication between one street and another, and for carrying out other improvements to facilitate the traffic from one part of the City to another. Most hon. Members would be acquainted with the neighbourhood of Throgmorton Street and Drapers' Hall. Large improvements had been carried out there by certain of the City Companies, who possessed the whole of the land between Throgmorton Street and London Wall. The new street 2016 —Throgmorton Avenue—was open for carriages between two-thirds or three-fourths of its length, and then came another portion that was not open for carriages, but only as a footway. This large improvement, forming a new communication between the Bank and London Wall, and the Liverpool Street Railway Station, had been effected without any expense whatever to the City, at the cost of two of the City Companies acting under the direction and permission of the Commissioners of Sewers. This important improvement could not have been made under the present Bill. Surely the Commissioners of Sewers were fully adequate to be intrusted with the carrying out of such improvements, which involved the expenditure of large sums of money, and the general convenience of the public, without the interference of the Metropolitan Board of Works. Towards the cost of some of the improvements in the City the Board of Works had themselves contributed, because they believed that they were improvements not for the advantage of the City only, but for that of the whole of the Metropolis. The question, then, was whether the Commissioners of Sewers were to be deprived, by a Bill in which their names were not even mentioned, of the powers which they already possessed under Parliamentary sanction, and which they had exercised for many years to the advantage of the inhabitants of London? Seeing that the second reading of the Bill was carried by a surprise at the close of a Wednesday's Sitting, he did not think his hon. Friend the Member for Truro should persist, at such a late hour of the night, in forcing it through Committee. He believed he (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) had made out a sufficiently strong case, at any rate, for the postponement of the Motion, until an opportunity could be afforded for the full and complete discussion of its provisions. He did not deny that many of the clauses contained in the measure were necessary for the Metropolis generally; but what he contended was that the City of London ought not to be included within them, as they would act most detrimentally in hampering the future action of the City, so far as new street improvements were concerned. They would necessarily occasion great delay in the execution of new works, and would assuredly give rise to 2017 a considerable amount of friction between two important public bodies—the Corporation of London and the Metropolitan Board of Works. They had already received from the Secretary of State (Sir William Harcourt) an intimation that great changes with regard to both Bodies were looming in the distance, that the Metropolitan Board was not to be placed on a permanent footing, and that the Corporation of London was to be got rid of altogether. The Chairman of the Metropolitan Board, now omnipotent, was hereafter to be placed in a subordinate position. Was it right, then, under the guise of a Bill of this nature, to initiate great and important changes in the management of the affairs of the City. It would be most inconvenient to pass a clause such as that which he had indicated, and to pass it, also, in the absence of anything in the nature of explanation. He had no wish to attribute motives to the Metropolitan Board, or to allege that there was any desire on their part to take advantage of the City of London; but what he wished to point out in reference to this clause was that, in reference to street and footways within the City, it would materially cripple the future beneficial action of the Commissioners of Sewers; and he would leave the House to say whether this was the right time for depriving the Commissioners of the powers they possessed and handing them over to the Board of Works. At the present moment, when the City contemplated important improvements, it was customary to inform the Metropolitan Board, and very frequently the Board were asked to contribute towards the expense. The consequence was that great harmony prevailed between the two Bodies, which would be materially disturbed, if not entirely destroyed, by a proposal to place the Corporation under the control and authority of the Board. The Bill provided that hereafter any proposal to form a roadway should be subject to such conditions as the Metropolitan Board might think it necessary to prescribe; and until the sanction of the Board was given no such road, passage, or way should be laid out or proceeded with. It was also provided that any person infringing the Act should, for such offence, be liable to a penalty not exceeding 40s. He would simply ask upon what principle of justice or propriety the House of Commons were 2018 to be asked to place the Commissioners of Sewers under the authority of the Metropolitan Board, and to subject them to penalties, for merely carrying out important public improvements to their own satisfaction? He did not think the hon. Baronet the Member for Truro could be aware how the clauses of the Bill would affect the City of London, because, if he were, he would scarcely dream of forcing them through Committee at that hour of the night. Clause 8 said—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member appears to me to be going through the Bill clause by clause. In so doing he is anticipating the functions of the Committee.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he had no wish to transgress, or to go through the Bill clause by clause; but he must say that the Bill, in many of its clauses, contained provisions that materially affected the City of London; and he did not think the House ought to allow it to go into Committee until some arrangement was arrived at, or, at any rate, until the hon. Member for Truro explained the objects of the measure. [Cries of "Divide!"] It might be wise to prevent persons from laying out thoroughfares in other parts of the Metropolis; but regulations that were adapted for the Metropolis generally would not apply to the City.
rose to Order. He wished to ask if the hon. Member was not trespassing upon the indulgence of the House, and really wasting intentionally the time of the House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have already pointed out to the hon. Member that it is irregular, at this stage of a Bill, to go through the measure clause by clause, and I trust that the hon. Member will observe the intimation I have made to him.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he would certainly endeavour to comply with the intimation conveyed by the right hon. Gentleman. The Bill dealt not only with the questions he had pointed out, but with the amount of space to be left in the City when new buildings were contemplated. It was not a Bill to give additional powers to the Metropolitan Board of Works to those which they now possessed; but it was an attempt to bring in a Bill to interfere 2019 with and obstruct the action of the Corporation of London, and to prevent them from carrying out their own wishes in instituting improvements for relieving the traffic of the City, and to meet the growing wants of the public. It must be borne in mind that the City of London contributed very largely towards the cost of the improvements made outside the City by the Metropolitan Board of Works. For every sovereign expended the City contributed half-a-crown; but towards the improvements effected in the City itself, if the Metropolitan Board of Works considered them local improvements, they did not contribute a farthing. They were made and completed not out of the income from the estates of the City, but out of funds collected by taxes levied on the inhabitants living within the City. Consequently, the Metropolitan Board of Works were not asking for authority over funds which they contributed themselves, but over funds contributed solely by occupiers within the City. The rest of the Metropolis was in a different position, and the two portions of the Metropolis were on a distinct and separate footing. All the City demanded was that they should be allowed to carry out their own improvements without being interfered with by the Metropolitan Board, in the same way as they had carried them out hitherto, at the expense of the citizens themselves. He begged to move, as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member for Truro, that the House should resolve itself into Committee on that day six months.
§ MR. BOORD
said, that, after the exhaustive speech they had just listened to, he did not propose to address many words to the House. He had no doubt that the hon. Member had very forcibly conveyed his views to the House. At any rate, if he had not done so, it was not the hon. Member's fault. He merely rose now to second the Amendment of the hon. Member, in order that, as a Metropolitan Member, he might be able to express to the House the really serious objections that were entertained towards the Bill. He believed that many weighty objections would be urged to it by the Local Boards of the Metropolis. No doubt, the hon. Baronet (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) would attempt to make capital out of the fact that the Bill had already passed a second reading, and, 2020 therefore, its principle had already been accepted by the House; but, as the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) had explained, the second reading was obtained at a Wednesday Sitting, between a quarter to 6 and 6 o'clock, when, unfortunately, he (Mr. Boord), and other hon. Members who had given Notice of opposition to the Bill, were accidentally absent. The Local Boards in his district objected very strongly to the Bill, because it altered the Metropolis Management Act of 1862, in a sense injurious to them, and conferred large additional powers upon the Metropolitan Board of Works. It enabled the Board, among other things, to annex conditions to the erection of buildings, which were not required, and which the Local Boards entirely objected to. It prevented the City of London from making a roadway under 40 feet in width. In the suburbs of London that, no doubt, was a moderate restriction; but it ought not to apply to the narrow streets and passages of the City. After what had taken place, he would not weary the House with any further remarks; but he would content himself with seconding the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite, that the Bill be committed on that day six months.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee."—(Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the discussion, which had occupied the last hour, illustrated two things—first, the mode in which Public Business was conducted in the House; and, in the second place, what chance the Metropolis had of any improvement in its management. In the first place, they saw the manner in which a Bill—not a mere Private Bill, but a Bill introduced by an important local Body—was dealt with. The House might have gone into Committee upon it, and might have made valuable progress with its details. But the worthy Alderman had occupied the greater part of an hour in saying what might have been said in five minutes. [Mr. WARTON: Only 20 minutes.] It appeared 2021 that the City of London were prepared to object to any Bill brought in by the Metropolitan Board of Works which in any way affected the City of London; and the position was one with which the House had long been familiar. His hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) stated that the Bill might be of advantage to the rest of the Metropolis, and that the whole of the Metropolis, except the City, would be benefited by the adoption of the main part of the Bill.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he had stated that there were certain clauses in the Bill which might be of advantage to the Metropolis generally.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he thought that was a good reason why the House should go into Committee upon it. He believed that out of the 4,000,000 people contained in the Metropolis, the City of London only represented about 50,000; and for the great majority of the 4,000,000 the Bill was, in many respects, a good Bill. Therefore, if they were to have the time of the House occupied in resisting that which was admitted to be for the good of 4,000,000 people, because it was considered possible that in some way or other it might affect the prerogatives of 50,000, they might as well give up the work of legislation altogether. This was a sample of the manner in which the Corporation of London were prepared to deal with legislation for the Metropolis, and to take up the time of the public. There might be objections to some of the clauses of the Bill, as the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Boord) stated; but what was the character of those objections? The hon. Gentleman said the limit of 40 feet was not a limit which ought to be laid down for the construction of streets within the City. But surely that was a matter for the consideration of a Committee. As far as he could learn, no ground of objection had been raised against the Bill which might not easily be disposed of in Committee. He did not intend to follow the irregularity committed by his hon. Friend behind him, and discuss the Bill clause by clause. Anyone could see that the measure was essentially one of details; and if they were to say that at 12 o'clock at an Evening Sitting, upon a private Member's 2022 night, they would not go into a Bill of this kind, they might just as well give up doing any Business at all. Nothing, in his opinion, could be more unreasonable than that an hon. Member should get up at 12 o'clock at night and object to proceeding with a Bill in Committee. He expressed no opinion as to the merits of the Bill generally, except that it was a Bill introduced into the House and promoted by a responsible authority, and that it was admitted by his hon. Friend who moved the Amendment to be a Bill which contained many clauses that would be of advantage to the Metropolis generally, and to 4,000,000 people who lived outside the City. Nothing could be more unreasonable than to say that the measure could not be discussed at that hour because the City was affected by it. No question whatever had been raised upon the principle of the measure; and it would be perfectly competent for his hon. Friend, when they got into Committee, to state his objection to the clauses. His hon. Friend could, if he chose, introduce a single clause, stating that the Bill should not in any way affect the prerogatives or rights of the City of London. By that means the whole object for which he sought to throw out what he admitted to be a valuable measure would be accomplished. That seemed to him to be the business-like way of dealing with the matter, and the whole object desired by the Members representing the City of London would be attained by adopting it. It must not be forgotten that the Bill was introduced by an hon. Member filling the responsible position of Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works. He should, therefore, support the hon. Baronet in getting the Bill into Committee, so that the House might proceed at once to consider its details.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
would only say one word. He had been waiting anxiously in the House all night in the hope that he might get a chance of proceeding with the Settled Land Bill—a much more important measure than that which was now under discussion. If he could have obtained the opportunity, he should gladly have welcomed it, in the hope that they might have made some progress. In regard to the present Bill, he agreed with the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt), 2023 that the observations of the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) might have been compressed into very much less space, and perhaps the speech itself might have formed a proper subject for the clôture. He would not say more upon that subject; but he thought his hon. Friend the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board was entitled to go into Committee upon the Bill. The measure was essentially one of detail, and as the only object of the hon. Member (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) was to amend the provisions of the Bill, he could easily accomplish that object by introducing fresh clauses.
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
appealed to the House to assist him in the trying difficulties of his position, in endeavouring to bring in measures for the benefit of the Metropolis. He was most grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, the present Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt), and to his right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary (Sir R. Assheton Cross), for the assistance they had given to him on the present occasion. His hon. Friend opposite, the worthy Alderman, who so admirably defended the interests of the City of London (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) complained that he (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) had not, on the second reading of the Bill, entered at length into any of the details of the measure. His reason for that was that the Bill contained a number of clauses which had already been introduced in a Private Bill. He had explained that those clauses would be withdrawn and included in a Public Bill. It was to give effect to this understanding that the present measure had been introduced. In point of fact, the provisions of the Bill had been before the House for the last six months, because, having been originally contained in a Private Bill, it was necessary that previous Notice of them should be given. [An hon. MEMBER: The Session has not yet lasted six months.] He was quite aware of that fact; but the hon. Member seemed to forget that in the case of a Private Bill it was necessary to give Notice of what was intended to be done. The details of the measure had, consequently, been a long time before the public, and everybody knew what was proposed. He had not, therefore, felt it necessary to enter into a discussion as to the details of the Bill; and he certainly 2024 hoped that when any person occupying the position he did came forward with a measure for the improvement of the Metropolis Management Act he would receive the assistance of the House. It was not the first time that the question had been under discussion, and he hoped the House would allow the Bill to go into Committee. It was simply a matter of detail, and if his hon. Friend the Member for the City would bring up a clause it should be fairly considered.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, he certainly thought that the right hon. Gentleman below him (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had shown some ingratitude towards the City of London. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that when he sat as a Minister upon the Benches opposite, and appealed to the country, the City of London was the only place which gave him a generous and unwavering support. Yet the reward they now received was that the right hon. Gentleman, now sitting on the Front Opposition Bench as the Representative of the Conservative Party, turned against the only constituency that gave him continued support on that occasion. Under those circumstances, he thought he had some reason to complain of the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion. It was quite evident that the right hon. Gentleman cared nothing about the City of London. [Cries of"Order!" and "Question!"] He would turn now to the remarks which had been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir William Harcourt). They all knew that he was going to bring in a Bill to abolish the Corporation of the City of London. Of course, he had no claim upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The City of London did not support the Government of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman was so distinguished a Member. ["Question!"] He believed that he was speaking to the question. He was speaking upon a Bill which very much concerned the interests of his constituents; and, therefore, he thought he had a right to ask the indulgence of the House. He could not appeal to the Home Secretary to support any Bill which interfered with the ancient duties of the City of London; but he wished to make a remark on the statement which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made. 2025 The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the population of the City of London only represented about 50,000 persons. That might be perfectly true so far as regarded those who slept within the City; but he believed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, before he filled the high and distinguished position he now so worthily held, occasionally went into the City of London, and he must be aware that there was another City altogether by day, and that the number of those who traversed its streets in the day time was very much larger than those who slept in it by night. Therefore, he did not think it was fair to throw in the teeth of the City of London the circumstance of the comparatively small number of persons who slept there. They ought rather to look at the question of the importance and wealth of the City of London, and the large number of persons who entered it for business purposes during the day. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman would only look round the House—not, perhaps, at that particular moment, but when it was fuller than it was now—he would see how very much larger a number of Members of the House were ratepayers of the City of London than of any other constituency of the country. He did not suppose that so large a number of Members of that House were represented by any other hon. Members as those who were represented by his hon. Colleague and himself. Under these circumstances, he thought they were entitled to complain of the way in which the City of London was treated on this occasion. His hon. Colleague had gone very fully into the arguments against the Bill, and he had no wish to repeat what his hon. Friend had so well said; but, at the same time, he thought it was their duty, in the interests of their constituents, to enter a protest against the provisions of the Bill. It had been said that they ought to allow the Bill to go into Committee, and that they could then raise any question in regard to the clauses of the Bill. But he would remind the House of what was well said by an hon. Friend of his—whom he did not at present see in his place—the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis), in regard to another Bill—namely, that when they got into Committee the Government of the day were absolute. He gathered from the remarks which had been made 2026 by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he intended to support the clauses of the Bill; and he felt that it was only the duty of himself (Mr. R. N. Fowler) and his hon. Colleague (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) to make representations against the character of the legislation proposed to be introduced. He had no wish to detain the House longer. He concurred cordially in all that had fallen from his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had ably put the arguments against the Bill; and he would appeal to the House to consider carefully before they passed a measure the effect of which would be to place very great difficulties in the way of those who might hereafter be required to make street improvements within the City of London.
§ MR. DIXON-HARTLAND
said, that, before the Bill went into Committee, he should be glad to receive some sort of pledge from the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) that the question of the safety of the theatres would be dealt with. He thought it might be possible to introduce a clause into the Bill giving the Board of Works the power of dealing effectively with the exits of the theatres. In the Act of 1878, which it was proposed by the Board of Works to amend by the present Bill, the word "moderately" was introduced in relation to any structure dedicated to purposes of public amusement; but the law would hold that the word was to be regarded according to the reasonable interpretation of the word, and not in regard to what the public might require. Therefore, before the Bill went into Committee, he should like to have some pledge that it was intended to deal with the exits of the theatres.
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
said, he was afraid that his hon. Friend could not have read the Bill. This subject had been dealt with in a Bill which had already gone up to the House of Lords, and in which he had inserted the clause he had promised. In due course he hoped that that Bill would become an Act of Parliament.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that in the peculiar circumstances under which the Bill had been brought in, seeing that its provisions had not been explained, and that there was no discussion upon the second reading, the other stages ought not to be 2027 hurried through. [Cries of"Divide!"] He intended, in spite of the cries he heard, to make a protest on this occasion. They had been taunted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary in the most supercilious style. ["Order!"] He believed that the word was quite Parliamentary, although the word "bare" might not be. They had been taunted as to the way in which the Public Business of the House was carried on; and he presumed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to found upon what had taken place a fresh argument in favour of the clôture; but even the clôture, when introduced by Her Majesty's Government, would not apply to a ease like this, because there were not 100 Liberal Members calling out for it. ["Question!"] If hon. Members opposite would only remember that fact they would see that their efforts to silence a Member under the clôture might be as little successful then as it was now. Of course, it was not for him to dispute any ruling of the Chair; but he thought it was right he should know what the Rules of the House were. It was extremely inconvenient, when it was proposed that the House should go into Committee upon a Bill, to be told that they were not able to discuss the clauses of the measure. They had often been told that they must not, upon such a question, go back upon the principle of the Bill, and therefore it was difficult to discover what it was they ought to do. He could not for the life of him see what the principle of the Bill was, except that it was to do away with the authority and rights of the Corporation of the City of London. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary was always fond of doing everything in his power to injure the prestige and destroy the rights of the Corporation of London. It was perfectly certain that at the last General Election nothing gave more umbrage to the Leader of the Government than the fact that the great and important constituency of the City of London, by an overwhelming majority, asserted their belief in Conservative principles. He hoped hon. Members would give due Notice when Bills of this kind were coming on, so that he might take care to be in the House. The opponents of the measure had been misled by the fact that certain of the clauses to which objection had been taken had been 2028 struck out of the Private Bill, the officers of the House having stated that they could not be allowed to remain in a Private Bill. They had not anticipated that those clauses would be inserted in a Public Bill. The opponents had, therefore, been misled, not that he was hinting at anything like a breach of faith on the part of the promoters.
§ MR. WARTON
claimed to be in possession of the House. He said again that he was not, in the slightest degree, attributing anything like impropriety to the promoters. One danger might pass and another might crop up, it seemed; and whilst this was very inconvenient he did not say there was anything wrong in it. No doubt, the Chairman of Committees or the Clerks at the Table had told the promoters of the Private Bill that the clauses could not be introduced. He did not blame those in charge of the Public Bill for taking advantage of every opportunity they had for advancing it; but, in the present instance, the result of that course had been that there had been no statement made as to what the measure was. Was it a trifling Bill or an important one? It was a long one, having no fewer than 26 clauses, some of them 30 or 40 lines in length. It was not, therefore, a measure to hurry through Parliament. He should recommend the opponents to the Bill to divide, not because he thought there was any chance of their being successful, but as a protest against the measure. He trusted those in charge of the Bill would be satisfied with moving the Speaker out of the Chair, and the House into Committee, and that he would say he would not go on with the Bill until the House had had reasonable time to consider it. If they would adopt this course, no doubt the opponents of the Bill would be equally reasonable, and would give ample and fair consideration to the clauses, and amongst the "opponents" he clearly ranked the Home Secretary, who gloatingly delighted in seizing every opportunity that presented itself for showing hostility to the City of London.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.2029
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clauses 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Metropolis Management Acts and Part II. of Act to be construed as one Act).
§ MR. WARTON
said, he wished to put a question to the highest legal authority of the Government at present in the House—namely, the Attorney General for Ireland, whose experience and knowledge of the City of London was not extensive. ["Order!"] He meant no disrespect. He had always admired the righthon. and learned Gentleman's statements in regard to Ireland; but it was not to be expected that the Attorney General for Ireland should be familiar with the law relating to the City of London, and he had made the allusion to which exception had been taken because there was no English Law Officer in the House. He would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he could inform the Committee, before they passed this clause, whether "Metropolis Act" included the City?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
Yes, Sir; it does.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Warton.)
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he did not wish to impede the progress of the Bill in Committee. He did not 2030 object to this clause passing; but he put it to the hon. Baronet (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) whether it would not be well, after passing Clause 5, to agree to Progress being reported? He felt convinced that when the Bill came into Committee again—if the course he suggested were adopted—that all differences would be arranged, and there would be no opposition. ["No, no!"] He was only suggesting a means by which the Bill could be got through. There was no disposition, at any rate on his part, to impede the Bill.
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
said, that if Clauses 4 and 5 were passed, he would agree to Progress being reported on Clause 6, which, he thought, was objected to.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that, on the understanding that they did not go beyond Clause 5, he would withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.