HC Deb 14 April 1885 vol 296 cc1608-23

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he hoped that his hon. Friend who had charge of the Bill would be prepared to make some statement before moving the second reading of it.


said, he thought it would, perhaps, be convenient if he were to say a few words in introducing the Bill, on the back of which his name appeared. The Bill itself seemed to have met with a certain amount of opposition upon more than one point. In the first place, considerable opposition was raised to one of the clauses of the Bill—Clause 8—in consequence of a proposal to deal with a certain disused burial ground, which came within the present limits of deviation, in regard to lands acquired by the Railway Company. It was an important question whether at the present moment, in regard to this power of purchase, seeing that the Railway Company had acquired it before the passing of the Disused Burial Grounds Act of last year, they were not legally entitled to exercise it without any fresh instructions being contained in a separate Act of Parliament to that effect. The Company, however, had inserted this 8th clause in their Bill with a view, if possible, of saving the litigation which would probably arise on their asserting the right to exercise their legal purchase rights over the ground which had been thus acquired, and which was acquired prior to the passing of an Act which would otherwise have certainly made it illegal to use them. He found that considerable opposition had been raised in the House to the proposal to refer that clause to a Select Committee; but he ventured to think that that was a tribunal where it might be more fairly dealt with, and the whole question more properly considered, than in the House itself. The Railway Company, however, in view of the Notices of opposition which had been given, had considered it best, under the circumstances, to abandon Clause 8 altogether, and thus to leave themselves in the position they were in before the Bill was introduced in regard to the exercise of any legal power they possessed in reference to this land. Therefore, they were prepared to abandon any fresh powers the Bill proposed to give them for utilizing the land they had acquired by purchase, apart from any legal opposition that might be raised against their right to utilize it. That was the position in which the Bill now stood. The Railway Company would remain with any legal powers they now possessed for dealing with this property; but they did not propose to ask Parliament, by this 8th clause, to override those legal rights, and to give them distinct powers under the Bill. That being the case, with regard to Clause 8, he might mention that there was another opposition raised against the Bill in regard to one of the other clauses with reference to the stopping-up of a footpath in the parish of Leigh, near Southend. He might explain that by the Bill, which was an Omnibus Bill, the Company proposed to close a certain level crossing situated on the property of Messrs. Wells and Perry. At the time of the passing of the Act of 1875—the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway Act of that year—all public rights whatever were extinguished with regard to this level crossing, and the only right that was maintained in 1875 was the private user of the footpath by Messrs. Wells and Perry for the purposes of access to their property. So distinctly was that the case that the Railway Company had the power of closing the road at the present moment by putting up gates, and actually prohibiting the use of the road to all persons except the persons employed by Messrs. Wells and Perry. The Company had now acquired the land of Messrs. Wells and Perry, to which this right of way belonged, and they proposed to do away with what he believed everybody in the House would consider to be a most dangerous mode of crossing a railway. They proposed to do away with the level crossing altogether. Having become possessed of the land, and, consequently, of the rights reserved to Messrs. Wells and Perry under a case decided in 1875 by purchasing the whole of the land and the right of user, they proposed, to a certain extent, to improve the safeguards of the public by abolishing what had always been considered a most dangerous mode of passing a railway. He presumed that the objection which had been taken to this proposal was that this road, in consequence of having been left open for the purposes of Messrs. Wells and Perry since 1875, had been used by the fishermen and other people who lived close by on the other side of the railway, and who were able to pass by means of this crossing to the seashore for the purposes of their business. But there seemed to be some confusion in the Petition of these persons as to whether the right of way which the fishermen desired to have kept open for themselves was not a public carriage road and highway, and whether, in point of fact, they did not refer to another road not many yards further which had always been of a public character, and was at the present moment a public carriage way, and which it was not proposed to alter in the least as a public carriage way and highway. There was some doubt whether the Petition of the fishermen referred to that carriage way, or to this foot road which had been absolutely a private road since the decision that was given in 1875, and since the Railway Bill of 1875 was passed. Whether that was so or not, and whether this confusion really did exist in regard to this particular level crossing which the Railway Company proposed to abolish, even if a public right had existed over it before the passing of the Act of 1875—and there were considerable doubts in regard to that matter—those public rights were clearly and entirely abolished by the passing of that Act. The Railway Company set forth in their statement the judgment and opinion of Lord Bramwell, and Mr. Justice Amphlett. Lord Bramwell said that all rights of the public over these footways were extinguished, and if there were any other public right of way over them it was gone; but the private right of Messrs. Wells and Perry remained. Mr. Justice Amphlett said the Act appeared to have left the right of way granted by agreement entirely untouched; but it did prevent the general public from having a right of way over that road, and the fact of the Company having the right of closing the road against the public, except against Messrs. Wells and Perry, by putting up gates and stopping the public from using them was conclusively shown; and, therefore, since 1875 the public had had no right whatever to use this road. By the purchase of the rights of Messrs. Wells and Perry the Railway Company were now entitled to close and abolish this level crossing altogether. He believed that was the only point on which there could be any opposition raised to the second reading of the Bill. He would remind the House that it was very seldom the House consented to refuse the second reading of a Private Bill in the House itself; and if the Petitioners could show that they had legal rights outside the decision of the Judges, and which would override that decision, a Select Committee was the proper tribunal before whom they ought to be heard. It was idle to say that they came before the House pleading in formâ pauperis, because as poor fishermen they were unable to incur the expense of appearing before the Committee, seeing that they claimed this road as a highway, and one of the Petitioners was the Surveyor of Highways for this particular parish of Leigh, and, therefore, the cost of opposing the Bill would not fall upon the fishermen; but, he apprehended, it would fall upon the general rates of the district. Under these circumstances, believing that, as far as the Petitioners were concerned, they had no real locus standi at all, their rights, if they ever had any, having been entirely abolished by the Act of 1875—seeing, therefore, that they had no locus standi against the Bill, he asked the House not seriously to reject the second reading of the Bill at the instance of the present opponents; but if there was any doubt upon the point that they would send the Bill to the only tribunal where that doubt would be properly considered and decided. It certainly could not be dealt with in the House upon the second reading of the Bill, and could only be dealt with by a properly constituted Select Committee upstairs. He begged to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)


said, the statement of his hon. Friend showed that the course he had adopted was a more convenient one than the one which he had at first contemplated, because he had now made a very important statement as to what was proposed to be done with the Bill if the House consented to read it a second time. His hon. Friend said that it was very seldom the House refused to read a Private Bill a second time; but he (Mr. Ritchie) would remind his hon. Friend that it was very seldom a Private Bill proposed to set aside a Public Act of Parliament; and, therefore, the opposition which had been put down against the second reading of the Bill was, he thought, amply justified by the novel proposal contained in the measure to repeal, practically, for the purposes of the Bill, a Public Act of Parliament passed so recently as last Session. He had hoped, from an intimation he had received, that his hon. Friend who had moved the second reading of the Bill would have made such a statement as to what was proposed to be done by the promoters of it as would have rendered it unnecessary for him to trouble the House with any remarks, and would have prevented him from being under the necessity of taking the opinion of the House upon the second reading of the measure. Unfortunately, the statement which his hon. Friend had made was not of so satisfactory a character as to enable him to accept it as sufficient to induce him to withdraw the opposition he had placed upon the Paper to the second reading of the Bill. What was it that his hon. Friend told the House? He told them that the promoters of the Bill, having inserted in the measure a clause setting aside for the purpose of the Bill an Act of Parliament—namely, the Disused Burial Grounds Act, proposed now to withdraw that clause, and to do without the clause which was proposed under it in defiance of the Act of Parliament. That was practically what his hon. Friend said. [Mr. WARTON: No, no!] He (Mr. Ritchie) did not wish to misrepresent his hon. Friend or the promoters of the Bill; but what his hon. Friend said was this—that as there had arisen, in the minds of the promoters of the Bill, doubts whether the Disused Burial Grounds Act did not prevent them from doing that which they desired to do, they had inserted in the Bill a provision which would enable them to do a certain thing which the Disused Burial Grounds Act distinctly prevented them from doing.


said, that was not what he had said. He was very sorry to interrupt his hon. Friend; but perhaps he might be allowed to state what it was that he had really said—namely, that the Railway Company, having, as they believed, a legal power acquired before the passing of the Act of 1884, were of opinion that they were in a position to do without any fresh Act of Parliament; but that as it might lead to expensive litigation, and as they wished to avoid such expensive litigation, they had inserted this clause in the Bill in order to make the question distinctly clear. However, as the clause was objected to they proposed to abandon it, and they would be placed simply in the position in which they stood before the Bill was introduced in regard to any legal rights they possessed and were prepared to exercise. If those legal rights did not exist they would not be in a position to deal with this particular burial ground; but if they did exist then their position would not be affected by anything contained in the present measure.


said, that was precisely what he had stated, and he was glad to have elicited this further speech from his hon. Friend, seeing that it fully confirmed the accuracy of his (Mr. Ritchie's) previous remarks. His hon. Friend said that the promoters of the Bill were in doubt, when they brought in the measure, whether the disused Burial Grounds Act did not prevent them from making use of this particular site; and in order to set aside any doubt on the matter they introduced a clause in the Bill confirming the power they desired to obtain. Then, finding that their proposal was opposed, they now said that they would withdraw that provision, and, do a certain thing without the authority of an Act of Parliament which they desired to do with the authority of an Act of Parliament. As to the question whether there was any doubt in regard to the powers the Railway Company proposed to take under this Bill, he wished to call the attention of the House to the manner in which the subject had been mentioned in the Preamble of the Company's Bill. The Bill said— And whereas by reason of the Disused Burial Grounds Act, 1884, the Company are prevented from dealing with the said lands for the purposes of the said Acts of 1882, 1883, and 1884, and it is expedient that, subject to the provisions of this Act, the said lands and the Company in respect thereof should be exempted from the provisions of the Disused Burial Grounds Act, 1884. It would be seen, therefore, that, so far from the Company promoting the Bill being in any doubt as to whether the Disused Burial Grounds Act prevented them from doing what they desired to do, they expressly stated in the Preamble of their Bill that they were prevented by that Act from dealing with the said lands for the purposes of the Acts of 1882, 1883, and 1884. So much, then, for the doubts which had been expressed upon that subject. Under the circumstances, he was not disposed to rest satisfied with the proposal now made by the promoters of the Bill, because he desired, in the interests of his constituents, to preserve this piece of ground from being built over by the Railway Company; and although his hon. Friend said that if they had not got the power already and were to proceed to build upon this plot of land they would be liable to be stopped, he wanted to know what sort of position the poor of that locality would be in if they attempted to bring an action against a powerful Railway Company for covering in a piece of ground which an Act of Parliament said should not be covered in? Under the circumstances, he was sorry that he should be compelled to detain the House for a few minutes while he gave some explanation as to what it was this Railway Company proposed to do. But, in the first instance, he desired to say one word in reference to the Disused Burial Grounds Act of last Session. The object with which that Act was passed was to prevent buildings from being erected on disused burial grounds except for the purposes of a church or chapel; and the reason why that Bill was passed was that it was considered necessary, in the interests of public decency, to prevent the scandals which had occurred on other occasions in removing bodies from burial grounds acquired by public Companies with a view of being built over. There was also the question of the sanitary condition of buildings erected on such ground; and, further, the necessity of retaining, as far as possible, the very few open spaces which were now left in the Metropolis for the benefit of the public. He might say, in reference to this particular open space, that it was not a large one. It was only about 100 feet square; but it was situated in a locality so dense that even 100 feet square was of vast importance to the people occupying it. It therefore became of essential importance that it should be protected and rendered free from the encroachments of a Railway Company or of any other persons. The present Bill proposed to set aside the Act of Parliament which was passed last year, and to enable the Railway Company, first of all, to purchase this land—in regard to which he had no quarrel—in the parish of St. Mary's, Whitechapel, for purposes connected with the proposed railway delineated on the deposited plans, and forming the site of the burial ground of a community known as the "Seventh Day Baptists." One of the places proposed to be acquired was, in fact, not a burial ground, but a chapel. He did not object to the purchase of the chapel; but what he did object to was the purchase of the small piece of ground connected with the chapel and school buildings. He might point out that the Railway Company said not a word about this being a burial ground, although, as a matter of fact, a large number of persons were interred there. He now came to the point with which he had started in the opening part of his speech—namely, the attempt which was made by the Railway Company to set aside a Public Act of Parliament by the provisions of a Private Bill. He was sure the House would agree with him that every attempt of this kind ought to be watched with extreme jealousy, and that the House of Commons ought not lightly to assent to the insertion of any such provision in a Private Bill. It was obvious that such a provision might slip through the House of Commons accidentally if the progress of Private Bills was not carefully watched; and he might say that it was entirely by accident he had discovered that this provision was contained in the Bill at all. He asked the House to see what the effect of sanctioning provisions of this kind would be. The Disused Burial Grounds Act was passed in order to restrict the facilities that might be given to Railway Companies for acquiring grounds of this nature. The effect of the Disused Burial Grounds Act was to decrease the value of all such grounds; and therefore it was obvious that a Railway Company would be desirous of getting hold of land so lowered in value, seeing it could be acquired by the Company at a comparatively small cost. It was said that this was a hardship upon the proprietors of land, and he confessed that he sympathized with the proprietors; but he could not at all recognize their claim to sell this particular plot of land as a justifiable one. Burial grounds that had been filled and closed ought not to be looked upon any longer as the private property of any living persons. Such burial grounds, after they were filled and closed, were not the property of the living, but of the dead, and they ought not to be treated as goods and chattels to be sold to the highest bidder. The Railway Company said that they had entered into an agreement for the purpose of acquiring this property in May, 1884, before the Disused Burial Grounds Act passed; but although they might have entered into an agreement to purchase before the Act was passed, they did so with their eyes open, because the Bill had been read a second time practically without opposition, in March, 1884, two months before the Railway Company entered into any agreement to purchase at all; and, therefore, any loss they might now allege that they had sustained ought not to be considered by the House.

Something had been said in reference to the Railway Company having a right to build over this land, and it was contended that that right was contained in Clause 5 of the Act. When he turned to Clause 5, he did not see that there was the smallest ground on which the Railway Company could take their stand for claiming any such right of exemption. Clause 6 simply said that nothing in the Act contained should apply to a burial ground sold or disposed of under the authority of an Act of Parliament. His hon. Friend had not told the House, nor did he pretend to say, that this burial ground had been disposed of under the authority of any Act of Parliament; and, unless that were so, it was impossible to contend that it came within the exception. He was, therefore, driven to the conclusion, looking at the words of the clause, and also at the provisions of the present Bill, which substantially said that the Railway Company were prevented from using this ground in consequence of the provisions of the Disused Burial Grounds Act of 1884, that what the Railway Company proposed to do was to withdraw Clause 8 from the Bill, and then to proceed to carry out their intentions without it, and to build over this land in defiance of the Act of Parliament. He hoped the House would not be led away by any such attempt, on the part of the Railway Company, from seeing the great importance of providing that this piece of land, in this densely crowded neighbourhood, should be retained as an open space. He trusted that the House would not rest satisfied with the assurance which had been given by his hon. Friend; and he would, therefore, ask the House to negative the second reading of the Bill. He begged to move— That this House declines to assent to the Second Reading of a Private Bill which proposes to sot aside the provisions of 'The Disused Burial Grounds Act, 1884.'


said, he rose to second the Amendment; and, although he was not concerned in the point which had been raised by his hon. Friend, he was certain that there was a great deal of force in what his hon. Friend had said. The Bill was, unfortunately, one which not only interfered with the rights of the dead, referred to by his hon. Friend, but it also made a wanton attack upon the rights of the living. The proposal to do away with what was called a level crossing at Leigh was one which, if carried out, would involve an exceptional hardship upon a body of men who were deserving of the deepest sympathy. Leigh was a small fishing village near Southend, and he might fairly describe it as a village steeped in poverty. In 1875 the Railway Company stole a march upon these fishermen, and got a clause inserted in their Act of Parliament to which attention had already been drawn. Fortunately, that clause in the Act of 1875 only affected a footway; whereas the road now in question was a highway which had been used from time immemorial for the convenience of the people of the locality, and which formed a road between the wharf and the town. It was also an important road from the town for the supply of drinking-water, obtained from a public well upon the other side of the station; and if this road were stopped, and no bridge were constructed over the railway, the result would be that the fishermen and the general public would have to travel two or three times the distance they had now to go, by way of the station yard, and every woman and child who wished to obtain a little water would have to make the same detour in order to obtain access to the well. He quite admitted that the House was not in the habit of discussing details of this kind on the Motion for the second reading of a Private Bill; but he pleaded, as his hon. Friend the Member for West Essex (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) suggested that he would, in formâ pauperis, on behalf of these poor men. No doubt, it was the fact that the Petition was signed by the Surveyor of Highways; but he did not think that when that gentleman signed it he had any idea of committing the body he represented to any expense; and if the inhabitants of Leigh were compelled to appear before a Committee upstairs, the rate which would have to be made in order to meet the expenses would be a very serious burden indeed. He therefore hoped the House would not allow the Bill to be read a second time, unless his hon. Friend the Member for West Essex was prepared, on the part of the promoters, either to abandon this clause, as far as it related to the level crossing at Leigh, or to construct a bridge over the line in order to give proper access over the railway. The road had been an open one, and it had been used ever since the line was constructed in 1852; and although he knew perfectly well, from personal experience, how very objectionable level crossings were, he did not think this could be described as a dangerous level crossing, because a train, on approaching it on the one side, was driven at a slackened speed, while on the other side it was brought to a standstill. During all the years the line had been open there had only been three fatal accidents, one of which happened to a person connected with the working of the line; so that it could hardly be described as a dangerous level crossing. But under any circumstances he contended that these poor people should not be compelled to go to the expense of a costly opposition to the Bill for the purpose of obtaining the concession they desired from the Railway Company, which concession was to them a matter almost of life and death. He would, therefore, second the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie).

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House declines to assent to the Second Reading of a Private Bill which proposes to set aside the provisions of 'The Disused Burial Grounds Act, 1884,'"—(Mr. Ritchie,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he had placed a Notice on the Paper of his intention to move— That, in the opinion of this House, Railway Companies ought not to be permitted to acquire open spaces existing in crowded districts of London except upon the terms of their undertaking to provide in the same neighbourhood other open spaces of equal area available for the recreation of the people. He should have persevered with his opposition to the Bill if there had been anything left in it which tended to take away those open spaces from the people which he was anxious to preserve; and his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Hollond) had placed a Notice on the Paper for the rejection of the Bill on a similar ground. His hon. Friend the Member for Brighton had brought in a Bill last Session to prevent disused burial grounds from being built over; and it was conceived that this was an attempt on the part of the Railway Company, in the form in which they had brought in the Bill, to override the decision arrived at by Parliament in the passing of that Act. If the Railway Company had persisted in moving their Bill in the form in which it was originally brought in—that was to say, if they had insisted upon retaining the 8th clause, his hon. Friend and himself would have continued to offer a strenuous opposition to the Bill. But the Railway Company, recognizing the force of their objections, and seeing that the House was asked to set aside the provisions of an Act passed last year, had withdrawn the clause to which objection was raised; and in the Bill, as it now stood, he could find nothing which affected in any way the Disused Burial Grounds Act, or anything that took away any open space in the Metropolis. On the contrary, the Railway Company had, through the hon. Baronet opposite, who had moved the second reading of the Bill, given an explicit undertaking to the House to strike out Clause 8; and, under those circumstances, it appeared to him that his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Hollond) and himself had substantially obtained all they desired. It was now perfectly recognized by the Railway Company that open spaces in the Metropolis were not to be taken, and that the Act of last year was not to be overriden. Under the circumstances, he failed to see what was to be gained by continuing their opposition to the Bill. He had listened to the remarks of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Ritchie) in order to see if there was any additional reason which should induce the House to throw out the Bill; but he altogether failed to find in the speech of the hon. Member any suggestion that the power, if any, of the Railway Company to take this burial ground would be diminished by the rejection of the Bill. The case stood thus. The Railway Company contended that they already had power to take certain land, and to build upon it, and that power was entirely irrespective of whether the House passed the Bill or rejected it. If the House rejected the Bill, the question of the burial ground would not be one whit the more safe than if the House con- sented to pass it. Under those circumstances, he could not see that any question was involved in which the interests of the poor of London arose, and nothing would be gained by maintaining an opposition to the measure. Therefore, altogether apart from the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Makins), he desired, on behalf of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Hollond) and himself, to say that they were content to withdraw their opposition, that opposition having been completely met, its propriety admitted, and its objects attained, by the course which had been taken by the promoters of the Bill.


said, the House would see that the Bill, with the clause to which objection had been taken withdrawn from it, made no difference whatever in the position of the parties with regard to the question of the burial ground. If the Railway Company possessed any rights, they would have them whether this Bill passed or not; and, therefore, the Bill did not affect the question. As to the level crossing, which had just been referred to by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), it appeared to be pretty clear that the Company did acquire certain rights under their Act of 1875, as against the public, to stop up a certain road, simply reserving a private right over the roadway. It was decided by the highest authority that that was the only right preserved, and that right the Company had now acquired under a deed of conveyance. As against the public, therefore, the Company had the right of stopping up this road. It might be a question whether that was desirable or not; but it was not a question that could be discussed there. If any improper course had been taken by the Railway Company, it was a question for a Select Committee upstairs to decide; and if the Company were taking away the rights of the public, without due cause, and without rendering them a proper equivalent or compensation, the Committee would have power to grant the costs of opposition to all of the parties who appeared before them, when the question was raised. He thought the parties ought to remain satisfied with that, and that no substantial ground had been shown for rejecting the Bill on the second reading.


quite agreed with the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) that nothing had been shown by those who were opposing the Bill which should induce the House to depart from the ordinary and established rule of referring measures of this kind to a Select Committee. When questions were raised which were of considerable importance, it was impossible that they could be settled in a hurried debate in that House; and the House would not, therefore, be justified in departing from its ordinary rule. Two points had been brought forward as grounds of opposition to the Bill—first, that the Bill proposed to build over a burial ground in defiance of an Act of Parliament passed only last year; and, secondly, that the Railway Company proposed to shut up a public right of way. In regard to the first point, the hon. Baronet the Member for West Essex (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) had explained the exact position of the matter in the most fair and candid manner. If he had desired to be uncandid, he might have stated simply that the Company desired to withdraw Clause 8; but the hon. Baronet had stated with the utmost fairness that the Company had decided to stand upon their legal rights, unaffected by the Disused Burial Grounds Act of last year. He wished only to say, in regard to that Disused Burial Grounds Act, that he felt it his duty to oppose that Act when it was before that House in the shape of a Bill, and the ground upon which he opposed it was that it was calculated injuriously to affect the rights of property. No doubt before it passed there was nothing to prevent this Railway Company, or any other Railway Company, from entering into a contract for the purchase of any land whatsoever. In this case the Railway Company appeared to have entered into a contract long before the Act of last Session was passed, and any advantage which they had thereby gained they were entitled to retain now. He thought the House was indebted to the hon. Baronet for having stated, unquestionably, with the utmost fairness, that the Company proposed to stand upon their legal rights. No additional rights were now proposed to be given to the Company by this Bill; and there was no reason on that account, therefore, why the House should reject the second reading of the Bill. As to the other point—the disputed right of way—it was quite clear, if he understood the statement of the hon. Baronet, that for the last 10 years the Railway Company had exercised the power, whenever they chose to enforce it, of stopping, by putting up the gates or otherwise, the right of way of anybody over this level crossing, except the persons employed by Messrs. Wells and Perry. That statement of the hon. Baronet had not been contradicted; and if the Company possessed that right, no mere sentimental question of the privilege of a number of poor men to enjoy access to an easier way of going to fish should be allowed to open a door to every kind of spoliation. He considered that both grounds of opposition had failed; and he had only one word more to say. He was glad that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), together with the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Hollond), who passed the Act of last year, had come forward to say that they were content with the Bill in the form which it now assumed.

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question put.

Bill read a second time, and committed.