§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
said, he wished to make an appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), who had given Notice of his intention to move the re-committal of the Bill with respect to Clause 5, to state his objections to the clause at once, rather than defer the third reading until another day. He made the appeal on account of the short time now left for the disposal of Private Bills. He was quite prepared to answer any objection his hon. Friend might make.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he should be most happy to adopt the suggestion of his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means; and he would at once, in a very few words, explain the reasons which had induced him to place an Amendment on the Paper. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members that last year the House, on his Motion, unanimously adopted a Standing Order with regard to Estate Bills, which provided that the Committee should specially report to the House any case in which a Bill contained a provision extending the term or area of land in settlement. It further provided that such Report should be printed and circulated with the Votes. The Committee on the Ramsden Estate Bill had, in pursuance of that Standing Order, made a Report to the House, and he was obliged to call attention for a moment to the nature of that Report, because the Committee over which his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means had presided had done their best in the interests of the passing of the Bill to attenuate the requirements of the Standing Order. Under a Private Act of 1867, the Trustees of the Ramsden Settled Estates obtained power to expend £50,000 in the purchase of hereditaments in the neighbourhood of the family estates at Byram in Yorkshire. It was proposed by the Bill now before the House to vary that power of settlement, and to ask the sanction of the House to expend the sum I of £50,000—the same sum authorized 1035 in 1867 to be expended in land at Byram—upon property in the neighbourhood of the town of Huddersfield. Although his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means, in reporting on the Bill, called attention to that fact, he suggested that although, under the Standing Order, a Report had been rendered necessary, still there would not be, under the provisions of the Bill, any real extension of the area of settled land, because the price of land was higher in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield than it was in the neighbourhood of Byram; and, therefore, £50,000 expended in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield would purchase less land than at Byram, and consequently there would be no extension of the area of settled land. He thought he could dispose of that contention by simply pointing out that the Chairman of Ways and Means had felt it his duty, and the House was certainly indebted to him for it, to report the Bill to the House, as coming within the Standing Order. The plain matter of fact was this—that the House of Commons was asked, at that moment, to sanction the expenditure of a sum of £50,000 in the purchase of property to be added to the settled land of the Ramsden estates—that was to say, that land, now free land, in the neighbourhood of the town of Huddersfield was to be purchased in order to be converted into settled land. He was glad that he had nothing of a personal character to say in regard to the Bill, except that he had every reason to believe that his hon. Friend the Member for the Eastern Division of the West Hiding of Yorkshire (Sir John Ramsden), to whom the Bill specially referred, was an excellent landlord, as he was certainly a valuable Member of Parliament. But if there was any case in which the House would be disposed to object to the settlement of land, it was in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield, because there was no town in the Kingdom more close in regard to settled land than that borough. He believed that the Ramsden estate extended over the whole, or practically the whole, of that town. In such a state of things, he did not think it was desirable, in the interests of the people of this country generally, that the system should be extended, and he hoped that every hon. Member who was interested in land reform would oppose the Bill.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, his reason for objecting to the extension of the system was that it was opposed to the interests of the people; and it was for that reason that he proposed to ask the House to consent to the re-committal of the Bill, in order that Clause 5 might be struck out. In doing so, he could not refrain from renewing the expression of his gratitude to the House for having passed the Standing Order, nor could he refrain from reminding the House that this was probably the first occasion in the history of Parliament in which the practice of settling land had been brought up at the Bar of the House of Commons by the responsible officials of the House as a practice which was contrary to the public interests. He was delighted that that occasion should have occurred; and, as he had already said, he hoped that all those who took any interest in land reform, in regard to which this question of settlement formed the key-stone, would give him their support in resisting the provision of the present Bill, and in asking the House to re-commit the measure in order that Clause 5 might be struck out.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be re-committed in respect to Clause 5."—(Mr. Arthur Arnold.)
§ THE CHAIRMAN OR COMMITTEES rose to address the House, when——
§ MR. SPEAKER
interposed. He said that the action taken by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) was in the nature of opposition, and therefore the Bill must stand over until tomorrow.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means had appealed to him to go on.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has made a hostile Motion to the Bill, and it is therefore necessary that the discussion should stand over until tomorrow.
§ Ordered, That the Bill be read the third time To-morrow.