HC Deb 28 July 1885 vol 300 cc238-41

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he thought it would save the time of the House if he stated what the promoters intended to do in regard to this Bill. He was informed by the promoters of the Bill that although they were fully aware of the great urgency of the matter, they were also aware of the difficulties in which they would be placed in carrying out the duties imposed upon them by Parliament in the face of the opposition which had been raised to the progress of the Bill. No doubt, it would be for the interests of the consumers that the Bill should be passed; but looking to the period of the Session at which they had now arrived, and that there was still a possibility that the Standing Orders of the House would not be suspended, the promoters had come to the conclusion that they would best consult the convenience of the House, and best show their respect to it, by not persevering with the Bill. He proposed, therefore, to move that the Order for the second reading of the Bill be read and discharged. If any difficulty should arise to the consumers in consequence of a deficiency in the supply of water, he hoped it would be clearly understood that the blame would not rest upon the Southwark and Vauxhall Company, who had done their best to make provision for the wants of the locality by legislation. If any difficulty did arise, and complaints were made of an inadequate supply, the House must bear its full share, and a very large share, of the blame. But considering the period of the Session, and of the probability that the progress of the Bill would be resisted at every stage upon the Standing Orders of the House, he thought it would not be fair to the House to take up more of its time. He, therefore, begged to move that the Order for the second reading of the Bill be read and discharged.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Order for the Second Reading of the Southwark and Vauxhall "Water Bill [Lords] be read and discharged."—(Colonel Makins.)


said, he should have allowed the Motion for the withdrawal of the Bill to be made without any observation if it had not been for one remark which had fallen from his hon. and gallant Friend. While he was perfectly ready to take a full share of the responsibility for the rejection of the Bill, he could not concur in the statement which his hon. and gallant Friend had made in reference to the necessity for the Bill so far as the interest of the consumers who were to be served by it were concerned. In refuting that statement, he (Mr. Firth) would not rest the matter upon his own opinion, but would cite an authority which he believed his hon. and gallant Friend would at once accept. When the Bill was brought into the House of Commons last year for the supply of Wimbledon, the promoters, through their counsel, stated that the object of the Bill was to extend the limits of supply of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company. That," said the learned counsel, "is the sole object of the Bill. It seeks no capital powers whatever. It simply seeks statutory authority for doing that which for the last 30 years has been done without. That was to say, that it sought simply to continue under Parliamentary powers for providing a supply which for 30 years it had provided without such Parliamentary powers. He would refer to another authority which his hon. and gallant Friend would also accept. Evidence in support of the Bill was given by Mr. Knight, who stated that for some years he had been Chairman of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company. Mr. Knight was asked by the Chairman of the Committee— Are you able to supply the higher level with greater facilities than the Lambeth Company? And the answer to that question was— At the time when the arrangement was made I believe the Lambeth Company could not give that supply at all, and we did it for them. But I believe that now the Lambeth Company would be able to give that supply if they were asked. You have been doing it?—Yes, we have done it"— therefore they did not require capital to enable them to do it— and we have done it very efficiently and very satisfactorily for the last five or six years since I have been connected with the Company. Then followed a question to which he (Mr. Firth) wished particularly to draw the attention of his hon. and gallant Friend, because he was satisfied that his hon. and gallant Friend would not seek to impeach any statement of the Chairman of the Company. In order to supply these districts efficiently, is it necessary for you to seek any fresh capital powers of any kind?—Not a penny. Have you both plenty of money and plenty of water within your statutory powers?—Yes, ample. We have ample capital, and we have a surplus of something like 8,000,000 gallons of water per day beyond what we are distributing. We are now distributing 17,500,000 gallons, and we can and have distributed 25,000,000 gallons per day. We have effected a saving by preventing waste. In reply to further questions, Mr. Knight stated that the powers asked for were required for Wimbledon in order to prevent waste, and, he added, that a constant supply, with a proper system of waste prevention, tended to diminish the consumption. Then, as to the question of urgency, Mr. Shiress Will, who appeared for the Wimbledon Local Board, said— I am here on behalf of the Local Authority to say that there is nothing in the local requirements of Wimbledon as regards water which is so urgent that you should be asked to pass this Bill, or which is urgent at all.


Order! I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the Motion before the House is that the Order for the second reading of the Bill be read and discharged. It is quite irregular to discuss the merits of the Bill upon such a Motion.


said, he accepted the ruling of the Chair. He had only been anxious to point out, in answer to the remarks of his hon. and gallant Friend, that the counsel who represented the Wimbledon Local Authority declared that there was no urgency in the matter whatsoever.


This year?


No; the statement was made last year. If the debate had gone on he should have been prepared to show that the circumstances were the same now, and that the Bill had been brought before the House at an unfortunate moment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill withdrawn.

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