§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. O. V. MORGAN (Battersea)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to ask the House to agree to the second reading of this Bill, and if it were not for (he lateness of the hour (1.50) I should venture to trouble the House with some figures as to the history of the constituency I have the honour to represent. Battersea has grown more rapidly than any other district in the Metropolis; but I will not adduce all the statistics I have prepared. I will simply say that in 1855, when the Metropolis Management Act was passed, Battersea contained a population of 12,000 only, and had a rateable value of £90,000. To-day the population is 140,000, and its rateable value £650,000. In 1855 Battersea was only a 223rd part of the Metropolis, to-day it is a 36th. We, therefore, ask to be transferred from Schedule B in the Metropolis Management Act to Schedule A, which transference will give us direct representation on the Metropolitan Board of Works. If we are placed in Schedule A, out of the 26 parishes included in the Schedule there will be only nine with a larger population than Battersea, while 16 will have a smaller population. I think, therefore, we are fairly entitled to this change, in favour of which I have had the honour of presenting a Petition from the Wandsworth District Board of Works, and from the Battersea Vestry. There are one or two clauses in the Bill which will require alteration, but the alterations have been already agreed to by the Home Office.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Octavius Morgan.)
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
No one can regret more than I the circumstance that I have to detain 462 the House at this very late hour by any remarks in opposition to this Bill; nothing but the consideration that I am performing an imperative duty in opposing the Bill would allow me to trouble the House with any observations at this hour. It becomes my duty to let the House know, in as few words as I possibly can, what the object of this Bill is. The object of the Bill is to add another to the already too numerous Governing Bodies of London—in other words, that the parish of Battersea, which now forms part of a District Board of Works, should be taken out of Schedule B of the Metropolis Management Act, and converted into a Vestry. I wish hon. Gentlemen to know what will be the effect of that operation. You will create another Governing Body in London. You will make one Corporation more. You will confer upon this body corporate a seal, and you will create another set of officers—a vestry clerk, engineer, surveyor, medical officer of health, and a host of inspectors and other servants. What is the present position of Battersea? It forms now a component part of the Wandsworth District Board of Works, which embraces the parishes of Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham, and Putney, all very well grouped geographically for being combined into one Governing Body. The facts to which my hon. Friend (Mr. Octavius Morgan) has referred—namely, the great increase in the population, and the great increase in the rateable value, do not alone constitute a sufficient reason for the action he proposes the House should take. I have another reason why I think this Bill should not be allowed to pass. I object very much to treating the government of London in the piecemeal fashion which this Bill proposes to do. The question of London government in its entirety must come before the House sooner or later. It is a question which many Governments have attempted to legislate upon. I think it is reserved for the Government now in power to submit a scheme of London government to the consideration of the House, and I hope the House will not increase the burdens of the ratepayers until the whole question has been considered. It would be manifestly unjust to the parishes which would be left in the Wandsworth District Board of Works if they have to bear the burdens which the present Bill 463 seeks to impose upon them, and to incur the expense of the officers and servants whom they now have, whilst the parish of Battersea would be relieved there from. On the other hand, it would be unfair to the inhabitants of Battersea that they should be called upon to create a distinct Governing Body for themselves; that they should be put to the expense of building a vestry hall or a town hall, and be obliged to maintain a separate set of officers. Under these circumstances, I beg to move that the Bill, be read a second time this day six months.
§ [The Amendment, not being seconded, was not put.]
§ MR. KIMBER
I represent the other parishes which my hon. Friend (Mr. Isaacs) behind me—[Cries of"Agreed, agreed!"]
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee of Five Members, Two to be nominated by the House, and Three by the Committee of Selection.
Ordered, That all Petitions against the Bill presented not later than three clear days before the sitting of the Committee be referred to the Committee, and that such of the Petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, Agents, and Witnesses, be heard on their Petitions, if they think fit, and Counsel heard in favour of the Bill.
Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
Ordered, That Three be the quorum.—(Mr. Octavius Morgan.)