§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Charles Forster.)
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
It may, perhaps, surprise some hon. Members that I, as an Irish Member, should oppose this Bill, which relates entirely to a suburban district of the Metropolis; but I think that if the facts which have come under my observation are made known to any unbiassed 1527 Member, whether English or Scotch, he will feel it his bounden duty to object to the second reading of this Bill. The fact is that some months ago it was proposed by the Local Board of Health for the Sutton District, to obtain land for the formation of a cemetery, at a certain place called Rose Hill, that site overlaying the sources of the water supply of the district—the sources of the water supply of the Company promoting the present Bill. Such was the character of the site, and such were the circumstances of the district, that the Home Office was moved to institute an inquiry as to the desirability of sanctioning the cemetery. The inquiry was held by an officer of the Home Department—Dr. Hoffman—and, in consequence of his Report, the assent of the Home Office to the scheme was withheld. Upon that occasion Dr. Hoffman invited the Sutton Water Works Company to take part in the inquiry, but without effect, and the absence of any representative of the Sutton Water Company was commented upon in the course of the investigation. The Company were presumably as much interested as any other persons in preserving the purity of the water which they gathered, and which they distributed to the consumers, but they did not think it incumbent on them to protect the interests of their customers, and consequently the local people were obliged to act in their own defence. So strong was the case that they made out against this particular site that the Government sanction was necessarily withheld. Well, Sir, later on it was proposed to utilize another site for the same purpose, and learning the facts of the case, I ventured to put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, as to what the Home Office was prepared to do in the matter. In consequence of that Question, the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to cause another inquiry to be made, which was conducted, I think, by Mr. Harrison, a civil engineer, and an inspector of the Local Government Board. In consequence of Mr. Harrison's Report, the sanction of the Home Office was refused to this second site, which was called the Brighton Road site. On this occasion also the Water Company failed to be represented, or to take any part in the proceedings. Under these circumstances seeing that the present Bill is promoted 1528 by the Water Company, I thought it necessary to examine the provisions of the measure, and ascertain, if possible, what its object is. Now the object of it will be immediately understood by reference to the Act of 1871, whereby the present Company were incorporated. By that Act, the principal Act of this Company, the Sutton District Water Works Act of 1871, the Company was incorporated for the purpose of supplying with water certain parishes within the limits laid down by the Act, which, by Section 6, comprised the town and parish of Sutton, and the parishes of Cheam, Carshalton, Ewell, Beddington, &c, all of them in the County of Surrey. By the same Act, the Company was authorized to create an original share capital of £20,000, but with power to raise an additional capital of £40,000, more by the issue of ordinary or preference shares, or stock. They were also granted borrowing powers to the extent of 25 per cent of their paid-up capital. Now, the object of the Act of 1871 is very simple. It provides for the incorporation of the Company which is to supply water to a certain clearly defined and limited district. What is the object of the present Bill? The present Bill proposes altogether to alter the character of the undertaking. Instead of supplying water to its own district, for which the present Company and their resources are amply adequate, it is proposed that—The Company may from time to time enter and carry into effect contracts and arrangements with any urban or rural sanitary authority and the trustees of any turnpike or other road or any highway board or any surveyor of any highway and any railway company and any other companies bodies or persons with respect to the supply of water in hulk (without as well as within the Company's limits of supply as defined by the Act of 1871) as the Company think fit and every such contract and arrangement may be made for such period on such terms pecuniary or otherwise and conditions as the Company think fit and the Company may by agreement vary suspend or rescind any such contracts or arrangements and make others in lieu thereof and in addition thereto.That is to say that whereas the original intention was that this Company should supply the district of Sutton with water for domestic and other purposes, they are now to be recast as it were, and to have power to supply from their Sutton resources water in bulk to an indefinite and unascertained area beyond the limits of their own original district whe- 1529 ther the districts outside the limits are already provided for or not, or whether they are already supplied with water by any other Company. There is a proviso to the Clause 22 which further extends the power of the Company. That proviso is as follows:—Provided always that the Company shall not supply water in bulk to any corporation body or person beyond the Company's limits of supply nor to any person within those limits for other than domestic purposes if and so long as in either case the affording such supply would prevent the Company from giving a full and efficient supply for domestic purposes within the Company's limit of supply.The effect of that is simply this—that this Company asks power to draw upon the Sutton water resources, not only for their present wants within the district, but for the purpose of supplying water in bulk for domestic and other purposes outside their own district. They are not to be allowed to supply water in bulk if by doing so they trench upon the domestic supply of Sutton itself; but they are to be allowed, if they should think fit, to sell the Sutton water supply for the domestic consumption of districts outside the original limits, even though it be at the expense of the Sutton consumers themselves. Well, some such a proposal as that is not only novel, but perfectly monstrous. At present, the supply accorded to the people of the district is sufficient. There has been no complaint whatever of the inadequacy of the water supply of Sutton, and it is a very noticeable fact that the Company has not yet exhausted its borrowing powers. Therefor, it is clear that this Bill is not proposed in the interests of the ratepayers, or in the interests of Sutton itself. It remains to be ascertained in whose interests the Bill is promoted. I think it is not very difficult to see that one party, at any rate, will be very considerably benefited by the Bill, and that is the Company itself. At the present moment the Company is paying a dividend of 7½ per cent. They have an original capital of £20,000 extended under their first Bill by a further sum of £40,000 in share capital, and they have borrowed £9,000 out of the £15,000 they were entitled to borrow. Consequently, they have not exhausted their borrowing powers, and they are now paying, or did pay as their last dividend, 7½ per cent. The Company now seeks to obtain power to extend indefinitely the area which is 1530 to be supplied. It seeks to have the capital of the Company, not only increased, but absolutely doubled—to raise it, in fact, from £60,000 to £120,000 for these utterly unnecessary purposes. The condition of the issue of this new capital is that those to whom the shares are allotted shall receive a dividend of 7 per cent. What does that mean? It probably means this: that if the persons to whom the shares are to be allotted at par take them in the market at a guaranteed interest of 7 per cent, making each share worth £180 in the market, is given. That is the whole explanation of this Bill; and I defy anyone to show what possible good the measure can do to anybody, except to the promoters of it, in a pecuniary point of view. There is, however, another aspect in the case which is very important. I am precluded, by the Rules of Procedure, from going behind the Report of the Examiner of Private Bills. Now, the Examiner has reported to this House that all the Standing Orders have been complied with, and, therefore, I cannot question the fact that they have been complied with. The Standing Orders provide that certain notices shall be given in order that any scheme of this nature shall not be sprung with surprise upon the public. The Standing Orders technically have been complied with; but I maintain that the object of the Standing Orders has not been secured, inasmuch as this Bill comes on the inhabitants of Sutton and the surrounding district altogether as a surprise. [Cries of "No!"] The Local Board have had no information with regard to it. The Chairman of the Local Board had no information with regard to it until very recently, and that he obtained casually; the Clerk of the Local Board has never received any official information of the measure; he, also, has had nothing but a casual intimation, not from the promoters of the Bill, but from other parties. Although one of the Directors of the Company is a member of the Local Board, he never thought it incumbent upon him to state what was being contemplated by the Company. There is another point which I ought not to omit. If the Bill had provided for drawing water from the River Wandle it would, under the Standing Orders of this House, have been incumbent upon the promoters to 1531 give ample notice to the owners, lessees, and occupiers along that river. But the Bill does not provide for drawing water direct from the Wandle; it provides for power to sink wells over an enlarged extent of area. Now, the River Wandle is supplied, not by tributaries, or from certain waters, but by springs, and the effect of sinking wells in the Valley of the Wandle will be to cut off the water from the Wandle itself. But inasmuch as the water is not taken direct from the river, the necessity of giving notice to the owners, lessees, and occupiers was evaded, and the proprietors and occupiers along the Valley of the Wandle have only by accident ascertained the danger by which they are threatened. Then it is perfectly clear that if the Standing Orders of this House have, as they have been no doubt, technically observed, nevertheless the spirit of these Orders has been entirely evaded. Moreover, it will be within the recollection of some Members of this House that a Bill was promoted some years ago on a similar question, called the London and South Western Spring Waters Bill; but among the opponents of that Bill in 1882 was this very Company—the Sutton District Water Company, which now proposes to take the very same powers which they then objected to. The inhabitants of Sutton are desirous of obtaining the control of their own water supply. Sooner or later they will be in a position to do so, just as the inhabitants of London, we may hope, will be able to take over the water supply of London. It is a matter of immense concern to the inhabitants of the district that they should have the control of their own water supply, and that this House should not, without good cause, allow a large increase of the capital which has already been sunk in the water-works. Whatever the additional capital may be, it will be necessary for the locality to buy it out; and if it is artificially and without good cause increased now, so much the larger will be the amount which the inhabitants of Sutton will have to pay in the future. Sir, on all these grounds I think the Bill is not one which commends itself to the judgment or the conscience of this House, and I beg, therefore, to move that it be read a second time on this day six months.
§ MR. RICHARDS KELLY (Camberwell, N.)
Yes, Sir, I will second the Amendment. I represent a constituency which is very deeply interested in this scheme. It may be said that no Petition has been presented against the Bill from any Local Authority which has any interest in the measure. That I think is easily accounted for, and is not to be wondered at. On the 22nd of January last I find that a local newspaper announced that the Local Authority would meet, I think, to-morrow, for the purpose of considering the provisions of the Bill, and deciding whether it was necessary to oppose it. Therefore, I think I am justified in saying that, although the Standing Orders of the House have probably been technically observed, there has been a secrecy about this matter which requires some explanation. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) has told the House that a Director of the Water Works Company is also a member of the Local Board of Health, but although he attended the meetings of the Board he never said a word about this scheme, although the Bill was deposited weeks and weeks ago. Surely there was some motive for that reservation. Certainly those who are deeply interested in opposing the scheme should have had an ample opportunity of knowing what the scheme was, and of eliciting the feeling of the inhabitants in regard to it. May I be allowed to remind the House that in the immediate neighbourhood of Sutton there is an important institution, which will be largely affected by this Bill, an institution which makes provision for 2,000 pauper children. If this Bill is allowed to pass, a very large portion of the water supply now enjoyed by this school will be absolutely taken away. As I understand, there are no persons in a position of authority who are opposing this Bill, and the Water Company will consequently be in a position to dictate whatever bargain they like. The Local Board of Health is no longer, I believe, in a position to oppose the Bill, and to say what the conditions shall be under which the Company are to carry on their undertaking. At present they propose to take power to sell as much water as they can—to sell to—Any urban or rural sanitary authority and the trustees of any turnpike or other road or any highway board or any surveyor of any 1533 highway and any railway company and any other companies bodies or persons with respect to the supply of water in bulk as the Company think fit.There is a proviso which says—Provided always that the Company shall not supply water in bulk to any corporate body or person beyond the Company's limits of supply nor to any person within those limits for other than domestic purposes of and so long as in either case the affording such supply would prevent the Company from giving a full and efficient supply for domestic purposes within the Company's limits of supply.This is a peculiar and a somewhat suggestive provision. The Company who come here to ask for these extraordinary powers wish to appear in a favourable light, but I venture to think that they are attempting to throw dust into the eyes of this House. They have inserted a clause in this Bill which provides that—The Company shall not under the powers of this Act without the consent of the Local Government Board purchase or acquire in any city borough or other urban sanitary district or in any parish or part of a parish not being within an urban sanitary district ten or more houses which after the passing of this Act have been or on the fifteenth day of December last were occupied either wholly or partially by persons belonging to the labouring class as tenants or lodgers.Now, the Company never could, under any circumstances, want to do anything of the kind, and it is well known that they are already in possession of land which would afford ample scope for any extension of their machinery or enlargement of their works. Therefore I say that this is an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the House. Attention has already been called to the fact that the Company propose to raise an additional capital of £60,000 to that which they have already raised. This sum of £60,000 is to be raised at their own option by the issue of new ordinary or preference shares; but there is no provision in the Bill to prevent the present limited number of shareholders from appropriating the whole of the new shares to themselves. Now I ask the House why this Company with a monopoly already and a dividend of 7 per cent, should be allowed to secure a further monopoly which will deprive the governors of the Orphan School of their water supply without giving them compensation of any kind. I deny that there are any merits whatever in this Bill. I may be asked why I take the unusual course of second- 1534 ing the Motion of the hon. Member for East Donegal for the rejection of the Bill. I say that, viewed in every possible aspect, it is a Bill of a most unusual character and one which cannot possibly recommend itself to any Member of this House.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months"—(Mr. Arthur O'Connor.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CUBITT (Surrey, Mid)
I am sorry that I am compelled to ask the House for its indulgence for a few moments while I endeavour to answer some of the allegations which have been made by the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor). I know that the House is anxious to pass to more important business, and therefore I will put what I have to say into the smallest possible compass. In the first place, it is a matter of some difficulty to find out what the ground of opposition is. There was a reference in the speech of the hon. Member to something which happened last year in reference to the proposed formation of a local cemetery. The Water Company have been charged with negligence in that case, but it is impossible to sustain such a charge, because the Committee communicated at once with the Home Office and requested that its assent might be withheld, if, after inquiry, it should be found that the proposed site would prejudicially affect the water supply. The hon. Member blamed the Water Company for not taking steps to guard themselves against any damage the formation of a cemetery in that position was likely to do. The answer of the Home Office to the letter of the Water Company stated that before approving of the site for the proposed Cemetery every proper precaution would be taken by the Secretary of State, and every representation that might be made on the matter would be carefully considered. In regard to the immediate question before the House, I have been given to understand, from all the information I have been able to collect, that this is an ordinary Water Bill; and that it does nothing except to ask for powers to raise additional capital for the purpose of placing Sutton in a proper position so 1535 far as its water supply is concerned. Now Sutton is a village which, has rapidly grown into a town with a population of more than 10,000—or one-fifth of the population of the entire division. Therefore, it is only natural to suppose that the Water Company having fulfilled its duties in the past, now find themselves compelled to extend their operation. I may say also that this is a bonâ-fide Company. The chairman of the Company is an experienced man of business—the vice-chairman is also an experienced man of business, and the three other directors are local gentlemen living in Sutton. It would be impossible to bring a better Directorate before the House, and as I have said already, this is simply a Bill to authorize the raising of additional capital which contains no extraordinary clauses whatever. The hon. Members for East Donegal and North Camber well have devoted some pains and a considerable amount of ingenuity to an interpretation of Clause 22. Now I am told by the highest authority I have been able to consult, that this is the usual clause inserted in nearly every Water Bill which is brought before this House. It gives no right of entry into places beyond the district, and there is nothing of a novel character in it, and it has not the wide scope which the hon. Gentlemen have attached to it. The hon. Member for East Donegal says that this Company is ambitious to supply one half of London with water. Their powers, however, are limited to supplying water in bulk to adjacent Local Boards. That disposes, I think, of the second allegation of the opponents of the Bill. As to the purity of the water, that has recently been certified by competent analysts. On these grounds I appeal to the House to read the Bill a second time. The hon. Member for East Donegal not being able to find any fault with the provisions of the Bill as they stand, has endeavoured to imply that the promoters have gone behind the provisions of the Standing Orders, and have done something which, although technically regular, practically amounts to a contravention of those Standing Orders. In reply to that accusation, I may say that there has been no secrecy whatever in regard to the promotion of this Bill. On the contrary, the Examiners have reported that the notices by advertise- 1536 ment properly insisted upon by the Standing Orders have been duly given, and the advertisements themselves quite put out of the question any notion of secrecy. I wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Sutton Local Board as to the course which was intended to be taken to-day. I told him where I should be during the day, but I have received no communication from him. Therefore I do not think the Bill is likely to be very strongly opposed by the Local Board. But I make this appeal to the House to read the Bill a second time on higher grounds. I believe it is the wish of this House that questions of Local Government shall be removed from the consideration of the House. I would therefore appeal to the House to know whether the hon. Gentleman is wise at a time like this when the House is so greatly embarrassed by a pressure of business in raising a discussion of this sort upon a Motion for the second reading of a Private Bill. I would appeal also to the Chairman of the Committee of Standing Orders, and to my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench, to know if this is not a proper view to take of the matter. With these remarks I am perfectly prepared to leave the question with full confidence to the judgment of the House.
§ SIR TREVOR LAWRENCE (Surrey, Reigate)
I had the honour to represent the district in which these works are situated for a considerable number of years up to the election of 1885, and as I am intimately acquainted with all the circumstances of the district, I will venture to trouble the House with a very few words on the subject. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) has told the House that the present water supply is fully adequate for the wants of the inhabitants. Now, that is not so at all. It is not adequate for the inhabitants at present supplied; and there exists a necessity for making provision for a largely increased supply for the increasing numbers of inhabitants the Company are required to supply. When I first had the honour of representing this part of the County of Surrey, the population was less than one-half of what it is now. Everyone who is acquainted with the neighbourhood of Sutton will be aware that house building has been 1537 going on at a very rapid rate indeed, and that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of inhabitants. So far as the Directors of the Water Company are concerned, I am personally acquainted with them, and I do not think the House will be at all inclined to doubt that they are all of them good men of business and perfectly honourable and straightforward men. With regard to the Sutton Local Board of Health, I, like my right hon. Friend the Member for the Epsom Division of Surrey (Mr. Cubitt), have been in communication with the Chairman, who informs me that there undoubtedly exists an idea that some day or other the Local Board may find it necessary to purchase the Water Works; but the chance of this should not be allowed to interfere with the Company's desire to secure all the means of supply for the district that it is possible to obtain. I think the Local Board would be extremely remiss in the discharge of their duty, if in a place like Sutton they did not take cognizance of everything done by the Company or any other Public Body. But it is a matter of public notoriety that no Public Company can conceal what it is doing in a small neighbourhood like this, and therefore the fact that the Water Company were introducing this Bill and applying for increased powers under it, has been for a longtime notorious in the town. [Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR: No.] The hon. Gentleman says "No." I am a resident in the neighbourhood, which he is not, and I think I am bettor acquainted with the facts of the case than he is. Then again in regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Kelly), what he said in reference to the wells of the Orphan School is a matter of pure imagination. I do not believe that the water which the Company desire to take and distribute will affect those wells in the slightest degree. As to the sources of the River Wandle, that also is a more imaginary evil on the part of the hon. Member opposite. So far as those who are interested in the Wandle are concerned—and I have a personal interest in that river myself—we are all of us anxious to retain it as a trout stream—one of the few which now exist in the neighbourhood of London. Those who are interested in the preservation of the Wandle are, 1538 however, perfectly satisfied that no injury will be done to it by the provisions of this Bill. If any injury is done, those who consider that they are likely to suffer will have a locus standi to be heard in opposition to the measure. I appeal, then, to the House to read the Bill a second time and refer it to the proper tribunal, upstairs, for considering its details. I venture to think that this House ought to be very chary indeed how it prevents a growing neighbourhood from taking measures to provide itself with an adequate supply of water, when it is established that there is an urgent necessity for an increased supply. For these reasons I hope that the House will reject the Amendment and consent to read the Bill a second time.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY) (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I desire to offer a few observations to the House before a Division is taken. I certainly hope that the Motion for the second reading will not be rejected, but that the House will adhere to its ordinary rule in regard to Bills of a similar character to this—namely, to send it to a Select Committee upstairs, where the allegations contained in it can be properly investigated. There are, however, one or two things which I think it would be as well to clear up at once. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) preferred a charge against the Water Company in reference to the course which they pursued last year when a proposal was made for the formation of a cemetery on a site which forms part of their source of supply. An answer has already been given to the charge by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Epsom Division of Surrey (Mr. Cubitt)—namely, that the Water Company did write to the Home Secretary, who replied that the subject would be carefully considered, and who ultimately decided upon refusing its sanction to the proposed site.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
What I said was that the Water Works Company was not in any way represented upon the inquiry.
§ MR. COURTNEY
The Company took the most efficacious means of securing the careful investigation of the matter, and in the end the site suggested was not approved of. Then the hon. Member says that the Company is seeking to enlarge its original sphere of 1539 operations. I think that was the main point of the hon. Gentleman; but it is an entire mistake. The area of the Company is not enlarged at all by the present Bill. It will remain as before, in its own area, and will have no power to break up roads and lay mains outside their present area. All that the Company asks for is power to supply water in bulk outside its present limits, and the clause they propose is one which is frequently inserted in Water Companies' Acts. It does not enlarge the district, but it grants power to the Company to sell the water outside the existing area. The hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Kelly), who spoke with such energy upon the question, accused the Company of having attempted to hoodwink both the public and this House. The hon. Member has acted with the greatest simplicity in the matter because the clause to which he objects is one which is absolutely essential and insisted upon, and one which the Company could not avoid putting into the Bill. Then some difficulty has been raised as to want of notice. Now, I have here The London Gazette of the 30th of November last, in which full notice—which is a notice to all the world—is given of the intention of the Company to introduce the Bill. Further, the Examiner has reported that all the Standing Orders have been duly complied with. Under these circumstances I hope the House will not hesitate for a moment in reading the Bill a second time.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I think that the statements of my hon. Friend the Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) are such as to require the serious attention of the House. Let me take the first of those statements. I think when the House considers it, it will be induced to pause before giving a serious support to the progress of this measure. My hon. Friend has pointed out that the effect of passing this Bill will be to enable a limited number of gentlemen to put £40,000 or £50,000 into their pockets. The hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees has not controverted that statement at all, nor did the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cubitt) who spoke earlier in defence of the Bill. It is broadly asserted that if the House passes the Bill it will put £40,000 or £50,000 1540 into the pockets of a certain limited number of gentlemen who are promoting it. This property has already been able to pay 7 per cent, and the Bill will enable the Company to offer nominally in the market, but really to a certain number of themselves, additional shares in regard to which a dividend of 7 per cent is to be guaranteed, so that if they obtain this bargain they will be able to realise a handsome sum of money. What is the importance of that? The importance of it is this: This question of the supply of water is one that is becoming very important throughout all the communities of the country, and it is becoming more and more important every year. We are fast approaching the time when Local Boards in different parts of the country will insist upon securing a supply of water for the benefit of the ratepayers, and will further insist upon that supply being entirely under the control of the ratepayers. I find that already, according to the hon. Baronet the Member for the Reigate Division of Surrey (Sir Trevor Lawrence), who spoke in favour of the Bill, there is a movement in the district of Sutton for securing the water supply of the neighbourhood, and placing it in the hands of the town authorities of Sutton. The Local Board say that they are considering the question, and it would be most unfortunate if they should be prevented from taking action in the matter without being compelled to pay £40,000 or £50,000 more than they would be called upon to pay now, which sum would clearly go into the pockets of a limited number of persons. I maintain that it is monstrous to put the town and the ratepayers of Sutton to a prospective cost of £40,000 or £50,000 before they are able to get into their own hands the control of the water supply of their district. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Epsom Division (Mr. Cubitt) says that a feeling is growing up in this House in favour of removing questions of a local character from the discussion of the House of Commons. I am sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman on a recent occasion did not express any extreme amount of willingness to relieve the House of a large portion of its Business. At the same time, I gladly welcome the right hon. Gentleman as approaching to some extent the 1541 character of a Home Ruler in this House. What the right hon. Gentleman does not see in this case is that the tendency of feeling and intelligence out of the House is not only towards placing the decision of these matters, but the entire control of them into the hands of local bodies instead of dealing with them in an Assembly like this. And the right hon. Gentleman, by proposing to push through a Bill like this, is endeavouring to postpone the advent of that happy day when the entire water supply of the country will be in the hands of the ratepayers. I feel bound to support my hon. Friend in opposing this Bill. I will only make allusion to one point which was raised by the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Courtney). The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epsom (Mr. Cubitt) did me the honour to consult me with regard to the prospects of this Bill, and I urged him not to secure the advocacy of the Chairman of Committees. The advocacy of that hon. Gentleman has been universally fatal to the cause he has supported. Allow me to call attention to one or two points which have been referred to by the Chairman of Committees. He has told the House that this Bill does not enlarge the existing powers of the Water Company. Let me call attention to the clause on which my hon. Friend the Member for East Donegal relied for the statement which he made—Clause 22 of the Bill—Subject to the provisions of this Act the Company may from time to time enter into and carry into effect such contracts and arrangements with any urban or rural sanitary authority and the trustees of any turnpike or other road or any highway board or any surveyor of any highway and any railway company and any other companies bodies or persons with respect to the supply of water in bulk (without as well as within the Company's limits of supply as defined by the Act of 1871) as the Company think fit and every such contract and arrangement may be for such period on such terms pecuniary or otherwise and conditions as the Company think fit and the Company may by agreement vary suspend or rescind any such contracts or arrangements and make others in lieu thereof and in addition thereto.Therefore this Company can go outside its own limits and supply water in bulk to other districts; and in that way prevent the formation of other waterworks in other localities. This Bill, in fact, gives to this Company one of the most valuable and one of the 1542 least excusable monopolies ever asked for even by a Water Company from an Assembly like this. This 22nd clause gives the Company power to job away its water to Companies outside, and it is perfectly monstrous that such a Bill should be allowed to come before the House. The right hon. Gentleman opposite gave the House ample reason for believing that the local authorities of Sutton have not been consulted; and we have had it from the hon. Member who represents the division of the county in which Sutton is situated that the Town Board has not yet discussed the matter, but that it will meet for the consideration of it for the first time to-morrow. Under these circumstances, are we asking the House too much if we ask it to postpone its judgment until the Town Authority have had the opportunity of considering the measure. I feel quite justified in moving that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. T. P. O'Connor.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 224: Majority 125.—(Div. List, No. 7.)
§ Original Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
After the decision which has just taken place I cannot blind myself to the fact that I have no hope of securing a majority in favour of the rejection of the second reading of the Bill. I will therefore ask, with the leave of the House, to withdraw it. I understand that it is the intention of an hon. Member who sits on these Benches to move an Instruction to the Committee, which may in some degree limit the preference which would be given under the provisions of the Bill in regard to the disposal of the new shares of the Company.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
Am I to understand that now is the proper time for moving an Instruction to the Committee upon the Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Bill must in the first place be read a second time, and 1543 the hon. Member may then give Notice of an Instruction.
§ Original Question put.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed.