HC Deb 20 August 1889 vol 339 cc1862-6

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 5.

* MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I wish to move the omission of Sub-section 4 of this clause. I do not intend to make a speech. All I will do is to say that it seems to me rather early in the day for the London County Council to wish a purchase a large site for new offices. I think the matter might stand over another year, and I very much doubt whether it would be well to allow them to enter upon this expenditure, seeing that the rates have already gone up 4d., if not 6d., in the £1. I beg to move the omission of this sub-section.

Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 32, to leave out Sub-section 4.—(Mr. Bartley.)

Question proposed, "That Sub-section 4 stand part of the Clause."


I hope my hon. Friend will withdraw his objection to this clause. It may become necessary, and it certainly is desirable, that power should be given to the County Council to make inquiry as to a suitable site. The clause contains ample safeguards, I think, against an improper expenditure being embarked upon. All it will enable the County Council to do is practically to inquire into the matter.


There is no possible difficulty in the London County Council inquiring into the question of sites. I do not object to their doing that. But the clause enables them to acquire a site, and that would involve the expenditure of a large sum of the ratepayers' money. I, therefore, think it my duty to press the Amendment.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 30.—(Div. List, No. 335).

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6.

* SIR JOHN COLOMB&c) (Tower Hamlets, Bow,

In regard to this clause I should like to point out that power is only given to raise £313,000 for the purposes of the Thames Valley Tunnel Act. I think that is an exceedingly small sum, bearing in mind that the whole of East London is anxiously looking for the completion of this work, and I should, therefore, be glad if any Member of the Government can give the Committee information as to what it is proposed to do in regard to it.


In Sub-section 8 I think there must be a misprint, for it says that the London County Council shall have power to borrow for the purposes of the Metropolis Streets Improvement Act £1,000, provided that the amount does not exceed £4,300,000. What does that mean?


It means what it says, Sir. It means that another thousand pounds may be borrowed provided that the aggregate borrowings under the Act do not exceed the sum stated. With regard to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Bow, I may point out that the sum asked for is that which it is estimated will be spent in the course of the current twelve months, and it was thought unnecessary to ask for power to raise more than that.

Clause 6, and remaining Clauses, agreed to.


I wish to move a new clause, the object of which is to enable the London County Council to pay all the costs, charges, and expenses which may be incurred by them up to the 31st December, 1890, in an inquiry to be instituted with respect to the water supply of the County of London. My reason for moving this clause is a very simple one, and I need not detain the House long in explaining it. It is, the Committee will remember, the clause which, at the instigation of the London County Council, the Government placed in the original Bill introduced this year, but it was subsequently omitted because of the number of Amendments placed upon the Paper in opposition to it by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. I am told it has been stated that there was opposition to the clause from this side of the House also; but I cannot ascertain that this is the case, and I must say that were the statement confirmed, I should express my feelings as to the objectionable conduct pursued by hon. Gentlemen on this side equally as strongly as I have expressed them in regard to the conduct of hon. Members opposite. Now, this clause does not give the County Council for London power to purchase the water supply; it simply gives them power, within a little over 12 months, to make an inquiry into the whole question of the water supply, which is one of the most serious things with which we have to contend. I am quite convinced that the people of London will not allow simple monopolists to retain the control of their water supply for along time to come. I should like to inform the Committee who were the gentlemen who opposed the original clause. So far as I can ascertain, they were all, more or less, directly interested in the various Water Companies supplying London. One is the son of the Governor of the New River Company; a second is the brother of a director of another Company, and so it is in every case; and these Amendments were thus put forward, not in the interests or the welfare of the people of London, but because hon. Gentlemen were afraid that the proposed inquiry would disclose such a state of affairs as would induce the people of London to require their Representatives to deal forthwith with this great question. I think the importance of introducing this clause cannot be better illustrated than by reminding the Committee that in the year 1878, when the Metropolitan Board of Works spent a sum of £6,611 in connection with Bills introduced into Parliament on the question of the Water Supply of London, they were surcharged the amount by the Auditor in auditing their accounts for that year. In conclusion, I wish to say that we who support this clause are quite willing to agree to the insertion of a sum of money—say £5,000—as a limit of the expenditure to be incurred under it.

New Clause (Expenses of inquiry as to water supply,)—(Mr. James Rowlands,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

MR. J. R. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

I represent a Metropolitan constituency. I agree with my hon. Friend opposite that this question is one of immense importance to London, and I regret that the Government should have thought it right to omit this particular clause. If my hon. Friend will agree to the insertion of a limit of £5,000 in his clause I shall be very happy to support him. I think that Londoners cannot much longer submit to the present state of affairs with regard to their water supply. They must obtain control over it; and if the London County Council will use such means as this clause will place at their disposal, they will be doing a great deal towards the work which the public will, sooner or later, call upon them to undertake.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 75.—(Div. List, No. 336.)

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Read the third time and passed.