§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on nomination of Select Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Shaw Lefevre be a Member of the Select Committee."—(Mr. Baumann.)
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Ambrose be a Member of the Select Committee."—(Mr. Baumann.)
§ *(3.5.) Mr. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
I had expected that the right hon. Member for the University of London (Sir J. Lubbock) would have been here to have expressed his views in regard to the names proposed by the hon. Member for Peck-ham (Mr. Baumann) to be upon this Committee. If the names are to be put up seriatim it may seem invidious to suggest the substitution of other names.
§ MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to explain that the right hon. baronet the Member for the University of London has agreed with the President of the Local Government Board and myself that two other Gentlemen shall be added to the Committee; one to be nominated by each side of the House. I propose to move the names on the Paper to-day, and then to give notice of the names of the other two.
§ *MR. T. H. BOLTON
Then without the slightest desire to give personal offence, and speaking individually, I must say that I think the names proposed by the hon. Member for Peckham, other than that of the right hon. Gentleman who has been elected, will scarcely command the confidence of the people of London. I, therefore, trust that the hon. Member will postpone the appointment of the Committee, so that some communication may take place upon the matter between the various London representatives. I have great respect for the hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Ambrose), but I believe he is one of those who have committed themselves to a particular view upon the question involved in the Bill; and I hardly think, therefore, that he ought to be appointed upon the Committee. Then, again, it is proposed to nominate the noble Marquess the Member for Brixton (the Marquess of Carmarthen), but I would venture to suggest that there are many Members of the House who have had a larger experience of public business, and who possess a greater knowledge of the wants and requirements of the Metropolis. There are Members representing London and town constituencies who have been much longer Members of this House than the noble Marquess, the hon. Member for Peckham himself, or the hon. and learned Member for Harrow, and whose decision in dealing with this important question would command much more confidence. Under these circumstances I would make an appeal to the President of the Local Government Board to re-consider the composition of the Committee, and to consult the feeling of the general body of the London Members.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
The Government are not responsible for the names which appear on the Paper, and I can assure the hon. Member that they are as anxious as he is that the Report of the Committee on a subject of such vast importance should carry with it all the weight which ought to come from the consideration of such a question. It may be invidious to discuss 1251 the relative merits of the gentlemen who are nominated to serve upon the Committee; but, as to the first objection of the hon. Gentleman that some of the gentlemen whose names have still to be agreed to have already expressed an opinion upon the subject, I hardly think that the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) whose name has already been agreed to, will concur in that objection, because I think that the right hon. Gentleman, whose name was agreed to without discussion, has distinctly expressed his views upon the matter. I make no complaint against the right hon. Gentleman on that score, but I simply mention the fact to show that it would be extremely difficult to nominate Members upon a Committee of this kind, who are conversant with the subject, who have not expressed an opinion upon it. It must be remembered that the Committee of Selection have also to nominate four gentlemen, and it is to be hoped that the gentlemen appointed by them will command weight and authority. With reference to the hon. Member for Harrow I may say that my hon. and learned Friend is recognised as one of the ablest lawyers in the House, and at the Bar. At the same time there is some force in the objection that the right hon. Member for the University of London is not present, and I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham would do well, as he has arranged with the right hon. Baronet to add two more names to the Committee, making the number appointed by the House seven instead of five, to postpone the Motion until the whole of the names can be submitted. No unnecessary delay will take place, seeing that it is necessary to give notice of the two additional names.
§ *MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I must say that, in my opinion, the whole of this question has been placed in a most unsatisfactory position, and therefore I hope the hon. Member opposite will take the advice of the President of the Local Government Board and pospone the consideration of the subject until the whole of the names can be submitted to the House. I would respectfully point out to the Government that it is desirable not only to have Members of legal standing and experience upon the Committee, but that it is essential to have 1252 Members who are practically acquainted with the subject. The hon. Member for Harrow, on a previous occasion, committed himself to a particular view, and, therefore, I do not think it would be right to appoint him upon a Committee which is supposed to inquire into the subject with strict impartiality. It would be just as much out of place to nominate me, seeing that I expressed an opposite view to that of the hon. and learned Member, and endeavoured to lay before the House, some reasons why the principle of betterment should be incorporated in the Bill. If the hon. Member for Peckham is not prepared to accede to the suggestion which had been made to him, I would move that the debate be adjourned.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
My suggestion was that my hon. Friend should postpone his Motion, because, in any case, after the arrangement between my hon. Friend and the right hon. Member for the University of London, it will be necessary to place the additional names upon the Paper.
§ *MR. CREMER
As the hon Member has not risen to accede to the request of the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to move that the debate be adjourned, with a view to the re-consideration of the matter, so that the Committee may be composed in a more satisfactory manner. It must not be forgotten that this is a question which affects vitally the interests of nearly 4,000,000 of people in this Metropolis, and it ought not to be passed over lightly. It would be better to postpone the consideration of the Bill for a week or two than to have an inquiry which may be injurious to the interests of the public.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Cremer.)
§ *MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
I think that the course proposed by the President of the Local Government Board that the discussion should be postponed until the additional names have been placed upon the Paper is a reasonable and proper one. I have only to say, in reference to the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman has made upon myself, that it is perfectly true that on many occasions I have committed myself strongly to the principle of what is called the betterment clause, 1253 but I have not formed a definite opinion whether it should be applied to the particular case before the House, nor have I committed myself on the question whether the principle should be embodied in a Public Bill or should be included in Private Bills like that before the House.
§ MR. BAUMANN
The nomination of this Committee has been frequently postponed already, but, after the request of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, I have no objection to postpone the Motion again, although I feel that I am unable to withdraw any of the names which are on the Paper, or to alter the composition of the Committee.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
It is quite true that I have expressed an opinion upon the general question of betterment, but hon. Members will do me the justice to remember that I did not oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. There is some difference between betterment in the abstract and betterment in the concrete, and if I am appointed upon the Committee I shall certainly enter into the consideration of the question with an impartial mind.
§ Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.