§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ (12.0) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
I appeal to the Government not to take this Bill at this hour. It is an important measure, which deals with a large sum of money, and it is impossible to discuss it adequately now.
§ * MR. H. W. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
There is absolutely nothing contentious in this Bill. No question of principle is involved. It has received the assent of the Treasury, and I think it would not be wise to delay passing it.
§ (12.2.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
Perhaps I may be permitted to appeal to the hon. Member to allow the Bill to proceed. It follows the precedent of previous years, and the effect of stopping it would be to arrest all the improvements and works in the Metropolis sanctioned by Parliament. I appeal to my hon. Friend to withdraw his opposition. I will undertake that we shall have an opportunity in Committee, of discussing any questions he desires to raise.
§ MR. BAUMANN
I must explain. I have carefully read the Bill; I am afraid the Secretary to the Treasury has not.
§ * MR. BAUMANN
Not on a Motion to adjourn the Debate. The Bill refers to schemes for the coming year, which have not received the sanction of Parliament. I think it is most improper and most unreasonable on the part of the County Council and the Government to ask that the Bill shall at this hour of the night be read a second time without discussion. Half of the Bill deals with schemes for the coming year, which are of an extremely contentious nature, and which have not received the sanction of Parliament. Those Bills require discussing, and I, for one, object——
§ (12.5.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
No doubt the hon. Member feels it rather hard that the Bill should come on so unexpectedly, because he was unable to issue his customary Whip to hon. Members opposite against it. He has already defeated two of the Bills of the London County Council this Session, and no doubt he will defeat this if he can. But, after what the Secretary to the Treasury has said, hon. Members will approve of the Bill. The hon. Member for Peckham will have an opportunity in Committee of objecting to particular clauses. The largest portion of the measure refers to matters now being dealt with by the Council, and it is important that power should be given for continuing the works.
§ *(12.7.) SIR J. COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow)
I trust that my hon. Friend will not press his objection. Opportunity has been promised him for discussing the details in Committee, and I, therefore, hope he will allow the Bill to be read a second time.
§ *(12.8.) THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
If the Bill is not read a second time not a penny will be available next year for the Council to carry on the works which Parliament has sanctioned. Nothing but the pressure of business has prevented the Government dealing with the demands of the London County Council in a different manner from that proposed to day, but I hope early next 605 Session to lay before the House a scheme dealing with the finance of the County Council, which will obviate the necessity of these annual Bills.
§ (12.9.) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I think that my hon. Friend has not been treated very well. I sympathise with his view. I agree that the question is of great importance to Metropolitan Members, and we object to pass the Bill without discussion. Had this been an Irish Bill, and had hon. Members for Ireland objected to proceeding with it, the Government would have at once given way, but although we Metropolitan Members on this side are nearly as numerous as Irish Members opposite, they will not give way. I beg to move the adjournment of the Debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Bartley.)
§ (12.10.) MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)
I support that. I contend that it is not fair that the metropolitan Members should be called upon to agree to the Second Reading of a Bill of this importance without some sort of discussion. I appeal to the Government to give us reasonable facilities for that.
§ (12.11.) MR. W. H SMITH
The Government would be excedingy sorry to press the Bill on if it involved any new principle whatever. The work authorised by Parliament to be carried out by the County Council cannot be proceeded with unless this Bill is introduced. The County Council are not responsible for the Bill. Parliament has already sanctioned the work for which the Bill is designed, and, under the circumstances, I trust my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to persist in his Motion. He can gain his object better by examining the details of the Bill in Committee rather than by postponing the consideration of the measure.
§ *(12.14.) MR. H. W. LAWSON
The real motive for delaying the Bill is the jealous animosity against the London County Council.
§ MR. BAUMANN
I wish to ask, Sir, whether the hon. Gentleman is in order in imputing motives to hon. Members?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman would do well to avoid imputing motives; neither is he addressing himself to the question of the adjournment of the Debate.
§ * MR. H. W. LAWSON
I am not wishing to impute any private motive; I am only suggesting that it is hostility to the County Council which prompts hon. Gentlemen opposite to oppose the Bill. I hold that there is no occasion for the House to discuss the details of the Bill. These have already been fully considered by the County Council, which is the proper body to deal with this business, The President of the Local Government Board has explained that next Session it is his intention to introduce a measure which will make such Bills as these unnecessary, and which will place the London County Council, so far as money matters are concerned, on the same footing as other Local Authorities. I repeat that no new principle is contained in this Bill, and that all the House has to do is to agree to the County Council raising money for its public works and administrative duties in the usual way.
§ (12.17.) MR. GOSCHEN
After the controversial speech just delivered, I think it is not likely that the Bill can be discussed in a business-like spirit, and it would be better that the House should accept the Motion for adjournment.
§ Dr. TANNER
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ (12.18.) MR. CAUSTON (Southwark)
I had hoped that the Government would stand firm for once, and I was going to appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury to resist this attack on the London County Council. I think the Honse should divide, if only to protest against the spirit of hostility towards the County Council displayed by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
MR. LABOUOHERE (Northampton)
Her Majesty's Ministers have declared that they are strongly opposed to the Motion for the adjournment, and I hope the House will now give them the opportunity of voting against it.
§ (12.20.) The House divided:—Ayes 111; Noes 98.—(Div. List, No. 197.)
§ * MR. SEXTON
The majority of the House having expressed an opinion, I submit it is too late to proceed with any other business, and I beg to move the adjournment of the House.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Thursday