HC Deb 18 March 1890 vol 342 cc1102-18

By Order.

Order for Second Reading read.

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

*(3.15.) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)

Before this Bill is read a second time I desire to record my protest against the manner in which the Measure has been drafted and presented to Parliament by the London County Council. On the title it is described as— A Bill for the improvement and alteration of abridge over Bow Creek, at Barking, and the acquisition and management of Brock-well Park, and to confer further powers on the London County Council. This is an innocent, even an attractive title, but I find that behind a bridge over Bow Creek and the acquisition of Brockwell Park are inserted clauses of a highly controversial and objectionable character, which we are to discuss as a sort of pot pourri of legislation. Among the numerous proposals of the Bill is one contained in Clause 72, that no building shall be erected of a greater height than 70 feet without the consent of the Council. There are others to alter the time of calling the meetings of the Council, to change the arrangements for signing cheques, to change the law of rating in regard to the Metropolis, and to exempt members of the Council from the liability of serving on juries, and to give them power to administer oaths. Having regard to the notice which has been placed on the Paper by the President of the Local Government Board, I do not propose now to discuss these clauses further, but I will merely say that this is the first time in the Municipal history of London that the Metropolitan Municipal Authority has attempted, under cover of schemes of local improvements which we all desire, to smuggle through this House—[Cries of "Oh!"]—clauses of a highly controversial and objectionable character, changing not only its own constitution, but the law of the land. Observe the cunning—certainly not of a very high order—with which this Bill has bean drawn. In the vanguard of the clauses of the Bill is placed the acquisition of Brock well Park, which the County Council know very well all the Metropolitan Members are desirous of securing. They have calculated that we South London Members in particular would not dare to vote against a Bill for the acquisition of Brock well Park, and, miscalculating upon our cowardice, they have thought proper to insert in a Bill which is nominally for the acquisition of Brock well Park all sorts of objectionable and dangerous clauses. I have no doubt that the London County Council think they have done a very clever thing in drafting a Bill of this kind, but it is a piece of sharp practice worthy only of the office of Dodson and Fogg. I am quite sure that the right hon. Member for the University of London and the other hon. Members whose names appear on the back of the Bill, are unconnected with this proceeding, and, therefore, I do not hesitate to describe it as a disreputable manœuvre, an unscrupulous stratagem, of which the Metropolitan Board of Works, with all its faults, was incapable. The Metropolitan Board of Works always treated the House of Commons, in regard to its public and private Bills, in a straightforward and above-board fashion, and if the London County Council chooses to depart from the recognised methods of transacting public business, it cannot be surprised if its Bills meet with opposition, and are received with suspicion by this House. I feel so strongly upon the matter that T hope the House will reject the Bill.


Does the hon. Member make the Motion which stands in his name?


I think the best course I can adopt is simply to record my public protest. [Ironical cries of "Hear hear."] If that is the spirit in which I am to be met by hon. Members opposite, I will move as an Amendment that the Bill be read a second time on this day six months.

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

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," in order to have the words "upon this day six months,"—(Mr. Baumann,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

*(3.20.) SIR J. LUBBOCK (University of London)

The hon. Member has, I think, almost exhausted the vocabulary of abuse, and I must say that I feel somewhat indignant with being charged, in conjunction with my Colleagues on the London County Council, with being guilty of an attempt to smuggle a Bill through this House, in a manner described by the hon. Member as exhibiting low cunning.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I excepted in the most express way the right hon. Gentleman and the other Members whose names are on the back of the Bill.


I cannot accept the apology of the hon. Member. My Colleagues and I are responsible to the House, and I think I shall be able in a few words to show the House that the Bill is not open to the accusations which the hon. Member has thought fit to make against it. Indeed, I should feel more indignant than I do if I could believe that the hon. Gentleman really himself believed the charges he has made. What are the grave matters which the hon. Member considers we have brought forward in this Bill, and which he says we have attempted to smuggle through the House? The first is that the London County Council are to have the power of administering oaths. With regard to the administration of oaths, I quite admit that it is not usual for an Administrative Body to have the power of administering oaths; but the London County Council think it is desirable to have that power, because the duty of licensing has been transferred to the Council, and in all other cases Parliament has considered that Licensing Bodies ought to have the power of administering oaths, and no reason has been shown why London should be an exception; but if this House thinks that as regards Londoners it is sufficient to believe the men who apply for licences on their simple word rather than upon the administration of an oath I have nothing more to say. Passsing to the second point, that the exemption to serve on juries has also been conferred on other Municipal Bodies, whose duties are by no means so arduous as those of the London County Council. We only ask an exemption which is in force in all other large cities. Then, as regards the third objection, I believe the House would wish that power should be given to prevent buildings being raised to a greater height than 70 feet. Hon. Members must have observed the tendency in London to erect buildings of a gigantic height, and I think the majority of the House will consider that it is desirable to compel them to be within a moderate height. Then, again, as to the mode of making payments, I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board has put on the Paper a Motion to exclude that clause of the Bill. It was drawn up by Lord Lingen, who is, of course, one of the very highest authorities in the whole country on such a subject. Practically the present system is found to be almost unworkable. It leads to most inconvenient and unnecessary delays. There may be a little matter affecting a building, which nobody objects to, and against which there is no opposition. As the law stands a notice has first of all to be given, then it has to go before the Building Committee; there is then another notice required, and it has to go before the Finance Committee, then it is necessary to give a third notice in order to bring it before the Council. If this clause is to be excluded, I hope the people of London will feel that if are there unnecessary delays, the London County Council have done their best to prevent them. The only other objection raised by the hon. Member was to the clause which raises the important question concerning the law of rating, on which much may be said; it is drawn to carry out the recommendations of the Committee of this House which sat in I860, but if the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept that provision, it will not be pressed. I hope that the House will assent to the Second Reading of the Bill. I have dwelt upon the provisions which the hon. Member opposite has declared to be of a wicked and abominable character, but I hope the House will feel that there is no justification whatever for the severe manner in which he has thought fit to condemn the conduct of the London County Council.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has dealt with the Bill as if the whole of the proposals in it were in themselves perfectly unobjectionable, and were in some cases necessary to the proper performance of the functions of the London County Council. But there are two questions to be considered: first of all whether the proposals in the Bill are themselves not open to grave objection, and secondly, whether, even if they are not, they ought to be dealt with in a private Bill. I gather that my hon. Friend behind me feels strongly about the latter of these two points. For my own part, I think that the House, as a whole, has a strong objection to important alterations in the general law being introduced in a private Bill. The main object of the Bill is to acquire Brockwell Park, and the question is whether such a measure should be made the medium of carrying out other improvements. I must say that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend in that view. I do not go so far as to say that no provision of the law should ever be altered in a private Bill, but I think it is a great mistake to introduce provisions into a private Bill largely altering the general law. If this were done, not only would the time of the House be largely taken up with discussion on such points, but there would also be a largely increased amount of labour in searching through, private Bills to find out what the law was on certain points, If this were done in the case of the London County Council there is nothing to prevent every County Council in the kingdom from introducing alterations, so that the law might materially differ in every county. One point is the question of exemption from service on juries. I am not at all sure that I ought not to have included that among the clauses which I propose to ask the House to instruct the Committee to omit, but I have regarded it more; as an application of a law that is universal throughout the country than an alteration of the general law, and I cannot but recognise that London ought to have the benefit of what other municipalities have, although perhaps I weaken my argument by allowing that clause to remain. Yet I think that in this respect there is much to be said for it. Then, again, there is a clause inserted which amends the Local Government Act with regard to the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship of the Council. Of course, if the Bill contained any proposal that either of these gentlemen should take an active part, such as voting, I should strongly object; but as far as I understand there is no intention of altering the Local Government Act in that respect. As it is a matter almost personal to my right hon. Friend and Lord Rosebery, I do not feel myself justified in pressing my objection. Then comes the question of oaths. The proposal in the Bill distinctly is to repeal that section of the Local Government Act which expressly states that there shall be no transfer of power to administer oaths.


Only so far as licensing is concerned.


Under the Act there is no transfer of power to the Council enabling them to administer an oath. It is true that the Council can administer an oath to the coroner when he is swearing to the correctness of his accounts, but that is a totally different thing to what is proposed in the Bill, which is nothing more nor less than to convert an administrative into a judicial body? It gives them the power of examining witnesses on oath. The right hon. Gentleman said that the bodies which have hitherto exorcised these duties have had the power to administer an oath. That is true, but they were judicial and not administrative bodies. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman may say that it would facilitate the duties of the Loudon County Council if they had the power to administer an oath. But if that be so let a Public Bill dealing with the subject be brought forward. It may very well be that the Council might propose to administer an oath when a magistrate was present, but this general power, I think, is objectionable in an administrative body. At all events, it is a very large and important question, dealing with an important principle, which certainly ought not to be introduced in a Private Bill. Then comes the question of finance. I have myself told Lord Rosebery that I should be very glad if opportunity arose for dealing with that question. We shall have to deal with the whole question of London finance this year; we are almost under a pledge to the House to do something to put an end to the Annual Money Bills which used to be introduced on behalf of the Metropolitan Board of Works. That is altogether an unsatisfactory system of dealing with the finance of the London County Council, and the Government are prepared to introduce a Bill putting the finance of the Council on a different footing, which would very likely put some kind of relaxation in the conduct of the finance of the London County Council. But I cannot hold out hopes that I shall deal with them in anything like the drastic manner proposed in this Bill, which practically places an unlimited amount in the hands of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, or Vice Chairman, and an officer of the London County Council, in the interval between two meetings, which in the summer vacation would mean a long interval. This clause gives power to any one of these gentlemen, along with the Comptroller of the London County Council, to spend an unlimited sum of money without any order from the Council. Those who know the procedure in municipal Corporations know that no such power is possessed by them, and there are safeguards which prevent anything like what is now proposed from occurring. I understand, however, that my right hon. Friend does not propose to move this clause. Another important question is that of the computation of time. If any inconvenience is felt it must be experienced throughout the whole country, but I have heard no such complaint. If there is any such inconvenience I do not see why it should not be dealt with as regards the whole country, and not with reference to London only. With regard to the question of the reduction of a quorum from five to four, here again I have not heard of the London County Council suffering the smallest inconvenience, or that there is any inconvenience felt throughout the country. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there are many Town Councils which, though not approaching the size of the London Council, are yet very large; so I would say again that if there is any grievance we should proceed to alter the general law, so that everybody might participate in the benefit. Then comes a very important and astonishing proposal. By the Municipal Corporations Act three clear days' notice must be given of a meeting, and of the business to be done, so that all the members may be informed in due time as to the business to be transacted. But this Bill proposes to reduce the time of notice to 24 hours. I would ask the House whether, if there is one Council where more notice should be given, it is not the London County Council, inasmuch as large and important questions are constantly arising to be dealt with by it, and I would be the last to consent to any modification of the time of notice to be given. But the Bill goes much further than that; it proposes that at any meeting, without notice being given, the Council may, by a majority of two-thirds of those present, take up and dispose of any important matter. I cannot think that the House would consent to any such proposal as that. Section 75, again, contains one of the most astonishing proposals I have ever seen in a Private Bill, or in any other. It proposes that all contracts between individuals with regard to the payment of rates are to be subject to any future legislation. That is to say, that in the case of contracts for leases in which one party agreed to pay the rates, the contract is to be binding on the landlord, but the payment of rates is not to be binding on the tenant. Can any proposal be more unfair or more ridiculous than to insert in a. Bill of this kind a clause with such, an effect, sandwiched in between one clause dealing with bye-laws and another dealing with trespassers in sewers? The noble Lord who presides over the London County Council has accused me of pedantry because I cannot agree to all these changes. The House will judge of what kind of pedantry I have been guilty in not consenting to give these powers to the London County Council. The statement issued by the London County Council with reference to this Bill contained a misrepresentation of facts with regard to the Local Government Board having refused assistance to the London County Council. That statement is of a piece with Lord Rosebery's "pedantry" speech. The application to the Local Government Board asked them to set aside all the rules and legal principles by which they are governed, and the Local Government Board replied that they had no power to do anything of the kind. I do not think the House will be of opinion that we have been guilty of pedantry in not sanctioning the powers asked for.

*(3.35.) MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

Whatever there may be in the objection of the right hon. Gentleman, I am quite sure the House will have appreciated the difference in the tone of his speech, from the very abusive, exaggerated, and unnecessary language of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann). The House will recognise that the Council have had a work of vast magnitude to accomplish, and have approached that work with a sincere desire to solve difficulties in local administration such as have faced no other newly created Governing Body. The right hon. Gentleman appears to me to be a little too thin-skinned, in regard to what he imagines to be an interference with his handiwork as contained in the Local Government Act of 1888. There is no intention to alter the general law. The Council merely desire to suit the application of the general law in the case of London to the special local circumstances and necessities of their position. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, as a matter of fact, that the general law has been altered in favour of nearly all the great municipalities of the country. It has been altered in Birmingham, in Manchester, in Liverpool, and none of the great towns now work under the form of procedure prescribed by the Municipal Corporations Act. Only last Session a Bill of this nature was passed at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and this year his private secretary has introduced another Bill to incorporate in a public Statute certain provisions of sanitary law already applied to particular districts.


By a Public Bill.


Yes, but introduced in Private Bills adapted to special cases. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Council are striving to obtain judicial powers. Why should they not have judicial powers if they have judicial duties to perform? The licensing work of the Council is heavy and difficult; yet they are bound to accept mere assertion in cases where magistrates performing similar duties had the power of taking evidence upon oath, and of sifting that evidence. It is whispered that the right hon. Gentleman intends to bring in a general Bill dealing with all the County Councils. This Bill deals only with the London County Council, who seek to obtain the powers which those whom they have succeeded did possess.


I have not the slightest intention of doing anything of the kind.


Then I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not going to remove some of the anomalies of the Act of 1888. With regard to the financial propositions contained in this Bill, I believe they have been adopted on the advice of Lord Lingen, who for years was head of the Treasury, and has had immense experience in connection with financial questions. It is only an endeavour to clear away some of the difficulties and anomalies which have been created by [jutting London on all fours with all the rest of the counties. I hope that tin; right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Lubbock) will, in any case, take a Division.

* MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield Central)

I rise to express a hope that the hon. Member for Peckham will withdraw the Amendment. I quite feel with the President of the Local Government Board that there are some clauses in the Bill, to which exception can be justly taken, and which had better not have been incorporated, but they may be considered in Committee, and improved or expunged. The Bill is one which will confer benefit in some quarters of the Metropolis, and I hope my hon. Friend will not consider it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division.

*(3.10.) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I regret that the Amendment should have been introduced in a somewhat intemperate manner, because the case against a Bill so bad will not be strengthened by the use of hard words. I agree with the hon. Member for Peck-ham that the Bill as it has been brought in is a most objectionable one in various ways. It deals with half-a-dozen things, some of which I agree with, but it deals also with other large Constitutional questions which ought to be dealt with by themselves in separate Bills. It even has a little fling at constables, for I see that the Council wish to have the power of swearing in its own servants as constables, and it proposes also to deal with the question of military drill—a matter which certainly might have been left alone. Then, again, Clause 73, which establishes inquiries as to water supply and markets, is a very important one, and it authorises an expenditure of £5,000 in such inquiries. We know that is the beginning of a scheme which the Council have at heart, to supply London with water [Opposition cries of"Hear, hear."] Hon. Members on the other side of the House always cheer a proposal of that nature, but it is a remarkable thing that some 10 years ago they did not cheer it when there was a practical way of carrying such a scheme into effect at much less cost than is now possible. What I say is that this question of water supply ought to be discussed per se, and not dealt with by a side wind in a Bill of this sort. Another provision of the Bill is to enable the Council to do anything however startling without having given any previous notice of their intention to members of the Council on the Agenda Paper. That is a power which, I think, the ratepayers ought to resist to the utmost. Then, again, the question of the height of building's in London is a very important one. I believe that in future it may be necessary to erect buildings in London higher than in the past, and that it would be unwise to say that they are to stop at 70 feet. Another provision is that no building shall be erected at a less distance than 20 feet from the centre of the roadway; and the rating-clause is also most material. The measure also raises questions as to the Thames Conservancy and other large questions, which ought to be considered as a whole by the Government of the day, and not in this measure. The, hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) said that the financial arrangements of the Bill have been under the charge of Lord Lingen. No doubt Lord Lingen is an excellent financier, but I would not trust him in every possible way in drafting a measure of this kind. I do not look upon him as an immaculate financier; and if he had happened to be a Tory instead of a Radical, I do not think we should hear much of his praise from the other side. I think the Bill ought to be rejected in order to teach the London County Council the lesson that a Private Bill should deal with a specific subject, and not mix up a large number of great Constitutional questions in the same measure.

*(4.0.) Mr. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

The hon. Member who has just sat down recommends that in regard to legislation for the County Council of London, we should adopt a course dissimilar to that adopted towards other County Councils and Municipalities. Is the hon. Member aware that in regard to Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and other large provincial towns, omnibus Bills have been brought in in order to meet the requirements of the great Municipalities from time to time upon a vast variety of questions which, from want of time, and sometimes owing to the expense involved, would not be dealt with at all if it were necessary to introduce a Bill each year dealing with each separate matter? I am glad that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has somewhat repudiated the extreme language used by the hon. Member for Peckham with reference to the Council. I think it very unwise for the House to assume an attitude of antagonism towards a body which is representative of the great City of London. I think the House ought rather to raise the dignity and increase the power and enlarge the efficiency of the County Council. There has been no greater public service which the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) has ever rendered to the country than in raising the whole tone of municipal life in that town, and I now ask the Government to treat the London County Council in precisely the same way as they have treated Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds. Wight years ago we consolidated the law relating to municipal Corporations. I was a young Member of the House at the time, and I ventured to suggest that amendment should take place cotemporaneously with consolidation. I was told then that it was unwise ever to attempt to combine amendment with consolidation. It was admitted that our Municipal Law was antiquated and unworkable, and that it ought to be altered. We were promised a measure of Reform, but, although we have now reached the year 1890, that measure has not yet come. Scores of Bills have been brought in by municipalities, each instituting a separate Code, and they have all, according to the practice of the House, been referred to a Special Committee. I maintain that there has been an admission that the general law requires to be altered in a great variety of instances in order that we may carry on the work of our municipal life. I can quite understand the position taken by the President of the Local Government Board. There is a clear and divided line between administrative matters and questions affecting great changes in the principle of the general law. In some of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman I fully agree, especially when he said that there are further changes in the Municipal Law which ought to be carried out by general legislation. In regard to the financial question I think the mode in which the Local Government Board proposes to meet it is fair and just on the whole. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Bartley) speak disrespectfully of Lord Lingen.


I did not speak disrespectfully of Lord Lingen. I said I knew him too well to accept him as a financial authority.


The hon. Member said that Lord Lingen's authority ought not to be accepted in all parts of the House.


Certainly not,


I regard Lord Lingen as a high financial authority, and anything that has received his approval is certainly worthy of consideration. To reject the Bill before the House would be to treat London very unjustly, and as we have never treatedany other municipality. The Bill should be read a second time and referred to a Select Committee, and disputed points, if any remained, might be discussed afterwards on the Third Reading.

(4.10.) MR. BRISTOWE (Lambeth, Norwood)

I only rise for the purpose of joining in the appeal which has been made to my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham not to press the Amendment. I believe that most of the difficulties which have been referred to in connection with this Bill can be dealt with in Committee, and I am sure that neither he nor any other Member on this side of the House would like to create such an irreparable amount of mischief as would be brought about by defeating the measure.


I made the Motion for the rejection of the Bill on account of the provoking manner in which my very mild remarks were received on the other side of the House. As the Bill is proposed to be emasculated by the Motion of the President of the Local Government Board, I believe that it will be rendered much less objectionable, and, therefore, if the House will allow me, I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time, and committed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to omit Clauses 55, 56, 57, 58, and 75 from the Bill."—(Mr. Ritchie).

(4.12.) MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

I cannot go entirely with the President of the Local Government Board when he proposes the removal of all these clauses from the measure. I agree with him in regard to some of them, but not with regard to all. Clause 55, which would empower the County Council to administer oaths should, I think, be struck out, for it would introduce a variation from the general law, and a change of that kind ought to be reserved for introduction in a Public Bill. It would place the London County Council in the anomalous position of undertaking what are really judicial functions, and the same thing would apply to all County Councils which possess licensing powers. I therefore agree with my right hon. Friend that Clause 55 should be struck out of the Bill, I am further of opinion that Clause 61 should be omitted from the measure. It proposes to exempt County Councillors from the jury service, and is a clause which would more fitly find a place in a Public Bill. As to Clause 75, I understand that the Council have consented to omit it, and therefore I will say nothing further about it. But I think that Clauses 56, 57, and 58 ought to be allowed to go before the Committee for consideration. One of these clauses deals with the question of the length of the notice that should be given of the agenda. Having regard to the frequent meetings of the London Council it is imposing upon that body an onerous obligation to require that three days' notice of the agenda should be given. In the House of Commons only 24 hours' notice is required, and in a city like London the proceedings of any public body are always watched with vigilance by the Press and by the electors. I therefore think that there is a case for allowing the Council to go before a Select Committee and make out a case for exemption. The same remark will apply to the clause providing for a petty cash fund, for it is impossible to conceive that the County Council can go on without a petty cash fund, out of which to make payments, to be ratified at subsequent meetings. The language of the clause is, perhaps, too wide, but that is a matter that could very fairly be considered by a Committee upstairs. The clause relating to the question of urgency also appears to me to be worthy of consideration. I therefore move to omit from the Motion of the President of the Local Government Board Clauses 56, 57, and 58, and to insert in it Clause 61.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the numbers "56, 57, 58."—(Mr. Courtney.)

Question proposed, "That the numbers '56, 57, 58' stand part of the Question."


The clause which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to insert is really more an application of the existing law than an alteration of the law. By the Jury Act members of Town Councils are exempt from service on a Jury. It cannot be maintained that the work of a London Councillor is less arduous than that of a member of an ordinary Town Council. In London the meetings of the Council are more frequent than those of a Town Council; in fact, there are meetings almost every day. Clause 56 deals with the finances of the Council. I have already stated that I shall be quite prepared to consider the question of finance when the Government introduce their Bill dealing with the whole question. But I could not recommend the House to assent to such extraordinary propositions as are contained in the financial clauses of this Bill. The subject is one which might be dealt with in the London Financial Bill. I understand the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading to say that the course which I have shadowed out is not unacceptable to the London Council. I am not in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means on the question of notice. I do not think the 24 hours' notice in this House affords a parallel to the County Council, as we meet every day in the House. But I admit that the question requires consideration. It would, however, best be dealt with in a Bill affecting not London only, but all the large Corporations in the country. On these grounds I feel that I must adhere to the Amendment which I have proposed.


As the right hon. Gentleman has promised that he will himself bring forward a measure to carry out our suggestions with reference to Clause 56, I would suggest that Clauses 57 and 58 should be omitted and 56 retained. The Council pay a great deal of money in wages, and it is necessary that some clause of this kind should be inserted in order to enable us to carry on the business, and prevent those whom we employ from suffering during a period of holiday. The Chairman of Committees has given good reasons why Clauses 57 and 58 should go to a Committee upstairs. I hope my right hon. Friend opposite will accept this compromise.

*(4.23.) MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)

After the speech of my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Lubbock), I hope the House will agree to the suggestion I have to make, namely, that the Bill should be allowed to go to the Committee upstairs without any alteration at all. To discuss the clauses here is a most inconvenient course, and the three right hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House have all taken different views of the subject. If we are to discuss the details of the Bill here, I do not see why we should not take the same course in regard to all other Private Bills. I trust that both the Motion and the Amendment will be withdrawn.

*(4.25.) MR. BARTLEY

I hope the President of the Local Government Board will not give way. I fully agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken that the difficulty has been brought about by the way the Bill has been brought in.


I did not say so.


There are a number of questions raised in the Bill which ought not to be in it. It is called an Omnibus Bill, but that title ought not to be applied to a measure which raises a number of difficult principles of great Constitutional importance, and does not merely deal with questions of detail.

(4.27.) MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

I have no desire to say a word against the London County Council. No one knows better than I do the difficult and arduous task they have to perform; but at the same time I agree with what has fallen from the President of the Local Government Board, that principles of this kind ought to be dealt with by a public rather than by a private Bill. It would almost appear that the Council have put in these clauses at the suggestion of different members of their own body, and have made a sort of olla podrida of the Bill, instead of waiting until these important questions affecting the general law should be dealt with in a public measure.

(4.30.) The House divided:—Ayes 167; Noes 137.—(Div. List, No. 30.)

(4.40.) Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 185; Noes 133.—(Div. List, No. 31.)

Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to omit Clauses 55, 56, 57, 58, and 75 from the Bill.