§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 2.
In page 1, line 25, to leave out, after the word "acquired," to the end of the Clause, and add the words "shall pass a resolution to that effect, and thereupon the powers and duties of the Sanitary Authority under the principal Act, so far as regaros that district or parish, shall be transferred from the Sanitary Authority to the County Council, and the County Council, in substitution for the Sanitary Authority, shall proceed to acquire land in accordance with the principal Act, and otherwise execute that Act in the said district or parish.
Provided that this section shall not affect the property in, or any powers or duties of the Sanitary Authority in relation to, any land which, before the passing of the said resolution, was acquired by the Sanitary Authority tinder the principal Act."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ (6.25.) MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask whether, as a matter of fact, after the rejection of the Amendment I moved on the last occasion this Bill was before the House, the words "Sanitary Authority" in the third line were not passed, but that the remaining words were not put by you to the Committee.
The words were not added. The question put was that 608 the words stand part of the Amendment, Now the question is that the Amendment be added.
§ (6.27.) MR. F. S. STEVENSON
I wish to add, at the end of the Amendment, the words "or by the compulsory hiring of land." The effect of the Amendment would be to enable County Councils not merely to acquire land in accordance with the provisions of the Act, but also by a compulsory hiring. I move these words because, in the first place, a sort of challenge is thrown out by the Amendment, which goes out of its way to specify that the acquisition of land shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and therefore a question is raised whether the methods of the acquisition cannot be, to some extent, enlarged.
Order, order! The Amendment cannot be entertained. The question was put to the Committee at. the last Sitting, "That those words stand part of the Amendment," and that having been decided in the affirmative it is impossible to alter the words.
§ (6.28.) MR. F. S. STEVENSON
And if that is carried, shall I be in order in moving the addition of these words?
§ *(6.29.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N)
I wish to address the Committee in opposition to the Amendment. At the last sitting on this Bill, I asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would accept my statement that if his Amendment were carried no spade could be put into allotments, provided under the Bill, until next Michaelmas two years. The right hon. Gentleman dissented, and I now propose to ask the Committee to follow me through every 609 stage from now until next Michaelmas two years, and I will show what will be the effect of tin's Amendment. I have here a list of all the different steps that will have to be taken in order to secure allotments. The first date is the 20th May, the day on which the next meeting of the Rural Sanitary Authority will be held. If, instead of the Rural Sanitary Authority, the matter is taken over by the County Councils, they would be in the same position. Notice should be given on the 10th of May. On the 7th of June it may be adopted unanimously, and on the 12th of July the Report may be received and adopted, and the clerk may be directed to give the necessary notice. What I want the Committee to observe is that, whatever else may take place between now and next September, September is the earliest date when under the Public Health Act a notice can be put in the newspapers, And it then has to be advertised for three weeks consecutively. On the 27th of September the authority can petition the County Council, and in October the owner can receive his notice that certain land is to be applied for. In November the County Council will receive the petition, and the earliest day on which an inquiry can be held under the Act is the first of December, if the result of the application be favourable, but otherwise it cannot take place till January. In January, 1891, the County Council can receive the Report, on which to found a Provisional Order, but this can have no force until it has been confirmed by Parliament, which would be in the Session of 1891. But the Bill may be opposed before a Select Committee, and involve the county in considerable expense. After this, notice must be given to the tenant, and this could not take effect until Michaelmas, 1891, unless it should happen that the tenant is under special contract with the landowner, when notice might be given at Lady Day. But it is not likely that the Provisional Order could be confirmed by Lady Day, 1891, and even then, if the tenant has no special contract with the landlord, the notice to be given to the tenant would be for 12 months from Michaelmas, 1891, which carries us on to Michaelmas, 1892. I hope the Committee will agree that this is not to be made a Party question. Why should it 610 be? These are notices by Act of Parliament and are not Party matters. The Act fixes certain hard and fast dates from which there is no escape. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman wishes to keep everybody waiting till Michaelmas, 1892, and although the process has been termed "short, sharp, and summary," I submit that that is a, misnomer, because no spade can be put into the soil until Michaelmas, 1892. Would it not be better that he should move to report Progress, and, in the meantime devise some provision more in accordance with his wishes, for I venture to think that hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House do not want to strengthen my hands by enabling me to go down to my constituents and say, "This is the best Her Majesty's Government, have to offer you." I am sure it must be the wish of both sides of the House to give the people something-better than the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. It is possible that the right hon. Gentleman has so much to occupy him that the fact has escaped him that the dates in the Act of Parliament are all hard and fast; it is possible that if he can see his way to offer something more to the point he will be glad to do so. I do not want to propose a hostile Amendment that may be regarded as of a Party nature; nor do I see why it should be so regarded. The Bill, as I sent it down to Twyford, as originally drawn would have involved a period of three years' delay: now we have got down to next Michaelmas two years, which, I think the Committee will agree, is not a satisfactory solution of this question to either side of the House. I am sure hon. Members on both sides must desire that something better should be devised. I do not propose to move an Amendment, because I must confess I have nothing to suggest. My desire is to make the Bill operate more quickly, but I can see no way of doing so, because we are tied in this matter by the hard and fast dates of the Public Health Act. I think, however, it would be better not to proceed further with the Bill to-day. I asked the right hon. Gentleman to take the trouble to look into this matter some weeks ago. I am not aware whether he has done so, but, so far as I am concerned, I do not think we can amend the clause at 611 present in view of the wording of the existing Public Health Act. If the right hon. Gentleman can show that my dates on this subject have no foundation I trust he will do so. If not, I hope he will consent to the postponement of this question.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
The hon. Member has taken up a considerable part of the very small amount of time that remained before 10 minutes to 7 arrived. The hon. Member has not been speaking upon the Amendment, but has been endeavouring to show that the processes required to be taken under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act occupy a considerable time to be carried into effect. The Committee will hardly believe that the Amendment they are discussing transfers, in case of default by the Local Authorities, all the powers under the original Act to the Committee of the County Council. If there is to be an appeal at all, the one now proposed may fairly be regarded as satisfactory. The hon. Member admits that no Amendment to the proposal can be made which would shorten the period of which he spoke. The hon. Member, therefore, has been speaking against an Amendment which is intended to give a right of appeal where the Local Authority refuses to act. I quite admit that the processes under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act are not speedy, but I hope that where the Sanitary Authority does not fulfil its duty the Committee of the County Council will, in nine cases out of ten, be able to acquire land voluntarily, and that thus there will be no necessity for the County Council to resort to the cumbersome process of obtaining a Provisional Order. I am not prepared to say that the whole system of Provisional Orders does not require revision, but such a reform as that cannot be attempted by means of a Bill of this kind. I hope the Committee will agree to the Amendment.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman has thought it necessary to find fault with the hon. Gentleman behind me for having made a very able and instructive statement, the accuracy of which, as I understand, the right hon. Gentleman himself does not dispute. The hon. Member has a peculiar right 612 to speak upon the point, he having been elected on the platform of the Twyford Allotments. The subject is one of great interest to county Members and their constituents, and the hon. Member was quite right in pointing out that nothing could be done under this clause for more than two years. One of the great difficulties of the Bill is that it is so framed as to render it impossible to introduce into it provisions which would make it effectual. I propose that we should now accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, and add any provisions which we can introduce into the four corners of it. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not be impatient of these Amendments. I believe there is only one hon. Gentleman who really is impatient, and that is the hon. Member for Bordesley (Mr. J. Ceilings), who cannot bear to see any Bill objected to that is introduced by Her Majesty's Government. I would suggest the one fact for the consideration of those who say that we on this side are overloading the Paper with Amendments. I have counted the Amendments, and I find that there are 25 on the Paper, of which 14 have been put down by Unionist Members and 11 by the unfortunate Separatists. Inasmuch as the majority come from the Unionist Party, I hope there will be some toleration in the discussion of our Amendments, the object of which is to give greater effect to the working of the Bill.
I do not rise to object to this Amendment, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that on the Second Reading of the Bill I myself made a more practical suggestion, namely, that the powers of the Bill should be transferred to the County Council; that would make an important difference.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
§ Clause 3 omitted.
§ Clause 4.
§ MR. E. S. STEVENSON
I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name, namely—Clause 4, page 2, line 27, after 'holy,' insert 'not more than one-fourth of whom shall be aldermen.'
§ *MR. RITCHIE
In declining to accept this Amendment, ray answer to the hon. Member is this, that the County Council is a thoroughly Representative Body, electing their own aldermen, and it would be invidious to restrict them as to the composition of the Committee.
§ MR. CHANNING
I am bound to say that I think my hon. Friend quite justified in moving this Amendment, which I hope he will press to a Division.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ It being after ten minutes to Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.