Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the London Water Commission Bill that they have power to inquire into all matters connected with the nature, price, management, sources, and sufficiency of the water supply of London and its suburbs, and to insert in the Bill such provisions in connection therewith as in their judgment are expedient."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ *(2.13.) MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
Before this Resolution is put to the House I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will add a further Instruction to the effect that the first matter to be inquired into shall be the Metropolitan Water Companies Charges Bill, which has been referred to the same Committee, the principle of which was accepted by the House, and which will be admitted, I think, to be the most pressing question the Committee will be called upon to inquire into? The Instruction proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, in which I cordially approve, is a most important one, but there are other questions even more pressing, especially when we have regard to the fact that the quinquennial re-valuation is to come into operation on the 6th of April, and that it may affect the ratepayers to the extent of £40,000 a year. I do not at present propose to move an Instruction as an addition to the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope he will see his way to accept my suggestion voluntarily.
§ *(2.15.) THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
The hon. Gentleman says that the House accepted the principle of the Water Charges Bill. Now, it is quite true that the Bill was read a second time, but the House did not commit itself to the principle of the measure; it simply said that it should go before the Committee. The hon. Gentleman asks that this Bill shall 1529 be the first inquired into, and his reason is that the re-valuation is to come into operation on the 6th of April. It is perfectly certain, however, that if the inquiry the hon. Member desires takes place first, no Bill based upon it can become law in time to prevent the revaluation from coming into force. I acknowledge that all of these matters are of the utmost importance, but I think they must be left to the consideration of the Committee itself. I am, therefore, afraid that I cannot assent to the suggestion the hon. Member has made, nor do I think that any Additional Instruction can be proposed without notice.
§ *(2.17.) SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
The right hon. Gentleman is always so courteous that it is difficult to make a complaint in regard to anything he deems right to do, but I think we ought to have had some longer notice of the Instruction he has moved. It only appeared on the Paper to-day, and in a matter of such great importance I think we were entitled to a longer notice, so that we might have been able to consider the terms of the Instruction. As regards the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Southwark (Mr. Causton) I can quite understand the objection to making it an Instruction to the Committee, but it is obvious that it is a matter which presses for immediate decision, if anything effectual is to be done. I trust I may be allowed to express a hope that the Committee will take that part of the inquiry into consideration at an early stage of their proceedings.
§ (2.19.) MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
It is quite true that the Committee cannot Report before the 6th of April, but if this question were submitted to them specially I think it would produce a great moral effect. As the right hon. Baronet has pointed out, this Instruction conies upon us with some degree of surprise, and I would suggest that the Resolution should be withdrawn for the present and brought up on a later day.
§ *(2.20.) MR. RITCHIE
The Instruction appeared on the Paper yesterday, and it appears to embrace everything that can be submitted to the Committee for inquiry. The water supply depends 1530 to a large extent upon the sufficiency of the works, and I have no doubt that the inquiry for which the hon. Member for Southwark asks, will come within the terms of the notice.
§ *(2.21.) MR. CAUSTON
As a point of order, may I ask whether it is competent for me to put down a further Instruction to the Committee at the time of Private Business?
§ Question put, and agreed to.