§ MR. BENN (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been directed to the recent practice of the Treasury in giving notice at the Private Bill Office that the Queen's Consent is required to Private Bills which do not involve any taking of or interference with property of the Crown, but in which one of the Government Departments desires the insertion of some clause involving obligations on the promoters which the promoters deem unreasonable, and wish to submit to the Select Committee on the Bill; and whether the Government Departments are within their right in refusing to submit such questions to the decision of Select Committees on the Bills, and in claiming to veto the further progress of a Bill passed by a Select Committee, except upon terms dictated by themselves?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
By Constitutional practice Bills dealing with the property of the Crown and the Public Revenue, which are in effect national property, require the consent of the Crown—that is, of the responsible Government. This, however, is a power which ought not to be arbitrarily exercised, interfering unnecessarily with useful measures. Such consent ought not to be withheld except on substantial grounds; and, if any case should arise in which it 242 is alleged that this power is abused, I will take care that the circumstances shall be carefully examined.