§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read the first time."—(Mr. James Stuart.)
MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
With regard to this Bill, I wish to raise a point of order which, at the proper moment, I should like to ask your decision upon, Mr. Speaker. It might perhaps be conducive to the convenience of the House if I stated that point of order and appealed to the hon. Member in charge of the Bill to postpone it until Thursday or some other convenient day. Without entering into the merits of the measure, I may say the Bill contains provisions 657 of a very novel character, involving proposals of great stringency with regard to the imposition of burdens upon owners within the area of the County of London. It has hither-to been held that measures dealing with the Metropolis should be considered as fitting subjects for public consideration. I may draw attention to the ruling of Lord Ossulton in the case of the Weighing of Grain (Port of London) Bill, because in the year 1864, on that occasion, Lord Ossulton clearly laid down how, in his opinion, they should deal with cases of that kind. Mr. Speaker Denison says—This Bill has certainly many features which are characteristic of a Private Bill, but it has been the policy of late years to introduce Bill relating to the Metropolis as Public Bills, on account of the great extent and general interest involved.He goes on to cite cases of 1843, 1851–2, and so on, and then Mr. Speaker Denison goes on to say—The Bill now before the House relates to the part of London which covers an extensive area, running, I believe, over four counties, and containing a population of nearly three millions.And he also says that if the Bill, which he quotes, had related to other towns, it would certainly have been regarded as a Private Bill, but with regard to London, for the reason he gives, he said the case was different, "and have always been regarded as fit subjects for public legislation." This point was again raised in the year 1889, when you yourself, Sir, in response to a question of order that was raised, distinctly ruled that the London Coal Dues Bill—a Bill which was brought in as a Public Bill, and to which I have referred, in 1864—was justly brought in as a Public Bill,because it had been the practice, as laid down by Mr. Speaker Denison, that measures relating to the Metropolis should be proceeded with as Public and not as Private Bills.There is no doubt, in addition to that, a Standing Order of this House which was slightly varied in its phraseology in order to meet the new state of affairs occasioned by the substitution of the London County Council for the late Metropolitan Board of Works, and the Standing Order clearly provides that all proposals of the London County Council containing the power to raise money should be proceeded with as Public Bills. This Bill may not involve the power of borrowing money, though I contend it does involve a power of 658 raising money, not by loan but by rate; it does not contain borrowing powers, but powers of raising money by rate. I give public notice of this distinct point I intend to raise, so that the matter may be considered on the other side and laid before you with the view of your being in possession of all the facts and in a position to rule on this point once for all. Under these circumstances, I apprehend the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will set it down for Thursday next, so that the point to which I have referred can then be properly raised and finally disposed of.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
Sir, I have no objection to taking the course suggested providing you are of opinion this is a point that ought to be raised upon the First Reading. If you are of opinion it is a point that ought to be raised on the Second Reading the matter will fall to the ground If you are of opinion it ought to be raised on the First Reading I fall in with that view at once, but would point out we have received no notice in regard to the matter; I should like all parties to be able to properly discuss it on Thursday next, or some suitable day, but I am in your hands as to how it should be taken.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
If the point of order is raised now, I must deal with it, but perhaps it would be more convenient that the Debate should be adjourned in order that the arguments may be stated on both sides. After hearing them I shall be in a better position to give a final decision.
§ Further Proceeding deferred till Thursday.