Amendment proposed to Croydon Extension Order, in page 22, to leave out paragraph 34a—
The promoters or any Company or person working or using the tramways shall not raise their fares on any Sunday or public holiday."—(Mr. S. Herbert.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said Order."
§ MR. A. C. MORTON said, the clause was first inserted by the Board of Trade 1382 when the Bill went before the House of Lords. The House of Lords struck it out, and the Bill came before the Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons, and that right hon. Gentleman re-inserted the clause. This Tramway Company's line practically adjoined the London Tramway system 30 miles in extent, in a Bill affecting which a similar clause was inserted a few weeks back. The Croydon Company covered part of greater London. There had been an appeal from the Corporation of Liverpool, but there had been none such in this case. The Corporation of Croydon had not appeared before the Chairman of Committees, and the only persons who had appealed were the promoters, who thought they should not be restricted as to charges they might make on the people who used their tramway. The Chairman of Committees had seen fit to put this clause in the Bill, and he (Mr. Morton) trusted he would keep it there. At any rate, so far as he was concerned, he should divide against the Motion.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. MELLOR)
said, he thought he ought to state the reasons which induced him to insert the clause in the Bill. He said just now that the best rule on which to decide these matters was to take the opinion of the Local Authorities, whoever they might be, because he thought that the people living on the spot, for whose benefit these Bills were introduced and carried out, were the best judges of the terms upon which the tramways should be constructed. On this Bill the Corporation of Croydon did not appear, and he had no information as to their views. The only persons who appeared before him were the promoters. He heard what they had to say, and as the Bill was unopposed he inserted this clause. In all Bills of the kind where he had no information as to the views of the Local Authorities this clause was inserted. He did not quite understand whether or not on this the hon. Member for Croydon represented the Corporation. [Mr. S. HERBERT: No.] Then, if they had no information as the views of the Corporation, and if no one knew what the Corporation had to say on the matter, either one of two courses should be taken—either they should maintain the clause as it had been inserted, or the subject should be ad- 1383 journed, so that the opinion of the Local Authority might be ascertained.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said, he thought they should rather come to an opposite conclusion from the premises laid down by the Chairman of Committees. It was surely for the Local Authority to signify their wish if they desired to have a certain provision introduced into a Bill promoted by a local Company. In the present instance the Local Governing Body had made no suggestion; therefore, it was quite extraneous for any other authority to move in the matter. Surely the Local Authorities were active enough in promoting the interests of their constituencies, and if they had not asked for this clause to be introduced it seemed to him primâ facie evidence that they did not want it.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
said, he perhaps might be allowed to say that, though he did not represent the Corporation on this matter, he did represent it on the subject of the Amendment the hon. Member for Peterborough had put down on the Paper, which had reference to tramways in which the Corporation were directly interested. They were, therefore, interested in the question.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
said, that the hon. Member was acting merely on inference. For his part, however, it was reasonable to infer that the Croydon Corporation were not interested, as they had expressed no opinion. In the last Division the House had given effect to the view of the Local Authorities because they knew what they were; obviously, they ought to know what the views of the Local Authorities were. He did not understand the hon. Member for Croydon to be in a position to say what the views of the Croydon Corporation were. Therefore, considering the darkness in which the House stood, he thought the suggestion of the Chairman of Committees should be adopted, the discussion being adjourned until they had the views of the Corporation before them.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
said, he did not pretend to know anything of these matters, but this appeared to be a very interesting question. He did not know whether the information given in regard to the Board of Trade was correct. As he understood 1384 it, the clause now objected to was originally inserted at the instigation of the Board of Trade, but that before the Lords Committee the Board of Trade suggested its omission. They themselves represented the desirability of omitting the clause they themselves had previously inserted. He did not know what the reason for that change was, but he was informed that that was the case. It was admitted by the officials of the Board of Trade that it was at their instigation that the clause was withdrawn; and it was re-inserted by the Chairman of Committees. Then came the question, What was the usual practice of the Chairman of Committees? Surely the Unopposed Bill Committee was never accustomed to insert a clause that was in any sense a contentious clause. They only were understood to have the duty imposed on them of inserting clauses in the general interest, and which in other cases had been adopted by Committees of the House. Certainly it would be giving to the Unopposed Bill Committee a most extraordinary power if they were to be entitled, against the opinion of the Board of Trade, to insert a clause which that Department desired to omit. He only wished to state the case as he had heard it from right hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in the Debate. He must say that under the circumstances he thought it was a strong thing to ask the House to support the Unopposed Bill Committee in inserting clauses which the Board of Trade wished to have withdrawn.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. MELLOR)
said, he had no information brought before him, sitting as Chairman of the Unopposed Bill Committee, as to whether or not the Board of Trade approved of the clause, or as to whether it had been omitted at the instance of the Board of Trade. The reason it was inserted was because there was no objection on the part of the Corporation, and in order that the House might pass judgment upon it.
§ MR. W. LONG
said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had spoken of the hon. Member for Croydon acting on inference. Well, the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to have realised the true position of affairs. There were two Croydon Tramway Bills, one promoted by the Tramway Company and the other by the Corpora- 1385 tion. In the one case the hon. Member for Peterborough wished to insert a clause, and the hon. Member for Croydon was instructed to oppose it, and it was not an unfair inference that if the Corporation objected to a penalising clause in their own Bill on behalf of their constituents, they would at least, in all honour, oppose the introduction of a similar clause into a Bill introduced by an independent Company working practically under the same circumstances and under the same difficulties. Nothing could be more unfair than to insert this restricted clause in a Bill promoted by a private Company and omit it from a Bill promoted by the Corporation itself. Yet on the evidence before the House that was the course they would be compelled to follow if they proceeded further. The hon. Member for Croydon would much rather that this question should be decided now than that the Debate should be adjourned. The hon. Member would object to the clause if they proceeded further, and under the circumstances he was justified in opposing the imposition of this disparity on the people of Croydon. They had no evidence before them to justify them in coming to the conclusion either that there was any risk of extreme fares being imposed, or that the Company would be able to bear the burden placed on them. Under the circumstances, he hoped that the House would proceed to decide the question.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. W. Johnston)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.