MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet) moved—
That it be an Instruction to the Committee to leave out Parts 5 and 6 of the Glasgow Corporation and Police Bill.
He said, perhaps the House would recollect that the Bill had passed the Second Reading, and that the course followed was somewhat unusual. In accordance with practice, notice of opposition to the Bill had been given, and he himself had been personally in communication with the Speaker and the Authorities of the House, yet notwithstanding this notice of opposition, the Second Reading of the Bill was surreptitiously passed. It might perhaps be stated in explanation to some extent, that the hon. Member who ordinarily had charge of Private Bills was absent, unfortunately, through indisposition, and his place was temporarily filled by the hon. Member for Ayrshire, who, probably, was not aware of the usual practice in such cases. He did not attribute, to the course taken by the hon. Member for Ayrshire, anything beyond inadvertence and did not for a moment suppose the hon. Member intended to take any unfair advantage. But in consequence of the course that was taken, it had become necessary to move the present Instruction. The grounds on which he moved the Instruction were altogether apart from the merits or demerits of the question itself. His objection to the Bill was, that it contained provisions which ought to be the subject of a public Bill and ought not to be part of a private Bill. It was becoming a practice, he feared, for corporate bodies to introduce into ostensibly private Bills, provisions which really dealt with important public questions. It was a course to which very serious objections could be urged, and one against which that House had frequently protested. In fact, a Sub-Committee of hon. Members had been appointed to keep watch against attempts of this kind. The city of Glasgow appeared to be an old offender in this respect. A few years ago it introduced a private Bill, containing provisions of a public character, and those provisions were struck out by Parliament. The city appeared to think it ought to be a law unto itself, for it not only introduced provisions of a public character into private Bills, but declined to take advantage, like other cities, of the powers conferred by General Statutes. His contention was, that if Glasgow wanted powers contained in General Statutes its course was to adopt
those Statutes as other communities did, and not to come to Parliament for Special Acts applying only to itself. Part 5 of the Bill dealt solely with the appointment of Stipendiary Magistrates for the city; yet all such Magistrates were now appointed under a General Statute, the benefit of which was open to Glasgow as to other cities. There was no difficulty whatever in Glasgow being included in the operation of the Borough Police (Scotland) Act. Part 6 introduced some very extraordinary provisions, against which the Procurator Fiscal, the Dean of Faculty, and other authorities of the city of Glasgow had protested. It would be enough for his purpose, however, to say now that this clause proposed very important alterations in the Statute law of the Realm, and the House would admit that proposals of so serious a character ought to be brought publicly to the cognisance of Parliament. The School Board of Glasgow had petitioned against the Bill, and had obtained locus standi to appear before the Committee against it. The School Board, which considered that its jurisdiction was infringed by the Bill, was a public body constituted by public Statute, and it ought not to be driven into Committee Rooms to protect its rights from encroachment by a private Bill. This was not the only public body in Glasgow which the Bill interfered with, and by which it was opposed. The Corporation, not satisfied with the stringency of an Act of Parliament containing some 600 police clauses, desired to have other powers of their own, and one of the proposals was that every person who was guilty of certain acts should be liable to heavy penalties, greater or smaller, according to the view the Corporation took of the gravity of the offence. Any person who printed, or circulated, or used any sham or imitation bank note, was let off with a fine of 40s.; and any person who indulged in private conversation with a lady in the street was subject to a like penalty, while anyone having in his possession a pack of cards was liable to imprisonment for 60 days. That was Legislation reduced to a farce; and ought to induce the House to adhere to the universal practice of Parliament, that material alterations of the Criminal Law should be embodied in a public Bill. The
House could not in honour shirk its responsibilities by casting them upon the Police and Sanitary Committee. That Committee already complained very much of the way in which the general practices and usages of Parliament were defied wholesale in private Bills. The practice of adopting in private Bills, measures of comprehensive penal Legislation which ought to form the subject of a public Statute was one against which he entered his solemn protest, and he thought the House would be conferring in advantage upon Glasgow, and on other corporate bodies who desired to walk in the same path, if it gave a specific Instruction to the Committee to strike out Parts IV and V of this Bill. He therefore moved the Instruction standing in his name,
§ *MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
agreed that the matters dealt with in those parts of the Bill referred to in the Instruction ought, if sanctioned at all, to be sanctioned as part of the general Legislation of the country. But he supported the Instruction as a Glasgow citizen and as a Glasgow Member, and he believed he expressed the views of his constituents and of the great mass of public opinion in Glasgow, which was diametrically opposed to these provisions of the Bill. The promoters had issued a statement, in which they said they had not been able to ascertain the specific objections to the measure. He was at a loss to characterise that statement. It was arrogance and affectation on the part of the Corporation to tell the House that they did not know the objections to the Bill. Glasgow was ringing with these objections. They would not meet a man in the city, unless he were a bailie, who would say a single word in favour of the Bill. Protests against it had come from all sorts and conditions of men. Since he came into the House he had received half-a-dozen telegrams and been informed of three or four petitions against it, and the only people in its favour were the stationers and newspaper-sellers, whose business would be promoted by it because the little boys who sold newspapers were to be cleared off the streets. The ground of objection to the Bill was, that it contained very serious attacks upon the freedom of the subject; and further it had not been submitted to the electorate 1454 in any form or shape, and had not been adequately discussed in the Town had unanimously passed a resolution con-Council. The Second Ward Committee demning the Bill, declaring that it was hurried through the Town Council before the citizens had any opportunity of considering its clauses, and their action had been endorsed by the majority of the other Ward Committees in Glasgow. They did not object to giving Glasgow magistrates plenty of power. About twenty-four years ago, they obtained from Parliament a measure of a far-reaching and extraordinary character, and since then twelve Bills giving them further powers had been passed. This was the thirteenth; it was an unfortunate number, and a still more unfortunate Bill. He failed almost to find language to convey his idea of the preposterous nature of the provisions of the Bill. Did the House know that the Corporation proposed, in the teeth of all the principles that had hitherto governed the administration of law and justice, that Stipendiary Magistrates in Glasgow should be appointed and dismissed by a vote of a public body; or that any person guilty of the offence of offering a lottery ticket for sale—it might be a lady at a bazaar—was liable to a fine of £5. That was a wrong proposal to smuggle through Parliament in a private Bill. Further, it would be within the powers of the magistrates under the Bill to send a man to prison for 60 days for having in his possession the means of playing any game of hazard. He did not suppose any well-to-do citizen would be interfered with under this provision, but when some poor working-man was found indulging in what the righteous magistrates did not deem proper conduct, the police would drag him to Court, and he would be sent to prison for 60 days. Again, while a lady who sold a lottery ticket was liable to a fine of £5, the Bill made male importuning an offence punishable by a fine of 40s. Without saying a word with reference to the propriety of this Legislation, he maintained that it ought not to be embodied in a private Bill. And the words of the Bill were curious—"any person who loiters for the purpose of importuning." Loitering was the overt act, and the House would see that such a proposal offered opportunity 1455 for much possible abuse and tyranny. The House was aware of the delicacy of sentiment that prevailed in Glasgow on the question of pictures; for instance, when "The Slave Market in Cairo," was exhibited there, the Glasgow magistrates proposed to drape the pictures. But the delicacy was not confined to pictures alone. They proposed not only to drape pictures, but to drape legs of mutton. The Bill made it a penal offence to expose in the street a leg of mutton which had not a clean cloth over it. Boys under the age of 14 years, who ran after tramcars, were to be liable to a fine of 40s., and the same fine would be applied to boys who were guilty of riding a pony, or driving a trap, or for being found in charge of a cart. The Bill further provides that the owner of any dog which worried or placed in fear any person or other animal should be fined 40s. So that it would be almost impossible in Glasgow for a cat to catch a mouse or a dog to worry a rat except at a cost of 40s. Was it reasonable that responsible men who were charged with the serious control of 700,000 industrious and decent inhabitants of Glasgow should engage themselves in such pettifogging matters as these. Under Clause 35, the magistrates, or any two of their number, took to themselves power of licensing children engaged in selling newspapers upon the streets. The proposal was that only those should be licensed who were suitable to do this work, and, no doubt, that would mean those boys and girls who conform to certain ethical models of propriety and belief. But what about the little boys and girls who would not be provided with the licence? They were to be fined 10s. for each offence—he did not think they had 5s. in the world. He pleaded for liberty, however, for these small children. He wished to speak with all respect of the proposals of men whose hearts were larger than their intellects, but which after all had put them into a position of great absurdity. The children were to be housed at the public expense, and he supposed they would be fed and cared for also, but it was important to observe that the School Board, under whose control the children largely were, was not consulted at all before these proposals were conceived and published, and was very strongly opposed to 1456 them. The Chief Constable had made some inquiries about the children who were engaged in selling the papers, and from his report it appeared that out of the 400 who were so engaged only two had ever been in the hands of the police, so that their moral condition could not really require the supervision proposed to be placed over them. Of the two boys who had been in the hands of the police, one was found guilty and punished for malicious injury, and the other, a little boy of 14 years, was fined for disorderly conduct; but he supposed that all boys of the age of 14 years were guilty of disorderly conduct. The whole thing was greatly overdone, and he asked the House to express, on behalf of the citizens of Glasgow, its condemnation of these parts of the Bill. The authority of a great Corporation did not consist in the multitude of its Acts of Parliament, or in its penal clauses, or in its 40s. fines, that authority depended upon the respect which it inspired in men's minds, and the respect which its regulations could command; but as these regulations had inspired—not respect, but ridicule, he begged the House to reject those parts of the Bill which had reference to them.
§ MR. E. WASON (Ayrshire, S.)
said, he should not have thought it necessary to take part in the Debate, but for the observations indulged in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said, he had fully acquitted the hon. Gentleman of having had any desire to take an unfair advantage in this matter, and felt sure that he had only acted by inadvertence.
§ MR. WASON
wished to call the attention of the House to what took place. It was on a Wednesday afternoon; the House did not meet for some little time, and he moved a count. The right hon. Gentleman was present in the House shortly before the count, but was not present when a House was made. There was a blocking notice on the Paper, but he had always understood that, unless the hon. Member was there to move the Amendment standing in his name, no action would be taken. He had not had any opportunity of reading 1457 the Bill, and understood that the duty of the Member in charge of private business was to move the Second Reading of the Bills that were handed to him. If he were to be held responsible, even during the short time he had taken the place of his hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen, for all the Bills of which he had to move the Second Reading, he should have a very great amount of responsibility placed upon his shoulders. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he had no intention to take any unfair advantage of him in the discarge of his duties.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said, he never made any charge against the hon. Member. He knew that the hon. Member was unacquainted with the usual practice with regard to private business.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Sir G. O. TREVELYAN,) Glasgow, Bridgeton
said, he was not a promoter of the Bill, but he was perfectly aware of the circumstances. His right hon. Friend had said that it was a growing custom to introduce matters which ought to form part of public Legislation into private Bills. Whether that was so or not, the private Bills of Corporations of great towns made inroads on public Legislation until the House of Commons instituted a remedy by appointing an influential Committee—the Police and Sanitary Committee—for the purpose of examining these Bills and seeing that there was nothing in them which should be dealt with by public Bill. Now, this was a private Bill containing one or two matters which travelled beyond the limits of a private Bill. As to one point there could be no doubt whatever. He was informed by the Authorities of the House that it was inexpedient and irregular to introduce into the Bill the appointment by the Corporation of a Stipendary Magistrate, who should be appointed by the Crown. The promoters of the Bill at once agreed to strike out this provision, and to have the Stipendary appointed by the Secretary for Scotland. He thought that the House should as seldom as possible interfere with proceedings on private Bills. They had had some amusing rhetoric from his hon. Friend, and some good 1458 sense, but he had exaggerated the defects of the Bill, and passed over its merits. Some of those proposals to which his hon. Friend referred were already the law, and Glasgow only asked to have what almost all the boroughs in Scotland already had in public or private Acts. With regard to some of these, the Police and Sanitary Committee would look carefully into them; but after these matters had been dealt with, a very valuable Bill would remain. Some of the new provisions were highly humane. The provisions as to small children were much needed to improve their condition as to the late hours and cruel circumstances under which they went about the streets. This appeared to him to be a blot on the civilisation of Glasgow, and it was a peculiar characteristic of that great city. He only asked that the House should treat this Bill as it treated other private Bills, and send it to the Police and Sanitary Committee, and afterwards to a Select Committee.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he had the honour to be a Member of the Committee referred to during six years, and he had occupied the chair for a considerable time. The case with regard to English Bills was very different from that of Scotch Bills. English Bills were brought to the test of public opinion in the district, and if the ratepayers objected, a Bill was not proceeded with. Then, in the case of an English Bill, the Police and Sanitary Committee had the advantage of the criticism, sometimes unduly severe, but always wholesome, of the Local Government Board. Every statement in the Bill was carefully sifted by intelligent officials, and every clause examined. The Committee then considered the comments made upon it. In the case of Scotland, there was no Board to discharge this work. There was no assistance from the Local Government Board, and although the Scotch Department did render help, it was not equal to that which was rendered by the English Local Government Board. He thought there was special reason why they should take great care in dealing with Scotch Bills. The Committee had been called upon to deal with two Glasgow Corporation Bills. As regards sanitary matters, both were passed, and gladly passed, because the sanitary regulations were 1459 not to the credit of that great city. If that was the case as regarded sanitary regulations, it was no justification for the proposals of this Bill. The Police and Sanitary Committee never had, during the whole period with which he had been connected with it, passed clauses dealing with criminal matters, except so far as they affected police regulations. In one case the Committee did grant powers to the Corporation of Bootle, because it was found that the Corporation of Liverpool possessed the same powers. Those powers were necessary for the protection of the trade of Liverpool; and as Bootle and Liverpool were divided by an arbitrary line it was feared that Bootle might therefore become the recruiting ground for certain criminal offences, unless the same powers were extended to both places. But the present Bill also dealt with the currency, and it placed in the Corporation of Glasgow certain powers relating thereto. This clause, he thought, would not be sanctioned by the Committee. He was glad to find that the Sanitary and Police Committee were framing what was practically a code beyond which Promoters were not, unless in exceptional circumstances, permitted to extend their powers.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid.)
said, it was impossible for anyone who knew the state of public opinion in Glasgow not to recognise that this Bill was condemned unanimously, by all the public bodies interested in its clauses. If the two parts of the Bill which had been referred to were to be gone into, he asserted that there was not a Committee Room in the House large enough to contain the counsel and the witnesses which would appear with regard to it. He contended that Part 5 of the Bill was inadmissible under the rules of private Bill procedure. It proposed to interfere with a public Act of Parliament, and with the functions of the Crown in appointing Stipendiary Magistrates. The House of Commons was very jealous with regard to appointments to the Magistracy, and in seeing that they should be above suspicion; but the Bill proposed to give the Town Council power to appoint Magistrates, arid also power with the Secretary for Scotland to dismiss them. In Ireland it was well known that they had removable Magistrates; 1460 but the people of Scotland objected to anything of a similar kind. Besides, the Town Council of Glasgow were themselves to be the prosecutors in the majority of cases that would arise under the Police Acts, and those cases would be tried by men who owed their appointment to the Municipal Authority. Could there, he asked, be a clearer case for the rejection of Part V? The clauses had been put into the Bill without consulting the Crown, and he objected to the policy whereby these disputed matters were left to be fought out in Parliament on the probability that the strongest Party would in all likelihood win. This was not a fair way in which to treat the Secretary for Scotland, though the Corporation of Glasgow had followed the same policy with reference to the local bodies most concerned in the Bill and its effects. As to Part VI, he pointed out that children under age were already included in several Acts of Parliament. Although the Glasgow Corporation knew that the care of the children was placed under Boards recognised by different statutes, it did not take the trouble to consult them as to the proposed legislation. In these circumstances he thought the instruction which had been moved was a moderate proposal, as it suggested the omission of the most contentious portions of the Bill. The House should reject those portions of the Bill, and should send the measure back to the Corporation, in order to let it know that if it wished legislation of this character, the parties in the localities most interested should be consulted and arranged with first before the proposals were brought forward to receive the sanction of Parliament. This procedure would save the petitioners annoyance as well as expense in opposing clauses which even the Secretary for Scotland could not approve. Another peculiar clause in the Bill was that which dealt with the Milk Shops Order of 1885. Under this Order it was proposed that the word "milk" should include ice cream. Why should there be one provision applicable to Glasgow, while a different one applied to the rest of the kingdom?
§ MR. C. DIAMOND (Monaghan, N.)
said, there had been considerable objection on both sides with regard to the, mandatory instructions under which the 1461 Police and Sanitary Committee met. Its hands had been tied, and it could not do anything to lead up to such useful work as the Committee had performed previously, as, for example, in the Public Health Act. He believed it had been conceded that the various decisions and precedents set by that Committee had enabled the Public Health Act to be carried out in the House and to render it a comprehensive measure; and therefore, if they were to tie the hands of the Police and Sanitary Committee the House might be taking action which it would have cause eventually to regret. The hon. Member for the Camlachie Division of Glasgow (Mr. A. Cross) had told the House that his Ward Committee had condemned the the whole of this omnibus Bill. Was that a fair decision? Was there nothing good in the Bill? The work of the Police and Sanitary Committee had been so satisfactory that this Bill might advantageously be sent to it in its present form. How many hon. Members had the Bill in their hands, or knew the details of the clauses? The best method would be to send the Bill to the Committee, and the discussion before it would show the Police and Sanitary Committee what was the general feeling with regard to it. This step would hinder the House from being compelled to mutilate and destroy useful clauses to which it did not agree. Though there were 150,000 Irish people in Glasgow, who objected to some portions of the measure, he believed the Irish population would be opposed to provisions being struck out of the Bill in the wholesale fashion which had been suggested.
§ *SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
dissented from the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and pointed out, with reference to the definition of "milk" in the Bill, that infection from typhoid and other diseases could be transmitted by milk in its frozen as well as in its fluid state. The hon. Member for Wigan (Sir F. S. Powell) said the Bill allowed the Corporation of Glasgow to deal with the currency. He replied to that criticism by stating that the proposal was simply one constituting it an offence to issue imitation bank notes, a practice which had led to the perpetration of fraud on unwary traders and ignorant persons. If the 1462 clause were inserted it would put a stop to this offence. Then it was said that the Bill proposed to allow the Glasgow Magistrates to appoint Stipendiary Magistrates and to usurp the function of the Crown. Were hon. Members not aware that every bailie in Scotland was popularly elected? The Bill had been agreed to by the Corporation of Glasgow, which was not a close Corporation like that of the City of London. It was elected by the ratepayers; the franchise on which the members were elected was wider than that on which the hon. Member for Camlachie himself was returned to Parliament; therefore, to say that no individual would support the Municipality so elected must strike every hon. Member as the language of exaggeration.
§ *SIR C. CAMERON
said, it was not his business as a Member for Glasgow to say a word in favour of the Bill at the present time. But it had been read a second time, and he now asked the House not to deal exceptionally with it. Why should the House, without knowing anything about the Bill, except from misleading and absurd speeches, take upon itself the functions which properly devolved upon the Police and Sanitary Committee? The clause dealing with the appointment of Magistrates had been adjusted with the authorities of the Scotch Department, and it ran thus:—The Secretary for Scotland may, on the application from time to time of the Corporation, appoint one or more Stipendiary Magistrates as the Corporation may from time to time fix for Police Courts and City; and his tenure of office shall be at the pleasure of the Crown.There was nothing very revolutionary in that proposal, and it afforded no reason why the House should interfere with the ordinary progress of the Bill. The hon. Member for the Camlachie Division said that if a dog were set to worry a rat it would bring its owner under a penalty of 40s. That clause, however, in passing through the Scotch Office had been altered to "wrongfully or without proper excuse." A number of the new offences—almost all of them—provided for in this Bill were taken from the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act of 1892. That Act was not of general application 1463 in Scotland, it applied solely to the smaller burghs, and the larger burghs were expressly exempted from it. They were, however, empowered to adopt any of its provisions, but the Town Clerk of Glasgow had given his opinion that the adoption and consequent incorporation of any of the parts or sub-sections of the Act in the existing Local Police Act of Glasgow would lead to inextricable confusion. What would be the effect of this Bill if it was passed as it stood? It would make the law in Glasgow on a number of points uniform with the law under the Borough Police Act. It would do so in a manner which was intended to bring that about with the least amount of litigation and uncertainty. These, however, were points that must be decided by the Police and Sanitary Committee, and he would ask the House to allow this Bill to go, in the ordinary course, before the Police and Sanitary Committee. It had been read a second time, and they were not now discussing it on its merits. That Committee would finally adjust the form of its provisions, and then if the House were not satisfied with them it would be time enough for any hon. Member to move that this or that clause be struck out.
§ *THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS (Mr. J. W. MELLOR,) York, W.R., Sowerby
I would like just to point out that the Police and Sanitary Committee is one of the best and strongest Committees of this House; it has done its work for years remarkably well, and has been of great assistance to the House. Really, I think the House might leave a matter of this kind with perfect confidence in their hands. There might have been some objection to that part of the Bill which dealt with the appointment of magistrates, but that has been taken out. As regards Part VI., if we passed this Instruction, and so tied the hands of the Police and Sanitary Committee, they would have very great difficulty in dealing with the rest of the Bill. I think the matters which have been brought before this House are not matters which can properly be discussed now; and, I think, that such Committees as the Police and Sanitary Committee exist for the express purpose of dealing with such matters, and will deal more satisfactorily with them.
§ *SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
thought the instruction dealt with the matter much too widely, and might cause considerable harm to a great many localities like Glasgow. He ventured to disagree with the criticism of the policy of allowing private legislation on these matters, occasionally at any rate, to be at variance with public law, because he was satisfied that it was owing to our experience, and even to experiments in different localities, that we had built up to a great extent our public social law, and even public and private liberty. He thought it was a principle that they should readily endorse, that a locality like Glasgow probably knew better what it required for its own wants than any House of Commons on some of the local points. He thought that on a matter of this local sort no locality ought to have to come to the House at all. In Clauses 26 and 27 they not only had a provision for the drainage of great districts, but they had it under certain conditions of agreement. The strength of particularism consisted in the limitation of local government. There were other local matters dealt with in Part VI. There were some powers in Part VI. which if Glasgow had not got it ought to have. He instanced the provision of shelters and lavatories in public streets, the offences of pollution of drinking water, the regulation and supply of coals, and of weights and measures—which were often conducive to the plunder of the poor—and the prevention of cruelty to very young children, by employing them in begging in the public streets, often for idle and worthless parents. Those were matters which, he thought, were rightly included in this Bill, and they ought to hesitate before they rendered them nugatory. They ought to permit a Bill like this, coming from a great centre, to go to the Committee, whose duty it would be to reject some of its clauses which were obviously inconsistent with the principles of legislation. He moved, as an Amendment, that the words "except Clause 26, Part VI., and the schedule" be added to the Instruction.
§ *MR. G. HOWELL (Bethnal Green)
said, he was somewhat astonished at the criticisms of the hon. Member for 1465 Glasgow, who had himself been one of the chief obstacles, Session after Session, in regard to the Borough Police Bill for Scotland as it was first drafted. He thought the Amendment excluded some clauses of the Bill which might rightfully go before the Police and Sanitary Committee. These discussions emphasised the importance of Members watching Private Bills, and he thought facilities should be given to Members to obtain the excellent Reports prepared at the instance of the Local Government Board in regard to such matters as had been brought before them. He felt persuaded that the House might trust the Committee, at any rate, to a certain extent. He made exception when they were beginning to extend the principles of the Criminal Law with regard to localities. The hon. Member for Islington spoke of our Legislation having been founded on the experience of localities. On the contrary, he believed that municipal law had been developed from the public law. At any rate, he knew that to-day the municipalities appeared to be particularly anxious to circumscribe the public law and to extend the criminal law. He had particular reason for being jealous with regard to Scotland. He remembered many years ago, when he was outside the House fighting for the right of working men to do what they now had a legal right to do—namely, to picket public works during a strike—the Glasgow Corporation was the first Corporation in the country to take that right away under a Police Act. That was followed by the Corporation of Manchester. Only give to these Corporations the opportunity, and they would circumscribe the public law bit by bit until at length the time would come when it would be necessary for the House to re-enact the public law and prevent the municipalities from repealing the public law by private act.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
submitted, that the House ought not to go on laying an undue burden on the Police and Sanitary Committee—because, however strong that Committee was, it would inevitably break down. They were placing upon that Committee a responsibility which the House ought to take upon itself. It was clear, from many parts of this Bill, 1466 that its promoters had a bad case, and it was high time the House should give an opinion against the practice of private Bills going so far outside the ordinary law as was done in the present case. He was sorry the Chairman of the Police and Sanitary Committee was not in the House to-day, because his words would carry great weight, and he knew no one felt more strongly than his hon. Friend the evils of admitting far too great powers into private Bills. The Members of the Police and Sanitary Committee generally might congratulate themselves upon the present discussion, because it would show promoters there was a strong feeling in the House that they ought not to ask for such powers as they were inclined to at the present time.
§ DR. G. B. CLARK (Caithness)
reminded the House that, in the last Session of the late Parliament, after nearly 10 years' discussion, and after Committees of various kinds had sat on the measure, a Bill was passed reconstructing the whole burgh and police law of Scotland, with the exception of five big burghs (of which Glasgow was one) scheduled in the Act. In order to please those burghs a clause was put in enabling them to adopt any section or sub-section of the Act, so that under the Police Act they would be able to get everything they wanted. He did not see any reason why the Bill should not go before a strong Committee, although he objected strongly to some of its clauses. It was most important there should be one uniform police and public health law for Scotland. It had constantly happened that one side of a street was in a burgh, and the other side in the county, so that what a man had a perfect right to do on one side of the street, was an illegal and even a criminal act on the other side. The Burgh Police Bill was passed in order that there might be the same law on both sides of the street, and not the anarchy which existed at the present time. It was only fair, when they had a strong Committee, that the Bill should go before it for consideration, and he suggested that the right hon. Gentleman had attained his object in the present discussion.
§ SIR JAMES M. CARMICHAEL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
urged, that the 1467 discussion had shown how impossible it was for the House to attempt to do the work of one of its own Committees. The action of the right hon. Gentleman himself in first proposing to strike out two large parts of the Bill, and then when it was pointed out that these contained important provisions, offering to put them back again, only proved that the whole subject was one which ought to be threshed out by such a Committee as the Police and Sanitary Committee. Why should they not trust the Committee? All questions that had been raised, including that of procedure, were pre-eminently questions for the Committee to decide.
§ MR. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
said, there was a distinction which the House ought to bear in mind; and that was, that the rules and regulations affecting locus standi were very different in the case of private and public Bills. In connection with a private Bill of this sort, touching as it did at so many points of the general law, there were a considerable number of bodies, such as the Directors of Industrial Homes, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and others, who ought to have the same opportunities of being heard before the Committee, as they would in the case of a public Bill. It did seem to him that these bodies ought to have the same opportunity, at least of being heard, as they would through their friends, if the matter had been discussed as a public Bill before the House. If the House decided to throw out these parts, as he himself after some hesitation had decided to vote, well and good; but if the House decided to send the matter before a Committee, then he thought the Bill was so exceptional, that he should ask the leave of the House to-morrow, or the next day, to move an Instruction to remove the ordinary restriction of locus, and to allow all bodies interested in the matter, who should petition, to make themselves heard before the Police and Sanitary Committee.
§ Amendment put and agreed to.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 135; Noes 177.—(Division List No. 13.)