*SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.) moved the following new Standing Order:—
Where a Chamber of Commerce or shipping, sufficiently represented the trade or commerce in any district to which any Bill relates, Petition against the Bill, alleging that such trade or commerce will be injuriously affected by the provisions contained therein, it shall be competent to the Referees on Private Bills, if they think fit, to admit the Petitioners to be heard on such allegations against the Bill or any part thereof.
He pointed out that Chambers of Commerce were allowed to appear on Railway Bills, but only as to rates and fares, and that the utility of the existing Standing Order was very much limited by restrictions. For instance, there were Canal Bills, which were closely connected with Railway Bills, and which railways sought to absorb and so to neutralise water competition, to which this provision might be extended. Then there were questions of the conditions of transport, which often in effect became rates, Electric Lighting Bills, the lighting of shops and public works, and other matters in which Chambers of Commerce and of Shipping were interested. The proposition was, he believed, in accordance with the forms of the House.
MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, K.)
said, this was a somewhat novel 1450 departure, and he would like to point out that Chambers of Commerce were not under a Royal Charter, nor were they popularly elected bodies. He suggested that some deposit should be asked from the Chambers of Commerce before they were allowed to proceed against all these Bills.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY (Preston) moved, before the word "commerce" in line 1, to insert "agriculture," and in lines 2 and 3, before the word "trade," to insert "agriculture."
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
seconded the Amendment, on, the ground that it would be a public disadvantage if Chambers of Agriculture were omitted.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS (Mr. J. W. MELLOK,) York, W.R., Sowerby
thought the Amendment a great improvement. With regard to the suggestion of the hon. Member for East St. Pancras, it was now too late to urge it, for the House had already allowed Chambers of Commerce locus standi in regard to Railway Bills, and the operation of the Standing Order could not be restricted.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. G. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
suggested, that the proposed Amendment was so wide that it might include the Shipping Federation, a large and an important body affecting Labour, and therefore Trade Unions ought not to be excluded, for some of the Bills referred to affected questions of Labour as well as Capital.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said this need not he apprehended, since the Shipping Federation, being a body composed of private persons combined together for private ends, occupied an altogether different position from Chambers of Commerce, Shipping, and Agriculture.
§ Motion agreed to.