The adjourned Debate on Mr. J. Stuart's Motion:—
That any County Council and any of the London Water Companies, be entitled to be heard before the Select Committee on the above Bill, on any Petitions praying to be heard by Counsel presented by them, on or before March 14th next, and that such Petitions be referred to the said Committee;
and on Mr. E. W. Byrne's Amendment thereto—to insert after "County," the words, "or District," was resumed.
§ MR. J. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, he had conferred with the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, and he had seen the Parliamentary Agent for the majority of the District Councils interested; and he had prepared a form of words which had been agreed upon, the effect of which was that any District Council or local authority who had petitioned within the limits allowed by the Standing Orders, should not only have a locus standi in respect of the Bill affecting its own locality, but should also have a locus standi in respect of the Lambeth and Southwark Bills; the restriction being, that they should be heard by the Committee if and so far as the Committee thought fit. The promoters felt it was only fair that the Committee should itself have some voice in the matter. The words he proposed to 269 add to his Motion, in order to carry out this arrangement, were:—That the District Council or other local authority of any district within the area of any of the London Water Companies, who have within the time limited by the Standing Orders, presented Petitions against any of the Bills for acquiring the undertaking of the said Companies, shall be entitled to be heard by Counsel upon such Petitions against the Bills to which they relate, and have leave also to present Petitions praying to be heard by Counsel at any time not later than the 14th day of March, against the Lambeth Water (Transfer) Bill, and that any such Petitions be referred to the said Committee, and that the Petitioners be entitled to be heard by Counsel before the Select Committee, if and so far as the Select Committee may think fit.It was not the object of the promoters to interpose any technical difficulties, their object was to give a reasonable locus standi to persons who were likely to be concerned; and they felt, that the proposal he had made really met the circumstances of the case.
§ Mr. EDMUND W. BYRNE (Essex, Walthamstow)
thought, speaking generally, the proposal of the hon. Member was reasonable, and he was prepared to withdraw his Amendment provided the words "who have presented Petitions" meant "who have, or may within the time limited, present Petitions." What they wanted was, that all the Local Authorities who had the right to petition, and in due time did petition, against any one of the other Bills, the consideration of which was postponed, should have the right to present Petitions, and be heard by Counsel, against the Lambeth and Southwark Bills, so far as the Committee might think fit.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said, that he also was prepared, in view of the concession the hon. Member had made, to withdraw his Amendment. But he would point out that there existed a Locus Standi Committee, before which persons claimed locus standi as a right and not as a privilege. He objected to the Committee that was to decide on the merits of the Bill deciding also the question of locus standi. He, therefore, thought the words providing that the Petitioners should only be heard subject to the approval of the Committee should be omitted, and that these Local Authorities should be granted a locus standi in the ordinary course.
SIR F. DIXON HARTLAND (Midlesex, Uxbridge)
said, he proposed to move an Amendment, including the Conservancy of the River Thames within the scope of the Motion.
§ MR. J. STUART
said, he had been informed that the Thames Conservancy had a locus standi. He could give the assurance that the promoters would raise no objection on the point; and if it were found that he was wrong, he was quite prepared to move at a later time.
§ Sir F. DIXON-HARTLAND
said, the Thames Conservancy were informed that at present they had no locus standi.
§ MR. H. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said, the effect of the proposal now made would be to cast on the Referee the duty of ascertaining, strictly and technically, whether, under the Standing Order, the Petitioners had a locus standi, whereas he understood the arrangement to be that all persons who felt, and were prepared to make out, a case of grievance on the merits should be allowed to be heard without reference to the Referee on the question of technical locus standi.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
asked whether the hon. Gentleman opposite would accept the Amendment?
§ MR. STUART
said, local authorities and district councils had a locus standi upon Bills which related to their own districts, and could not be interfered with. There were also a number of local authorities, say in the East London district, who wished to have a locus standi upon this Lambeth Bill, and it was felt that any of those who thought it worth their while to petition against the East London Bill should have a locus standi against the Lambeth Bill as well, but in the case of those who had not thought it worth while to petition there was no reason why they should have a locus standi. He must ask, however, to be allowed to retain the words at the end of the Clause, "if and so far as the Select Committee think fit," because there were many of these local authorities from the 271 East London district which might very well be grouped together; hut this proposal, as it stood, would not let in all the aggrieved persons as suggested by the hon. Member for Wandsworth. He was not disposed to accept the Amendment, but pointed out that endeavours had been made from the first to fairly meet those who wanted a locus standi in this Lambeth Bill.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
suggested that this matter should be adjourned until some definite instructions were obtained from the new County Council. This Bill originated in the late body, but since they gave the hon. Gentleman opposite a certain amount of authority to act for them, circumstances had changed. They had no right to take the hon. Member's ipse dixit on the matter; and he moved the postponement of the discussion until the new Council had had an opportunity of giving what instructions they might have to give respecting it.
§ MR. E. BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
said, he had represented the minority of the Council for the last six years, but now he might be representing the majority. He thought, however, that the proposition of his colleague on the Council was a fair one, and it was hardly worth while that the settlement of this small point should be delayed, especially as the hon. Member did not draw the limit to those who had already petitioned.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
said, he did not wish to press the Amendment, but was anxious to know exactly where they were.
§ MR. W. L. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
asked, whether it would not be convenient to have this matter postponed until to-morrow, seeing the confusion that had arisen. The hon. Member would then have an opportunity of placing on the Paper what he proposed.
§ MR. T. F. HALSEY (Herts, Watford)
thought it would be better if the hon. Member for Shoreditch fixed a later day, say the 19th instead of the 14th, because just about the earlier date the County Councils would be in the throes of another election, and it would be almost impossible for them to decide 272 whether they would petition under this Resolution. It would be a great convenience if that hon. Member would make the alteration.
§ MR. J. STUART
expressed his willingness to meet the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and allow the Debate to stand over until to-morrow.
§ Debate adjourned until Thursday.