§ MR. CYRIL DODD (Essex, Maldon) moved an Amendment to Standing Order 157 relating to railway and other private Bills. The Amendment was to insert words in the Standing Order the effect of which would be to instruct a, Committee, in reporting on a railway or other private Bill, to state "whether any communication had been received from the Board of Trade in regard to the 515 Bill or the objects thereof, of which, in the opinion of the Committee, it is desirable that the House should be informed." According to the existing practice, when the Board of Trade made any suggestion to a Committee with regard to a private Bill, the Committee was not at liberty to let the House know afterwards what the suggestion was, or what, if any, action was taken upon it; and the Amendment was to enable the Committee to do so. The Amendment was important, because there had grown up a practice of continually debating in this House, particularly on railway Bills, matters in regard to those Bills. The practice had grown, and whilst it was most important that the House should never part with its power of discussing openly these railway Bills either on second or third reading, yet he thought that was a power which might be over-used, and he was inclined to think the power had been somewhat over-used in recent times. The Amendment was designed to meet the difficulty, under existing practice, of debating the matter with full knowledge of the facts. It was not a revolutionary Amendment, but a small improvement in regard to Committee business. It should be left to the Committee to inform the House, if they thought fit—first, whether any communication was made by the Board of Trade in regard to a private Bill; and secondly, what was done with it, and in this way the House should be able to deal with a private Bill with full knowledge of the facts.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, that if the Government were not going to support the Amendment he hoped the House would reject it, because it was an invitation to the Board of Trade to make some casual suggestion to the Committee, and it might very much embarrass the Committee.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Mid Lanark)
on a point of order, said that if the Order was to be opposed, lie apprehended there could be no discussion to-day, and the matter must, under the Standing Orders, stand over.
§ Debate adjourned.