HC Deb 13 July 1897 vol 51 cc4-8

On the Motion that this Bill be now considered,

*MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

proposed, as an Amendment,— That the Bill be recommitted with respect to an amendment to the Schedule, Article III. (1), page 5, line 39; that all petitions against the Bill presented before Thursday be referred to the Committee, and that such petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their counsel, or agents, be heard against the Bill, and counsel in support of the Bill; that the Committee have leave to sit and proceed on Thursday. He said it was not with the slightest wish to deny that an extension of the boundary of Hastings was necessary that he took this action. An important question, however, arose as to the extent to which this boundary should go, and what were the interests involved in making the extension. The original proposal took in a considerably wider area, including the greater part of the parish of Fairlight, where his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings resided, and owned some considerable property. But for some reason the greater part of that parish had been struck out. He was representing on this occasion the interests of the Parish Council of Hollington, where the borough Member did not reside. A meeting of ratepayers of that parish passed, with only two dissentients, a resolution protesting against the proposal to take in the best and richest portion of the parish, as being detrimental to the best interests of the majority of the ratepayers, who were chiefly of the working classes, and because such a scheme would add enormously to the rates, and bring no advantage to the parish. The Perish Council were unanimous upon the question. The Hastings Corporation, however, had not been restrained from still fixing their covetous glance on this Naboth's vineyard which he was trying to defend. The Corporation were seeking to include their richest neighbours in the Bill, and his Amendment did not even prevent that. At the Local Government Board inquiry, the Parish Council showed that they did not desire the change, and that it was not desirable in the public interest. The Commissioner himself, and, he thought, everybody else, admitted that the change was not desired by the inhabitants. The Perish Council inquired from him whether it would be possible to oppose the Bill on the Second Reading. On May 12th the Measure was read a First time without their knowledge. The following day an official of the Local Government Board undertook that they should be informed of the date for the Second Reading. But when next he heard from him, it was to the effect that the Bill lied been read a Second time, end that the, time for petitioning against it had expired on the day on which he wrote. The official added that he thought he might possibly have made a promise to keep him informed on this subject, but he had "got somewhat Mixed." through pressure of work. The hon. Member urged that proper notice Of every stage should be given to those concerned. The Local Government Board having recommended the Parish Council to come to some amicable arrangement, the Parish Council represented to the Corporation what they wanted, end asked for some smell concession. But the Corporation, acting under the advice of their Town Clerk, who showed most remarkable ignorance of his duties in this platter, informed them that it was not within the competence of the Corporation to come to any arrangement, because the Local Government Board had fixed the boundary which was to exist. That view was entirely misleading and inaccurate. They could now only appeal to the House of Commons. They did not object to an extension in a fair way. Other parishes had obtained considerable concessions. The alternative boundary line which he sketched out was, he submitted, very reasonable. The Parish Council entertained profound mistrust towards the Corporation in connection with certain financial and commercial transactions.

MR. LUCAS - SHADWELL (Sussex, Hastings)

opposed the Amendment. His hon. Friend had somewhat unnecessarily dragged the perish of Fair-light into the discussion. But Fairlight was content, while Hollington was discontented. He would not go into the difference of opinion between his hon. Friend and the Local Government Board. He might say, it his hon. Friend did not receive any notice, neither did he. The Amendment would have lied more force had his hon. Friend championed the cause of the other perishes which it was proposed to include. The parish of Ore might have lied reason to be aggrieved. Whatever grievance Hollington had, Ore would have had the same grievance. The only reason he could understand for the discontent felt at Hollington was that a certain amount of their rateable value would be taken away. The same argument applied to Ore, and if the hon. Members would refer to the Provisional Order they would see that it made provision for a proper adjustment in the interests of the parishes, in order that they should be fairly treated. The fact was the whole matter had been one of compromise. The original proposal came from the Hastings Town Council, but the present proposal was that of the Local Government Board. A concession had been made to the various parishes. The Local Government Board Commissioner, after full inquiry, and after inspecting the ground, altered the scheme. He would like to remark that in a circular which. had been largely circulated in the House in the interests of the Parish Council of Hollington, it was contended that the Council herd not a fair hearing. With reference to that, he would like to remark that his hon. end learned Friend the Member for East Finsbury gave Hollington the Advantage of his advocacy. He believed it was a fact that notice was not given to the Council, but as a matter of fact there was no reason to believe they were not fully informed of what Rids about to take place. Turning to the objection that the School Board would be abolished, the hon. Member pointed out that the School Board of Hastings would have authority over the district. The evidence taken before the Local Government Board Inspector was that there was a small sewage farm in Hollington, and that the effluent from it ran into the Hollington stream; that the Hollington stream, in its course to the sea, ran through a portion of the borough of Hastings, and that at certain times in summer the smell arising from it was offensive. It was extremely desirable also that the streets of Hollington should be properly lighted. Hollington was practically a suburb of Hastings, and had much more of an urban than a rural character. A large number of the working classes who had employment at Hastings lived at Hollington, and they had the advantage of the higher rate of wages in Hastings as well as other advantages. The whole borough was in favour of this scheme, and there was no question of local politics whatever in the matter. As a matter of fact, the majority on the Town Council, with whom the scheme originated, belonged to the Liberal Party. The medical men of Hastings were also in favour of the scheme. It was most important that the borough of Hastings should not be contaminated owing to want of proper precautions in an adjoining district. Another important point was the control of the water-shed. The growth of Hastings had been enormous, and the population was now estimated at 57,000 or 58,000. It must be admitted that the extension of the boundaries should be made, and he hoped the Government would not give way upon the point.


said this matter had followed the ordinary course. The borough of Hastings desired an extension of its boundary, and an experienced inspector was sent down from the Local Government Board who made a thorough inquiry at which all parties were heard, including witnesses from the parish of Hollington. The report was carefully considered, not only by the permanent officials, but by the President of the Board. The Local Government Board did not fix the day for the Second Reading; that was done by the clerks at the Table, and even if the hon. Member had had the fullest notice of the Second Reading, he could not have moved a boundary Amendment at that stage. As no petition was lodged against the Bill, it went before the Committee on Unopposed Bills. If the hon. Member wished to lodge an objection he could do so in the other House, and the whole matter might be raised before a Committee of the other House. It would be manifestly unfair to recommit the Bill because the hon. Member had missed his opportunity of lodging a petition. Moreover, if such a course were taken owing to the Session now being so far advanced the whole order would probably be sacrificed. The borough of Hastings was extending, and its population was growing, and he submitted that it was entitled to a remedy for what it considered was a grievance—namely, that there should be on its outskirts a place which would not adopt the Lighting Act, and would not provide any place in which infectious diseases might be treated. He thought the House ought to allow the Bill to proceed.

Question, "That the words 'now considered' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, considered; to be Read the third time To-morrow.

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