In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—
The expression "metropolitan water companies" means the water companies specified in Section three of the Metropolis Water Act 1871.
The expression "water consumer" means any person who is supplied with water
by any of the metropolitan water companies, or who pays or is liable to pay any money charged by any of those companies, for or in respect of the supply of water, whether under the name of rent, rate, or otherwise, and includes any householder or owner or occupier of a house entitled to make a communication with the mains or pipes of any of those companies.
The expression "local authority" means the council of any county, borough, or district, the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the City of London, and any vestry, district board, or local board of health in the county of London.
§ SIR J. BRUNNER
moved after the words "Metropolis Water Act I871," to insert the words,—namely: the New River Company, the East London Waterworks Company, the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company, the Company of Proprietors of the West Middlesex Waterworks the Company of Proprietors of Lambeth Waterworks, the Governor and Company of Chelsea Waterworks, the Grand Junction Waterworks Company, and the Company of Proprietors of the Kent Waterworks.He explained that the object of his Amendment was to obviate references to the Act of 1871.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
moved to insert after the word "companies,"—provided that nothing in this Act shall affect the terms of any agreement between a water company and a water consumer as to the supply of water.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said it must be evident to the Committee that it was desirable that any agreements entered into between the water companies and consumers should not be affected by the Act.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
thought the Amendment might be carried out to such an extent as to reduce the advantages which the Bill gave to consumers. He had many agreements brought to his notice 587 in which the water companies tied their consumers hand and foot in many ways, and he did not think such agreements ought to be exempted from the operations of the Bill.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he was afraid he must adhere to the Amendment, but he thought hon. Members opposite might rest assured that the Amendment would entail no hardships on consumers.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said that in his opinion the operation of the Bill limited—as it was in its present form—would be still more re stricted if the new clause were adopted.
§ MR. F. G. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
said he understood the clause was to apply only to agreements for the supply of water to farms, hotels, and hospitals. It was not to apply to agreements to supply water in the ordinary sense for domestic uses, and if a consumer thought that by continuing an agreement with the company he would be deprived of any advantages of the Bill he could terminate that agreement.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
asked whether the operation of the clause would be restricted to agreements made before the Act came into operation. [Cries of "No, no!"]
§ MR. C. J. DARLING (Deptford)
said it was clear that the clause would apply not only to existing agreements but to any agreements that might be entered into in the future, and if it were not restricted to existing agreements he should vote against it.
§ *MR. EDMUND BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
said that so far as the water companies were concerned they would not object to the insertion of words in the clause limiting it to existing agreements. The clause only applied to agreements with large corporations, hotels, hospitals and public baths and wash-houses and unless it was inserted in the Bill, such. agreements might be disturbed. He moved to insert after "agreement" the words "existing at the time of the passing of this Act."
Amendment amended by inserting after the word "agreement" the words "existing at the time of the passing of this Act."
§ MR. LOUGH
said it was something gained that the clause should apply only 588 to existing agreements, but the Amendment had not entirely removed his objection to the clause. It seemed to hint that the object of the clause was to introduce a contracting-out clause. The Bill created an authority to whom consumers with a grievance against the water companies could appeal, and now it was proposed that any agreement made between consumers and companies should stand between the consumers and that authority. He thought it was not right that those agreements should be excluded from the benefits of the Act.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said he could not understand why the Government persisted in this Amendment. If an agreement was favourable to the consumer he ought to have the opportunity of bringing it up before the Commission with a view to seeing that it was carried out.
That the words 'Provided that nothing in this Act shall affect the terms of any agreement existing at the time of the passing of this Act between a water company and a water consumer as to the supply of water' be there inserted.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 196 Noes, 104.—(Division List, No. 311.)
§ On the question "That the clause, as amended stand part of the Bill,"
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
asked whether the words just added would prevent any consumer who was taking a supply of water under an agreement from approaching the new Court.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said that the words would not have that effect, because they referred to agreements outside the statutory duties of the Company.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 5,—