§ On the consideration of this Bill as amended,
MR. D. CHILLY (Mayo, N.)
said that before he moved the rejection of this Bill he desired to draw Mr. Speaker's attention to a matter affecting the privileges of that House. For his own part he desired to approach the consideration of this Bill in the most impartial spirit, but when he came down to the House about a quarter of an hour ago he found that a circular containing statements of an inaccurate character with regard to this Measure were being distributed among 6 hon. Members in the Central Lobby, and he was afraid that those statements would prevent hon. Members from approaching the consideration of the Bill in an equally impartial spirit. The circular purported to he issued by a firm of Parliamentary agents, carrying on their business in Abingdon Street, Westminster. What he desired to ask the Speaker was whether it was in order for any firm of Parliamentary agents to interfere with the procedure of that House in Private Business in the way he had indicated, which would have the effect of preventing the impartial consideration of a Private Bill. The circular contained a number of statements which, at all events, from his point of view, were not accurate, and, therefore, he submitted that the House ought in defence of its own procedure and privileges to prevent hon. Members being met by a circular of this kind in the Central Lobby. He, however, did not wish to press the point too far, but he submitted that it was a little out of harmony with the dignity and position of hon. Members that Parliamentary agents should seek to influence their action by such means as these.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is probably aware that in the cases of private Bills, it is not at all uncommon for statements to be circulated on one side and on the other, and I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has laid before the House anything in the nature of a breach of Privilege. With regard to the circular in question having been distributed in. the Central Lobby, I must say I do not think the Lobby is the right place for circulating such documents. ["Hear, hear !"] I will, at all events, make inquiries and see that no attempts of an objectionable kind are made to canvass Members in the Lobby. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. CRILLY
said that he now proposed to move the rejection of the Motion for the confirmation of this Provisional Order, because as far as he could see there was no other course open for him to take in connection with this Measure. This Bill showed the evils of the present system. The Board of Trade came before the House with a sort of omnibus Bill by which they sought to have confirmed a number of Provisional Orders relating to various localities in the north of Scotland, in the south of England and in Ireland. By this method of procedure the Measure 7 was neither considered by a Committee, as in the case of a private Bill, nor had it the publicity of a public Bill. If a private Bill were promoted it was carefully examined by a Committee of the House upstairs, and if a public Bill were brought in it was considered in that House on its merits. In the present case they were merely asked to confirm certain Provisional Orders of the Board of Trade, without any of the facts being brought under the notice of the House. For his part he could not understand why any Measure affecting the seaboard of Ireland should be promoted by the Board of Trade for England. However, they had to deal with the Bill as it stood. He would ask the House to follow the history of this Measure. This Bill proposed to renew the powers which were granted by that House in 1892 to build a pier and causeway and to construct other works at Killina. Those powers were to remain in force for five years, but during the five years, Mr. Frazer, the promoter of the Bill of 1892, had done nothing towards carrying out the authorised works, and he now came to ask that House for an extension of the period for constructing the works for another five years. He had had representations made to him that the locality was opposed to the term being extended for another five years. It appeared that it had been desired to construct a line of railway from Killina to Ballina, and the Government came to the assistance of the locality, and promoted a Measure for the construction of the line which was engineered by Mr. Frazer. Personally he had nothing to say against that Gentleman, whom the Government regarded as being a very capable engineer. But this Gentleman was a private individual, and the works to which this Bill was to apply were such public works as would, in the event of the change in the local government of Ireland, indicated by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, being brought about, be constructed by the various new County Councils. In these circumstances it was in his opinion right that a private individual should be allowed to intervene between the new Councils and the construction of these works. The Government themselves had recognised the importance of the proposed works by offering a grant of £10,000 towards their cost. In these 8 circumstances he thought that the least that Mr. Frazer could be asked to do was to give some guarantee that he really intended to proceed with the construction of the works at once. It was on these grounds that he opposed this Bill.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. T. W. RUSSELL,) Tyrone, S.
said that in his view it was not necessary for the House to spend much time in considering this very simple question. He could assure the hon. Member that the method of procedure by what he termed an omnibus Bill, was the usual practice. The Local Government Board had therefore done nothing out of the ordinary course in the procedure they had taken with regard to this Bill. The powers for the construction of these works were granted by Parliament in 1892, and all that Mr. Frazer now asked was that those powers should be renewed for another five years. The local authorities entirely approved of the extension of the period for the exercise of the powers conferred by the Act of 1892, and he hoped that the House would pass the Bill.
Bill considered; to be Read the Third time to-morrow.