HC Deb 09 June 1898 vol 58 cc1093-121

Amendment proposed— Add the following clause— (1) The conversions of stock by this Act authorised shall not take effect unless and until the company shall have reduced the price of gas sold by them to 2s. 6d. per 1,000 cubic feet. (2) It shall not be lawful for the Company to raise the price so reduced unless by order of the Board of Trade, and to the extent allowed by such order. (3) The Board of Trade shall not make any such order unless they are satisfied, after an inquiry at which the London County Council, the Corporation of the City of London, and any vestry or district board of works within the company's area of supply shall be entitled to be heard, that some exceptional circumstances have arisen making it reasonably necessary that the increase of price asked for by the company shall be made. Any such order shall remain in force for such period only as may be specified in such order."—(Mr. Pickersgill.)

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

I rise to move the clause standing in my name on the Paper, and in order to explain its purpose it will be necessary to state in the briefest possible way the object of the Bill. This Bill proposes to consolidate and convert the capital of a London Gas Company—namely, the Gas Light and Coke Company. It is, I suppose, one of the largest Bills of the kind that have ever been introduced into this House, and the interests which it affects are simply enormous. The amount of stock which it is proposed to convert is in the aggregate very nearly 12 millions of nominal value, while, of course, the market value is very considerably larger. It will be seen, therefore, that this is not a small Bill, and if this House will give its attention, I will, in the briefest possible way, endeavour to show how the interests of the public are affected by it. In order to do that it will not be necessary that I should go farther back in the history of the company than the year 1876. In that year an Act was passed by Parliament by which a Parliamentary bargain was made between the company of the one part and the consumers—that is, the public—of the other part, and the relations between the dividends payable and the price of gas chargeable was subject to an arrangement known probably to most Members of this House under the name of the sliding scale. The arrangement was shortly this: 10 per cent. was taken as a standard rate of dividend, and 3s. 9d. per 1,000 feet was taken as a standard price, and it was stipulated that for every penny charged in every year in increase or in diminution of the standard price the standard rate of dividend might respectively for such year be reduced or increased by one-quarter per cent. That was the sliding scale clause. But there is another section of the Act which is also, in my judgment, very important, and that is what is known as the option clause of the Act. By that section it was stipulated that any stock thereafter issued should be sold at the best price obain-able, and that the premiums should not go to the shareholders, but that the benefit of such premiums should inure to the consumers. Now, my point to-day is that the principle of the option clause really concludes the issue which the House has to decide, and I think it concludes it in this way. The object of the option clause was to strengthen and support the sliding scale clause, and the general effect of the clause is to provide that the shareholders from 1876 onwards should not receive any additional advantage in any shape whatever without there being some corresponding benefit to the consumers. Now, this Bill proposes to reopen that Parliamentary bargain, so made in 1876, and, as I submit, to reopen it solely in the interests of one of the parties to that bargain—namely, in the interests of the company. What the company desire to do is to replace the nominal value of the stock by this Bill, which will make it more closely approach to its market value, and in the paper—the statement issued by the promoters—it is stated as follows: The result may be to render the stock more marketable and to enhance, to some extent, the price of the stock. The company, in that statement, I venture to think, very considerably underestimate the effect upon the prices. The degree of enhancement is, of course, a matter of dispute, and must remain a matter of dispute, but we are not altogether without experience. We have the experience derived from a somewhat similar case of the conversion of the stock of the South Metropolitan Gas Company a few years ago. Now, when the Bill for the conversion of the stock was before this House, the Chairman of the Company estimated the enhancement of the value at £90,000. On the other hand, the Comptroller of the London County Council estimated the enhancement of the value at £250,000; but, as a matter of fact, the Stock Exchange value of the shares since the conversion has been increased by no less a sum than £900,000. I do not claim that any enhancement is a result due to the conversion, but I do claim that the conversion is the cause, to a very considerable extent, of that enormous enhancement. On that I should like to say that the amount of stock involved in that case was considerably less than the amount of stock involved here. Perhaps it was only about one-third and possibly not even one-fourth of the stock involved in this case. Now the promoters again refer to this option clause, and they say that, admitting that the shareholders will derive some advantage from the enhancement, the consumers will also receive a benefit. If the price is enhanced it will be a distinct benefit to the consumers by raising a higher premium which will be paid on all future issues of stock. Now that is a very misleading statement, and the whole argument is at once knocked on the head by merely stating the amount of stock which now remains unissued. The amount of stock which at present remains unissued is only £175,000. Of course it is obvious that the benefit to the consumers upon such a trifling amount of stock is absolutely inappreciable. The conclusion is that the whole benefit will go to the shareholders without any corresponding benefit whatever to the consumers. So much with regard to the consumer. But I think we have also to consider the interests of the public. The effect of this Bill will be to conceal from the eyes of the public the real state of the facts in relation to the company. While, in fact, it will be paying 12¾ per cent. on its ordinary stock, if this Bill passes it will apparently be only paying 5 per cent. I submit it is contrary to public policy that a company having statutory powers and dealing in a. monopoly should seem to be paying a dividend of only 5 per cent., when it is really paying a dividend of 12¾ per cent. In the second place, I would point out that if at any future time the community should desire to purchase the property of this company their position would be prejudiced if this Bill becomes law. I do submit—although it has been disputed, and was disputed on the last occasion, when this matter was discussed, that the Stock Exchange value has any influence upon the conclusion of the arbitrator; yet I do submit, and I think experience will bear me out, that the Stock Exchange value of the shares of any company is likely to a very considerable extent to influence the mind of an arbitrator. An arbitrator is not bound to give his reasons; we do not know what considerations are operating in the recesses of his mind, and I do say that there is a risk, and a very material risk, which people in their private affairs would not willingly incur, that the Stock Exchange value of the enhancement of the value will have no inconsiderable influence in the primary determination of the purchase price in the mind of the arbitrator. There are precedents mentioned in the printed statement which the promoters of the Bill have circulated. With regard to these precedents, what I have to say is this, that I believe that in nearly every case they were practically agreed Bills; that is to say, that the local authority which would be entitled to oppose such a Bill was satisfied that in some form or another it had received a quid pro quo in respect of the Act so accepted. I admit that there is one exception, and that exception was the case of the South Metropolitan Gas Company. That is a very significant case, and I would ask the House to consider the details of the history of the South Metropolitan Gas Company's case. The Bill to convert the stock was introduced in 1895, but in that year, having been referred to a Committee, the Committee threw it out, and in the Report they make the following observation:— The Committee consider that the subject of the conversion of stock is of so far-reaching and important a character that it ought to be dealt with by a Committee especially appointed to consider the same as affecting the case of water companies. Now, the Chairman of that Committee did not sit upon this side of the House, and did not belong to the Party with which I am connected, but he was a very respected member of the Party opposite. That was the conclusion of the Committee in 1895. The same Bill was re-introduced in 1896, the following year, and it went before another Committee, and that Committee, differing from the former Committee, passed the Bill. Now, of course, I fully appreciate the difficulty in which I am placed this afternoon. I am asking this House to overrule the decision of one of its Committees, and there is a very strong feeling in the House with which, if I may say so, in general I agree, against the House intervening to overrule the decision of one of its Committees. But, Mr. Speaker, I venture to submit that reasons of that kind ought not to operate in the present case, and for this reason: two Committees of this House have considered the very issue which I am asking the House to decide this afternoon. Those two Committees came to opposite conclusions upon this very issue. Why should the House be bound by the conclusion of one of its Committees more than by the conclusion of the other of its Committees? The two Committees have differed upon this very issue, and I submit that the question is again set at large, and that this House is perfectly free this afternoon to decide the matter for itself upon its merits. With regard to the South Metropolitan Gas Company's case, I should like to point out further that it differs very materially, so far as the public are concerned, from the case now before us. The public have no complaint against the South Metropolitan Gas Company. Indeed, it is the fact of the extraordinary discrepancy between the cost of gas north of the Thames and south of the Thames which really gives intense force to the appeal which I am now making. South of the Thames, the consumer is only paying 2s. 3d. per 1,000 feet of gas; whereas, north of the Thames, in the area of supply of the Gas Company whose Bill is now before the House, the consumer is required to pay 3s. per 1,000 feet, and certainly this is not a time when the Gas Light and Coke Company is, I think, entitled to any special indulgence. It has just raised the price of its gas from 2s. 10d. to 3s.; but it has done something even more oppressive than that. That is how the matter stands so far as the ordinary consumer is concerned. As the House probably knows, there has recently sprung up a new method of supplying gas, namely, the method known popularly as the penny-in-the-slot system of supply. Now, the company are behaving very harshly to this class of consumer. Hitherto such consumers have paid at the aggregate rate of 3s. 4d. per 1,000 feet; henceforth they will be required to pay a penny for every 22 feet consumed, or at the rate of 4s. per 1,000 feet. This, of course, concerns the poorer class of consumers, and I notice that when anything nefarious is to be done it is always the poorer class of the community that suffers most. It is freely stated by the local authorities that this high price of gas supplied by the Gas Light and Coke Company is due to bad management and over-capitalisation. It was said, I think, upon the last occasion when we discussed the subject, that the raising of the price of gas would not benefit the shareholders, as thereby there would be a diminution of their rate of interest. But I think it is important that the facts in relation to this matter should be fought out. No doubt by raising the price of gas 2d. you will have to reduce the dividend by ½ per cent., but it is clear that the object of the company is to prevent a still heavier fall in the dividend unless they took this sum of money out of the pockets of the consumers. There is no kind of relation between the sum taken out of the pockets of the consumers and the loss of dividend to the shareholders. The loss of dividend to the shareholders will only amount in the aggregate to, I think, about £30,000, whereas the 2d. extra per 1,000 feet amounts to the enormous sum of an addition to the annual revenue of the company of close upon £200,000, and that comes out of the pockets of the consumers. Now, in moving this clause I am simply giving effect to a Resolution which has been passed almost, I think, without exception, by all the representative authorities of the Metropolis, and has, in many cases, been endorsed by large public meetings of the citizens. I am supported in moving this Resolution by the Corporation of the City of London and by the London County Council. Upon this ground, at all events, they are absolutely in sympathy. I think that is a significant fact which ought not to be without effect upon the House. The ease of the London County Council is, perhaps, exceedingly significant. The question was not treated at all as a Party question. Leading members of the Moderate Party denounced the Bill in its present form in language quite as vigorous—in perhaps more vigorous language—than that used by the Progressives, and in the result there was a record division: 101 voted against, and only four for. Now, I say that the public is entitled to receive some consideration for the advantage which this Bill will confer upon the company. I propose, therefore, by this clause which I have put upon the Paper that the Bill shall not take effect until the present price of gas has been reduced to 2s. 6d. per 1,000 feet. In fixing 2s. 6d. per 1,000 feet as the figure, I may say that it has not been arbitraily chosen. I have selected 2s. 6d. because it bears absolutely the same relation to the initial price fixed by Statute in a case of this kind which the present price charged by the South Metropolitan Gas Company bears to the initial price fixed by Parliament, and therefore it seems to me that I am only proposing what is perfectly fair. I have endeavoured to state very briefly the grave objections which the representative authorities of London entertain to the Bill in its present form, and I now ask the House to introduce into the Bill the clause which appears on the Paper in my name, and which, I believe, embodies terms which are fair and equitable to both parties.

MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)

This is not merely a London question; it seems to me there is another principle involved, and it is this, that it would be very undesirable that in any case where any monopoly has been granted by Parliament there should be any manipulation of shares tending to disguise the truth of the added value of that enhancement. The time may come when Parliament will wish to overhaul monopolies of this kind, and I think it is necessary that we should have nothing done which would disguise from Parliament and from the country the value of the shares. It is really very undesirable that it should appear that they are only making 5 per cent. profit, when really they are making 12 per cent. by manipulating the stock. Wherever Parliament has granted a monopoly Parliament ought to retain in its hands the power to value that monopoly at any time it thinks fit. On that principle I beg to support the proposition of my honourable Friend. I should like to draw attention to the way in which this matter is disguised by the promoters in this Bill. In paragraph 7 they seem very proud to put in, in double leaded type that whereas they might have charged the consumers another 16 millions, they have only charged them 13½ millions. According to that statement the company has made a profit of two and a half millions which they have actually pocketed, and they put against that 13½ millions which they have abstained from taking out of the pockets of the consumers. Such a comparison is most unjust, and shows the spirit which underlies this proposal of the Gas Light and Coke Company. I most strongly object to anything of the sort being done, and I beg to second the Motion of the honourable Member for Bothnal Green.

* MR. JOHNSON-FERGUSON (Leicester, Loughborough)

As Chairman of the Committee that considered this Bill I think it may be for the convenience of the House if I state at once as shortly as possible the grounds which led the Committee to pass the preamble of this Bill, and to decline to consider either of the proposals laid before us for levying a charge practically on the company as the price of the granting them the advantages which they expect to derive under this Bill. Now, Sir, the object of the Bill, as stated by the honourable Member for Bethnal Green, is to consolidate the debentures and preference capital and to split up the ordinary capital of the company. To the consolidation of the preference and debenture capital no objection was urged—the objection was entirely urged against the splitting of the ordinary stock. Now let me explain to the House what that splitting is. At present the ordinary capital is a 10 per cent. stock, subject to the sliding scale of advance or diminution of ¼ per cent. in the dividend for every reduction or increase of a penny in the price of gas supplied to the consumer below or above the standard price of 3s. 9d. There is nothing in this Bill which would enable the company to levy one penny of extra charge on the consumers or to pay to their shareholders one penny of extra dividend. The dividend will be precisely as it is at the present time, the difference solely being that the ordinary stock, instead of being in each case £100 of 10 per cent, stock, will in the future be £250 of 4 per cent. stock. There is nothing new in this. As far back as 1891 a Bill was granted to the Bristol Gas Company for splitting their stock; in 1892 a similar Bill was given to the Oxford Gas Company; in 1893 a similar Bill was given to the Crystal Palace Gas Company; in 1894 to Plymouth and Stonehouse; in 1895 to Scarborough; and in 1896 to Cheltenham, Ilfracombe, Guildford, and to the South Metropolitan Gas Company. Now the honourable Member, in moving his Amendment, has alluded to the case of the South Metropolitan Company. I do not think that that case is exactly as he represented it. In 1895 the South Metropolitan Gas Company came before this House, promoting a Bill allowing them to consolidate their debenture stock and to split their ordinary stock in thin manner. On that occasion, undoubtedly, the Bill was thrown out by the Committed upstairs, and the remark made by the Chairman of that Committee which has been quoted. In 1896 the South Metropolitan Company again came before this House with a similar Bill. That Bill passed the Second Reading: it was referred to a Committee upstairs, of which, my Friend the honourable Baronet the Member for Blackburn was Chairman, and of which I was a member. On that occasion the Bill was opposed by the London County Council on the ground that if passed, and if at some future time the London County Council desired to purchase the London gas companies, they would be obliged to pay a higher price for this company on account of the power given to split their stock given under that Bill, and in speaking on behalf of the opponents of that Bill Mr. Worseley-Taylor said that if it were granted no legitimate ground could be urged for refusing the same powers to every gas company in the country. We had precisely the same objections urged against this Bill. We were told that if it were granted the price of stock would be so enhanced that the County Council at some future time would have to give a larger price for gas undertakings. We were told that the South Metropolitan Gas Company was everything that was good, whilst the Gas Light and Coke Company was everything that was bad. We heard precisely the same thing in 1896, when the South Metropolitan Bill was before us, only in that case it was the Gas Light and Coke Company that was everything that was good and the South Metropolitan Gas Company everything that was bad. The only valid objection which was urged against this Bill is one to which allusion has been made by my honourable Friend the Member for Bolton—namely, that if the Bill were passed the public might be deceived as to the real amount of capital involved in the undertaking. Well, unfortunately for my honourable Friend, that objection was laid before us. The Committee recognised the force of it, and took the usual steps necessary to meet the difficulty. The Committee instructed a communication to be addressed to the right honourable Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, stating that in their opinion it was desirable so to readjust the form in which the accounts of gas companies are presented that in future, whenever a division of stock takes place, the amount of the capital shown on their balance-sheet, should clearly specify how much is due to actual capital expenditure and how much to the division proposed under the Bill; and I have every reason to suppose that that suggestion will be carried out. When it became evident that the opponents of this Bill would not get the preamble thrown out two suggestions were made for the Committee's consideration. First of all we were asked to authorise an alteration in the standard price of this company. In 1876, after a very long and exhaustive inquiry before a Committee of this House, the standard price for the three metropolitan gas companies was fixed as follows:—Tim Gas Light and Coke Company 3s. 9d. per 1,000 feet, the South Metropolitan Gas Company 3s. 6d. per 1,000 feet, and the Commercial Gas Company 3s. 9d. per 1,000 feet, with a corresponding sliding scale in each case. While the matter was before the Committee upstairs I asked the counsel for the opponents if they could point to a single instance in which Parliament, having settled a standard price for a gas company, that standard price had been altered. The counsel admitted that there was no such instance which could be pointed out, and I have since been informed on most reliable authority that, though numerous applications have been made to Parliament to alter this price, in every instance it has been rejected. The other proposal brought before us was that which has now been moved by the honourable Member for Bethnal Green in the form of the new clause now before the House. Prior to 1868 the system of fixing the price to be charged by the Metropolitan Gas Companies in force was somewhat analogous to that which is contained in the proposal of the honourable Gentleman. That system was found to be so undesirable—there were such constant complaints made to the Board of Trade and brought forward in this House—that in 1876, after a very exhaustive inquiry respecting the position of the three metropolitan gas companies, the present system of the standard price with sliding scale and auction clause was adopted for the whole of the three metropolitan gas companies. At that time the capital of the Gas Light and Coke Company was a little under £8,000,000; now it is a little over £13,000,000, or in other words, five millions of capital have been issued since that time on the faith of the arrangement which was then entered into. Now, I do not feel called upon—and I do not think it would be desirable that I should—to express any opinion whatever as to the merits of the management of the various metropolitan gas companies, nor ought I to express an opinion as to whether the sliding scale has or has not brought that advantage to the consumer which was expected from it at the time it was framed, or whether the standard prices fixed in 1876 are, considering the whole circumstances of the case—the alteration in the price of coal and residual products and the amount of wages paid—proper standard prices or not. If these matters have to be considered, if the matter is to be opened, then I say that it ought to be considered by a Select Committee of this House appointed for the purpose, which will have the whole of the evidence necessary on both sides before it, so that it can be dealt with by a Bill based on the Report of that Committee. It would be, in my opinion, a most improper course for a Private Bill Committee, dealing with a question such as the splitting up of the stocks and with a Bill involving nothing but that, to attempt to open such a question and to upset the deliberate decision of this House, entered into after a long and most exhaustive inquiry, and I certainly hope that the House will not accept the Amendment of the honourable Member for Bethnal Green.

* MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)

The honourable Member who has just sat down asked the House not to upset the deliberate decision of the Committee, and the issue which he argued was altogether different from the one which is involved in the classification and redistribution of the stock. Let me say that I agree with the honourable Gentleman. I quite appreciate the importance of upholding the decision of the Private Bill Committees upstairs, and, further, I recognise that the issue which is involved in the division of stock does not affect the objection which I, at any rate, have in view in supporting the Amendment of my honourable Friend opposite. I do not at all object to this readjustment of the stocks of this company. I know very well that they are only following the precedent of other gas companies, and of other railway companies, and of almost all important joint stock enterprises in this country; and I would not oppose this Bill if it were not that the Amendment moved by my honourable Friend opposite is the only opportunity we have of bringing before this House the great injustice which we in the north of London suffer inconsequence of this wholly unjustifiable advance in the price of gas. And I would go further. So strongly do I feel the responsibility of arguing against the decision of the Committee upstairs who have had before them the very questions involved in this readjustment of the stocks that I should hope my honourable Friend opposite would even now not press his Amendment to a Division if he can get from my right honourable Friend the President of the Board of Trade some assurance that we shall get an inquiry giving us some prospect of relief from the injustice under which we have so long suffered. Let me say that, not merely in my own constituency in East Islington, but throughout the whole of the north of London, constituting the majority of the inhabitants of London, there is a strong feeling of the injustice under which they labour for no offence whatever, excepting that they, unfortunately for themselves, reside on the north of the Thames. I think the honourable Gentleman opposite said that this arrangement of the stocks will not affect the dividends in any way, and I quite agree with him, because it is only an arithmetical readjustment of the nominal capital. He himself will not, however, dispute that it does affect what is quite as important a factor—namely, the nominal amount of capital which exists—and I do not think the gas company will deny that it will render the stock more freely convertible, and that it will more readily appeal to investors in that form, and that it will enhance the value of the stock. The value of the stock must be a factor in determining the price which should be paid should any public body require to purchase the undertaking. I am myself not in favour of the municipalisation of private enterprises, and I do say that if the question were to come before the London County Council, of which I have the honour to be a member, I, as at present advised, should be opposed to the purchase of the gas companies by the Council. Therefore, from that point of view, what is the value of these undertakings would not in the least affect me. What I am interested in is that these people north of the Thames have to pay an enhanced price for their gas, and unless we can get some relief in that respect, we have no remedy before us, excepting to come to Parliament and oppose anything which is for the enhancement of the value of the gas undertakings. Reference has been made to the sliding scale. I have not a word to say against that sliding scale arrangement, and if I had, Parliament has already sanctioned it, and certainly I do not want to interfere with any Acts of Parliament under which gas companies have raised their capital. Let me remind the House, however, of the words used by Mr. Cardwell in the Committee of 1867. He reported that the companies were only entitled to their 10 per cent. after exercising due care in their management. We claim, and believe that we can prove, that that due care and good management have not been exercised in the case of the Gas Light and Coke Company. We think we can establish that, and if we do then clearly the ground on which this sliding scale arrangement has been granted to this company falls away, and they are not entitled to the benefits of that arrangement. If my right honourable Friend will give some hope that we shall have an impartial inquiry where we can establish that, we shall be satisfied. We in the north of London are paying on unjust and unjustifiable price for our gas. So far as I am concerned, this is my sole reason for opposing this consolidation of stock; but unless we get some such assurance from the President of the Board of Trade as I have indicated, then I consider we have no course open but to press the Amendment, and if my honourable Friend goes to a Division I shall certainly support him.

* SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

A short time ago I ventured to address the House on a somewhat similar occasion, imploring the House not to review a decision come to by a Committee upstairs. There are occasions of national and great importance when these reviews have to be made; there can be no doubt about that. But on the general question of private Bills, especially those that have been, fought out in Committee, it seems to me, and I am sure the experiences of other honourable Members of this House who have had a shorter experience of these matters than I have had must bring them to the same conclusion, that the House ought not to indulge in these discussions on private Bills, the merits of which cannot be wholly and properly before it, and it is a course which it may hereafter very much regret. All the great Leaders of this House in my time, and before my time, have taken this stand. Sir Robert Peel held the same view so strongly that he said on one occasion— I would rather support the decision of the Committee upstairs, where the primâ facie view, in my own mind, was that it had come to a wrong decision, than upset it in open House. What is the case? Why, that if the House begins once to review these decisions you destroy the independence of your Committee. That was Sir Robert Peel's view. The Committee is selected by the Committee of Selection of this House, who are men in whose decision you have full confidence, and when once you commence to review decisions of those you have appointed, and who have heard the evidence, you open the door to that "lobbying" which is taking place on this very Bill. To-day no Member could come through this Lobby without being canvassed upon the question of this Bill, and therefore I do ask the House, especially after such a statement as that which has been made by any honourable Friend the Chairman of this Committee, that we should not discuss the merits of the company on this proposed new clause. The honourable Member who has just spoken said that he is in favour of consolidation, but that he wants to reduce the price of gas. That is certainly not a question upon the merits of this Bill. Supposing the price of the gas had to be reduced, are you going by Act of Parliament to reduce the price of the coal from which gas is made? Everyone in the north of England knows that owing to that unfortunate strike in Wales the price of coal has gone up throughout the kingdom, and a large quantity of it has been taken off the market. I myself have nothing whatever to do with the London gas companies, but it is a fact that the Durham and Northumberland miners got an advance in their wages the other day, and for six months after that, on the ground of this strike in Wales. It is obvious that we could not interfere with such a thing as that. My honourable Friend opposite says, "Reduce your price, or else we shall not pass the Bill for the consolidation of stock." I think there is not a large railway company, if my memory serves me rightly, in this country which has not been before this House within the last few years for the consolidation of its stock; but the House never said to any of those, railways, "Because we are going to consolidate your stock for the benefit of your shareholders and for the greater simplification, of your accounts you are to lower your fares." We put no conditions upon them on account of the consolidation of their stock; it would have been illogical then, and it is most illogical now, in my opinion, because this Bill comes for consolidating stock, and the price of the stock may be improved by it, to say, "Very well, because you are going to get the advantage of the market value of your stock, and place it at such a figure that it will be a good investment to the working classes we are going to throw out the Bill because you do not lower the price of gas by 1d., 2d., 3d., or 4d., or whatever the price may be." I do hope that the House will endeavour to be a little logical in these things. If it does not feel inclined to take the advice I venture to give it, and decline to review decisions of its Committee upstairs, on the principle that we have elected that Committee which has reported upon the Bill, we are opening the door to that annoying system of "lobbying" to which we have been subjected this afternoon.

MR. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

I have had a great deal to do with the private business of this House, and no one has a greater respect for the whole system than I have, and no one feels the desirability of the House supporting its Committees more than I do. I have had occasion to oppose in this House the Amendment of a Committee's Report, where even I felt myself that the Committee's Report was not altogether that which it should be; but, taking these views, I felt it essential to me, at any rate on this occasion, to sit still in this House until I should hear what the Chairman of the Committee in question had to say upon this matter. Now, Sir, I have listened with great attention to what the honourable Gentleman, who was Chairman of the Committee, said, and it appears to me—and I believe I shall be able to show to the House—that the point which is now before the House was not a point which the Committee realised. And that has been still more shown by the speech of the honourable Gentleman, who has just sat down, who, I believe, has failed entirely to seize what the real issue is which my honourable Friend who moved this Resolution was desirous of placing before the House. It is not the case that this Bill is a similar Bill to that of the South Metropolitan Gas Company. That was the view which was shared by the Chairman of the Committee. Again, it is not the case that this Bill, in coming for the splitting of stock, is in the same position as the Bill of a railway company coming to this House for the splitting of stock, as the honourable Gentleman who has just sat down seems to imagine. The House must cast their eyes back to the agreement that was referred to by my honourable Friend when the sliding scale was introduced, and by that agreement the public and the company were made partners in this business, because, before that time, the company was at liberty only to pay 10 per cent. dividend. After that time there was fixed an initial price, which has been referred to, for the gas of 3s. 9d., and for every 1d. that that price was reduced to the public 5 per cent. was allowed to be added to the dividend of the company. Consequently the public and the company were made partners in the profits that were beyond 10 per cent., and the management of that joint business was left entirely in the hands of the company. Now, Sir, we had exactly a similar case on the south of the Thames—namely, the case of the South Metropolitan Gas Company. The same thing was done in that case, only at a smaller initial price of 3s. 6d., and the management of the joint business, both of the board and on behalf of the public, was left in the hands of the company. We have had now 20 years' experience of the management of the two companies managing affairs in which the public is interested, both for themselves and for us, and we find that in the case of the South Metropolitan Gas Company, where circumstances are in no sense essentially different from those north of the Thames, there has been an admirably conducted business whereby the public have profited largely at the hands of those their agents in this matter. When we turn to the Gas Light and Coke Company we find that it is wholly different, and that they, acting as managers for our joint property, have not managed it well. That is the position of things, because we are paying 3d. per 1,000 feet more for our gas north of the Thames than we do on the south of the Thames. Allowing for the 3d. difference in the initial rate, which was made at that time in order to make allowance for the over-capitalisation of the company north of the Thames, there is a difference of 6d. between the two. That comes to nearly half a million of money a year, which the public of London is losing, because the Gas Light and Coke Company have not managed their affairs for themselves and for us as well as they ought to. It has been shown that they could manage them much better by the example of the company south of the Thames. Now, Sir, in every instance where there is this inferiority of management, which I say has been shown in this case of the Gas Light and Coke Company, we, on behalf of the public, have a right to complain. This is due in some respects to the over-capitalisation which has already been referred to. I do not blame them for that in the past, but if you take the last ten years you will find that the amount of capital for each 1,000 feet of gas profits that has been added to the capital of the company north of the Thames, has been something like 25 per cent. greater in proportion than the amount added to the company south of the Thames. So that over-capitalisation continues. In the second place, their wages paid for carbonisation, and the price of the coal are greater, and the sums received from the waste products are less. I do not wish to go into detail in this matter, because all that came out in 1892, when we, from the London County Council, acting on behalf of innumerable vestries and local boards sent a deputation, and called for an investigation into the conduct of this matter, and we were told that the proper time was to wait until the company came before this House for some further concession or further Bill, and then that would be the time to make our complaint. We did make that complaint before the Committee, and I say that that Committee, as the Chairman of it has shown to-day, has not recognised the true view of the position. The essential element of partnership between us and the company places this Bill on an entirely different footing from that of the Bill of any ordinary railway company coining forward for the splitting of their stock. We are not proposing in this new clause which the honourable Member for Bethnal Green has proposed to overthrow or interfere with the sliding scale. We do not propose to alter the initial price. We do not propose to make any alteration of the price in this new clause which will affect the 10 per cent. dividend. But what we do say is simply this: "When you have increased your business—when it is conducted in the same profitable manner—no more profitable and no less than that of the company south of the Thames, allowance being made for your over-capitalisation, which is your inheritance from the past—when you have reduced your cost per 1,000 feet to the cost charged by the company south of the Thames, and conduct the business, which is ours, on our joint behalf, as well as that company does—then, when you have achieved that success, we shall say 'Split up your stock if you desire to do it.'" The one thing is germane to the other. We have partners conducting our business on behalf of the company. They came forward and asked for something which is to give them a great advantage, and what we are asking is just the same as if the manager of a works came forward and asked for something—for some advantage—and what should we say? You would say that he would have to do the work more successfully and more cheaply, and then you would consider his request. That is what we, acting on behalf of the public, wish to do to-day, and what we wish this House, acting on behalf of the public, to do. It is simply to say to the Gas Light and Coke Company: "The public have before it an example of what a gas company can do. Do what that gas company does; do it as well, and then we shall be prepared to let you have this or any other similar advantage." Under these circumstances, I have no desire to make the fixed price 2s. 6d. or any particular figure. I do not wish to argue that point on the floor of the House. I think the reason why the 2s. 6d. limit has been fixed is because it is 3d. higher than that now charged by the South Metropolitan Gas Company, and makes allowance there-for for the over-capitalisation of the Gas Light and Coke Company. If, in the course of this Debate, any gentleman representing the Gas Light and Coke Company, or who could speak on behalf of the Gas Light and Coke Company, is prepared to say to this House that he will, when this Bill comes before the House of Lords, take care that the principle of the Amendment is accepted, and that the details of it are laid before the Committee accepting the principle, then I, for one, should use all my influence to ask my honourable Friend to withdraw the clause. It is not a ease of withdrawing that clause upon the question of the inquiry, because the inquiry would have to go into the initial price of the gas. All that we ask is this: "Do your business, and carry it out on behalf of us, your partners, as well as your neighbours are doing, and then we shall be prepared to give you a higher remuneration." I think this House has before it a question of principle which was not fought out before the Committee, as has been represented in this House already, and therefore I say that while it is inconvenient to review what Committees have done in general in this House, yet you must remember that the forms of the House give us an opportunity of reviewing the decision of its Committees, and therefore the forms contemplated that possibility. In the second place, when it is a thing done every year in this House, by this House, when the House sees fit to do it, the only thing to consider is: Is this a case for review? And I think by the facts which I have laid before the House that I have made out a very good case for maintaining that this is essentially a case for the House to reconsider.

* MR. MOON (St. Pancras, N.)

I do not propose to go into the general question. I understand that the honourable Member for Bethnal Green obtained a pledge from the President of the Local Government Board that an inquiry should be held into this question as to the reduction of the cost, and as to the circumstances which differentiated the cases of the two companies north and south of the Thames. But the question which affects most of my constituents who do not live north of the Thames, is the difference of the prices charged by the two companies. I fully accept the views expressed by the honourable Member for Islington, and I wish to say that I should only vote for the new clause if the President of the Board of Trade absolutely declines to grant an inquiry.


The honourable Member for Shoreditch has said that a deputation was told that the proper time to bring the matter of the excessive charges of the Gas Light and Coke Company forward was to choose the time when the company came to Parliament for something else. I am not myself familiar with the phraseology of the statement to which the honourable Gentleman refers; but, accepting that what he says is accurate, what is the state of the case? The company has come to Parliament and the principal point to which this Amendment is directed came before the Committee; and, if I may venture to say so, the House of Commons would be taking upon itself the functions of that Committee if it attempted to go into the detail of the management of this company, with a view to seeing whether the price of gas ought to be reduced or not. They will be taking upon themselves a power which it will be quite impossible for them to properly exercise. The Committee is the ordinary tribunal before which matters of this kind are investigated. The Committee has investigated and considered this matter, and any opposition has been properly heard, and what the honourable Gentleman asks the House of Commons to do—the Commitee having decided against his proposed new clause—is, without any evidence before it, to over-ride the decision of the tribunal which has already heard the evidence, and to decide in favour of the course which the Committee has already rejected. I do not think myself that that is by any means an advisable course. The honourable Gentleman has cast great strictures upon the management of the Gas Light and Coke Company. Well, Sir. I am not in a position to speak either for or against the way in which this company has managed its affairs, and I regret as much as the honourable Gentleman that the Company has con- sidered it necessary to raise the price of its gas to a price considerably beyond that which is paid in other parts of the country. I think it is very much to be regretted that the company have thought it necessary to adopt this course. But although that may be my opinion, I could not possibly support proposals made in this House without evidence to support them to refuse that which the Gas Light and Coke Company have asked for, and that which the Committee upstairs have said ought to be given. The honourable Member for Bethnal Green has asked me on more than one occasion questions in regard to this company raising the price of gas, and I think I have told him, in answer to a recent question, that if he moved for a Committee to inquire into the matter, that would be a motion which I would be bound very carefully to consider in the interests of all concerned. If the honourable Gentleman likes to put a Motion of that kind on the Paper, then when I see its terms I shall be very glad to see if anything can be done. Further than that it is impossible for me to do. But I do not think that this House should take upon itself, without having any evidence before it, to decide as to whether the raising of the price of the gas is or is not justifiable, or whether the company is or is not properly managed.

MR. LOUGH (Islington)

I only desire to bring one point forward, and that is that practically the Amendment of my honourable Friend does not ask the House to decide this matter. The Board of Trade is asked to decide, and I myself think that the Board of Trade is the proper tribunal to do so. It may be that when the company puts its case before the Board of Trade, the Board of Trade would be bound to look with some sympathy upon a claim for a higher price, but anyone who reads the Amendment can see that the whole matter is left absolutely in the hands of the Board of Trade, and I really think that if the right honourable Gentleman looks at it from that point of view it will do away with his objection to it. Seeing that this Amendment has been supported on both sides of the House so strongly, and that the great populations in the North of London are alarmed and excited by the action of this company, I earnestly hope that the House will insist upon getting some definite promise from the Government before they refuse to support the Amendment.

MR. BURNS (Battersea)

The answer that the President of the Board of Trade made to the mover of the Amendment, although satisfactory for some subsequent occasion, does not fill the Bill for the present occasion. It seems to me that his speech rather admitted too much. First of all, he said that he was not willing nor able to defend the management of this particular gas company. That practically justified much of the criticism that has been given in this House. Secondly, the right honourable Gentleman admitted with greater force than any previous speaker that it was a matter to be regretted that this company should not have its gas at the same price as the other company. That being so, I should gather that it was the duty of the President of the Board of Trade to have accepted the Amendment of my honourable Friend, and to have made inquiry as to the price of gas supplied by the Southern Company, and to have made such representations to the Northern Company as would have satisfied the reasonable demands of the various parts of London upon this subject. I have to say one other thing. The honourable Member for Barnard Castle seems to be under the same impression that a number of other Members are—that whenever a monopoly is attacked in the interests of the public in this House, where a Private Bill Committee has perhaps sheltered that monopoly and taken its side, then the House of Commons is to ratify at once the decision of its Private Bill Committee. If we are to ratify the decisions of every Private Bill Committee upstairs, I venture to suggest that the House should sit for two months instead of six, and that immediately the Committees have done their work they should hand it to the Clerk at the Table, and thus dispose of the duty and function of Parliament to traverse, as is its right and duty, every piece of work done by every one of its Committees. The greater includes the less. The House of Commons has control over all its Committees, and I consider this to be a case in which the House of Commons ought to set aside the decision of the Committee and vote for the Amendment of my honourable Friend. We have heard Sir Robert Peel invoked to-day. It is curious how monopoly and the friends of monopoly can drag up Parliamentary traditions, and invoke the names of great statesmen who have passed away, in the interests of "cent. per cent.," and of monopolies which are unjustly exploiting the people of this country. But my answer to that argument about Sir Robert Peel is this—that when Sir Robert Peel made the speech that he did make, and which under the circumstances could be defended, monopoly had not grown to the enormous extent it has now grown to. It was not so insidious as it is now; it did not have so many friends inside and outside the House as it now has; and the whole of the circumstances have changed since his time. That argument disposes of that suggestion. But I appeal to honourable Members opposite. What are the facts with regard to this case? The London County Council with practical unanimity have supported the Amendment of my honourable Friend. The City Corporation—that never can be credited with revolutionary or with confiscatory tendencies—has also supported the London County Council in this respect. All the vestries, and particularly some of the Moderate and Conservative vestries, have supported the London County Council. Public meetings have been held all over London in which the conduct of this company has been unanimously condemned. And I venture to suggest to the Moderate and Conservative Members of the House of Commons that if they want to know one of the reasons why it is that Conservatism is losing its ground in London, especially in matters affecting local life, like these gas monopolies do, it is because the Moderate and Conservative elector in London very often is justly under the impression that the Moderate or Conservative Party in the House of Commons is too anxious to suit the convenience of monopoly, and not the interests of the ratepayers. It is to the interests of the ratepayers that this House should see that the monopolists are subservient to the public, and the reason why Conservatism is being suspected by the Conservative elector is because, in the House of Commons whenever a monopoly has to be attacked or held in check, or a vested interest controlled, we generally have Conservative or Moderate Members standing up and fighting, not in the interest of the public and in the interests of their constituents against monopoly, as they ought to do, but fighting with the monopolists, as they are doing on this particular occasion. I trust that the Amendment will be carried in the interests of five millions of people who have a right to appeal to the House of Commons to take sides with them as against the profit mongering of a gas monopoly which now takes 10 per cent. of dividends, and which is a rate of profit which ought to be limited in the interests and for the convenience of the people of London.

* SIR J. B. MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich)

We have heard such speeches as that before, and we are likely to hear many more. The question we have to deal with is a practical question. The House is asked to pass a new clause which would prevent conversion of the stock taking place until gas is supplied at 2s. 6d. That is practically the proposal, and we are told by different speakers that because South London gas is supplied at a cheaper rate, therefore it ought to be supplied at the same rate in the north. I ask any speaker to inquire as to the reason why the gas in the north of London costs more than it does in the south. It is the fact that the gas company in the north of London was over capitalised. Then the old system had worn out, and new pipes had to be put in; and then we have another important factor—that coal is delivered to the South London Gas Works at a much lower rate by water than in the north of London.


The Northern Company have their works at Beckton, lower down

the river than the South Metropolitan Works are.


It is a fact that coal is delivered cheaper to the south than to the north. I say, to put in a clause like this would be wrong. The public generally will gain instead of lose by the conversion of the stock. You are not asking the public to pay any money extra, but you are dividing the stock up in such a way that people of smaller incomes can invest, and when any money is required it can be obtained at a cheaper rate. I most thoroughly disagree with the time of the House of Commons being taken up with such questions as this. The production of a clause like this which has been thoroughly discussed in a Committee upstairs, seems to me to be a most absurd waste of time. I have no interest whatever in the gas company, but I have a very large interest in the consumption of gas, and I do say that I am convinced that the Gas Light and Coke Company manage their affairs as well as any other gas company in London, and when you take into consideration that by increasing the price of gas 2d. per 1,000 feet they lose a half per cent., I cannot understand why honourable Members do not see that they are as well able to look after their own interests and the interests of the public generally, as some of our Friends who have spoken in such strong terms as regards the management of this company. I do hope that the House will uphold its Committee, and so concur with the request of the company by a large majority.

Motion made, and Question put— That the clause be read the second time.

The House divided:—Ayes 109; Noes 214.—(Division List No. 130.)

Allan, Wm. (Gateshead) Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Colville, John
Allhusen, Augustus H. E. Burns, John Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Burt, Thomas Cozens-Hardy, Herbert H.
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Buxton, Sydney Charles Crilly, Daniel
Barlow, John Emmott Caldwell, James Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow) Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Davitt, Michael
Blake, Edward Causton, Richard Knight Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.
Brigg, John Cawley, Frederick Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Broadhurst, Henry Channing, Francis Allston Dillon, John
Brookfield, A. Montagu Clark, Dr. G. B.(Caithness-sh.) Doogan, P. C.
Brunner, Sir John T. Coghill, Douglas Harry Doughty, George
Duckworth, James McIver, Sir Lewis Shaw, Chas. E. (Stafford)
Buncombe, Hon. Hubert V. McKenna, Reginald Shee, James John
Fardell, Sir T. George Maddison, Fred. Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)
Fenwick, Charles Marks, Henry Hananel Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith) Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Souttar, Robinson
Ffrench, Peter Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J. Spicer, Albert
Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Steadman, William Charles
Graham, Henry Robert Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen) Strachey, Edward
Haldane, Richard Burdon Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose) Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Hanson, Sir Reginald Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Harwood, George Norton, Capt. Cecil William Tennant, Harold John
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Nussey, Thomas Willans Warner, Thomas C. T.
Hazell, Walter O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wedderburn, Sir William
Heath, James O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H. O'Kelly, James Williams, J. Carvell (Notts)
Hutton, All E. (Morley) Oldroyd, Mark Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk)
Jacoby, James Alfred Pirie, Duncan V. Wilson, H. J. (Yorks, W.R.)
Jessel, Capt. Herbert M. Priestley, Briggs (Yorks) Wilson, John (Govan)
Jones, D. B. (Swansea) Redmond, William (Clare) Woods, Samuel
Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Reid, Sir Robert T. Yoxall, James Henry
Laurie, Lieut.-General Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)
Leng, Sir John Robson, William Snowdon
Lewis, John Herbert Roche, Hon. J. (Kerry, E.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Lloyd-George, David Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye Mr. Pickersgill and Mr. Cochen.
Lough, Thomas Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Macaleese, Daniel Schwann, Charles E.
McArthur, Wm. (Cornwall) Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Coddington, Sir William Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs)
Allison, Robert Andrew Ceilings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Gull, Sir Cameron
Allsopp, Hon. George Colomb, Sir John Charles R. Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.
Ambrose, Wm. (Middlesex) Compton, Lord Alwyne Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.
Anstruther, H. T. Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Hardy, Laurence
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Hare, Thomas Leigh
Arrol, Sir William Crombie, John William Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Cross, H. S. (Bolton) Helder, Augustus
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lane) Henderson, Alexander
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Dalrymple, Sir Charles Hill, Rt. Hon. A. S. (Staffs)
Bainbridge, Emerson Denny, Colonel Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)
Baird, John Geo. Alexander Dorington, Sir John Edward Hoare, E. B. (Hampstead)
Balcarres, Lord Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)
Baldwin, Alfred Drage, Geoffrey Hornby, William Henry
Banbury, Frederick George Dunn, Sir William Hozier, Hon. James H. Cecil
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Ellis, John Edward (Notts) Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-
Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith- (Hunts) Farquharson, Dr. Robert Jebb, Richard Claverhouse
Bartley, George C. T. Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E. Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J . (Manc.) Johnson-Ferguson, J. E.
Beach, Rt, Hn. Sir M.H.(Brist'l) Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U.
Beach, W. W. B. (Hants) Finch, George H. Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Kenrick, William
Beresford, Lord Charles Firbank, Joseph Thomas Kenyon, James
Biddulph, Michael Fisher, William Hayes Kitson, Sir James
Bill, Charles FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose- Knowles, Lees
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Lafone, Alfred
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- FitzWygram, Gen. Sir F. Lambert, George
Boulnois, Edmund Flannery, Fortescue Lawrence, Sir E. (Cornwall)
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Mdsx.) Fletcher, Sir Henry Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Folkestone, Viscount Lawson, John G. (Yorks)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Fry, Lewis Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)
Brymer, William Ernest Galloway, William Johnson Legh, Hon. Thos. W. (Lancs)
Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Garfit, William Leighton, Stanley
Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward Gibbons, J. Lloyd Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Cavendish, R. F. (Lancs, N.) Gilliat, John Saunders Loder, Gerald Walter E.
Cavendish, V.C.W.(Derbysh.) Goddard, Daniel Ford Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Gold, Charles Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent)
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Gordon, Hon. John Edward Lowther, J. W. (Cumberland)
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Chelsea, Viscount Goulding, Edward Alfred Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Lucas-Shadwell, William Pretyman, Ernest George Tritton, Charles Ernest
Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.) Usborne, Thomas
Macartney, W. G. Ellison Purvis, Robert Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H.
Maclean, James Mackenzie Pym, C. Guy Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Maclure, Sir John William Quilter, Sir Cuthbert Walrond, Sir William Hood
McCalmont, Mj-Gn(Ant'm, N.) Rasch, Major Frederick Carne Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
McEwan, William Renshaw, Charles Bine Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
McKillop, James Richardson, J. (Durham) Webster, Sir R, E (I. of W.)
Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l) Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W. Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks) Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T. Wharton, Rt. Hon. John L.
Mildmay, Francis Bingham Royds, Clement Molyneux Whiteley, H. (Ashton-und-L.)
Milner, Sir Frederick George Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'hm) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Milton, Viscount Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)
Milward, Colonel Victor Rutherford, John Williams. J. Powell (Birm.)
Monk, Charles James Seely, Charles Hilton Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Morrison, Walter Sharpe, William Edward T. Willox, Sir John Archibald
Mowbray, Rt. Hon. Sir John Shaw-Stewart, M.H. (Renfrew) Wilson, Charles Henry (Hull)
Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.) Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Simeon, Sir Barrington Wodehouse, E. R. (Hath)
Myers, William Henry Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.) Woodall, William
Nicholson, William Graham Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Woodhouse, Sir JT(Hudd'rsf'ld)
Nicol, Donald Ninian Smith, James P. (Lanarksh.) Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Spencer, Ernest Wylie, Alexander
Paulton, James Mellor Stanley, Lord (Lancs) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland) Stanley, Edw. J. (Somerset) Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)
Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.) Stevenson, Francis S.
Penn, John Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Stone, Sir Benjamin Sir John Blundell Maple and Mr. Bucknill.
Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Thornton, Percy M.

Bill ordered to be read a third time.