HC Deb 20 June 1899 vol 73 cc76-103

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 7:—

Amendment proposed— In page 4, line 31, to leave out all the words from the beginning of the clause to the word 'after,' in line 32."—(Mr. Thomas Shaw.)

Question again, proposed "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."


I understand the object of my hon. and learned friend the Member for the Border Burghs, who moved this Amendment, is to raise the question whether after a local inquiry has been held on a Private Bill, the Bill should be referred again to an inquiry before a Departmental Committee. I would suggest to my hon. and learned friend that the form of the Amendment is somewhat inconvenient, and I doubt whether this clause is the proper place in which to raise the question. I think very great inconvenience would follow the acceptance of the Amendment. My hon. and learned friend proposes to leave out all the words at the beginning of the clause, but this is the very first place in the Bill where power is given to the Secretary for Scotland to do anything, and if my hon. and learned friend succeeds in his Amendment the result will be that the Secretary for Scotland will be precluded from doing anything at all until after a local inquiry. I think, therefore, that my hon. and learned friend would be well advised to withdraw his Amendment at this stage, and raise the question on Clause 9, which deals with the reference of Bills to a Joint Committee. There is also another reason why I would venture to suggest that this course should be taken. If we take a Division on the Amendment it will no doubt be rejected, and the result will be that the words in question will stand part of the clause. Now the words at the beginning of the clause require a great deal, I will not say of discussion, but of explanation. It seems to me that Clause 7 as it stands is unintelligible. "If there is no opposition to the Order," "the Secretary for Scotland may forthwith make the Order as prayed"; but if you turn to Clause 8 you find that that clause contemplates a case in which there is no opposition also, but an inquiry has been held, in which event a certain course of procedure is to be followed. It appears to me that Clause 7 should begin without mentioning absolutely that qualification, and then proceed as in Clause 8 to deal with the ease where there is no opposition to the Order, but where inquiry took place. There should be inserted some such phrase as "And if no inquiry has been held"; then the course which the right hon. the Lord Advocate suggested will be followed, and if an inquiry has been held then the other course is to be followed. The real antithesis is not between opposed and unopposed Bills, but between Bills on which a local inquiry has been held and those on which there has been no local inquiry. I suggest to the hon. and learned Member for the Border Burghs to withdraw his Amendment, and to raise it again on Clause 9. As I am dealing with the words that are in question now, I would also draw the attention of the Lord Advocate to the meaning of the word "forthwith," when it is considered in connection with the words which precede. I suppose it applies to cases in which the opposition has been withdrawn; then the Scotch Secretary may make the Order as contemplated. But in the case in which there is no opposition I do not know whether the word "forthwith" is seriously meant to be "at once," without giving time for opposition subsequently to arise. Then, again, there is another phrase which really will have to be carefully considered, and that is "either before or after inquiry has been held as herein-before provided." That is a case in which there has been opposition and the opposition has been withdrawn, or where the withdrawal has been made before or after the inquiry. I take it that that is what it must mean; but I think that it ought to be made more clear. And if that is what it does mean, a subsequent question will arise as to what the intention of Parliament really is on that part of the Bill. Assuming that to be the proper meaning of the clause, I would like to ask whether it is the intention of the Government, when there has been opposition, and when there has been inquiry, and possibly a Report, and that opposition has been withdrawn after the inquiry and Report, that the Secretary for Scotland should ignore altogether the inquiry and the Report, and proceed to make forthwith the Order as prayed. Although the clause contemplates that the withdrawal may take place after there has been inquiry before the Commissioners, and conceivably after the Commissioners have made their Report, it seems to me that four or five serious cases of misinterpretation may arise on these lines. If my hon. and learned friend were to persevere with his Amendment, he might preclude us, at this stage of the Bill, from considering the points I have raised. On that ground, and on the ground that he has chosen the wrong field on which to raise the question he wants to settle, and that he had better raise it on Clause 9, I venture to hope that he will withdraw his Amendment now, and allow us to take the discussion as to the meaning of the words of Clause 7.

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Border Burghs)

I am very anxious to facilitate any proceedings under this Bill. I must say that the right hon. and learned the Lord Advocate last night met me in a spirit which I thought would facilitate the discussion. He took my first Amendment, which is part of a scheme which I have set up before the House, and, so taking it, I thought that we should discuss at this stage the general scheme, which is, Should there be a Parliamentary inquiry in Scotland, and also on the back of that a Parliamentary inquiry in London? I do not propose to withdraw my Amendment, but I propose to go on with the discussion on it, and to accept loyally the decision that may be taken upon it, and that decision will not be met by me in any spirit of obstruction. I wish, if I may be allowed, to make a direct appeal to the Leader of the House on this subject. I may explain that the position of the Amendments which I have placed on the Paper is this. We have now secured by the concession granted by the Government that the tribunal which will hold these inquiries shall sit locally. In accordance with the views so clearly expressed by the Leader of the House yesterday, both Houses of Parliament, by their Joint Committee, are to visit the spot affected by the Bill and there make their inquiry. If that is so, my idea is that the Bill will be upset as to all the advantages of cheapness and promptitude if you re-duplicate another Parliamentary proceeding in England. I may say that I appeal to the Leader of the House, because what I am now doing is completely confirmed by what the Government did in a former part of the Unionist régime. In the session of 1892 the right hon. Gentleman himself introduced a Bill in the House of Commons, which certainly did not set up a Parliamentary inquiry on the spot, but what was clearly what I may call an extra-Parliamentary inquiry for the information of Parliament. But the right hon. Gentleman's scheme in that Bill was so completely in accord with my Amendment that one of the sections of the Bill was to the effect that if the preamble were proved before he Gram! Committee, then the Bill was sent to a Third Reading in this House, and not to a Select Committee. That is exactly what I want to achieve by the present Amendment. I find that that was the settled policy of the Government of that day, because under the Act of 1891 there were clauses applicable to subsequent procedure in Parliament, and one of these clauses was in this form that, whatever happened, and whatever was to be done after the report of the local inquiry, the parties should not be entitled to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. I only say that to confirm the view, which I hope is shared on both sides of the House, that the value of this Bill will be largely dissipated if, while you save expense by taking Parliament to Scotland, much more expense will be heaped up again by bringing the local persons to Westminster. I regret that I cannot agree to the withdrawal of the Amendment, for that, I am afraid, would be to waste the time of the Committee, but I shall loyally accept the decision of the Committee upon it.


The understanding in Scotland has certainly been that the local inquiry was to conic in substitution of an inquiry, in London, whereas, from the statement made last night by the right hon. and learned the Lord Advocate, it now appears that in certain circumstances there is to be a local inquiry plus a Parliamentary inquiry in London. If this is really the intention of the Government, I think that they will be very much disappointed with the reception of their proposal. There has been in many quarters a distinct recognition of the merits of local inquiry, and it was certainly with the idea that it was to be one inquiry. Whereas, if you have first of all the expense and trouble connected with an inquiry on the spot, with witnesses called and so forth, and if, after all, that has to be gone over again in London, it will not answer the purpose for which it was understood this Bill was framed. The idea has always been that this change was to bring about simplicity and cheapness, but instead of that we shall have complication and increased expenditure. The Lord Advocate contended that it was necessary to do this in order to secure Parliamentary control, but under the scheme shadowed last night there will be abundant Parliamentary control. The new Committee is to be constituted of Members of the two Houses of Parliament, and when their Report is framed it is to come on at what may be called the Report stage for confirmation by the House. What more Parliamentary control is needed? If I were an opponent of this measure I should certainly welcome the course which the Government has taken, because I am satisfied that it will quite reverse the idea in Scotland of the purpose of this Bill. In place of its being popular, it will become an unpopular measure when the municipalities and all those interested in the matter find that, instead of having a single inquiry and a single Report, we are to have this double procedure. I appeal to the Lord Advocate and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, if they wish this Bill to be appreciated in Scotland, that they should abandon altogether the idea of a second inquiry in London after there has been an inquiry in Scotland.

MR. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)

The second inquiry will practically vitiate all benefits of the Bill, and if the object of the Amendment is to prevent a second inquiry I shall certainly vote for it.

MR. RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)

Following the remarks which the hon. Member for Dundee made to the Committee just now, I should like to point out that this is not a surprise to those who have been following this Bill. The hon. Member for Dundee rather seems to think that this matter was sprung upon us last night by a statement by the First Lord. That is not the case. I am perfectly certain that very loud objections would have been heard in many parts of Scotland if it had not been that a provision of this kind had been inserted. Because, after all, what would be the position of people who would conic to the House under the clause we are now considering? I understand that we are considering the whole of this case under the Amendment, and any Division which is taken upon this Amendment practically decides the whole matter. The position is this. There will be a local inquiry, when the parties interested will have an opportunity of being heard. If, after that inquiry, people in the locality discover that they are going to be affected in a way in which they did not believe they were going to be affected at the time of the application for the Provisional Order, then, unless another inquiry is possible, there will be no opportunity of being heard or of making their objection effective. I do hope that the Government will express their intention of adhering to the provision of this measure, as it has been before the House and before the country for so long a time. It is a matter of the greatest anxiety to those who are interested whether so vital a change in the Bill is going to be made.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I do not wish to express a final opinion as to the right course to be taken until we have heard the opinion of the Government further on the matter. But there are two points which strike me as being worthy of consideration. One is, and I say this with deference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Renfrew, that the whole system of the Bill has been entirely changed by the introduction of a provision that the first inquiry shall he held by a Committee consisting of Members of the two Houses. That meets the difficulty which was felt in the first instance by the Government when they framed the Bill, of removing the control of Parliament. The control of Parliament is now absolute, and therefore in that respect the Bill is entirely different from what it was originally. There is, therefore, I think, a prima facie case for the consideration of this Amendment by the Government. The second remark which occurs to me is this. Under Clause 9 it will be a matter of course that a Bill on being referred back to the House by the Secretary for Scotland will automatically go before the Joint Committee. Is it necessary that the inquiry before that body should be an automatic one? Should it not rather be for those who desire another inquiry to make their case out for such a course, and that a special order of the House or some authority should be necessary before that further inquiry takes place?


This matter, so far from being a new departure, which the hon. Member for Dundee seems to think, is really one of the topics that have been most discussed. I should be sorry to say how many speeches I have made on this Bill, but in those speeches, and not only in the speeches on this Bill, but on other Bills, I have again and again been confronted with the question of Parliamentary control. Unless I am a very bad judge of the general feeling of the House, I think this Amendment is a complete volte face on the question. I quite understand that the constitution of the Committee of Inquiry has been changed, and now commands the confidence of hon. Members in a way in which the original proposal did not, but we must reflect that in every form of Parliamentary inquiry hitherto known an opportunity has always been given to an opponent to have an appeal on the merits. For instance, in the case of a Private Bill, after an inquiry in the one House the opponent can always renew the inquiry in the other House. Moreover, so careful is Parliament in the matter of Provisional Orders that we give the possibility not of two but of three inquiries. Accepting all the confidence placed by hon. Members in the tribunal which has been now constituted, surely four Members of Parliament going down to Scotland are not necessarily much wiser than if they had stayed in Westminster, and accordingly it would be a very strong step to take away from an opponent, who must be deeply interested, this appeal upon the merits. Therefore, both on the merits of the case and because I cannot go back on what I look upon as my pledges to the great body of the House, I am not able to accept the Amendment.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I am very much amused at the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because I remember that the present Lord Justice Clerk, when he was Lord Advocate, laid it down in a Bill which we discussed for several weeks that it was the most important point in the measure that there should be no appeal from the local tribunal. What the Lord Advocate then fought for was that the Commissioners should have an inquiry, but that if there was an appeal and the matter again came before Parliament, that it should be referred back again to the same Commission upon special points. If, after the inquiry had been made, it could be shown that something had been overlooked, then the Commission would again report to the House. But both Houses in the clauses of that Bill were absolutely prevented from appointing a Select Committee or from doing anything else than referring it back again to the Commis- sioners. There are two strong arguments against having a double inquiry. The first is that it is what everyone has been trying for many years past to get remedied and reformed, and the Committee of 1888 and everybody interested in this question have always been in favour of a Joint Committee inquiry, which is partly judicial and partly legislative. One of the good things in this Bill we have always agreed is that there would be a Joint Committee of both Houses, and that both Houses would be compelled to receive their Report. You have taken away the Chairmen and the Secretary for Scotland, so that the opponent will have an absolute right to come to Parliament. You will have had all the local costs, and you will have the second costs here. Everyone in this House who is acquainted with the matter knows that the reason why, in 1846, 1847, and 1848, the local inquiries were unsatisfactory and Parliament had to repeal the Act giving local inquiries was because those who held the inquiries were not persons who ought to decide questions of this sort. In this Joint Committee of Lords and Commons there is everything that we desire, and if the decision were appealed against it would only be an appeal to the same class of persons. The second argument is that it may be difficult to get Members of both Houses to go down to Scotland, and it would be much more difficult if some other gentlemen could easily be appealed to afterwards to undo the work. You would not find Members of either House eager to go and do this work if what they did was to be set aside in this manner. It is a novelty, and I hope the First Lord of the Treasury will support what on a former occasion he considered the best plan. Now that we have got the kind of Commissioners we have always considered would be the best for the purpose, I hope the Bill will be passed in this form, because it will then be a very good Bill. But I am afraid, with these double costs and double appeals, instead of being useful and effecting the reforms we expect it to do, it will be very prejudicial and very costly.

MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, East)

I consider that the present Amendment carries out the objects of the promoters of this Bill, because I always understood that its object was to simplify and render less costly and more convenient the procedure in regard to Private Bill legislation in certain parts of the United Kingdom. The Lord Advocate's speech really seemed to be not in defence of the Bill, but in defence of the present system. He spoke of the necessity of there always being an appeal on the merits, and he instanced the present system of hearing the same case twice over by Committees of the two Houses. That is a point upon which I thought everybody was agreed—that it would be desirable in most cases, at all events, to substitute one Joint Committee for two separate Committees. I am afraid that the critical nature of this question is hardly appreciated. The Government have made very large and important changes in their Bill, the most important no doubt being the creation of what is practically a tribunal of the two Houses sitting locally in all sorts of places in Scotland. What is to follow? According to the Government's own plan, if a Bill reported and passed by this local Parliamentary tribunal is unopposed, the control of this House is to be maintained by passing this Order through the Report and Third Reading stages, and on either of those occasions there will be an opportunity for amending or rejecting the provisions of the Order. That is considered necessary in the case of unopposed Bills. Surely that is sufficient protection for preserving the Parliamentary control—which we all value—in the case of opposed Bills, considering that these opposed Bills have been sifted—and, we are entitled to assume, carefully sifted—by a Committee composed of Members of each House. It has been suggested that we ought to follow the analogy of the Provisional Order system. But Provisional Orders in the first instance are not made by Joint Committees; they are made by an official of a public Department sent down to make a local inquiry, and it is eminently necessary in such cases that there should be Parliamentary control. But the case is not analogous. The Government have already conceded the full Parliamentary tribunal, and there can no longer he any shadow of excuse in the matter of these gas and water inquiries for having an appeal from the local Committee to what is evidently a similar tribunal in London. If the Government insist upon this, they will make the Bill quite useless for the purpose for which it was intended. It will no longer provide a simpler and less costly pro- cedure; it will become a dead letter, and the object which the great majority of the House has at heart—that of reforming this procedure and making it more convenient for localities—will be entirely defeated.

MR. SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)

I desire to say a word or two on this question; first, because it is a very important point; secondly, because the Lord Advocate has been so conciliatory with regard to many points; and thirdly, because I think we are going to get a very good Bill for Scotland, and it is a pity that it should be spoilt. The alterations that have been made have made us believe that we are going to get a fine, good-working measure. If the Lord Advocate would accept this Amendment it would be entirely in accordance with all that he has been saying and doing with regard to the Bill—not as it originally stood, but as it now stands. When we were discussing the question of making it optional to promoters to apply for either Provisional Order or Private Bill as they might feel inclined, he very strongly impressed upon the House the necessity for making it compulsory; because, he said, it would be entirely to the advantage of the rich suitor as against the poor one if it were otherwise. Now he is neutralising that action, because he knows perfectly well that the only man who can appeal to London and have a second inquiry is the rich man. The appeal to the House of Lords to-day is the privilege of the rich man, and it will be exactly the same with regard to this. The Lord Advocate also said once or twice that it is a great protection that the appellant may be mulcted in costs. But that, again, is entirely to the advantage of the rich man, because the rich man does not care what the costs may be. The second reason why I think this Amendment would be entirely in accordance with the Bill as now amended arises from this fact. We were all agreed that it was exceedingly desirable that there should be some means of Parliamentary control—first, because we were doubtful about the tribunal, and, secondly, because we did not want to put too much power in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland. The tribunal is now all right. Just as the courts of law move through the country, Parliament is going to move through the country, and we have great confidence that the tribunal, as the Lord Advocate has now established it, will be exceedingly satisfactory. Parliamentary control is also all right. A provision has been inserted which gives Parliament the right in connection with every measure to have the final word. Therefore there is no reason, as far as I can see, why control should be heaped upon control, and expense heaped upon expense; and if there is no reason for it, there is every reason against it. The first is the expense. There is not the slightest doubt that, unless this or sonic other Amendment like it is accepted, the expense will be increased to such an extent as to endanger the action of this otherwise excellent Bill. The second reason is the lack of responsibility which there will be upon the Committee, because the Members will feel that the case will, after all, be tried in London; and just as a grand jury always argue that it is not worth going into the question, because the common jury will go into it thoroughly, so the members of the Committee will argue that, as the case is going up to London, they need not inquire very carefully into its merits. Nor could it be at all for the dignity of the Committee that there decisions should be reversed. I do trust that the Lord Advocate will act with regard to this as he has acted with regard to so many matters, and will take away this blot from that which I believe is going to be a very excellent Scotch Bill.

MR. CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)

Undoubtedly this Amendment, if accepted, will alter the whole framework of the Bill, both as regards suitors and as regards the control of this House. May I remind the Committee of what the alteration is? As the Bill originally stood you were to select your local tribunal or panel, partly of Members of Parliament and partly appointed from outside. What is your position? You still select your members from the panel, but you are merely giving preference to the Members of both Houses of Parliament. If they refuse to serve it will be exactly the same tribunal as before. I am as anxious as anyone to have simplification and economy, but it would be a very great mistake to have the simplicity and economy at the expense of justice. The number of appeals is infinitesimal after local inquiry has been held; but it is only right when an appeal does come up that justice should be done and the case be properly heard. There is another argument to which I should like to draw attention. Of course there will be a question as to whether the procedure will be based on Private Bill procedure. I apprehend that the considerable factor in the question will be the nature and character of the Bill. If it is so constituted that you have this right of appeal I think there would be a very much stronger argument for this procedure than if there were no right of appeal at all. Therefore in the interests of this measure we ought to put it on the justest possible basis. There is not one change in the form of the Bill which would justify a clause of this kind. I think if hon. Gentlemen had been in this House yesterday they would know that what the Lord Advocate said was true, that this Amendment would upset the basis of the Bill.


I only want to say one word in answer to the hon. Member for Leith. The Committee will no doubt be surprised to hear that from the year 1888 to 1897 inclusive there were 1,973 Provisional Orders confirmed by the House of Commons. There were only seventy-five of those in which there was opposition, and in only seven cases was that opposition successful. If that is so, and that tribunal was not so good as the one which is now about to be set up, it goes without saying there will be many less appeals.


If there is so little ground for appeal, then I cannot see the necessity for this machinery. The people first of all wish for local inquiry, and we in this House have stipulated that if there is a local inquiry it shall also be a Parliamentary inquiry in the locality. If it is a Parliamentary inquiry we need not have another Parliamentary inquiry here. So long as it is not a Parliamentary inquiry, and our jealousy and our suspicions of the somewhat singular series of tribunals that have existed for some years is in full flow, we ought to have a chance to appeal to the Parliamentary wisdom of the country. I do not, on the whole, think that there is anything in the point that has been urged. If the matter is to come up again in the form of a Parliamentary Committee you will have great difficulty in getting Members of Parliament to go down on the Committee of local inquiry. They will probably say, "Why should we go down to Aberdeen or Inverness, or some other remote corner of the earth in order to do this service to the country when we can do it just as well here?" At the present moment a Member thinks that to go down to Scotland will not only do him good, but that he can do public service at the

same time. Do not let us destroy the work of our hands by setting up a tribunal which is to reverse or supervise what has been done with so much labour on this spot.

Question put.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 206; Noes, 140. (Division List No. 201.)

Acland Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Curzon, Viscount Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Aird, John Dalkeith, Earl of Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Allhusen, A. Henry Eden Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)
Arrol, Sir William Dorington, Sir John Edward Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lowe, Francis William
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Doxford, William Theodore Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Drage, Geoffrey Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bailey, James (Walworth) Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Lucas-Shadwell, William
Baird, John George Alexander Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Macartney, W. G. E.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J.(Manch'r) Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E. Macdona, John Cumming
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G.W.(Leeds) Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manr.) M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Banbury, Frederick George Finch, George H. Manners, Lord Edw. Wm. J.
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Maple, Sir John Blundell
Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S.-(Hunts) Fisher, William Hayes Martin, Richard Biddulph
Bartley, George C. T. Fison, Frederick William Maxwell, Rt Hn. Sir Herbert E.
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Fitz Wygram, General Sir F. Middlemore, J. Throgmorton
Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin Flannery, Sir Fortescue Milbank, Sir Powlett C. John
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H.(Bristol) Fletcher, Sir Henry Milward, Colonel Victor
Beach, W. W. Bramston (Hants.) Flower, Ernest Monk, Charles James
Beckett, Ernest William Folkestone, Viscount Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)
Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Mount, William George
Blakiston-Houston, John Fry, Lewis Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G.(Bute)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Galloway William Johnson Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)
Bolitho, Thomas Bedford Garfit, William Myers, William Henry
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans) Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Godson, Sir Augustus Fred. Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Boulnois, Edmund Goldsworthy, Major-General Pease, Herbt. P. (Darlington)
Bousfield, William Robert Gordon, Hon. John Edward Pierpoint, Robert
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon Pollock, Harry Frederick
Brassey, Albert Goselden, Rt Hn G J(St. George's Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Goschen, George J.(Sussex) Pretyman, Ernest George
Brookfield, A. Montagu Goulding, Edward Alfred Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Bullard, Sir Harry Greville, Hon. Ronald Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Butcher, John George Halsey, Thomas Frederick Purvis, Robert
Campbell, Rt. Hn. J.A.(Glas.) Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. Pym, C. Guy
Carlile, William Walter Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. Rentoul, James Alexander
Cavendish, R.F.(N. Lancs.) Hatch, Ernest Fredk. Geo. Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Heaton, John Henniker Ridley, Rt Hon Sir Matthew W.
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Ritchie, Rt Hon Chas Thomson
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Hornby, Sir William Henry Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.) Houldsworth, Sir W. Henry Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Chamberlain, J. A (Worc'r) Howard, Joseph Round, James
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hozier, Hon. Jas. Henry Cecil Royds, Clement Molyneux
Charrington, Spencer Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Chelsea, Viscount Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.) Rutherford, John
Clarke, Sir Edward (Plym.) Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)
Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E. Johnston, William (Belfast) Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Coddington, Sir William Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Seton-Karr, Henry
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. Sharpe, William Edward T.
Colomb, Sir John Charles R. Kimber, Henry Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Laurie, Lieut.-General Simeon, Sir Barrington
Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Lawrence, Sir E. Durn'g- (Cor.) Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Cranborne, Viscount Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Cripps, Charles Alfred Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Spencer, Ernest
Cross, Herb. Shep. (Bolton) Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)
Cruddas, William Donaldson Llewellyn, Sir Dillywn-(Swan.) Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset
Stanley, Lord (Lancs.) Warr, Augustus Frederick Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Stock, James Henry Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras) Wortley, Ht. Hon. C. B. S.-
Stone, Sir Benjamin Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E. Wyndham, George
Strauss, Arthur Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L) Wyndham-Quin, Maj. W. H.
Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Whitmore, Charles Algernon Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Sutherland, Sir Thomas Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Tomlinson, W. E. Murray Williams, Joseph P. (Birm'm)
Valentia, Viscount Willox, Sir John Archibald TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.) Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Wanklyn, James Leslie Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Palmer, Sir Ch. M. (Durham)
Allen, Wm (Newc. under Lyme) Hammond, John (Carlow) Palmer, George W. (Reading)
Allison, Robert Andrew Harwood, George Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)
Asquith, Rt. hon. Herb. Hy. Rayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Pilkington, Sir GA(Lancs SW)
Baker, Sir John Hazell, Walter Pinkerton, John
Barlow, John Emmott Hedderwick, Thos. C. H. Power, Patrick Joseph
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Ch. H. Price, Robert John
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hobhouse, Henry Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Billson, Alfred Hogan, James Francis Richardson, J.(Durham, S.E.)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Horniman, Frederick John Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)
Bryce, Right Hon. James Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Samuel, J. (Stockton on Tees)
Burns, John Jacoby, James Alfred Schwann, Charles E.
Buxton, Sydney Charles Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E. Scott, C. Prestwich (Leigh)
Caldwell, James Joicey, Sir James Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Jordan, Jeremiah Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Kearley, Hudson E. Souttar, Robinson
Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth Spicer, Albert
Causton, Richard Knight Kitson, Sir James Stewart, Sir Mk. J. Taggart
Cawley, Frederick Langley, Batty Strachey, Edward
Channing, Francis Allston Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Sullivan Donal (Westmeath)
Clark, Dr. G. B.(Caithness-sh.) Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)
Clough, Walter Owen Leng, Sir John Tennant, Harold John
Colville, John Leuty, Thomas Richmond Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Commins, Andrew Lewis, John Herbert Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen E.
Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow) Lloyd-George, David Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr
Crilly, Daniel Lough, Thomas Thorburn, Walter
Crombie, John William Lyell, Sir Leonard Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) Macaleese, Daniel Wallace, Robert
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) MacDonnell, Dr MA(Queen's C Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.
Dalrymple, Sir Charles MacNeill, J. Gordon Swift Wedderburn, Sir William
Dalziel, James Henry M'Ewan, William Weir, James Galloway
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan M'Ghee, Richard Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Devitt, Michael M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.) Williams, John Carvell (Notts)
Denny, Colonel M'Kenna, Reginald Wills, Sir William Henry
Donelan, Captain A. M'Killop, James Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull)
Doogan, P. C. Maddison, Fred. Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Duckworth, James Mappin, Sir Fredk. Thorpe Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Dunn, Sir William Mendl, Sigismund F. Wilson, John (Govan)
Evershed, Sydney Moore, Arthur (Londonderry) Woodhall, William
Farrell, J. P. (Cavan, W.) Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carm'rth'n) Woodhouse, Sir J. T.(Hud'rsf'd)
Fenwick, Charles Morgan, W. Pritchd.(Merthyr) Woods, Samuel
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Moulton, John Fletcher Wylie, Alexander
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Yoxall, James Henry
Fowler, Rt. Hon Sir Henry O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Gibney, James O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.) Mr. Herbert Gladstone and
Gold, Charles Oldroyd, Mark Mr. Munro Ferguson.

Bill read the second time, and committed for To-morrow.


The Amendment which stands in my name is in furtherance of my promise to hon. Members, and it is practically the Amendment of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark with certain alterations, which according to the best authorities of the House ought to be made. The object of the hon. Member was to give Parliamentary control in the case of unopposed Orders, and to prevent there being any Committee stage here, and enable the Bill after introduction to at once pass to the Consideration stage.

Amendment proposed— In page 5, line 10, to leave out sub-section (2), and insert—'(2) No order so made shall be of any validity unless it has been confirmed by Parliament; and the Secretary for Scotland shall, as soon as conveniently may be, submit such order to Parliament in a Bill (hereinafter referred to as a Confirmation Bill), and such Bill, after introduction, shall be deemed to have passed through all its stages up to and including Committee, and shall be ordered to be considered in either House as if reported from a Committee. When such Bill has been read a third time in the first House of Parliament the like proceedings shall, subject to Standing Orders, be taken in the second House of Parliament. Any Act passed to confirm such Order shall be deemed to be a public Act of Parliament.'"—(The Lord Advocate.)

Amendment agreed to.

Other Amendments made.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8:—

Amendments made.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9:—


The Amendment standing in my name is, I think, an important one, because of the procedure in Parliament, and I should like to call the attention of the Lord Advocate to the Act of 1888, because the words that I propose to insert are taken from that Act verbatim. This House will recollect that the scheme of that Bill was that first of all there should be an inquiry before the Board of Trade, and that after that there should be a joint inquiry of both Houses. The intention from the outset was that there should be a Joint Committee, but it was not put as a statutory obligation upon this House or the House of Lords that they were to appoint a Joint Committee. That has never been clone. What has been done is that the matter has been left for either House to deal with under the Standing Orders. I think that it would be an unfortunate thing if we were to allow the procedure in the House of Commons or the House of Lords to be decided in this way by Statute instead of by way of Standing Orders. My submission is that a Bill passed through this House ought to be subject to our Standing Order procedure, and under these circumstances I beg to move the Amendment.

Amendment proposed— In page 6, line 24, to leave out from 'shall,' to end of sub-section, and insert 'so far as it relates to the matter petitioned against, be referred to a Select Committee, or, if the two Houses of Parliament think fit so to order, to a Joint Committee of such Houses, and the petitioner shall be allowed to appear and oppose, as in the case of a Private Bill.'"—(Mr. Cripps.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."


I think I have already, in the course of the discussion, given practically the answer to the argument of my hon. friend, and his logic does not carry the matter much further. If he is right, it is quite obvious that we can never have private legislation by Bill at all, because private legislation is subject to the Standing Orders of this House. We wish to alter that, and if we cannot put into an Act of Parliament, and if we do not put into the Bill, something which curtails the procedure of the House under the Standing Orders, we cannot have the Bill at all. Surely in these days that is necessary if you wish to make a real reform in this case. If we accept the suggestion of my hon. and learned friend there can be no certainty with regard to its effect, for each year the procedure may be altered by the Standing Orders either of one House or the other.


The hon. Member for Stroud, as has been pointed out by the Lord Advocate, is not consistent with the Amendment which he moves. He must feel that it is impossible for him to give effect to his object by this Bill. I support the contention of the Lord Advocate.

* SIR F S. POWELL (Wigan)

I think it is a great departure from sound principles that the procedure of this House should in any way be controlled by the statute law. I think it is a derogation from the dignity attaching to proceedings in Parliament. The Lord Advocate says that it is necessary to adopt his words in order to carry his intentions; but I do not think it is necessary, and my hon. and learned friend has showed us the way of escaping that. If that is done the freedom of Parliament will remain unimpaired. That appears tome to be a strong argument in favour of the Amendment, because under it we shall be able to alter our Standing Orders. Those Standing Orders have been changed from time to time with great benefit to the carrying on of our proceed ings, and also with great benefit to the community. Therefore I think that argument tells in favour of the Amendment, and not against it. I sincerely regret the action of the Government in this matter. They do not explain what is to be this procedure in regard to the cost, or by what means the House of Commons and House of Lords will have control under this provision.


Every Bill has a clause of this kind in it, and this is a most important precedent, for we have always desired to hold in our own hands the control of the money. Now this Government has brought in a Bill by which the whole matter has been entirely changed. In several Bills which have been passed this session the financial control has passed away from this House entirely.


This is a matter in which I should like to see a change, and if I had the opportunity I should make an attempt to alter this system. I want to put one point to the Lord Advocate. Admittedly, this is an experimental Bill, and it may be highly desirable to leave liberty of action to this House, and to follow the method of procedure by Standing Orders. It might be found desirable and of the greatest possible advantage to do the very thing which the second sub-section of this clause prohibits being done and which is made unlawful. This would be swept away by the consequential Amendments which come after. It does seem to me to be most highly desirable that this House should not part with its powers of dealing with financial matters under exceptional forms of legislation. Of course, to my mind, the first sub-section is, to a considerable extent, guarded, because it is provided that it shall be subject to the Standing Orders, but the obnoxious words are those which provide that it shall not be lawful to refer a Confirmation Bill to a Select Committee. I think it is a very undesirable thing to say that it shall not be lawful for Parliament to do a thing which it is very desirable that Parliament should do. It is a very dangerous thing to infringe the power of Parliament by varying the Standing Orders. When you have found that a Standing Order is incomplete or impossible to be fulfilled, or desirable for any reason to be altered, you have the power to alter it; but if you pass a cast-iron Act of Parliament, and make it unlawful to refer a Confirmation Bill to a Select Committee, then I think you are setting up a very dangerous principle, and you are practically tying the hands of Parliament. My hon. and learned friend would put an end to this by his Amendment. I do not say at all that we should never in any degree alter the practice, but we should leave it open to Parliament to follow the old practice, and I think it is extremely desirable to leave it in the power of Parliament to do that.


What we are dealing with here is the procedure in Parliament itself. The point is, Are we to have these statutory regulations or be governed by our Standing Orders when Bills are passing through this House? I want it to be clearly understood that the reason why I raise this point is not that I desire to alter the substance of the Bill. Why should we go against constitutional precedents? It is all very well to say that this is only one particular instance, but if you once start by going against constitutional precedents you may find them heaped up against you in many ways. We do not want to put our procedure in antagonism to statutory procedure, for that would be most unfortunate. The right hon. gentleman said that another Joseph may arise.


No, I said that another king may arise.


Why should we lose the power of control which we ought to have, and of which, of all others, we should not be deprived? It is quite clear that if we sought in this House to do something which was inconsistent with statutory regulations we could be restrained in some form or another. The exact form may be difficult to explain, but we should be restrained because there would be a larger power than ourselves. Do not let us be led away by these false analogies, because what we are dealing with here is not subject to procedure in Parliament. The question is, Are we to give up our control in regard to procedure while these matters are before the House? I consider that that is an extremely important constitutional point. I do not think there is any substance in my hon. friend's objection. I think it is a mistake to bring about a change of this kind, and surely it is a mistake to interfere with our constitutional privileges, and I hope we shall not be led away with the idea that the precedent which will be established is not a large one.


There is also another question, and it is that this House has the constitutional right to regulate its own procedure with regard to the Bills passing through this House. If we desire to hind the other House as well as this House we can only do it by Statute.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The Amendment which I have to propose is one which I think will save a great deal of expense.

Amendment proposed— In page 6, line 24, after 'referred, to' insert 'together with the evidence taken before the Conunissioners.'"—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I think anyone who has had any experience of judicial work will recognise that there is really nothing so difficult as for an untrained person to come to a determination upon evidence not laid before himself, but before another body. Without the slightest disrespect to Parliamentary Committees, which are well fitted to get a general view of what passes before them, I do think that they have not that specific training which is necessary in dealing with matters of this kind.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, "That Clause 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill."


Upon this question I do not propose to take any Division, and I intend to carry out the undertaking I gave upon a former occasion. I would like, however, to say just one word, and that is, that as regards Clauses 8 and 9 of this Bill I think no one can read them without seeing how very complex and extremely expensive the whole procedure will become under the Bill. The second matter to which I wish to draw attention is that I hope Her Majesty's Government will read the Division list upon the Amendment which I submitted to the House, because I think a perusal of that list will show that substantially the opinion of Scotland is united in desiring that there shall be no double inquiry as provided by this measure. That is my concluding observation, and in the interest of the progress of the Bill itself, in view of the Report stage, I hope the Government may be able to make some arrangement under which any opposition to the Bill may be at last taken out of the way by a concession which will satisfy not only Scotch opinion as a whole, but even the opinion of other parts of the country which was represented so powerfully in the last Division list.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12:—


I think the Committee will appreciate the importance of having such an adviser as the referee or the legal assessor, and I think it is extremely desirous that whether it consists of Parliament or the members of the Council they should have the benefit of legal advice when it is necessary.

Amendment proposed— In page 7, line 29, after 'such,' to insert 'legal assessors."—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I do not think that the Bill will be strengthened by this Amendment. Assessors may contribute too little or contribute too much, and in the latter case they would have a deal of power and no responsibility, and in that dilemma you get better results without legal assessors at all.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14:—

MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

I think before this clause is added to the Bill we ought to congratulate the Government on the great step they have taken in the direction indicated by the clause. As I understand it every Member of Parliament who has to go down to Scotland to discharge these duties will get his travelling expenses and subsistence allowance. It is a very short step now to payment of Members, and I think the Government are to be congratulated on their action.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 15:—


I understand the Government themselves intend to modify the clause before the Report stage.


I intend to make sundry changes before the Report stage, and if the hon. Member wishes I will take out Sub-section 2.


The Amendment which stands in my name was placed on the Paper for the purpose of bringing before the Committee the question of fees. Continual complaint is made in connection with Private Bill legislation, more particularly in the case of unopposed Bills, that the House fees are excessive. The Committee which considered this Bill stated in their Report that the amount of the fees of the two Houses in 1888 was on an average about £60,000, while the expenditure on Private Bill business was from £15,000 to £20,000. The fees paid in 1897 amounted to £54,176, while the expenses were only £21,680, leaving a profit of £32,496. The Committee strongly recommended that those responsible for the fixing of the fees should materially reduce them.


I do not think the question of fees can be raised on this Bill. The question of dealing with fees applicable to Private Bills has no relation to the discussion in this clause, which deals with fees for Provisional Orders.


The Amendment provides for fees for Provisional Orders.


If the hon. Member looks at the Amendment, he will see it contains the words, "Bills and."


Then I will omit these words, and move the rest of the Amendment.

Amendment proposed— In page 8, line 9, after 'Provisional Orders,' to insert, provided that such scale of fees shall be framed with regard to the expenses actually incurred under this Act in connection there with.'"—(Sir John Leng.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


It is certainly our intention to provide a scale of fees under the Act which shall be self-supporting, but everything of that sort must be done with the consent of the Treasury. Obviously it would be quite out of place in this Bill to give directions as to what the fees of the House should be. The hon. Member may therefore be content with what I tell him is our intention, but I should not like to be hampered by the actual words of the Amendment.


The Amendment is an indication to the Treasury as to what should be done in framing the scale of fees. I have brought this question two or three times before the House, and I have always found the greatest difficulty in finding out who imposed the fees, and my questions have been evaded one way or another. At the same time I am quite willing to accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman, but I for one will continue to hammer away at this question until I have made some impression on the Treasury. I do not think the country is aware that so great a profit is made out of Private Bill legislation.


The probability is that this Bill will compel the reform which my hon. friend desires, because the Chairmen and the Secretary for Scotland will only fix such fees as will be necessary to cover the cost, and it would of course be ridiculous to allow Scotchmen to get Private Bills in this cheap fashion while Englishmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen are subjected to the present tax. Justice demands that what is done for Scotland should also be done for England, Ireland, and Wales. We in this House charge a certain rate, whereas the House of Lords charges so much per cent., and I think that both Houses should have a uniform rate.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 16:—


I would ask the right hon. Gentleman how the two systems will work side by side—the system established by this Bill and the present Provisional Order system. As I understand it, the latter system is to go on precisely as at present; but, on the other hand, the first clause of the Bill states that when any public authority or persons desire to obtain Parliamentary powers they shall proceed by presenting a petition to the Secretary for Scotland.


The hon. Member is quite right, with one little correction. It is felt that in certain cases it would be rash to take away, for instance, the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade, which has worked well for years, and the power of the Board as to Provisional Orders will remain as at present.


Why should not local authorities be able to get under this Act power for electric lighting? They can go to the Secretary for Scotland for a water Bill, or a gas Bill, or a tramway Bill, and get it by this cheap method. Why not a Bill for electric lighting also? If a local authority wants electric lighting it runs the risk of having three fights: one before the local inspector, another in this House, and a third in another place. I do not want to take away the power of the Board of Trade, but it is necessary to have a uniform practice. Why should Glasgow and other corporations, if they want electric lighting, be compelled to go to the Board of Trade, and instead of one inquiry, or at most two, have three inquiries?


In the matter of electricity, so much has Parliament felt that the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade should not be taken away, that a regulation has been laid down preventing electrical undertakings being promoted as Private Bills, and therefore the power of dealing with them must remain with my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade.


It is much to be regretted that there is no method of ascertaining roughly the total expenditure of an application under this Bill, or any means of comparing it with the expenditure incurred before the Light Railway Commissioners. It would also be a great advantage if we could compare the costs under this Act with the costs under the present Provisional Order system.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 17:


I move to omit in page 9, line 19, from "person" to "entitled." This will allow Parliamentary solicitors to appear at the inquiries, even though admitted after the Act is passed. That is perfectly fair.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18:—


I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman when it is intended that the Act should come into force.


At the end of the session of Parliament next year. There will be a great many matters to arrange, and the procedure is very intricate.

Clause agreed to.


I beg to move the clause standing in my name. It is taken from the Light Railways Act, 1896.

New Clause:— If any objection to any draft Order is made to the Secretary for Scotland, or to the Chairmen, on the ground that the undertaking proposed to be authorised by the Order will destroy or injure any building or other object of historical interest, or will injuriously affect any natural scenery, the Chairmen shall consider such objection, and may either report to the Secretary for Scotland that such objection raises an issue or issues which ought to be dealt with by Private Bill and not by Provisional Order, or may refer such objection to the Commissioners, who shall give to those by whom it is made a proper opportunity of being heard in support of it."—(Mr. Bryce.)

brought up, and read the first time.


I will accept the clause if the right hon. Gentleman takes out the words "to the Secretary for Scotland, or."


I am willing to do so.

Clause as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [No. 244.]