§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day sis months.'"—(Mr. Stuart Worthy.)
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
Mr. Speaker, in moving the rejection of this Bill, I feel confident 1182 that the House will recognise that I should not lightly and without justification ask them to take so serious a step as to deprive one of the Committees of having an opportunity of judging of the merits of this Bill. The questions involved in this Bill are of such a grave public importance that they cannot form appropriately the subject of a sworn inquiry before a Committee of this House, but are more fitted for the decision of those who have experience of legislation affecting the great municipalities of this country. Before I say more as to the particular reasons which I think should impel this House to reject this Bill at this stage, my acknowledgments are due to the honourable Member for Bethnal Green, whose name stands first in the long list of those who are opposed to this Bill, for having allowed me, as being intimately connected with the largest municipality which this Bill proposes to attack, to move the rejection of the Bill. My honourable Friend's opposition is typical of the opposition which exists to the principle raised by this Bill. This is a Bill which, so far as appearances go, would empower a company of private undertakers to establish, at a small place in Nottinghamshire, a large generating station for electric lighting and power. Apparently they are going to do so at a place called Warsop, in Nottinghamshire, but they are under no obligation to do anything of the kind. They would, if the Bill passed, be perfectly free to place their generating station anywhere eke within an area to be measured by a radius of 26 miles from that spot. That would bring within the field of their operations municipalities of such importance and magnitude as Ilkeston, Retford, Mansfield, Chesterfield, Doncaster, Lincoln, Rotherham, Nottingham, and Sheffield. Sheffield principally interests me. The other municipalities will, doubtless, have most effective champions to-day. Sheffield, to put its case as shortly as possible, is the fifth in population of the provincial towns of England, and I think there is that in its municipal history which will make it impossible for anybody to contend that it is likely, in matters of municipal policy, to embark upon rash or ill-considered enterprise. I ask this House to reject this Bill at this stage because it is a Bill which is against all Parliamentary precedents 1183 which, govern matters of this kind, because it is not necessary in the interests of consumers or manufacturers, because it is against public policy for many reasons which I propose to give, because the alleged precedents in its favour cannot be upheld on examination, and because the justification which I believe is to be advanced in its favour will not stand the examination and criticism of this House. In no case yet has Parliament ever allowed private undertakings to compete in supplying electric light and power with any local authority, though under conditions laid down by public statute it has allowed public authorities to compete with private undertakings. It has only done so under careful safeguards and with manifest hesitation. It has usually required, as a condition, that the private undertakings should first be purchased by the local authority, and I believe I am safe in saying that never in any case has it allowed competition by a local authority against a private undertaking except in cases where it was possible to show that the private undertaking had failed to give an efficient supply. Three cases occurred in this House only last year. There was the case of Newington, in which a Provisional Order was granted enabling the local authority to compete with the private undertaking, but in that case the Committee was obviously affected by the evidence which was put before them, showing that the private undertaking had not satisfied the public in regard to its service. In the case of Bermondsey, the Committee of this House refused to grant a Provisional Order to enable the local authority in that district to compete with private enterprise, except upon the condition that they purchased the undertaking of the company. The company refused the terms of purchase, and, so far as the Committee stage was concerned, the Provisional Order was not granted. In the case of Marylebone, however, notwithstanding the fact that complaints were made of the inefficiency of the supply by the private undertaking, Parliament refused to grant Marylebone Vestry a Provisional Order entitling them to compete with the private company. In no case has a stranger been allowed, as would be the case if this Bill passed, to compete with the local authority in the supply of electricity. I shall listen with 1184 interest to my honourable Friends who will speak in support of this Bill, as I am certain, it will be impossible for them to make the House believe for one moment that the great municipalities of Sheffield and Nottingham have, in the supply of electricity, failed in their public duty any more than they have in discharging their other duties. This Bill is not necessary in the interests of the consumers. I am aware that I must not, at this stage, invite the House to direct its attention to matters which could be decided by a Committee, but there are two considerations which make it absolutely necessary that this House should go into the question of the possible price to the consumer, because it is obvious, if these promoters honestly carry out the intention which, on the face of it, their Bill leads one to think is their wish, they must supply electricity from a distance, and bear the consequent cost. The initial cost which will be incurred in carrying the mains over such a large area, and the annual burden for the maintenance of these mains, will be very heavy. If it is contended that they would be likely to get coal cheaper in their neighbourhood than in the neighbourhood of supply, the same argument would apply to the municipalities. On the other hand, you have the municipalities ready and willing to begin supplying this power and this light to their constituents. By the scheme which the municipalities have adopted they are themselves limited to the making of a 5 per cent, profit on their outlay. Anything which represents a profit of more than 5 per cent. has to go to the reduction of the charge to consumers. It seems to me a curious argument to suppose that a municipality is likely to refuse encouragement to manufacturers in the supply of electric light on the sole ground that thereby they might be lowering the rates of this particular class of ratepayers. I come now to the general consideration of public policy. The House will remember that this is a Bill which, if passed, would enable private adventurers to tear up streets and lay down mains against the will of these great municipalities, which for years past have been recognised by Parliament as the only authorities which should have exclusive control in the matter of roads. That is not the whole 1185 evil. These promoters do not lay themselves in this Bill under an obligation to spend more than £50,000 anywhere. They lay themselves under no obligation as to whether anything at all is to be spent. It is obvious, therefore, that their power, if not their intention, would be not to create a central generating station, but to create small competing stations in the neighbourhood of the area of any municipality where they thought they might obtain a profitable market. It is true that in order to conciliate municipal opposition the promoters of this Bill have inserted a clause which will exclude them from any given municipal area, upon condition that they shall supply electric light and power in bulk to such municipalities, but they propose to supply it on terms which, I think, no municipality would accept. The promoters are to be permitted, without any restriction whatever, and in the face of any amount of municipal opposition, to supply to manufacturers who are willing to take 10,000 units in the course of the year; in other words, they propose to take the cream of the consumers. Let us see what the arguments are in favour of this Bill. I deny that the Report of the Joint Committee of both Houses justifies such a startling departure from general policy as the passing of the Bill would be, and the fact that the other House has passed the Bill indicates that in the other House there is not that unlimited respect and jealous watchfulness for the integrity and independence of municipal privileges which the House of Commons has always shown. But the Committee of the other House expressly said that they considered themselves bound by the finding of the Joint Committee upon the Electrical Energy Generating Station Bill. What was the finding of that Committee? On page 7 of their Report you will find these words—Where sufficient public advantage is shown, powers may be given for the supply of electrical energy over an area including districts of numerous local authorities, and involving plant of such dimensions or exceptional voltage that a municipality could not undertake it.Where is the evidence that public advantage will result from this Bill? On the other hand, public disadvantages will result if it passes into law. Where, Sir, is the evidence that the plant can pos- 1186 sibly be of such dimensions or exceptional voltage as to make it impossible for the municipality to undertake it? If such a weighty authority as a Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament had intended to introduce this startling innovation into our municipal institutions, they would not have used language so vague and shadowy as that which I have read to the House. It would have been easy for them to have used language which would have made perfectly plain their intention that within an area of municipal authority they consented to introduce a competing authority under conditions such as have never been sanctioned before. I believe it is going to be said that a distinction has to be drawn between electric light and electric power. There is an idea that electric light is a matter of public order, and should properly be supplied by municipalities, but that electric power, on the other hand, is something else, which is only fitted to be supplied by those whom this House can trust to become traders. Gas and water are both as essential to manufacture as they are to public order. They are commodities which are supplied by municipalities, and which Parliament has encouraged municipalities to supply. I cannot believe that this House will sanction the creation of a situation in which the municipality will be told practically that they may supply gas and water for mechanical power, but they may not supply electrical energy for private purposes. I said at the outset that I should not trouble the House with points that could be dealt with by the Committee, but I think I have shown that this Bill would be a most perilous innovation, and would be prejudicial to the privileges of the great municipalities. It would be applied in places where it could not be shown that municipalities had failed. If such changes as these are to be made, they should be made only by General Statute, applicable to all cases alike.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the Amendment. As the metropolis is not directly affected by this Bill, I readily surrendered my place on the Paper to the honourable Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield, who represents one of the great urban areas concerned. At the same time, it is true that the 1187 importance of the principle of this Bill far transcends the limits of any mere local area. It is one of a volley of Bills with which the House is regularly bombarded each Session. The Bill promoted by the County of London and Brush Provincial Electric Lighting Company raises substantially the same issue. I should have opposed that Bill, but, as it raised substantially the same issue, I thought the issue would be more definitely fought out on the Bill which is now before us, and which has specially attracted attention owing to its dimensions. After the speech of my honourable Friend, a great deal which I should otherwise have said is unnecessary. I desire, therefore, to say but two or three words. In the first place, I submit that if the House approves of the Second Beading of this Bill to-day it will take a retrograde step. Again and again the House has affirmed the principle for which we contend, and there were two significant instances last Session. The Chairman of Committees laid down this rule, with the general assent of Parliament: He said that when the local authority is the sole power for the supply of electricity in a district and is doing its duty, Parliament ought not to allow the local authority to be interfered with by granting a Provisional Order to any company to supply in that district. The House will probably remember the fate of the Wymondham Water Bill. Under that Bill the promoters desired to obtain from Parliament powers to supply Wymondham and district with water. The local authority opposed the Bill, and this House rejected it, the feeling of the House being so strongly marked that the promoters of the Bill did not venture to take a Division. In the case of the Wymondham Bill the local authority had not provided a water supply. The local authority asked the House to give them a free and unfettered opportunity of providing the local supply in the future, and the House recognised the claim which the local authority made. But here the case is very much stronger. Very many of these large municipalities have already expended considerable sums of public money in providing an electric supply, and it is obvious that if the House sanctions the Second Reading of this Bill the House will not only be preventing the initiation of new-schemes by local authorities, but will also 1188 very effectually check the development of the schemes which already exist. My second objection to the Bill is that, although it is only a private Bill, it proposes to supersede the general law with regard to compulsory powers of purchase. It is quite true that Parliament imposed such conditions upon private companies as to some extent to discourage the development of electrical enterprise in this country, but that fact was recognised, and these conditions were modified by the Act of 1888, and there is no reason in the world why we should now go to the other extreme and impose no conditions of purchase at all. Upon this particular question the Joint Committee of both Houses was equally divided. Lord Spencer proposed in that Committee clauses which ran something to this effect—That we think it is not desirable that the general law with regard to compulsory power of purchase should be altered, for although it might be difficult for local authorities to effect a combination to purchase, yet cases would arise in which local authorities might be able to combine together in order to purchase, and in those cases it would be to the public advantage that they should be able to exercise the power.Lord Spencer proposed that clause, and the Committee was equally divided with regard to it. Lastly, the promoters of this Bill point to the experience of America. I contend that the conditions in America are totally different from those which exist here. Apart from that consideration, I think the reference to the United States of America is singularly unfortunate, because it is notorious that the United States have become the prey of monopolist companies. It is because I believe the ultimate effect of this Bill must be to put large areas in England, interspersed amongst which are great industrial centres, under the control and at the mercy of a dividend-earning company, that I very heartily second the Amendment.
§ MR. BROMLEY DAVENPORT (Cheshire, Macclesfield)
I rise, Sir, to support the Second Reading of this Bill on two grounds: first, on account of the merits of the proposal; and secondly, because with the fate of this Bill is bound up the fate of another and similar Bill affecting the interests of the constituency which I represent. My hon. and learned Friend who has taken upon himself the task of leading the opposition to this Bill has not, I submit, put forward any sufficient or 1189 satisfactory reason to justify the unusual course which he has adopted, or to explain his narrow and reactionary attitude with respect to the provisions of this Bill. My hon. and learned Friend has made just the sort of speech which we would have expected from him—the speech of a very skilful advocate. But I submit to the House that in his consideration of the provisions of this Bill he has regarded, and he now asks the House to regard, only the vested interests of the corporation of the city whose representation he shares, and he has left out of sight altogether the interests, future and present, of the entire ratepayers and of the general community inhabiting the very populous area affected by this Bill. My hon. and learned Friend did not tell the House that even in the city of Sheffield, for which he especially spoke, his own Chamber of Commerce has petitioned Parliament in favour of this Bill. But I suppose Chambers of Commerce are of no account. Their opinion is to be disregarded, the Chamber of Commerce being only composed of practical business men who are not concerned with the market value of the existing electric or gas monopolies, who can think for themselves, and who are only eager to provide for the future development and growth of the industries of this country, so that British working men may hold their own in the struggle with world-wide competition. Chambers of Commerce are loftily disregarded by the opponents of this Bill, and the interests of a section, which I may describe as a small and powerful clique, are alone to be considered. My hon. and learned Friend recently went down to Sheffield and addressed the Chamber of Commerce on the occasion of their annual gathering. I was quite sorry for him. He found himself obliged to admit that when he undertook, at the request of the corporation, to move the rejection of this Bill he was not aware that the Chamber of Commerce had petitioned in its favour he then went on pathetically to ask the Chamber of Commerce to understand that it is very difficult for a Parliamentary representative to resist the wishes of a municipality upon a matter so nearly affecting municipal interests. I admit that the more readily because I have been myself confronted with the difficulty. The Corporation of Macclesfield has called upon me to oppose this Bill, but I have declined to do so, firstly, because I do not admit that the 1190 corporation have any right to call on me to oppose a Bill which does not affect the area of the constituency at all; and, in the second place, if the Bill did affect the area of my constituency I should regard it as an excellent Bill which would be of great value to my constituents. Possibly it may be interesting to the honourable and learned Member to know what has been the result of the controversy between myself and the corporation. Every local newspaper which has expressed an opinion has declared itself in my favour and against the view taken by the corporation, and that suggests to me what alone can be the fact, that in this matter public opinion and public interest are not identical with the opinion and the ideas of local corporations. The honourable and learned Member for Bethnal Green has suggested, if he has not actually said, that this Bill will confer a monopoly upon some person or persons, and he has given an example, amongst others which I did not catch, and with which I was not familiar, of the Wymondham case. If I remember rightly, that case is not in the least on all fours with this case. In that case there was a demand for a monopoly which was successfully resisted. There is here no demand for a monopoly. I will refer the House to clause 34 of this Bill, which I will venture to read. The clause says—Nothing in this Act contained shall confer or be constructed to confer upon the Company the exclusive right to supply energy within the area of supply or to hinder or restrict any other body company or person from supplying or increasing their present supply of energy within the said area, nor shall the Company at any time hereafter by reason of any competitive supply be entitled to any compensation for alleged vested interest or otherwise in respect of any of the powers conferred upon them by this Act.I object to monopoly, whether it is the monopoly of a company or a corporation. I stand here to represent the interests of those who are consumers, of whom I am one, and the interests of the general public. I am sure the interests of the public are best served when there is competition. I am supported in that opinion by the Attorney-General, who said that a great deal of cant had been talked about monopoly, and that after all there was no greater Monopoly than for a local authority to be given the supply of electricity. No local authority would, said the right honourable Gentleman, give their consent to a private company supplying energy in competition with them, but 1191 competition was as essential in connection with electric lighting as it was with anything else. I entirely endorse that view. As a matter of fact this House has never yet given a monopoly of supply to any corporation. The Electric Lighting Act 1888, specially declares, by its first section, that there shall be no monopoly. This Bill asks for no monopoly, and actually declares by a special clause that there shall be no monopoly. So much for the question of monopoly. I have said that my honourable and learned Friend has taken an unusual course. I think his attitude towards this Bill becomes more than unusual—it is extraordinary—when the Parliamentary history of this question is considered. This Bill has already received the sanction and approval of two Parliamentary Committees, and I think the answer to my honourable Friend's statement that the Bill will be of no practical advantage is, how did it pass these two Parliamentary Committees In fact, the whole of the honourable and learned Member's speech, except that portion which consisted of an appeal for municipal monopoly, is to be answered by the fact that the Bill has been sanctioned by two Parliamentary Committees. The first was the Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament, whose inquiries lasted over five days. Twenty-six witnesses were examined, and counsel appeared for no less than 22 bodies, including the promoters of the Bill and the various corporations, amongst them the Corporation of Sheffield. I will not give the actual words of their Report, but I may say the Report was unanimous, and was decidedly favourable to the views and principles contained in this Bill. The Bill next went to the House of Lords, where, having passed its Second Reading it was referred to a Select Committee of that House. Again there was a prolonged inquiry lasting over seven days. There were 53 witnesses examined, and counsel again appeared on behalf of the corporations and presumably argued and stated all that could be stated against this Bill. In the end the Bill was accepted and approved by the Select Committee of the House of Lords. The Bill now comes before this House for Second Reading, having been suspended from last Session on the motion of the right honourable Gentleman the Chairman of Committees of this House. We are now asked 1192 of these two Committees, to flout their carefully considered recommendations, and to refuse this Bill a Second Reading. Such a course would, I venture to submit, be wholly at variance with the spirit of justice and of impartiality which has hitherto characterised this House in reference to its consideration of private Bills. We are asked to do this at the bidding and at the instigation of an Association of Municipal Corporations, scattered all over the country, some of whom are interested in gas undertakings, and are therefore jealous of electric supply, some of whom have electric supplies of their own at a cost to the consumers in every case higher than the maximum which is permitted under this Bill; and others of whom neither have, nor propose to have, any electric supply for purposes of lighting or power, but who combine with the other corporations in a spirit of friendship and sympathy and brotherly affection when the sacred rights of municipal monopoly are threatened with the possibility of competition by private enterprise. In order that there may be no mistake I should like to state very briefly what this Bill proposes to do. It proposes to take power to supply electricity in an area of 2,100 square miles. I think it would be interesting to the House to know how much of that area is at present supplied. Of those 2,100 square miles, in 66 square miles only does power to supply even exist at all, and in only four and a half square miles is there actually a supply of electricity at the present time. Although the population in the whole of this area is about a million, there are only 1,546 customers of electricity. The fact that the customers are so few is accounted for by the high price which is charged, and which makes electricity in this country the luxury of the rich instead of being, what it ought to be, the convenience of all. That brings me to the question of price. Within this area at the present moment—I will leave out Lincoln, which is on the verge of supplying electricity-—there are only two towns which supply electricity, Nottingham and Sheffield. In these two towns the price of electricity has recently dropped very considerably, and I suggest that the price was reduced in consequence of the competition threatened by this Bill. But I know what the price was, as given in evidence before the Committee last 1193 year. Last year the price of electricity in these towns was 5¾d. per Board of Trade unit, while the maximum amount which would be permitted to be charged under this Bill would be 4d. per Board of Trade unit for the first 200 hours in each quarter, and after that the maximum would be 2d. The promoters, however, are very confident that the price would be very much less than that, and the experience of foreign countries—Germany, Austria, Italy, and South Africa, for instance—lead me to believe that they are possibly right. In some countries electricity is being supplied at as low a price as one farthing per Board of Trade unit, which shows how lamentably behind the times this country is in the matter of electricity. I claim that this is a good Bill, or, at any rate, that it deserves the consideration of a Committee upstairs. I claim, Sir, that I have a right to ask for the Second Reading of this Bill as it stands, but at the same time I very readily admit that in all things, especially with respect to legislation in this House, there is a vast difference between that for which we are entitled to ask and that which we are likely to get. The opposition to this Bill is very strong. The determined opposition of all the Corporations is a force which it is very difficult indeed to resist. The influence of the Corporations has always been very strong in this House, but I cannot refrain from saying that I think it will be well if they are careful that that influence is not exercised unduly and excessively, as I think it has been in connection with this Bill. I do not mean the influence of an individual Municipality which is brought to bear upon its Parliamentary representative with respect to a measure of local interest. No one would object to that, especially the honourable Member, but I refer to the combined and concerted influence of the Association of Municipal Corporations which is brought to bear on an individual member of this House for the purpose almost of compelling him to vote for or against a, Bill, which, as a matter of fact, possibly may not concern, even in the remotest degree, the constituency which he represents. That is the kind of influence which, during the past few weeks, has been brought to bear on honourable Members of this House, and, whilst I resent it, I recognise its force, and I recognise that it is likely enough to be successful. I desire to obtain the Second Reading of this Bill, 1194 and I understand that I can make sure of the Second Reading by conceding the only demand which the Corporations make—namely, the inclusion of their boroughs within the area of supply. I do not believe that it makes any difference, or that it will make any difference in the end, whether the Municipal Boroughs, are included or not; and for this reason, that when the inhabitants of a Municipal Borough discover, as they will discover, that they are being charged by their Corporation a price for electrical energy which is grossly in excess of that being charged to inhabitants outside by a private company, they will bring strong pressure and influence to bear on the Corporation either to1 reduce its prices or to arrange for the borough being included in the area, of private supply. It does not matter one bit how the reduction is brought about, so long as it is secured in the interests of consumers. And my opinion is strengthened by the knowledge of what happened in the case of the Niagara. Company. When that was started for the purpose of supplying electrical energy, it included the town of Buffalo, which objected just as the Corporations are objecting to-day. The inhabitants of Buffalo objected successfully, and the town was excluded from the area of supply. But when the manufacturers of the place discovered that they were being charged a higher price than the people outside—I believe it was a difference as between £4 and £12 to £20—they began to move their works and machinery outside the municipal area, and eventually the inhabitants of Buffalo found themselves obliged to go, almost, hat in hand, to the company to get themselves included within the area of its supply. That is exactly what will happen to the Corporations which are now objecting to their inclusion in this Bill. We know that in the same way they objected many years ago to allowing the railways to come near them, and the only difference is that, whereas the mistake they then made could never be rectified and repaired, it will be possible to rectify it if they make the same error now. If the opponents of this Bill will allow it to pass its Second Reading now, I am prepared to undertake that whatever is necessary shall be done to prohibit promoters having any power to supply any Municipal Corporation in its area except by the assent of that Corporation.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
Do I understand my honourable Friend to say he will give us a clause in identical terms with clause 47 in the present Bill which deals with Urban District Councils?
§ MR. BROMLEY DAVENPORT
If that is in order I can do so, but I wish it to be perfectly clear that I am prepared to adopt whatever is the right course in order to prohibit any power of supply to any Municipal Corporation except with its assent.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
Then perhaps I may be permitted by the House to say that, in view of my honourable Friend's undertaking, I do not think that we shall be justified in continuing our opposition to the Bill.
That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Galloway.)
§ MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
The concession of my honourable Friend the Member for Macclesfield has entirely altered the case. I beg to move that this Debate be now adjourned in order that we may have some opportunity of considering the new position of affairs.
§ MR. BROMLEY DAVENPORT
I am entirely in the hands of the House. I do not wish to be unreasonable, but I am sure honourable Members will see that if the Debate should be adjourned it will be a great disappointment to me. After having conceded so much I did think I should be able to get the Second Reading, and I may point out that the Corporations who are opposing will by no means lose all opportunity for raising further objections. They will be able to do so in Committee upstairs and again here on the motion for Third Reading. However, I will not resist the motion if it is pressed.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
I really hope that the Motion for adjournment will not be pressed. We all know it is very important that Bills of this kind should go before the Select Committee as early as possible, and that therefore it is desirable to get the Second Reading promptly. I think it is rather un- 1196 gracious on the part, of the opponents of the Bill to press the adjournment after the concessions made by my honourable Friend the Member for Macclesfield. I do not see that there is anything to be gained by adjourning the Debate. Should the discussion come on on another day some honourable Members who are now here and have heard what has been said may not be able to be present, and it may be necessary to go over the whole ground again for the benefit of Members not now in attendance. This will waste a great deal of the time of the House and at the same time place the promoters of the Bill at a great disadvantage. I think we ought not to be asked to do that, and I for one am quite prepared to give my vote now.
MR. MELLOR (York, W.R., Sowerby)
I hope that the honourable Member who moved the adjournment will stand by his Motion. There is another reason why this Debate should be adjourned. Many Members may wish to communicate with their constituents. At all events, I think the alterations which have been made and concessions given, ought to be put in a form in which all Members interested in this Bill can see them.
§ *MR. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
I earnestly hope that the House will consent to the adjournment. I do not represent any Corporation, but I do represent a wide area affected by this Bill. The arrangement which has been suggested is one which it is very difficult to reduce in precise terms. No doubt those concerned on both sides accept it in good faith, but in a vital matter of this kind some of us do wish to have more time to consider it from the point of view of the public interest. Without going into the merits of the Bill, I respectfully say that a graver matter of public policy hardly ever came before the House, and I therefore earnestly hope that the Debate will be adjourned.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
And I as earnestly trust that the House will not agree to the adjournment. It is fully possessed of the subject in dispute. The matter is not a new one and every Member has been inundated with statements from both sides. It has been considered by a Joint Committee of this House and of the House of Lords, as well 1197 as by a Committee of the House of Lords alone, and the reports of those Committees are open to honourable Members. I, myself, have read them. If other honourable Members have not that is no ground why they should ask for an adjournment. I hope that my honourable Friend's offer will be accepted.
§ THE PRESIDENT Of THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I came down to the House this evening prepared to recommend to the House, if the Bill remained in the shape in which it was introduced, or if it was to continue in that shape, that they should reject the Bill. It seemed to me the principle of the Bill was a direct attack on the rights, privileges and duties of Municipal Corporations, and whatever might have been the contingent advantages which might accrue in consequence of the passage of this Bill, I should have been bound to tell the House I did not think it would be wise in passing a Bill which practically set aside the existing law which adequately protects Corporations in the exercise of the duties which they have to discharge. Any private Bill of that kind setting aside rights which Corporations have by law ought to be rejected. But, Sir, it seems to me that my honourable Friend who has spoken on behalf of this Bill has practically removed sill the difficulties which we felt in connection of the Second Reading. No doubt, there are other matters of importance, but the great question of principle having been removed from our consideration, it seems to me that the House might very properly relegate this Bill now to the ordinary course, and allow its details to be considered in Committee. The House will, of course, have an adequate opportunity of considering any Amendment that may lie introduced, and can judge for itself if the undertaking given by my honourable Friend is adequately carried out by the introduction of a clause into the Bill. If it should come to the conclusion that the undertaking is not sufficiently carried out, then it will have an opportunity of rejecting the Bill when it comes before Parliament again. It is a serious matter in regard to a Bill of these dimensions to adjourn the Debate sine die. I think—although I do not wish to express any strong view on the subject—that after the concession made by the honourable Member for Macclesfield, this Bill might very well be read a second time.
§ MR. G. WHITELEY (Stockport)
The honourable Member said he was quite content that the consent of Municipal Authorities should be required under the Bill. Does he include likewise that of Local Authorities? If he says that he agrees to the inclusion of Local Authorities, I shall vote for the Second Reading, but if he has any doubt on the subject then I think the Debate ought to be adjourned.
§ MR. BROMLEY DAVENPORT
There is no doubt whatever about my answer. Of course, it is in the negative.
§ MR. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
I agree that the Debate ought to be adjourned. If the Bill is objectionable to Municipal Corporations it is no less objectionable to Local Authorities which aspire to become Municipal Corporations. In my own constituency we have a large community which probably will one day possess a Corporation, and this community objects in the strongest manner to the Bill.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The only Question before the House is the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ MR. SCOTT
And I was advocating the Adjournment because I think Authorities of this kind have a right to be consulted and to make their views heard. We ought to know the exact terms of the agreement before we are asked to accept it. I think it would be a great hardship on the larger Local Bodies, which are not Municipal Corporations, if this Bill were hurried through.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
As a resident in the district through which this Company are proposing to run their high tension cable, and over which they propose to take such very large powers, I think it would be reasonable if this Debate were adjourned, because the Bill is completely altered by taking from its scope the big towns. The important fact remains that if the cables are run over country districts it will be because they are going to some definite place of considerable size which will be in a position to recoup the cost of the undertaking. I must say there is a great deal to be said for adjourning the Debate.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen)
I also came down to this House thinking it impossible for a Bill containing these provisions to obtain its Second Reading, but I think the concession which has been made, while it has removed five-sixths of the objections to the Bill, is such as to make it desirable to give time for consideration, as nothing provides more cause for future controversy than agreements and understandings come to on the spur of the moment. It would, therefore, be far better to accept the Adjournment, and the Bill could come up again in a week or ten days for further consideration.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
The matter could be made perfectly clear, and all trouble saved, if after the Second Reading were carried an instruction to the Committee was passed, directing it to introduce a Clause preserving to Municipalities the protection given by the first Section of the Act of 1888, which expressly safeguards, not only Municipalities but other Local Authorities. Any lawyer will recognise that.
§ SIR J. WOODHOUSE (Huddersfield)
I desire as the representative of the Association of Municipal Corporations, which has been, so much abused by the honourable Member for Macclesfield, to say that while I am quite ready to agree to the Adjournment of the Debate, I should not be prepared to accede to the suggestion of the right honourable Member for Sheffield. It may be that the Municipalities in the particular area which the Company touches might be satisfied with the exemption proposed by the honourable Member for Macclesfield. But the Association of Municipal Corporations' has taken up the matter not only in reference to a particular area, but also in regard to the great principle which underlies the Bill, and in respect to which the House is asked to pursue a retrograde policy. Reserving, therefore, all questions which arise in regard to this principle I desire respectfully to say, as representing the entire united body of Municipal Corporations, that we accept the Adjournment but not the concession.
§ MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
I oppose the Adjournment. I represent a constituency and a Corporation directly interested in a kindred Bill. That Corporation has asked me to oppose this Bill. 1200 I can only say as far as its general principle is concerned, that I cordially approve of the remarks of my honourable Friend. I felt bound, in the interests of my constituency, to ask for a concession. I understand that this concession will apply not only to the area affected by this Bill, but to other Bills, and on that ground, and believing that my Corporation will be well satisfied to know that they can be excluded from the area of supply by their own wish, I cannot see what advantage we shall gain by further postponing this Bill.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
I had intended to speak, but I will not detain the House for more than a few moments. It seems to me that the concession made by the honourable Member is a very valuable one. But if the Second Reading is to be taken this afternoon, I think it ought to go further. If this Company is not to go into Municipalities without their consent, what about County Councils? They are very important bodies. If the honourable Member will give us an undertaking that his concession shall apply to County Councils, as well as to Municipalities, then I will agree to the Second Reading of the Bill.
That the Debate be now adjourned.
§ The House divided.
§ MR. GALLOWAY,
on behalf of the Tellers, read out the numbers as follows:—For the Adjournment, 149; Against, 149.
MR. GALLOWAY, MR. BROMLEY DAVENPORT, MR. JOHN ELLIS, and SIR J. BRUNNER
took up their places in front of the Mace.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Have the Tellers anything to say on the statement of the honourable Member. (The Tellers made no reply.) In that case the honourable Member's name must be added to the "Noes."
§ SIR J. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I desire to say that the honourable Member did not pass my honourable Colleague and myself in the "No" lobby.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
As the numbers have not yet been put from the Chair, it is not too late to remedy the omission, and the
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Pilkington, Richard|
|Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.)||Harwood, George||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Baird John George Alexander||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Baker, Sir John||Heaton, John Henniker||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn J. Blair (Clackm.)||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Robinson, Brooke|
|Barry, Rt Hn AH. Smith-(Hunts)||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)||Schwann, Charles E|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Howard, Joseph||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Bethell, Commander||Howell, William Tudor||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Blake, Edward||Jacoby, James Alfred||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw.||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Sinclair, Capt. J (Forfarshire)|
|Burns, John||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Butcher, John George||Kemp, George||Skewes Cox, Thomas|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Souttar, Robinson|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Knowles, Lees||Spencer, Ernest|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbysh.)||Labouchere, Henry||Spicer, Albert|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lambert, George||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Langley, Batty||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cmbrlnd.)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leng, Sir John||Strachey, Edward|
|Cooke, C.W Radeliffe (Heref'd)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Lowe, Francis William||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crombie, John William||Macaleese, Daniel||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Thomas, Alfd. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo. S.)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||M'Ghee, Richard||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Davies, M.Vaughan- (Cardgn.)||Maden, John Henry||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Dillon, John||Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Weir, James Galloway|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Moore, Count (Londonderry)||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Duckworth, James||Morgan, J Lloyd (Carmrthn.)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Morrell, George Herbert||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptf'd)||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wilson, J. W. (W'cestersh, N.)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Myers, William Henry||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hdrsfld.)|
|Flower, Ernest||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Garfit, William||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Kelly, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gold, Charles||Oldroyd, Mark||Mr. Galloway and Mr. John Ellis.|
|Gourley, Sir Edwd. Temperley||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Bailey, James (Walworth)||Bartley, George T. C.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Baillie, Jas. E. B. (Inverness)||Barton, Dunbar Plunket|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Balcarres, Lord||Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Baldwin, Alfred||Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds)||Beckett, Ernest William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Banbury, Frederick George||Bill, Charles|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Blundell, Colonel Henry|
§ honourable Member is entitled to have his vote recorded. I declare that—The Ayes are 149; The Noes 150. So that the "Noes" have it. The Question is, That the word "now" stand part of the Question.
§ (Division List No. 26.)1203
|Bond, Edward||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Pease, Herbert Pike (Drlngtn.)|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Hoare, Ed. Brodie, (Hampst'd)||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace Curzon|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (Kg's.Lynn)||Holland, Wm. H. (York,W.R.)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Priestley, Sir W. Overend(Edin.)|
|Caldwell, James||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Cavendish, R. P. (Lancs., N.)||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r),||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cochrane. Hn. Thos. H.A. E.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltnhm.),|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lafone, Alfred||Rutherford, John|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Dalbiac, Col. Philip Hugh||Lawrence, Wm. E. (Liverpool)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Denny, Colonel||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Leighton, Stanley||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Long, Col. Chas. W.(Evesham)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Lopes, Henry Yarde Butler||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Fergusson,Rt Hn SirJ.(Manc'r)||Lorne, Marquess of||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Lowther, Rt. Hn. Jas. (Kent)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Firbank. Joseph Thomas||Lowther, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Cum'ld.)||Thorburn, Walter|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Fitzgerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.|
|Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Ward, Hn. Robert A. (Crewe)|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Macdona, John Cumming||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Maclure, Sir John William||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Gibbs, Hn A. G. H (City of Lon.)||M'Ewan, William||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edin.,W.)||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Marks, Henry Hananel||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Milner, Sir Frederick George||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Monk, Charles James||Wylie, Alexander|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wyndham, George|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morgan, Hn. P. (Monm'thsh.)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Morrison, Walter||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo.||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hardy, Laurence||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Mr. Bromley Davenport and Sir John Brunner.|
|Helder, Augustus||Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford|
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The honourable Member moved the adjournment, and when he did that he spoke on the main Question.
§ MR. McKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
May I ask the right honourable Gentleman who referred to his intention to move an Instruction whether he will frame it so as to include Urban Districts as well as Corporations in the Reservation Clause?
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
In the absence of the acceptance by the promoters of this Bill of an Instruction to include in the Reservation Clause all Local Authorities, other than the large Corporations, which prominently identified themselves with the opposition to this measure, I venture to resume the original discussion, and to give a few reasons why the Second Reading of this Bill should not be carried. In so doing I necessarily have to traverse the speech which has been made by the honourable Member for Macclesfield. He claimed the sympathy of the House by suggesting that this was one of two Bills with which his district was identified, but he forgot to tell the House that the first Bill of a similar character had been before the Standing Orders Committee, which had rejected it. That having been the fate of Bill No. 1, I sincerely trust that the House of Commons will not allow Bill No. 2 to remain alive. 1205 The honourable Member seemed entirely to forget the principle of representation in connection with local life, as he wished to place the Chamber of Commerce of Sheffield above the Municipality of that great city. This Bill strikes at the very root of the principle of representation, and, as between the Chamber of Commerce, representing money, on one side, and the City Corporation of Sheffield, representing the municipal life of half a million of people, on the other side, I have no choice but to follow the Corporation in its resistance to the Bill. If this measure is passed it will be detrimental, not only to the municipal development of the big cities which have protested against it, but it will also strangle those embryonic Corporations which do not come within the concession of the honourable Member for Macclesfield. It will completely paralyse the future efforts of District and Urban District Councils, which have as much right to be consulted as the large Corporations which are protesting against this Bill. We are told that this Bill confers no monopoly upon the promoters. But I would ask the honourable Member for Macclesfield to remember how London suffers from a similar condition of things. It is perfectly true, Sir, that the London Water Companies have no legal monopoly and no exclusive right to serve London with water, but the eight companies have, as a fact, entered into a tacit understanding—an almost illegal conspiracy—to secure by force of capital what is practically a monopoly, and to enable themselves to do what otherwise they have no power to do. And if this Bill is passed, although superficially it is not a monopoly, it will, in effect, prove as bad a monopoly for the Midland Districts, in the matter of electric light and power, as the London Water Companies are for the City of London. I protest that this Bill, if carried, will gradually do for England in electric lighting what the Water Companies have done for London, and in asking that the Municipalities should be protected within their present sphere of supply they are not claiming a monopoly at all, they are only asking for the protection to which they are entitled. It has been urged against the Municipalities that they claim a monopoly of electrical supply, but it is only similar to the powers conferred on railways, gas, or electric 1206 lighting companies. You cannot get either Companies or Municipalities to embark large sums in municipal work unless there is some guarantee that they will have permanent employment for the capital which they invest. In the interests of the public it is desirable that some immunity from overwhelming competition should be given the Municipal authorities. The honourable Member said that if this Bill was passed we should find the Company would not be able to supply the consumer with cheaper electric light than the Municipalities. I traverse every line of that statement. Out of 60 authorities supplying electric light, we find that 56, or 94 per cent., sell light under 6d. per unit, while only 49 per cent, of the private companies sell it under that figure. And not only do the Municipalities reach the lowest price, but they are also the most regular in the continuity of their supply. The profit on their capital is necessarily lower, as their price is lower, but if this company gets the right of exclusive supply there is only one thing that will happen, and that is that the consumers will have to pay an additional price for the dividend which the Company will pay its shareholders, but which the Municipality is not entitled to charge, and indeed has no desire to receive. I go farther and say that, both in point of cheapness, efficiency, and regularity, and in the amount of profits which Municipalities earn over the whole field of municipal trading, and which go to the reduction of price, or even to the reduction of Municipal rates, this Bill ought not to be passed. There is another thing we have to take into consideration. Look at the effect on the streets and thoroughfares of the localities through which this great monopoly will carry its light. We have in London frequent instances of unrestricted Corporations breaking the streets up, and Members of Parliament are continually and justly grumbling about the disgraceful condition of our streets—notably the Strand. It is in our most congested districts that monopolies most do congregate—first the water, then the gas, and then the electric light. The larger thoroughfares, both in Provincial Towns and in the Metropolis, are subject to continual interference by these monopolies. They will not go into the subways that are provided for them by the munici- 1207 palities, and do not undertake the installation of their works at the most appropriate time, as the Municipalities invariably do. I was very much struck with the argument of the honourable Member for Macclesfield. The only illustration he gave of the successful working of the system he advocated was not in England, but in America. Have we sunk so low, Mr. Speaker, that we have to go to America, for municipal precedents—to America, where jobbery prevails, and where the largest Corporations have suborned judges and degraded the Magistracy? We do not want American precedents. England is good enough for us, and our precedents are in favour of Municipal ownership, as against Corporation domination. Consequently the illustration does not hold good. What occurred in regard to the Niagara Company? Let us examine that. Unfortunately the American Government did not schedule the motive power of Niagara Falls as a national possession. They allowed them to become the property of a syndicate and Corporation—the Niagara Electric Supply Corporation—who sold the motive power to local authorities, and harnessed it to a mere money making and dividend earning concern. In so doing they deprived some local authorities of that great power. If Buffalo had had Niagara Falls within its jurisdiction it would not have had to go to the Company, and I do hope that our House of Commons will do all it can to safeguard local life in England, and to protect Municipal Institutions against an English Niagara Company. Let it give these powers to the proper local authorities, to our Municipalities, and the Urban District Councils who are unanimous against this Bill. I appeal with confidence to the House of Commons, not
§ to allow log rolling syndicates in the interest of monopoly and money to override the inevitable development of public interest and municipal life.
§ SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
Before we go to a division I should just like to ask a question. The Association of Municipal Corporations represents great urban centres of public life, but not by any means the whole of them. There are many Municipal Corporations which are very small, some having only 2,000; but on the other hand there are places like Merthyr Tydvil which have enormous populations, but are not Municipal Corporations. Does the honourable Gentleman intend to include such places in his concession?
§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W. R., Holmfirth)
Representing a constituency containing a very considerable number of small Urban Authorities, I wish to be allowed to say that I have received very many protests against this Bill, expressive of an urgent desire that it should not be allowed to pass. I do not think that the fact that a concession has been made to the great Municipalities ought to induce the representatives of those Municipalities to secure their own end at the sacrifice of the interests of those smaller bodies to which the honourable Member told us, distinctly and emphatically, he does not propose to make any concession. I desire to enter the strongest possible protest against this Bill being allowed to pass.
That the word now stand part of the Question.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 132; Noes, 164.—(Division List No. 27.)
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Fergusson,Rt Hn SirJ.(Manc'r)||Kay-Shuttleworth,Rt Hn SirU.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Kimber, Henry||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lawrence,SirE.Durning-(Corn)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Gibbs,Hn.A.G.H.(CityofLon.)||Lowther, Rt. Hn. Jas. (Kent)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||Lowther,RtHnJ. W. (Cumblnd.)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Thorburn, Walter|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Walrond, Rt, Hn. Sir Wm. H.|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Ward, Hn. Robert A. (Crewe)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edin., W.)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Marks, Henry Hananel||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo.||Morison, Walter||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Orr Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Wylie, Alexander|
|Helder, Augustus||Pease, Herbert Pike (Drlngtn.)||Wyndham, George|
|Henderson, Alexander||Plunkett,Rt.Hn Horace Curzon||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Hoare, Ed. Brodie ((Hampst'd)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)|
|Holland, Hn. Lionel R. (Bow)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn.Chas.Thomson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Mr. Bromley-Davenport and Sir John Brunner|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelvn||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltnhm.)|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Rutherford, John|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Fardell, Sir T. George||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lowe, Francis William|
|Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lyttelton, Hon Alfred|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert H.||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Flower, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Baker, Sir John||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Maclure, John William|
|Balfour,Rt HnJ.Blair(Clackm.)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Garfit, William||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Ewan, William|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gold, Charles||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Beach,Rt. Hn. SirM.H. (Bristol)||Gourley, Sir Edwd. Temperley||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Green, Walford D. (Wdnsbry.)||Maden, John Henry|
|Bethell, Commander||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Gull, Sir Cameron||Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.)|
|Burns, John||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Butcher, John George||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton|
|Caldwell, James||Heaton, John Henniker||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Monk, Charles James|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Moore, Count (Londonderry)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.)||Holland, Wm. H.(York,W.R.)||Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmrthn.)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Howard, Joseph||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Howell, William Tudor||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptf'd)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Jacoby, James Alfred||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Cooke, C.W.Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw.||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Crombie, John William||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Myers, William Henry|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Kemp, George||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Davies, M.Vaughan- (Cardgn.)||Knowles, Lees||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Labouchere, Henry||O'Malley, William|
|Dillon, John||Lafone, Alfred||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lambert, George||Pilkington, Richard|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cmbrlnd.)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Leng, Sir John||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Duckworth, James||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Rankin, Sir James|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Spencer, Ernest||Weir, James Galloway|
|Reid, Sir Robert Threshie||Spicer, Albert||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Steadman, William Charles||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Stevenson, Francis S.||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Robinson, Brooke||Strachey, Edward||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Schwann, Charles E.||Tennant, Harold John||Wilson, Henry J. (York,W.R.)|
|Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Thomas, Alfd. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wilson, J. W. (W'cestersh, N.)|
|Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B)||Thornton, Percy M.||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)||Tollemache, Henry James||Woodhouse, Sir J. T.(Hdrsfld.)|
|Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Wallace, Robert (Perth)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Warr, Augustus Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)||Mr. Pickersgill and Mr. Galloway.|
|Souttar, Robinson||Wedderburn, Sir William|
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
§ Second Heading put off for six months.