§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Committee of Selection do appoint a Committee, not exceeding nine members, to whom shall be committed all private Bills promoted by municipal and other local authorities, by which it is proposed to create powers relating to police, and sanitary regulations which deviate from, or are in extension of, or are repugnant to, the general law; that the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records; that three be the quorum of the Committee."—(The Under Secretary of State for the Home Department.)
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
reminded the House that the object of the appointment of this Committee was to prevent different decisions emanating from Private Bill Committees upon matters within the category referred to. That object had not been very well served. The quorum was so small that a very limited number of members appeared to guide the decisions of the Committee, and those decisions were frequently not in the direction contemplated when the Committee was appointed. The Committee of Selection should exercise great care in appointing members of this Committee, in order that the House and the public interest might be protected against such results as often occurred. He hoped the Instruction meant what it said—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
It is not in order to refer to that part of the motion; I have not yet put the Instruction.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
Very well; I will simply ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be well to defer making this appointment until he has conferred with the Committee of Selection as to the best means of achieving the object he has in view.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. JESSE COLLINGS,) Birmingham, Bordesley
replied that the question was really one for the Committee of Selection. It rested with that Committee to select men who would attend, and the Committee appeared to have done their work, onerous though it was, in a very satisfactory manner.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
, as a member of the Police and Sanitary Committee for six years, testified to the usefulness of the work done by the Committee. Uniformity of decisions was secured so far as the nature of the case permitted. Errors had no doubt been committed, but all Committees made mistakes from time to time. The general result had been highly beneficial to the public service, and as the Committee gained experience those beneficial results would doubtless increase.
§ MR. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)
asked whether it was the case that this Committee differed from other Private Bill Committees in that a declaration of having no interest was not required of members, nor had they to declare that they had been present and heard the evidence before they voted. If that was the case, it was a very serious question, and the House ought to consider whether the Committee should not be brought into line with other Private Bill Committees.
§ MR. HALSEY (Hertfordshire,) Watford
, as Chairman of the Committee of Selection, stated that that Committee endeavoured to exercise the greatest care in the choice of members for all Committees. With regard to this particular Committee, there was very great difficulty in getting members to serve, inasmuch as the work was so exceedingly arduous. The House, sooner or later, would have to consider whether some system could not be adopted by which the work of the Police and Sanitary Committee would be lightened.
§ Question put, and agreed to.365
§ Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
§ Ordered, That three be the quorum of the Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee not to insert in any Bill referred to them any provision which is already in force in the district to which the Bill applies under any public Act, or which might be put in force by adopting the provisions of any adoptive Act."—(The Under Secretary of State for the Home Department.)
§ MR. STRACHEY
asked whether it was the case that the members of this Committee, which differed very little from a Private Bill Committee, were required to make a declaration of having no interests, and whether it was also necessary for them to make a declaration that they had been present and heard the evidence before giving their vote?
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee in their Report, under Standing Orders 150 and 173A, to state their reasons for granting any powers in conflict with, deviation from, or excess of the general law."—(The Under Secretary of State for the Home Department.)
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL
said that although there was no law prohibiting a Member having private interests sitting on such a Committee, there was a public feeling against such action. It so happened that he had been chairman of the Committee when dealing with a Sanitary Bill promoted by a borough in which he had private interests, and resigned the chair because he had large interests in a borough the Bill for which would necessarily occupy a great part of the session. The principle could be earned too far. For instance, in regard to Railway Bills, it would entirely weaken Committees on Railway Bills if no one could serve on such a Committee except those who had no interest in the railway. 366 He granted that this was a most valuable Instruction. It had sometimes appeared in the Orders of the House and sometimes not; but he hoped it would always appear henceforth, and that when it did appear it would be effectually carried out, and that the reasons would be given at greater length than hitherto, and in an intelligible form. He also hoped that the Reports of the Committee would be available to Members at the earliest possible moment. He had only to express his hope that reasons would be given intelligibly, so that the House might exercise supervision over the Committee.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question proposed, "That in the case of Bills reported from the Committee, three clear days shall intervene between the date when the Report of the Committee is circulated with the Votes and the consideration of the Bill."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered, That in the case of Bills reported from the Committee, three clear days shall intervene between the date when the Report of the Committee is circulated with the Votes and the consideration of the Bill.—(Mr. Jesse Collings.)