HC Deb 18 July 1901 vol 97 cc807-11

As amended, considered.

MR. PLUMMER (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

said the question raised by the Amendment he had on the Paper was one of considerable importance, the point being whether a Committee upstairs had power to go beyond the scope of the original notice. He had received an intimation that his motion would not be opposed, and was glad, therefore, that he would not have to take up the time of the House.

Amendment proposed— To leave out Clause 2."—(Mr. Plummer.)

Question proposed, "That Clause 2 stand part of the Bill."

SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

said that, speaking as chairman of the Committee before which this Bill came, they considered it desirable in the interests of the public to amend it by providing that the boundary of South Shields should stand at the middle of the stream and at low water of the same. He had, however, been shown by the Secretary of the Local Government Board a clause of an agreement made between the Tyne Commissioners and the borough of South Shields, according to which the corporation were bound not to ask for a boundary in mid-stream or at low water. He should explain that the corporation provided for the use of the Committee a map in which the boundary in mid stream was clearly claimed, and under those circumstances the Committee felt themselves free to deal with the matter. He was still of opinion that the decision of the Committee was a wise one, but under the circumstances he did not propose to offer any opposition to the motion of his hon. friend opposite.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said this matter was one of considerable public importance, and deserved, consequently, more than merely formal notice. This was a Bill confirming a Local Government Board Provisional Order, granted after local inquiry. But the Committee upstairs had added a clause the subject matter of which had never been inquired into, and had thereby gone beyond its powers.


said the question was submitted to the Chairman of Ways and Means, who declined to give any decision, but preferred to move that the Bill be referred to the Examiners of Private Bills. That was done, and that body came to the conclusion that there was no Standing Order applicable to the case.

MR. WHITMORE, (Chelsea)

as a member of the Committee on Standing Orders which had the matter before it, said they were placed in a position of great difficulty. They were asked to decide whether any Standing Order had been neglected, and as a matter of fact they found there was none which applied to that particular case. This was because the Bill, although substantially a private Bill, was technically a public Bill. If it had been in form, as it was in substance, a private Bill, the particular alteration could not have been made without notice to all the parties concerned.


That was not the opinion of the Standing Orders Committee.


said it was clear that for this reason an injustice had been inflicted, and it would be well if they could have a new Standing Order applying to cases of that kind.

DR. SHIPMAN (Northampton)

said the Committee were strongly of opinion that the boundary should be fixed at mid stream and at low water on the foreshore of the sea. He understood that the Committee, in the interest of the public, were simply declaring what the law really was. There were cases which dealt with the river boundaries of what are now North and South Shields. The presumptions of law were also in favour of South Shields, both with respect to the river and the sea shore. He would refer to the cases of McCannon v. Sinclair and Embleton v. Brown. He understood, too, that notice had been given through a map which showed the boundaries as he had stated. He was surprised they had exceeded their powers, and that their zeal in the public service had not met with the appreciation they had expected. He was sorry it was so.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

agreed with the hon. Member for South Tyrone that this was a matter which ought not to be slurred over. He was not present at the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee, so he did not speak on its behalf. The hon. Member who spoke last had very fairly admitted that a mistake had been made, though the hon, Baronet had not done so, and consequently it was necessary to make it clear that it would be setting a most dangerous precedent to allow any Committee to insert in a Provisional Order matters which had not been gone into at the local inquiry.

MR. BAIN (Cumberland, Egremont)

pointed out that the Committee were misled by the map, and thus somewhat exceeded their powers.

SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)

said that, representing to a large extent the interests of the Tyne Commissioners, he viewed with some alarm any interference with regard to the river, and he hoped the House would not sanction the action of the Committee. He had some knowledge of the Tyne foreshore. It had always been in dispute whether the Department of Woods and Forests, the Tyne Commissiners, or the City of Newcastle owned the foreshore.


said the suggestion had been thrown out that the Committee were misled by the maps shown in the course of the inquiry, but he would point out that those maps were only put in for the purpose of dealing with the southern boundary. Nobody, however, blamed the Committee for what they had done. Their intentions, no doubt, were laudable, but still it was a question whether or not their decision was in the public interest, and he was glad, therefore, that the motion of the hon. Member for Newcastle was not to be opposed. No doubt the method of proceeding adopted by the Committee was very wrong indeed. It must be borne in mind that these Provisional Orders often dealt with the taking of private property by compulsion, and it was therefore absolutely necessary that parties concerned should have full notice of any change proposed to be made. He agreed that it was desirable that there should be a Standing Order to meet these cases.

MR. HALSEY (Hertfordshire, Watford)

said the action of the Standing Orders Committee was purely ministerial. They were asked merely to decide whether the Standing Orders relating to private Bills were applicable to this clause, and whatever their private opinions as to the wisdom or otherwise of inserting it, or as to the adequacy of the existing Standing Orders, they could come to no other decision than that the Standing Orders were not applicable. It was not for them to sit in judgment on another Committee, and so they carefully abstained from expressing any opinion as to its action. This case, however, showed the necessity for an alteration of the Standing Orders, because it was evidently in the power of a Committee upstairs at the present time to alter or add to Provisional Order Bills in a way which might give rise to great abuses, and involve serious interference with the rights of private property without proper notice to the owners thereof.

MR. MORRELL (Oxfordshire, Woodstock)

said the Committee had before them at first the map previously laid before the Local Government Board at the local inquiry—a reproduction of the ordnance map, but showing in colour the county, union, and borough boundaries, as there set out, running together middle of the river. This conveyed the impression that mid-stream of the Tyne was the boundary of South Shields for all purpose; sewer outlets and indentations into the south bank being within the authority of South Shields. Later in the inquiry a second map was produced, coloured to show the boundary of South Shields at high water mark of the river Tyne, excluding the indentations, sewer outlets, and so on. The Committee therefore determined it would be well to declare these items within South Shields, confirming the detail as to the boundary set out in the first map produced, as these items might become "no man's land." They acted solely in the public interest; but after the statements as to Standing Orders he agreed it would be well not to insist on retaining the clause.


It was clearly and distinctly in the minds of the Committee—


If the hon. Baronet speaks again I also shall have to ask the indulgence of the House.


said he only wanted to say that the Committee acted in the belief that full legal notice had been given.

Question put, and negatived.

Bill read the third time, and passed.